Yes, I hear you.
No need to shout.
I know you thought that you had lost your voice
Or that we had all gone deaf
When you stood on your soap box preaching
And no one stopped to say, “Amen,”
Like they used to.
Yes, I hear you.
We come upon this conversation often – once or twice for each of the many half-finished coloring books hiding in all corners of the house. Once or twice for each broken or lost crayon. Lily colors her pictures with shades of purple, green, and orange. She colors little girls and princesses and fairies with hair that is sometimes red or brown or yellow.
But then she comes to the skin, and she asks me to help her find the peach crayon. My heart catches in my chest as I help her look through the box. I see the peach crayon in the corner, but I pull out a brown one instead. “How about this one?” I ask.
I’ve struggled with anxiety my whole life. Even as a young child, I remember hearing about the terrors of the world and shrinking into myself in fear. I fashioned in my head a hiding place–a pod made of thick steel with padded walls–and I hid myself there. This was a place where no spears or guns or bombs could reach me. This was a place where my anxiety could melt away.
But I wasn’t satisfied to imagine myself safe. I wanted to be safe. I wanted to find that steel pod, and climb into it. So I asked my mother, “Is there any place in the world that is completely safe?” Read More →
A friend on Facebook recently drew my attention to the fact that Harvard is offering a series of free courses about world religions. I signed up and I’m really excited to start next week. This is a great opportunity to learn a little more about a subject that most of us don’t know much about, apart from the snippets we hear from politicians or on the news. You can take the courses for free, but each course also offers the opportunity to pursue a verified certificate for $50. Read More →
I grew up in an area where conflict rose and fell like the tide—sometimes the fighting increased, and sometimes the calm. It could be measured by how often in the night we heard the war cry echo between our mountain and the next, and by how many late-night knocks came to our door asking for my father’s help to chase cattle thieves. This, to me, was normal. This was the way things were.
There came a time when things changed. We heard less about raids and more about battles. I was forbidden to play at the river with friends. We stopped taking walks when we found a warrior’s arrow on a path near our house. I was too young to understand the politics of this war, but the tension I could feel.
Late one night, my father’s truck rumbled into our yard full of women and children from a nearby homestead. Mattresses were spread out on every corner of the floor, and I felt simultaneously happy for the company and annoyed by the invasion of my private space. In the days that followed, we drove past their homestead and saw what remained. Every house had been burned to the ground. Read More →
Last night I told you that there’s a darkness in this world. Sometimes people can’t get past the pain, and the anger, and the wanting to be right. Sometimes people hurt each other. Yesterday a lot of people were hurt and killed.
Today people are grieving. Grief if what happens when you lose something or someone that you love. Grief can make you feel sad and angry and empty all at the same time. Grief can make you want to hold on tightly to the people you love and the things that you know. Grief can make you want hurt whoever hurt you. Grief can make you feel anything. You don’t get to choose how you feel when you’re grieving. Read More →
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to make requests and a time to demand a hearing,
a time to hold my tongue and a time to rage.
“If you’re voting for Hillary, unfriend me now.”
I’ve read this more than once while scrolling through my news feed. I try not to take it too seriously, but it’s still a little hurtful. The truth is, I don’t know if I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton. I don’t fall neatly into one political camp, although I do tend to lean decidedly left of center. But the fact that we might disagree about politics doesn’t stop me from wanting to hear about your new baby or that crazy thing that happened to you at work yesterday. It also doesn’t stop me from wanting to hear your point of view. Read More →
I see burning cars and smashed windows accompanied by the words “dirty animals.” I see peaceful protesters holding up signs that read, “Black Lives Matter.” Thanks to the age of social media, this is a time for everyone to say what we really think…to see who we really are. Camps are formed, and wagons are circled. The name Freddie Gray is on our lips, and Baltimore is moving to the steps of the same dance that we watched in Ferguson, Missouri when we spoke of Michael Brown. Steps that we practiced again in New York when we spoke of Eric Garner. The rhythm of this dance has been beating in the heart of our nation for the decades since the Civil Rights movement, and since the age of slavery before that. It has been beating in the heart of humanity for the centuries and millennia during which differences in race and ideology have given us cause to fear each other.
When I was a child, my father once brought me to the temple for Passover. For two days, we walked the dusty roads to Jerusalem, choking on the clouds kicked up by camels and donkeys as caravan after caravan passed us. Many others walked with us, with scarves wrapped over their faces, and eyes squinting to keep out the dust.
My feet hurt. I could feel the blisters start to form on the first day, and when I peeled off my sandals by the light of the fire that night, they were raw and bleeding. My eyes stung with tears at the thought putting those sandals back on in the morning. Father said nothing about the blisters, or my misty eyes, but he poured a few drops of our precious drinking water onto a cloth and gently washed my feet. The pain was almost more than I could bare, but I have never loved my father more; I have never felt his love for me more. Read More →