Thursday, October 06, 2016

Thankful Thursday

Where do I begin? At the beginning. At the source.
Thanks be to God.
Thanks to my friends and family and classmates and professors.

I am one month away from the four year anniversary of my kanswer diagnosis.
Which is (almost) mind-blowing to me - how can four years have passed already?
I am grateful for how well I feel and how strong I feel every day.
Kanswer sucks and so does kanswer treatment. I am grateful for every chance I get to share hope and encouragement with others who are on their own kanswer journeys.

I am three days away from visiting a young 30-something year old who was diagnosed with kanswer almost two years ago. She had three small children at the time - and was diagnosed with breast and ovarian kanswer. Miraculously, truly miraculously, she came through the treatment extremely well and strong... so strong that she and her husband now have a fourth child. In three days, I will go spend some time with them and meet that brand new baby girl. When my friend discovered she was pregnant, she was advised to terminate the pregnancy because the hormonal changes could bring on a recurrence of the aggressive kanswer she had just gotten through. A few times when she has posted photos of her gorgeous baby on Facebook, she refers to the day and the moment when she chose the life of that precious little girl over her own. There are many, many hundreds of people (if not thousands!) who are glad that they are both alive and well, thriving and bursting with joy. I can't wait to hold that chubby little one in my arms. She's quite chunky and juicy - and her mother appropriately calls her "Squish."
I am grateful for the miracle that is every newborn baby.

I am grateful for apple orchards, fresh pressed apple cider, and hot apple donuts.
I am grateful for olive oil, coconut oil, and canola oil - and all the delicious foods made with them.
I am grateful for gas stations with gas. We have had gas shortages here in Charlotte more than once in the past few years - and it is a disconcerting thing to not know when gas will be available again.

I am grateful for excellent customer service. Last week, I had to call Directv because we were having trouble with our service after a strong storm had passed through the area. The woman I spoke to walked me through resetting our system and together we resolved the issue. As she diagnosed the problem, we shared stories about our kanswer journeys (she had a brain tumor a few years ago) and laughed and groaned and wished each other well. And then she offered us an update to our system at no cost; as it turns out, being a long term customer of an overpriced entertainment system sometimes has its benefits.

I am grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at the Loaves and Fishes food pantry again today.
I am grateful for the other volunteers, for our camaraderie, for the laughter we share, and for the compassion we feel for those who come and request assistance.
I am grateful for the chance to talk briefly with the four year old twins who came in with their mom. With matching outfits and braids. Energy and smiles.
I am grateful for the woman who promised that the next time she came, she would be bringing food to donate.
I am grateful for the supermarkets, the private donors, and the individuals that donate food to the pantry.
I am grateful to my church for providing the space for the largest Loaves and Fishes distribution site in our city.
I am grateful that I was able to use my Spanish to assist two beautiful, pregnant Guatemalan women who came. One said she was shocked that I could speak Spanish so well. It still shocks me.

Speaking of Spanish and Spain... I am grateful for the memories of my first visit to Spain thirty years ago right now. It was the first semester of my senior year in college and I studied in Madrid for four months. Those four months transformed the way I think about travel, about language, about being alone, about exploring cities, about courage, about the Catholic faith, and about being grateful for the ordinary things I too frequently took for granted. Like food and shelter, like public transportation and snail mail. I am sooooooooo grateful for Spain, for the many times I have been able to return since 1986, and for my Spanish friends, who are much more like family.

A couple of weeks ago, I was an angry black woman.
I'm still pretty angry about all those same things.
But tonight I am also a grateful black woman.
I am grateful that my city is calm again.
I am grateful that the intersections where fires were started and windows were broken have been cleaned up.
I am grateful for the members of the clergy and other concerned citizens returned to the place where the young man was shot during the protests to pray and reconsecrate the ground where his blood was shed.
I am grateful for the fiercely courageous people who put themselves between protestors and the police, who begged for calm, who sang, who linked arms with strangers in walls of protection, who took photos and made videos of what was really happening on the streets, and who continue to do so.
I am grateful for the prayer vigils, church services, peaceful marches, and other gatherings that have happened and are still being planned here in Charlotte.
I am grateful for how the hard work of healing is pulling so many people together. This is the work that doesn't get televised. This is the work that ignorant people say must be done before they will concede that black lives matter. This is the work that fear-mongerers and hate-mongerers deny in order to keep fear and hate alive. This is the very work that the "friend" of a Facebook friend said isn't happening, even though I posted links and photos proving that it is happening. And this is the work that has been happening in this city for a long time. It didn't start after Mr. Scott was murdered.
I am grateful that the anger that drove the protestors to the streets two weeks ago is being channeled into deeper conversations about race and segregation, about justice and peace, about how to not just go back to the ways things used to be.
I am grateful for the conversations I have had with people in their 80s, 60s, 40s, 20s and everywhere in between about how to make friends across racial lines, how to respond (and not respond) to racist comments, and how to not lose their composure when conversations go poorly.
I am grateful for hope.
I am grateful that love is already winning.

I am four weeks, almost five weeks, into my second year of seminary.
I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Asking questions. Not finding too many answers.
Being pushed to rethink everything I thought I knew about the Bible,
about theology, about the church, about this country.
Being pushed to push back against the things my professors say and the things that other students say.
Being pushed to examine my places of privilege - marital privilege, heterosexual privilege, socio-economic privilege, educational privilege.
Being pushed to recognize that I hide in my comfortable life a lot. I talk a big game about equality and justice and racism and prejudice, but what am I doing to change the system within which I live quite comfortably?
I am grateful for the discomfort I feel and for the knowledge that it's never going away completely.
I am grateful that the seminary has not shied away from talking about what has been happening here in Charlotte. I am grateful for the obvious discomfort that some of my classmates have experienced, because we can't fix what we don't admit is wrong. We can't serve our city and our churches with any efficacy if we cannot talk about race and racism. We are in the south. We are in North Carolina. We have race problems here. If we, as ministers and church leaders, aren't willing to wade into these deep socially and politically dangerous waters, then I'm not sure we should be ministers. Not in the 21st century. Not in a country that is threatening to elect a man who is openly sexist, racist, xenophobic, and not ashamed of any of those things as our president.

I could go on and on and on.
In my heart, my mind, and my journal, I will go on.
But I will stop here.

One more thing - thanks be to God.

No comments: