Thursday’s Gonna Come

Two days of thought-provoking, soul-searching conversations filled with laughter and tears and wishing that “what is” could be better and dreaming of how we can make it so…..

and returning with a jolt to the real world of laundry and dishwashers with broken baskets and worrying over food allergies all over again and struggling to understand how your children have more cavities and wishing just this once this child could understand the assignment and get it done without all the struggles–

and all those first world kind of problems.

It would be easy to get on my pity pot and look upon all of this as an interruption.

An interruption to where my mind is going–thinking of what can be done, must be done, to make the world a better place–an interruption to the wheels spinning and all the IMPORTANT things that I MUST DO.

And then, just in the nick of time, I got an e-mail from one of my heroes.

One of the reasons he is my hero is I can look to him for a way to understand things, a way to take action–he sets a good example, and he is willing to share about his experiences so we can all learn from them.

Hugh Hollowell sent out a newsletter titled “The Interruptions Are Our Work.”

Well.

He was spot on with this one–timing and everything.

This man who shared his ideas and laughter and inspired me to dig deeper as we talked and listened Sunday and Monday–he continued on into Thursday.

And for that I am thankful.

Because, my friends, no matter what grand thoughts Sunday and Monday call you to have and think upon, Thursday will come.  With its laundry and coughs and worries and cavities.  It will come.

And here is the grace for Thursday, in the words of Hugh Hollowell of Love Wins Ministry:

“But I have come to see that that is okay. In fact, it’s good. Because more than ever, I can see that the interruptions to my work, the people who interrupt my work, well, they actually are my work. And there’s much work to be done.”

I do not mean to make light of the work that my friend and his staff are doing in North Carolina with people who are dealing with homelessness.  But I do find comfort in these words.  The interruptions are my work.

In this season.

For now.

For far too short a time, these little people and their needs–their meals, their learning, their dirty clothes, their laughter, and regretfully, yes, even their cavities–this is my work.

And I’m privileged to do it.  I just need a wake up call every now and again to remind me of that.

Today I read a comment in the world of social media that made me very sad.  This person wrote that caring for my children, for my home, for my aging parents, for an elderly relative–these things are not contributing to society.  He/she continued on to say that if I were out in the world caring for people who were not my own, whom I wasn’t “obligated” to care for, only then could it really be said that I am contributing to society.

It made me sad because I don’t think this person gets it.  And he or she obviously has never had the privilege and joy of hearing David LaMotte and Hugh Hollowell speak.  I distinctly heard them say that caring for those in our own homes, own families–that’s a part of changing the world for the better.

Tonight I’m thankful for that message.  For the knowing in my heart that what I’m doing matters–and I’m thankful that when I lose sight of that message–I can open up an email from my hero and mentor and read that all of these things that I think might be interruptions of the “important work” there is to do–

This is my important work.

Know this, my friends, what you are doing today matters.

I’m sorry, did you miss that?  Read it with me.

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What

you

are

doing

today

MATTERS.

Whether you are wiping runny noses or signing paychecks

whether you are singing “Let It Go” with your child for the 1,267th time

or planning a going away for a colleague

whether you are reading a book

or writing one

whether you are knitting a dress for your granddaughter’s doll

or buying one at the GW Boutique for your neighbor’s friend

WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY MATTERS.

The smile you choose to put on your face, in spite of your worries

The hug you give your grandmother who has aged so much since you last saw her

The friend you are driving to the doctor’s office

The cup of coffee you just rang up for the customer with the bad attitude and no cash for tips

The person you just let merge in front of you in traffic

The change you just dropped in the jar for the family in need

The song you carry in your heart

The shoulder you offer for others to lean and cry on

The laughter you share with another over a memory or joke

WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY MATTERS.

No matter where you are, what you are doing.  It is changing the world.

You don’t get a choice in that.

But you do get a choice in how it matters.  Whether it changes life for those around you for the better or not.

Even if they seem not to notice it.

It still matters.

Make it good.

Love to all.

 

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Hugh Hollowell’s newsletter can be read in its entirety here.  I highly recommend signing up to receive those in your inbox.  You never know when they might change your day.  For the better.

Don’t Count Us Out

Yesterday as the news feeds and Facebook posts proclaimed their great sadness over the death of Maya Angelou, I too was sad.  I am sad when anyone in this world loses someone they love–a feeling I understand all too well–but I’ll admit that I was also saddened by something else.  I just couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.

And then this morning David LaMotte, a man whom I had the privilege of meeting a few months ago, shared his thoughts and feelings in a post on his Facebook page. This singer/songwriter/author/man of peace touched on exactly what was breaking my heart.

“Shocked into stillness this morning, having just realized that in all of the craziness of the European tour, I did not realize that Vincent Harding died last week. One more giant has left us.  I didn’t know Vincent Harding well at all, but I got to meet him and talk a bit a couple of times at the Wild Goose Festival. This picture is from last year’s WGF. This legendary civil rights hero, theologian, historian and author, who wrote speeches for Martin Luther King, was completely available and interested in Mason [David’s son], asking him questions and engaging. That seems to have been pretty typical of him.

In the last year we’ve lost Nelson Mandela, Pete Seeger, Maya Angelou, Vincent Harding… and I’m sure many others. But please, please, my friends, don’t say “We’ll never see their like again.”

