Sunday, November 24, 2013

slow growing compassion

I spent the morning with a friend from Libya who lives in our area.  She and her husband did studies here, coming before the war began in her nation, and now it isn't safe to return.  They've applied for a protection visa and are desperate to stay.  She had her second baby a few weeks ago, the sweetest little girl, and she stays in her tiny flat caring for babies while her engineer husband collects shopping carts at the grocery store six days a week.  She has no complaints, she shows me pictures from home of coffins draped in flags lined up for ages, her sister will give birth there soon.  I love having her in my life - I need her to remind me of realities I quickly forget.  To have your children and your husband safe and with you, with food to eat on the table every single day - these are privileges, this is cause to celebrate and be relieved.  I examine my heart when we kiss goodbye at the door, I scan my small list of woes and let a few of them go.

I read about Syria regularly, I'm eager and terrified to know what life is like for the two million people who have fled across borders with little in their arms but the children they've bore.  I occasionally feel unsafe in my neighbourhood but those moments are fleeting and there's so much help available if I actually needed it.  I really cannot imagine feeling perpetually unsafe, and even worse, to know that my children weren't safe.  I can't imagine having to risk everything, leave the trees my family had tended for hundreds of years and travel under the cover of darkness.  I can't imagine how living in a tent in the desert in a foreign place could some how be safer than the house in which I was born.

Imagining these things is hard.  But I think it's part of caring, it's part of slow growing compassion, it's part of quiet prayer.  It's part of joining our thoughts into the collective longing for deliverance: from violence, from hatred, from power and division and suffering.


'I believe that Christ came not to dispel the darkness but to teach us
to dwell with integrity, compassion, and love in the midst of
ambiguity.  The one who grew in the fertile darkness of Mary's womb
knew that darkness is not evil of itself.  Rather, it can become the
tending place in which our longings for healing, justice and peace
grow and come to birth.' - Jan L. Richardson


City of the Lost - David Remnick for The New Yorker
 - an intense article about the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which has quickly become the second largest camp in the world

Sunday, November 17, 2013

"where you are is holy and you are welcome here."

I am writing this to say that I want to start writing again.  Writing is one of those things that when I limit myself to the fuel of 'inspiration' and the demands of perfectionism, I lose momentum, I lose my words.  These months of quiet in this little space have been beyond full in the rest of my life.  I have some dusty dreams that seem to be rousing themselves when my mind wanders, I've had a regular teaching opportunity that's stretched and enlivened me, and there's thirteen weeks of precious baby growing inside of me. (I have had so many thoughts and feelings surrounding expectancy, grief and community, much of which has kept me from this blog - but I want to go there soon.) I'm very tired, but in the best possible way.  I thought that if I let this space idle for a while then I would have more energy; I don't think it has worked.  I met a woman last night who reads my writing, and her encouragement was hopefully enough to push me back over the edge, to where I need to be.  Thanks, Linda.

Jan L. Richardson is a woman who's work breathes life into my bones.  I thought I'd share a poem of hers, in hopes that I can again find that star that blazes inside of me.

The Map You Make Yourself - Jan L. Richardson

You have looked
at so many doors
with longing,
wondering if your life
lay on the other side.

For today,
choose the door
that opens
to the inside.

Travel the most ancient way
of all:
the path that leads you
to the center
of your life.

No map
but the one
you make yourself.

No provision
but what you already carry
and the grace that comes
to those who walk
the pilgrim’s way.

Speak this blessing
as you set out
and watch how
your rhythm slows,
the cadence of the road
drawing you into the pace
that is your own.

Eat when hungry.
Rest when tired.
Listen to your dreaming.
Welcome detours
as doors deeper in.

Pray for protection.
Ask for the guidance you need.
Offer gladness
for the gifts that come
and then
let them go.

Do not expect
to return
by the same road.
Home is always
by another way
and you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome