Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I feel bad for not having written in over a month. Some days I feel like I have nothing to say or want to publish and broadcast to the entire world, other days I feel there is too much to even begin to find the starting point. Currently I'm at the latter, but I have been so encouraged by all of you ( i.e my 10 family members and dear couple of friends :) )by you saying you like to read, and thus I will write.

Brief Update:
Still on the psych ward, feeling like I'm able to make a meaningful contribution. Meeting lots of people in different profession and patients with lots of different struggles.

Its over halfway done. At this point I feel like I am just making connections and settling into being in Durham, connecting with great people, finding community. And now I am really feeling the pangs of sadness about having to leave in a couple months.

Although it was COLD when I got back, the sun has been shining and I have been playing! I have been hiking, contra dancing ( watch a youtube video), eating yummy food, going to free events, volunteering, and spending time with people I like.
Thoughts, these are harder to tease apart as there have been many interlocking ideas. Themes of how we are so similar and so different, how we handle change defines so much of our experiences, attitudes and belief.

I'll start with yesterday, Martin Luther King day.
I felt like this was a really important day to "engage" with as it has great positive significance for the South and the community I live in. A southern experience I wanted to have.
The church I attend has a partnership with a African American BaptistChurch in South Durham, the mostly African American neighborhood, which sadly follows all stereotypes of poverty. We attended the church on Sunday and joined with them for a C/S project on Monday. I also attended a choir concert put on by a visiting African Children's Choir at DUKE, and went to a community wide MLK celebration service in the evening.

But some how I feel like I missed it. I don't know exactly what I was looking for, but I know I didn't find it. Maybe I was looking for inspiration, maybe I was looking for a sense of community, maybe I was looking for hope, a bit of what MLK sacrificed everything for.

I think I am realizing those feelings and accomplishments only exist in reflection. I thought alot about how sooo many people worked along side MLK, who are unknown, unremembered. How reluctant he himself was about doing the work he did, he was far from perfect, but every day struggled, for an ideal, a hope he could not possibly foresee ever occurring and never did. His greatness is celebrated because he is absent, he was given one day, how remarkable and how minute.

Only in summaries, resumes, descriptions are our actions noteworthy, inspiring and impressive. The actual living of them is not. My friends Danielle and Krispin are remarkable, admirable people, who are living their ideals, hopes and beliefs by choosing to live in poverty to be along side those Jesus commanded us all to help, love and be with. And they are miserable; the people they live alongside are ambivalent to their presence at best, and they do not get to experience very often the remarkableness of what they do. They sacrifice alot and life could be easier, better, if only they would compromise a little more.

The pastor who leads the church we partnered with here is a county commissioner and was praised by senators, representatives, mayors and many others at the evening service for all the remarkable and wonderful things he had done for his community. I spent the day crossing paths with him, and would not have believed they were describing the same Man. All day he was chased by pestualent worries ( the paint wasn't there for the volunteers to paint the walls, there were not scrapers to take off the old paint, the little old ladies chastised him for the lack of people vs the amount of food they were told to make,) his church has less than 50 people in it on Sunday, despite his passionate preaching.

Racism exist, poverty will always be present, violence is cyclical, people are fragile and heroes will eternally remain unsung until they aren't there to experience the singing. My friend who is the same age and brown ( her preferred ethnic identifier :)) was called a n-word in elementry school by her teacher. The west I sometime want to pretend is better, but I think about the roles Latinos play in our community and how they are treated. Because I am white I have the choice to be oblivious to how racism still exist. They do not.
Same with poverty and violence.
I guess I realize my drop in the bucket won't create inspiration or change that I can measure or experience or feel gratified by. But at least I will not be silent. The more you are in it the more you see the desperation and need in a situation.

Hope exist not in my actions making a difference but in a God who commands it, promising it is the most valuable thing I can do with my time, and breath.