Act – Running with Rick
Forty years ago, the Episcopal priest, Malcolm Boyd, wrote a best-selling collection of prayers called ARE YOU RUNNING WITH ME, JESUS? In a breezy street argot that was a cross between James Baldwin and Dag Hammarskӧld, Boyd explored themes of sin, vulnerability, and social responsibility. He begged Christ for forgiveness and the courage, not just to “be” as theologian Paul Tillich said, but to act.I’ve thought of this book a lot over 20 years of long-distance running with my good friend Rick Peyser of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. During those hours we would talk about families, running pains, politics and our respective jobs and our Christian faith.
During his career at Green Mountain, Rick has always put the interests of coffee farmers foremost. He rose through the company to become Director of Social Advocacy and Supply Chain Community Outreach. In this role, he traveled to over 30 countries to oversee gifts of GMCR money for a variety of economic development and food security projects. Meanwhile his influence spread beyond the company and he became president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, the largest coffee organization in the world.
Of all my close friends, he works at his Christian faith most diligently, if quietly. We joke that our own ecumenism is at work here. He goes to mass at St. Thomas Catholic church in Underhill on Saturday afternoon. I go to St. Andrew’s church on Sunday. We each have a favorite Biblical text. His is from St. Matthew: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Mine is from St. Luke: “…to whom much is given, from him much will be required.”
Six years ago I persuaded Rick to tell his story, in a book we called BREWING CHANGE. During the five years we spent writing the book, I became a literal disciple of his and began to help some of those same farmers learn beekeeping as a way of supplementing their income. We both share in the words of William Penn:
“I expect to pass through this life but once. Therefore, if there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for another human being, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.”
St. Andrew’s Colchester