Each of these people, and many more unnamed, were people who made daily choices, who worked out their courage muscles one day at a time. They were not a different kind of person. They just made decisions. If we merely applaud, and wonder at how strong they were, then we are completely missing one of the central points that they were trying to make—that it is up to all of us to bring whatever gifts we have to the work of creating and supporting what is good for all of us, and standing in the way of what is oppressive and destructive. All of us. It is up to us whether we see their like again. It is up to us to choose whether we will be spectators or participants.

The famous Catholic activist Dorothy Day said “Don’t call us saints. We don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” Let’s honor these heroes by taking some small steps in the direction they pointed us. Though we remember them for their leaps, they all took small steps to begin with, and those steps mattered, and continued to take small steps throughout their lives. They had good days and bad days like all of us, but they kept choosing to live in the kind of hope that doesn’t simply comfort us with pleasant visions, but drives us to take action to actively move toward them.

Thank you, Vincent Harding, for being kind to me and my son, and for inspiring more than one generation. We’ll try to pay attention.” –David LaMotte 5/29/2014

Amen.  Please don’t count us out.  We too have the chance to do great things.  I wrote in a card to one of my favorite graduates in the class of 2014–it is in the making of kind and compassionate choices, one after another, each one, that great things begin.  I think that’s how each one of the people mentioned by David LaMotte made a difference in this world.  Kindness.  Not letting a bump in the road stop them. Continuing onward.
Don’t count us out.  And please don’t count out my children.  The ones I’m doing my best to raise to love folks and make a difference in this world–by being good stewards of all around them, just as my folks taught me.  Are we all going to fail at some point?  Yes.  But it’s in the getting up, wiping off our hands and bruised hearts that we shed light and goodness in the world.  It’s in the “keep on keeping on,” as my Daddy would say, despite the bumps and bruises and heartaches, that we change the world for the better.  And ourselves.
David LaMotte has already said it all, far better than I could have.  And I am thankful for that.  I think the greatest tribute to the lives of these good people so loved, whom have left this life, is for us all to live as they did, and “actively move forward” toward the “pleasant visions” of peace and love and caring for each other.
In other words, for us to do as they did.  And DO.
And finally a few more wise words from another good person, Hugh Hollowell, who commented on David LaMotte’s post: “We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the answer to our prayers.”
Oh my.  Yes.
Love to all.
**I looked to see if there is someone to attribute Hugh Hollowell’s words to–the closest I can find is from a poem by June Jordan here and a book by Alice Walker here. **

All In My Chili

So today, I was toodling along, minding my very own business, and this happened.

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That’s what I get for looking at Facebook.

*sigh*

All in my chili…..

It’s true, isn’t it?

If I can’t or don’t try to stop something from happening, how can I depend on someone else to change it? And get angry when they don’t?

I can’t.

Mama used to have a rule about us not asking someone to do something for us that we weren’t willing to do ourselves.  It was probably to prevent sibling abuse, but yeah, it’s a good rule for life, I think.

I can’t sit back and see an injustice happening, do nothing, and then get angry over and over that it continues to exist, frustrated that “someone” isn’t stopping it. Not when I’m not making a move to stop it myself.

What I allow will continue to happen.

I can’t put up with someone mistreating me, ignoring my feelings, or disrespecting me–all the while shaking my head and hoping it will stop.

What I allow will continue to happen.

I can’t bury my head in the sand, continue homeschooling my littles, and ignore the woes of the children who are in the public school system and hope that the world will be a better place someday.  What is happening now won’t affect just those children in the schools, it does and will affect all of us.

What I allow will continue to happen.

Now that I know better about things like modern-day industrial slavery and fair trade, I cannot make purchases of certain things, turning a blind-eye to how they were made.

For if I do, the slavery will continue to happen.

The decline of our educational system will continue.

The abuse and wear and tear on my soul will continue to eat away at who I am.

The injustices, so many of them in this world, will continue, and those suffering at the hands of another, will be right that their voices aren’t being heard, feeling that their lives maybe just don’t count as much.  Not if I’m not willing to speak up for them.

The things in this world that can be lost if we allow it–

love, kindness, innocence, peace, freedom, wisdom, knowledge

a soul,

a life

Mama also had another quote she’d toss at us from time to time.  I dug around and couldn’t find the source of the quote, but that doesn’t detract from its truth.

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If I don’t like the way things are–the situation in the world, in this country, in my community and even in my own home–then I have to accept that if it is to be–if change is to happen–it must begin with me.  If I don’t make an effort to change what I see that isn’t right, it will continue.  And I also have to realize that if it continues…..

and I have been too busy or afraid or lost to take a step…..

it continues because I have allowed it to.

A tough pill to swallow tonight.

Like I said, they’re all in my chili, stirring me up tonight.

What is it that you are being called to change–to stop allowing?  To keep from continuing to happen?

Whether it’s fighting social injustice or a taking a stand to end bullying or making a request that clothes be turned right side out before being put in the laundry–it all matters.  If it brings peace to the world, go for it.

One step at a time, one person at a time, we can make a difference.

I know it’s a cliche’, but there is truth rolling around in there as well.

Reminds me of lyrics from  the song our teachers worked so hard to teach us to sing when we were practicing for our Eighth Grade Graduation.

“Let there be peace on earth

And let it begin with me…..”

Amen.