I had a working coffee date yesterday afternoon that unexpectedly reminded me of one of the reasons I stepped away from blogging.
That sounds like a negative comment, but the meeting was anything but negative. Quick summary: The organization I work for offers financial education classes a couple of times a year to clients who are making real strides in moving toward stability. The kids belonging to these folks need a safe place to be for the two Saturdays their parents are in class, and one of my duties as Volunteer Coordinator is to find groups that will provide a day for the kids that includes supervision, activities, and lunch.
Finding volunteers to take on this type of task is where my 13 years in local ministry comes in handy. (DISCLAIMER for any new readers out there: my background is in leftist, progressive theology. For my own peace of mind I always make that fact clear.) I have a lot of relationships I can leverage, and I have enough street cred that I’m able to build a lot of new partnerships. In this instance I reached out to the youth director of a church I’ve worked with in the past.
Chris is…awesome. To look at him, you’d think he’s the stereotypical super-hip fundamentalist pastor-type. (If you have much background in church work, you’ll know what I mean. If you don’t, watch this hilarious but all-to-realistic parody.) In fact, that’s Chris’s history. But he had an epiphany somewhere in young adulthood, and is now among the most “woke” guys I know.
So Chris and I were discussing the plans for his group’s day of supervising 14 kids from rough neighborhoods and traumatic backgrounds. One concern I had was that he was bringing teens and adults from a super-affluent suburban church to manage this event, and these well-meaning folks might be a little…ummm…shocked by the challenges of hanging out for a day with the urban kids they were charged with.
Chris reminded me, though, of where he’s at and where his ministry is at. He’s heavy-duty involved with issues of racial justice, and he’s brought his youth group along with him on the journey. The work they do together involves examining their privilege and learning to respond with love and grace to injustice. It’s an uphill battle, as these teens’ parents are largely coming from the extremely opposite ideological stance.
Our talk about the day of the financial education class quickly moved on to how we’re coping with the brutal ugliness of the current U.S. president and the ass-kissers in the White House and Congress who let him get away with sickeningly unacceptable words and actions (it was the day after the “s**t-hole countries” comment). Chris described to me the night of November 8, 2016, when his kindergarten daughter went to bed thrilled that she’d helped her mama vote for “the girl,” and how proud she was going to be when she woke up to the first woman president. Choking back tears (yes, over a year later it still makes me cry) I shared my own traumatic memories of that night.
It was an emotional way to end the week. I made a conscious effort to take away with me, though, the glimmer of hope that comes from the work my friend Chris does with his teens to change attitudes; the work he’s doing to change the world.
To come full circle, how did all this remind me of one of the reasons I quit blogging? The problem is, I can’t not write about the despicable and deliberate damage being done to our nation by those in charge. By voters who could sweep race-baiting, sexual assault, and lying under the rug and still vote for the person who is now our 45th president.
It’s on my mind every moment of every day. I continue to go about the everyday life tasks of managing a full-time job, a house, and a family. But looming constantly in the background is a deep and abiding disgust and fear that can’t help but come out in my writing. And I figure readers probably don’t want to hear that in every post.
But here I am, at it again. The more things change, the more they stay the same.