Sometimes you need to find a way to line the unlined...but what if those lines don’t look the way you think?Read More
This morning, after I dropped Little Man off at school, I started to walk away. He turned around and waved for me to come back saying, "Come on, Mommy!" I told him that I couldn't go in with him, that he needed to go to Kindergarten and I needed to go to work.
"Oh, okay, Mommy! Bye!"
And he turned around, and followed the line into school.
My heart swelled up as I watched him, his little body disappearing as he walked through the door, and down the hallway. So grown and yet still so, so small.
It didn't hit me the first day, or the second, but it definitely hit me today. And I was overwhelmed with the sense of pride, trepidation, wonder, and fear of sending my Little Man out into the world.
As Baby Boy and I walked back to the car, I thought about all that my Little Man will face in the coming year and in the coming years. I thought about his excitement and joy in school, and I can't help but hope and pray that he will maintain that. I thought about his goodness and kindness, and can't help but hope and pray that he doesn't lose that.
I also couldn't help but have a little catch of my breath in my throat as I remembered all those little boys and girls just a few years ago who walked into a kindergarten classroom in Connecticut but never walked out. How big they felt, but how small they were. How they had their lives ahead of them, full of hope and promise. Just like my Little Man. My heart wept for those children. And I couldn't but take a moment to pray that the children in Little Man's school, and all schools, would never face that kind of horror again.
Also, although I live in fear for my boys of an unhinged person with too much anger, too much weaponry, and not enough compassion, I can't help but hope and pray that Little Man will not lose his own fearlessness and courage in facing the world.
He heads into a world that I couldn't have imagined in my childhood. That I can hardly imagine now. And it will take all the excitement and joy, the goodness and kindness, the courage and the fearlessness that is in him to face that world.
And so I will love him and support him. Nurture that excitement and joy and remind him to be good and kind. Encourage his courage, and teach him how to be safe while spreading his wings and jumping fearlessly into the world.
And today, I will pick up his Little Man self from school, hold his hand, and walk down the sidewalk, my heart swelling with love and pride and trepidation and wonder and fear and all the swirling emotions of parenthood.
And I will hope and pray...
On a day, not unlike today, many years ago, I went to the pharmacy.
My younger sister, a severe asthmatic with nasty allergies, was out of her asthma medication, and needed a refill. She was having more trouble than usual that day, I remember. I think it’s because she was sick. Sickness, even a cold, always make her asthma worse.
I haven’t thought about this day in years, so my memories of the details of when and why all of this happened are a bit fuzzy. But I think my parents were out of town and that’s why I went to the pharmacy. Whatever the reason was, because I was her sister, I wasn’t allowed by the person working the pharmacy desk to pick up her meds.
I argued, pleaded with the person to just let me pay for and take the meds home to my sister. She needed them, I said. She needed them to breathe.
“Tell her to just breathe.”
That was the response.
As if she could.
“Tell her to just breathe.”
Throughout my sister’s short life, people vastly underestimated her asthma and allergies. She was making it up, they would claim. She was a drama queen just wanting attention, they laughed. She was exaggerating, it couldn’t be that bad, they would tsk. I had asthma once, I grew out of it, it’s not that bad, they would lecture.
Time after time. Classmates, teachers, strangers, friends…they all would belittle her claims and her needs. They had never seen asthma do to a person what she said it did to her, so even when they witnessed one of her attacks, they thought that she was putting on a show and so they ignored it.
Then, one day, on a day not unlike today, she had one final asthma attack. The paramedics tried…but there was nothing they could do. She wanted to breathe, she really did…she just couldn’t.
After all was said and done, so many people expressed shock that her asthma had been life threatening.
She knew. But no one listened.
How often we do that. Not listen when someone is trying to tell us their lived experience. They try to tell us, but we laugh it off. It’s not in my experience, we say, so you must be exaggerating, making it up. I’ve never seen it happen, we tsk, you must not be telling us the whole story, because there’s no way that’s real. If they would just [_______], then it wouldn’t happen… “Tell her to just breathe”.
Time after time. Classmates, teachers, strangers, friends…we discount and belittle the claims of our sisters and brothers because we’ve never seen or experienced such a thing in our lives. And so, when we do see something, we diminish it. Write it off. Discount it. Cast it as a one off, an anomaly.
And then something happens.
Like on a day not unlike today, when a man, with a concealed carry permit willfully disclosed to a police officer during a routine traffic stop, gets shot for having a weapon…the one he legally had and willfully disclosed.
And then we express shock that such a thing could happen to a good guy, from a good family, with a good job, who was forthcoming and compliant, with a small child in the backseat.
But he knew. And he knew. And he knew. And she knew. And zhe knew. We just didn’t listen.
We need to start listening. When people tell us their lived experience, we need to listen. Not diminish, not excuse, not explain, not express disbelief because it’s not our own lived experience. Just listen.
And then, when we’re done listening, we need to take that knowledge and do something. Change something. Do better. Be better.
Lives are at stake.
I’ve been away. I know it. I didn’t intend to stay away this long, and yet…I did.
I could launch a thousand excuses as to why. Work got busy (we built a bell tower). Life got busy (we had a baby). I worried I had nothing new to add to the conversation (does anyone, really?).
But, at the end of it all is this: I simply didn’t make this a priority.
I kept paying my monthly webhosting fees, and when the domain came up for renewal a few months ago, I let it. But I didn’t do anything with this site…just let it sit dormant for almost a year.
And then, just the other day, I thought:
Dang it. Just make time.
A little over a year ago, I attended CREDO, an opportunity for pastors in the PCUSA (there’s a version for the Episcopal’s too…in fact, they invented it). As a part of the process, we’re supposed to create a “plan” for becoming healthier professionally and personally, in all sorts of ways. One of the elements of my plan was to create.
Create visual things. Create worshippy things. Create educational things. Write.
So, over the last year, I’ve been working on it. I’ve taught myself Adobe Illustrator, and now I’m working on Photoshop. I’m working on teaching myself a font creator software to expand my creative outlets.
I’ve made stoles and given myself permission to be more creative in worship (and not worry so much about it being “cheesy”).
I’ve given a great deal of thought to a number of programs that I’d like to give life to, although that got pushed off because of pregnancy and maternity leave, if I’m going to be honest.
But, I haven’t given myself the permission to write. I get up in my head about it, and I start circling around all those thoughts that I’ve had before.
As the one year anniversary of my CREDO plan approaches, I realize that I haven’t followed through on the biggest part of what I determined during that incredibly formative week would give me life.
And so, today, I start again. I give myself permission to write and, as Anne Lamott says, write a shitty first draft. Who knows, you may well read numerous shitty first drafts as I work towards my ultimate goal of writing something truly worthy of putting out there in the world.