Monday, April 28, 2014

Small Things

Houston grime sticks to my legs;
my summer dress blows in the slight breeze, stirring the smog.


I think of emaciated Clemencia who held my hand and wouldn't let go in the slums of Kenya.
I think of Ashmirah wearing her size-too-big rags, carrying her little brother Raju through the dirty streets of Kolkata.
I think of my homeless friend Cowboy who cried when he sat in my dining room for Thanksgiving because it had been so long since anyone had invited him into a home.

I think of the dirt, the pain, the loneliness.
I think of the hunger, the tears, the helplessness.

Sometimes it feels like there's just too much to do anything, to make any significant changes.

Then I have to remind myself of Clemencia who smiled when I wasn't afraid to touch her because of her AIDS.
I remind myself of the times Ashmirah and I danced on the sidewalks, and the times I played soccer with her brothers.
I think of the joy Cowboy had when he was invited to be a part of my family, if only for a small while.

I was not made to do exceptional things, to save the world, to change the course of history.

I was made for small things, for small moments, for small joys--the joys that come from listening, hand holding, and playing.

Maybe it's all the small kindnesses and small acts of vulnerability and love that will change the world.

I hope so. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Being In Communal Love

I love the people I live with.
I really really do.

We get on each other's nerves.
We have hard conversations.
We have to confront ourselves in the guise of one another.
We struggle. A lot.

But at the end of the day, I'm committed to each one of them, to working it out.
And I think they're committed to me.

I was reminded of this several times yesterday while hanging out with Heather and Charlie.

Living in Community is the only way I want to live.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Subtle Beauty

I want to see the world in such a way that the beauty overwhelms the not-so-beautiful.
I want to see Light.

This week has been hard.
But it has also been full of beauty.

This week we said goodbye to Blue, the cat who has been living in the bushes by our apartment door.
We buried him this morning.

That was hard.

While that pain lingers, I see Life happening around me, in me, and through me.
And I have reasons to celebrate.

Taylor gave me a tattoo for my birthday.
The Chambered Nautilus.

"Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!"
- Olive Wendell Holmes
 And the subtle Light in my neighborhood is sometimes staggering.

I have reasons to celebrate. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

What's Your Alternative?

I spent the last two days at a seminar for non-profit organization and grant writing. It doesn’t sound thrilling, but the speaker, BJ Douglass, spoke with such fierce and gentle love that she exposed hope in the midst of a sigh. Like a Southern Baptist preacher, she bellowed love and light from the front while we, her devoted pupils, shouted back, “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!” at each new revelation.

She said a lot of beautiful things, but one thing stuck out as an idea I had been contemplating this week. She said: 

“If you point out a problem and don’t have an alternative, you are part of the problem.”

There is a lot to complain about.
There are a lot of issues.
There is a lot of hurt.

I could complain all day long (and sometimes I do!), pointing out the harm and oppression brought about by patriarchy, fundamentalist religion, paternalism, racism, gentrification, classism, the misuse of limited resources, corrupt governments, child abuse, inadequate health resources, poverty, unequal housing and educational opportunities, colonialism, etc etc etc.

There is plenty to complain about.

But if I don’t present an alternative I’m just another angry woman playing into the system, being part of the problem.

If all I do is get angry and tell people how miserable the world is and how horrible we are to each other, I am the problem.

I need something else to offer.

Racist, sexist, classist systems exist and limit us from reaching our full potential and really living out of our true selves, so I seek racial, gender, and economic reconciliation by encouraging dialogue across divisive lines, looking into myself to find the root of the division hidden within and inviting people into that root to help me cut it down.

Patriarchy is oppressive and harmful to both women and men, so I unite with both women and men who are living in ways that reveal the dignity and equality of all people along the gender spectrum. I educate myself, listening to stories of people’s experiences, and seeking to share those stories in order for others to become aware.

Rugged individualism leads people into loneliness, isolation, frustration, and depression, so I live in community to show people there is another way to live; there is an alternative to self-dependence and co-dependence: INTER-dependence.

When you see the problem, don’t just get angry and complain about it, making dichotomies of the good people and bad people, pitting one group against another.

Get angry.
Go ahead, get real angry.
But let it go before it leads to hate.

Then start living a lifestyle that models an alternative. 

And let that lifestyle be ruled by love. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Meet Me In The Bathroom

“Meet me in the bathroom?”

I read the email, squinting through the tears.

“ok,” I replied.

I turned away from my computer slowly to see my roommate walking into the bathroom, tears already in her eyes.

I followed her into our office’s bathroom. She shut the door. I fell onto her shoulder and sobbed, deep heaving sobs that bled the pain I’d been carrying around all day. Her arms held me tight in a way that told me she understood completely. I didn’t have to say a word. I was safe in that moment to be whatever I needed to be, completely understood, completely known, completely me.

When I was able to take a breath I pulled back and wiped my tears and snot off her cardigan. We looked into each others’ red brimmed eyes and attempted to smile.


Much earlier that morning, long before the sun rose, I laid in bed picking scabs of old wounds, touching the fleshy part beneath, reminding myself of the pain, wondering how I would be able to get out of bed the next morning.

The morning came and I stared at the ceiling wishing I could blend into the wall, chameleon-like, to disappear, to be part of the scenery.

All day tears moistened my eyes until they burned.  

After dragging my feet home that day, Taylor again came to my rescue and offered to make the dinner I was scheduled to cook. I crawled into bed and slept until dinner time.

After dinner and some refreshing laughter, I laid in bed again staring at the wall, wondering.

A comforting thought entered my mind, and I smiled:
You have always been a thought in God’s infinite memory.

I fell heavy into sleep.