Thursday, June 08, 2017

Thankful Thursday

So much to be grateful for, my friends.

* gorgeous bright sunny day today - and not too hot.

* the fact that when the tree fell from our yard onto our neighbor's car (yikes!), there was no one in the car and, in fact, they were planning to get rid of the car anyway. PLUS the woman who lives there works with a tree cutting company and she said she can get the family discount to have that tree (and a couple of others that need to come down before they fall down) taken care of.

* my third grade tutee and I had a fun last session together today. School ends for the public schools here in Charlotte tomorrow. I am grateful to have had time to read with her, review math with her, and also talk to her about how not to be a bully, how not to fight, and how to be a better friend, sister, and daughter. I hope HT has a fantastic summer. I will miss her stories and her smiles.

* my daughter made carrot cake for dessert tonight. We didn't have cream cheese for her to make the traditional cream cheese frosting, so she made a glaze with fresh squeezed orange juice, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Can't wait to taste it - which I will do as soon as I publish this post.

* time spent by the lake with my dear friend and her rambunctious puppy. Laughter and stories, training and Portuguese water dog antics in the lake and the swimming pool (I seriously wish I could live his life!)

* new friends, long walks, and soul connections

* old friends, lunch dates, and deep conversations

* attending a session this past Monday evening put on by MeckMin related to Charlotte Uprising, the rallies and marches, protests and other public responses to the September 20, 2016 shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Their stories of fear and hope, courage and determination in the face of injustice, violence, and mistreatment by police officers unnerved us all. Those men and women demonstrated both poise and anger, both hope and frustration - and they are all still standing strong, still doing their work on behalf of those whose voices go frequently unheard, hugging one another, sharing essential oils to keep each other calm, and laughing between their tears. They inspired and challenged me as well as everyone else who sat under the sound of their quivering voices.

- Here are a few of the quotes that caught my attention and have given me much to ponder:

+ For far too long, we've done far too little.
+ Listening is an act of love. We have to listen to people's pain all the way down to the bottom. We cannot turn away just because we get uncomfortable.
+ I am brave - and sick and tired of this conversation about race and racism.
+ Is it impossible to stop killing people?
+ The uprising didn't start last September.
+ I was never in front, but I stood beside some beautiful souls out there.
+ It's my duty to fight for freedom - and it's also yours.
+ We had to be prepared because every second counts in a war zone.
+ I showed up because I love my people.
+ I'm not a religious person. I'm a Christian. There's a difference.
+ I didn't see Christ out there. I saw hate.
+ You need to use your voice. You need to have the courage to act.
+ Shame on us (in the church for not doing more and being more courageous.)
+ You created racism; you need to fix it.
+ I will keep showing up, no matter how tired I get.

* attending another MeckMin-sponsored event last night - at one of the mosques here in Charlotte several Muslim brothers and sisters spoke to a curious and attentive crowd about Ramadan and what it means to them to fast from sunrise to sunset for an entire month. There was also a Baptist minister on the docket who spoke about fasting from his experience and perspective. An older Jewish gentlemen rightly pointed out the oversight of not having someone Jewish speaking about their faith and the practice of fasting.  In response to a question I asked, young women and older women, talked about their pride and joy in wearing hijab.

Just before 8:30 pm, the Muslims in attendance were offered dates and bottled water to break their fast. They remained in their worship space for their prayers while most of the non-Muslim attendees headed for their large cafeteria to wait. My daughter, my friend, Kate, and I stayed and watched them as they prayed. My daughter later told me that she was deeply moved by being in the space with them as they knelt and bowed down in prayer. There is something sacred about bending the knee in supplication and thanksgiving. When the prayers were concluded, we joined them for iftar, the rather elaborate and absolutely delicious meal they had prepared.

We sat at the dinner table with two Muslim women, one an adult and the other a teenager, who talked to us about both the courage it takes to wear hijab these days and also about the mounting concern about praying in public. The teenager reminded us about their commitment to praying five times a day, regardless of where they are. She said it used to be safe to just kneel and pray, even outdoors. Nowadays, she said that if two people are together in a public place at prayer time, one will kneel and the other will keep watch. Shame on us - that this nation that claims to have been founded in response to a lack of religious freedom elsewhere has become a place where its citizens are no longer confident that they can safely practice their religion.

 I hope to have more opportunities to sit with people whose experiences are so different from my own; there is so much to learn from everyone I encounter. Everyone.

As we ate and talked, children ran around the tables and chairs - and tripped and fell.
Food slipped from overloaded plates onto the floor and was ground into the carpet.
Plates were left on tables and napkins drifted down to the floor beneath.
Mothers admonished their children to finish their food and wipe their mouths.
Teenagers chatted while they nibbled on cupcakes.
Men moved chairs from one place to another.
Someone talked too long.
Someone didn't get to talk enough.
It was life in community. Life in a community of faith.
It was funny. It was hopeful.
It was beautiful. It was messy.
It was prayerful. It was sobering.
It was human. It was holy.

I am grateful.
So very grateful.

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