Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My 30th Year

Greetings on this day that celebrates the 30th year of my life. In the words of the Grateful Dead, "It's been a long strange trip."

Lately I find myself in a space of gratitude and a lot of introspection, which I guess isn't out of the ordinary but maybe to a greater degree than the norm. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for...a loving family, friends around every corner, my good health, a supportive community of accountability and care, a challenging work environment and a fulfilling academic life that is emerging into part of the work of my life. I am very blessed indeed.

When I reflect on the twists and turns, I remember those moments of uncertainty, the second thoughts and the holy jumping in that my heart has been provoked to do. I love the newness of a relationship, the gradual process of becoming and even the bitter edge of defeat reminds me that I am very alive.

Today as I sit by beautiful Lake Michigan (which isn't quite an ocean) I recall memories. I have no real words of wisdom to offer, but fragments of my life that have meant something to me....interactions that have changed me to my very core. Despite the fact that there are many of these (big and small), I will list a few that have been very present to me lately in the hopes that might know what a life well lived looks like from my perspective.

Moments of great importance:
* visits to the tide pools with friends and alone...soaking it in
* My time spent with the people who live near / in the Guatemala City dump
* Long New England drives
* Swimming to the rock and back again
* Drifting in Belize and getting lost in the essence of love
* The Island with the Adlers (my other family)
* Phone conversations in the weeee hours of the morning
* Chats with Dad on the back and forth
* Sailing, the cottage and the boat
* Ice cream chats in the parque
* Fiestas y comunidad
* Chicken bus revelations
* Remembering to breath deeply
* Moments of unexplainable honesty
* The Pilgrimage through Mexico with Tom y los migrantes
* Protest, vigil and resistance
* Las palabras de mi corazon: comunidad, amor, paz, libertad, confianza, compartir, solidaridad, justicia
* Heartbreak and liberation
* Butterflies in my stomach
* Sunrise...Sunset
* Belting out the words to the most beautiful music ever
* Sharing the Story
* Prayer...
* Walks on a dirt road to change
* Frog hunting in the rain
* "When Sunny Gets Blue" and others
* Milestones and Markers
* Family gatherings
* Irish tea, lemon meringue pie, cheese and crackers
* Long walks home
* The waves, crickets and gulls
* That day on the Quad
* Everything just clicking
* Falling apart
* Manifesto on a napkin
* Many moments of love...

The list goes on..and on...and on. My life goes on...with joy, thanksgiving and reflection.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Bread of Life

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my identity and the nature of my role in this world. Lent is sort of conducive to soul searching and desert treks of the heart and I have not been very far from that nature of questioning.

On Thursday I read the parable of the rich man and Lazarus at our Kairos meeting. I was struck by the tension inside me. The pull between my identity as an advocate for the poor and the actual reality of my life is a lived frustration that is hard to bare. I do admit that I readily practice the sin of cynical rationalism in this country where my heart is often buried below “higher” priorities rather than connecting with my neighbor. Yet I also know that I can hide between the cozy confines of carefully chosen rhetoric and a comfortable economic situation. Despite my concern for the poor on a global level, the more immediate evidence of a caring heart is often removed from the integrity of a situation. I fail to address needs right in front of me and worst of all, I don’t even make an effort to engage the poor right in front of me (think poor of spirit as well).

And so, when I walk past men like Lazarus on the street, I carefully prioritize my thoughts and actions into an interaction that is stale and often lacking heart. I reach into my pocket perhaps, exchange a smile, but I fail to see the complete reality that is so very apparent in hindsight and times of reflection.

You see, I am nothing more than a beggar myself (as pointed out in today’s homily at church). I crave to be seen and connect in meaningful ways. I find myself being attached to needs unfulfilled and dependencies that hold me back from fully growing. And certain pain and self-judgment might surely get the best of me if it wasn’t for the moments when I am reminded of the frailty of humanity.

Yes, the frailty of humanity is what ties Lazarus and me together. And all the cynical rationalizations in the word cannot negate this lived reality.

Lazarus and I drink of the same cup so to speak. We share experiences of community and are offered renewal and moments of understanding who we truly are. In many ways, I will never know the truth of my inner life without a profound conversion within the context of relationship. I will never know the nature of my soul without the challenging connections of agony, defeat, joy, wonder, admiration and patience all wrapped in one. And most importantly, I will never know my calling until I can embrace the discrepancies between who I am and what I do.

As much as I am a globe trotter, crossing boundaries, voluntarily breaking my heart and mending it again, I must succumb to the fact that my personal evolution and identity is found within the daily interactions that create the pilgrimage that I am on. Each day, I am finding myself. And hopefully I slowly let down my guard so that the mirror image of Lazarus does not provoke a tension within.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Patient Trust

Waking up to the reality ahead of me, the long journey and the tough conversations, I have to remind myself not to get too far ahead. I have to remind myself to be humble and live all the moments in between. You see, I sometimes have the tendency to get overwhelmed. I take my concerns to bed, dream them away for eight hours and when I wake up, the existence of the weight is still shocking. And yet, I feel that I am on the edge of transformation.

Yesterday I heard this piece (again) from a larger prayer by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin. I once read this poem every single day for about a year. Yesterday is was sort of like hearing it for the first time. I find that it is fitting for this time in lent and this place in my journey.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.