Sunday, July 31, 2016

When Wedding Fund Turns Adventure Fund

Oooh...that last blog was a bit painful to reread.  Many things have changed since then, though some things have stayed the same.  I still live in Saint Paul, but with a different roommate from college (all three of us get together on Thursday nights though!). I completed year one of my grad program to get certified to teach K-12 ELL and will student teach this spring.  I own a fish.

A couple months ago my love story imploded.
(Couldn't think of a smooth transition there. Sorry.)    

 A card I received exactly when I needed it
Through challenging circumstances and what seemed to be the same conversation over and over again...thoughts of calling off the wedding and ending the relationship resided only in my mind's shadows, but they dawned bright as my imagined future loomed gray, devoid of peace and trust, and not brimming with the life I wanted. 

Some truths have emerged from the aftermath of heartbreak.  

The hardest thing you can imagine doing is what you have to do.  This truth struck two in fact.  This truth gets you through telling your mom and the mom you would have called your mother-in-law how things ended, how wedding arrangements will be canceled and family and friends notified.  This truth gets you through cutting off all contact with a man you loved deeply, a man you made plans with, dreamed with.  I can't count the number of times I have embodied this truth since the beginning of May, at times clearly marching towards my green light and at others fiercely clinging to a whispered mantra "You can do hard things.  You can do hard things.  You can do hard things."   

Journey with your grief.  The ending of an engagement is a unique grief.  It's not only the loss of love, but the loss of dreams and hopes.  And it lacks the finality of death.  I listened again to this Upper Room podcast about lament in the weeks following.  Sheryl encourages listeners to "journey with your grief," to commit to the whole process of death, burial, and resurrection.  Maybe it's the forward movement implied in "journey" that gave me hope when I was afraid of my sadness, confused with my anger.   She says "There's no growth without change.  There's no change without loss.  And there's no loss without pain."  I felt like I was starting on the "pain" side of the equation and desperately hoping for this experience to grow me into someone better and not worse.  Now, I ride out the waves of grief.  I don't fear sadness. 

"Only anguish leads to life, only grieving leads to joy, and only embraced endings permit new beginnings." Walter Brueggemann (2001)

This blog won't wrap up like a perfect 3-point sermon.  Or maybe that is the third truth: I'm still in this.  Not too long after our ending, I was trying to make sense of what happened (really, I was trying to control my pain) and already trying to figure out why this had happened, what was I supposed to learn, and how was I supposed to change...all while I was still very much in the midst of it.  I feel like I was dumped on some foreign planet and I have no idea what to do.  But...I'll figure it out as I need to.  Shelter?  Check.  Food?  Check.  Friends and family that rally when needed?  Check. 

Now, to the title of this blog.  I know the responsible thing to do would be to take this money and put it towards my student loans.  But Responsible Kadie is taking a three-week vacation (literally) to Romania to hear Gratiela laugh, spend as much time in the Bates' kitchen as they'll allow, enjoy all the soup I can, and take in the unique beauty that is Romania.  I plan to fall in love all over again.  In a surprising moment of panic, I recently asked my mom "Romania...what if it's not the same?"  She wisely asked "Well, are you the same?"  No.  No, I'm not.  And this is a good thing.  

"You are partnering in the ongoing creation of your actual life, which is endlessly unfolding, artfully constructed, and filled with hidden beginnings that sometimes flow out of unexpected endings."  Steve Wiens (2015)


Friday, January 16, 2015

For Two Children

It is the beginning of class.  We are reviewing some “introduction”-type questions that students may be asked at the beginning of their Naturalization interview.  These are questions “just to check their English.”  Students work in pairs and I move towards the back of the room to work with two women.

“Elizabeth, what do you miss about your old country?”

The confused look on her face prompts me to rephrase or “grade” the question.

“Elizabeth, when you think [pointing to my head] of Sudan what do you think about…what do you see?  Do you ‘miss’ …[hand on my heart]…your family, your friends…do you miss your town…do you miss the weather?”

Her whole body suddenly becomes alert and out comes a stream of English so fast I can’t catch it. 

What do you miss, Elizabeth?” 

The second outpouring is just as fast, but this time, it hits me straight on.  I’m not ready for it.  I am so naive. 

“I miss my children…my two children.  I don’t know where they are.  The fighting…I don’t know if they are in a camp.  I don’t know if they are alive.  I don’t know if they are dead.”

I’m shocked and I reach for her hand as both our eyes fill with tears.  For a few seconds all I can do is squeeze her hand. 

“I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.” I finally manage to say.  The student next to Elizabeth is also from Sudan, and she’s looking—not at Elizabeth—but off in the corner.  She has her own demons. 

It’s only the beginning of class. 

I quietly ask my volunteer to go next door and grab a box of tissues, while Elizabeth dabs at her eyes with her scarf and pairs continue to ask each other “How did you get here today?  Why do you want to be an American citizen?”  I’m trying to find my breath…I have to keep it together for the next two hours. 

And I do.

But now I’m home…and the tears blur my computer screen. 

I am so sad…so heartbroken for Elizabeth…for some many with stories like hers.  Everyday…that unknowing, that fear, that right under the surface.  If I start to imagine…the sound of bullets and trucks…the mass of people yelling, screaming…running, tripping…fleeing for their lives…

I CAN’T.  I can’t go there in my mind and keep functioning.  There are people…so many people tonight…who are living and breathing…FEAR. 

But I’m not one of them.  I don’t know what to do.  I’m so angry.  But more than angry, I’m…so…sad.  No one should live in fear.

Elizabeth, wherever your children are, I’m lighting two candles for them…and one for you.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Baby Jesus, the Refugee

It’s not part of the Christmas story that gets emphasized…baby Jesus and his parents’ nighttime escape to Egypt soon after His birth…the reigning King Herod’s fearful and furious command to kill all boys under two years of age living in and near Bethlehem.  (Matthew 2: 13-18)

Baby Jesus…the refugee. 

I wonder how Mary and Joseph, the earthly mother and father of Jesus, survived in Egypt.  How did they “make it?”  How did Joseph find work?  Did Mary make friends?  What about their families back home?  Were Mary and Joseph able to send any word of their midnight flight to Egypt?  Did their families give up hope and succumb to grief, believing the young family had perished under Herod’s orders?  Did they feel safe in Egypt…with no documentation?  Who welcomed them, showed them kindness?

Sadly this Biblical story plays out everyday in our world.  Today mothers and fathers are fleeing with their children across borders or jumping into rickety boats to escape corrupt regimes and violent rebel groups. 

Everyday. Right now. 

While Christmas lights twinkle and endless advertisements for holiday sales flicker across our screens, whole communities are being displaced and families torn apart in the chaotic flight for survival and safety.  
(Photo courtesy of darialvovsky on Etsy)
It’s easy at this time of year to picture the tender Nativity scene, and see Jesus as a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.  But can we see Jesus in the refugee from Bhutan or Eritrea or Iraq?  Can we see Jesus wrapped in two jackets and riding the bus to English class or shuffling quietly behind her shopping cart in the grocery store? 

I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, ‘this is hungry Jesus; I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him.’ ~Mother Teresa

Christians believe the baby Jesus was prophesied in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures as being Immanuel, “God with us.”  God has come among us.  He’s come to Sioux Falls. 

Will we welcome Him?