Category Archives: Heathen Healers

Don’t Know

A little over a month ago, a fellow church member sent out a note asking for help with an ESL and Welcome Center she started at her daughter’s school. It was the first time in a long time that I jumped at something. One because they offered childcare. Two because it was among a diverse group of people that wanted to learn English and I know English kinda good enough. And three because they had childcare.  The first time I showed up there was a Spanish speaking man with a great grasp on the language who told me a lot of his story.  I just sat a listened.  He has only come back once, because he is busy, and probably just came those times for fellowship in an otherwise boring day.  That is fine.

A month or so in I am the childcare often. With today at one point six kids under my charge, three of which didn’t speak English and none of which wanted to listen to me…including my own spawn. But I dealt, even though I was really close to not going today… because of Junior not listening anymore.

I went because I truly want my kid to know people of other colors and languages and personalities.  I want him to remember when he is 16 or 26 or 36 that not all people of color are moochers, terrorists, abusers, or untrustworthy.  I want him to remember a friend from when he was this age or 4 or 6 who he had a great time with and liked.  I also want the kids and parents there to see me,  a larger white male smiling and listening to them.  Because I know television dominates a lot of homes and time.  And I know a lot of the coverage on television is negative currently.

I don’t know if it will do any good.  I don’t know if Junior will grow up and move to a town with even less people of color (doubtful).   I don’t know if I will continue to be willing to smile and listen without speaking and groaning.  I don’t know if any of us will be as open as we are now again.

But I also don’t know what else to do to make this world okay.

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Filed under Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, The Jesus Way

Trust Broken

Our car was stolen last week. From our driveway, while it was warming up and deicing.  I had a feeling it might happen but needed to have a warm car for junior as we were already running late.  So my back was turned and inside the walls of our house.  When I opened the door after less than 2 minutes it was gone.  And it still is not back.

The first night as I tried to sleep I had dreams and visions. Dreams of what if…

What if I saw the car driving away and jumped inside and yanked the wheel to prevent the guy in a black hoodie from going far.

First we slammed into the neighbor’s Corvette across the street.

The second time I dreamt the scenario we hit the fence next to our driveway and then another neighbor Maria as she brought me cookies. I am sure the cookies had more to do with me wanting to cope eat than anything else.

After waking up and trying to sleep again, I pictured running at super speed down the road and seeing it stuck in traffic.  I saw myself opening the door and telling the driver to walk away or ELSE.

In all these half dreams I was a hero…instead of the guy that left a running car in his driveway.

As I write this I am riding the bus imagining what I would do if I see it pass by.

Honestly, I would take note and try to watch it but lose it because I am on the bus.  But in my daydreams I see me jumping in the back seat since I still have a key, calling the cops and being arrested because I carjacked the wrong car.

After those failed attempts at sleep, the beautiful Hannah and junior came home from a meeting.  She came to bed and we talked about how we are unharmed, and nothing major was inside the car but still worried about why it happened…then we prayed.  After the tears and cussing and crying and screaming at God I did while she was away, we just prayed.  As I prayed I said “Lord you tell us to love our enemies so I ask that you would show me how to do that.”  It didn’t feel like my own thought but we prayed.

I realized that whoever took the car is in the midst of an addiction. Whether to money or drugs or something that takes.  Because addictions take so you take to because you are addicted. They stole a debit card too and used it first at an ATM unsuccessfully and second at Safeway. To spend a lot on groceries potentially. Or maybe it was gift cards and a lot of things to make meth. But I like to think the former.

I’m an addict too. That story will come next week or so.  So today, I realized I am lucky to not have to pursue that life. I’ve made bad choices and told lies to cover them up in the past and recently. I am scared of jail and ever getting a job again.  That is why in the midst of my worst addictive behaviors I haven’t committed similar crimes.

But some people aren’t or can’t be scared. They made a choice a long time ago they are still being judged for. They sold drugs at 16 and now at 46 still have a felony. Or they were raised in a cycle that is harder to break than keeping going. So they steal and lie and cheat but honestly I am sure they would rather not have to.

At least that is the hope I have…and need to have to keep any belief that people are good.

 

PS.  If you are in Portland, we are still looking for it hopefully abandoned on a side street.  2010 charcoal grey Toyota Matrix.  Slight dent in front drivers side.  car seat base in back seat.   Green bin of paperwork in trunk.  Please call PDX non emergency with details…503-823-3333

 

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Filed under Freewrite, Heathen Healers, Marriage, The Jesus Way

Ferguson

Seven years ago when I moved to Portland I became an advocate for many things. I was unemployed, living off savings, just off overseas mission work…and fairly passionate compared to today. But I kept getting one response.

As I spoke to people about sex trafficking, labor trafficking, slave-like work conditions in America and where American products and food were made…

As I spoke with church members of my then new church about segregation in the church and about global riches and how we are privileged as Americans…

As I spoke about homeless issues and its overwhelmingness in Portland…

As I spoke about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and how we don’t feel at war…

As I spoke about my causes and passions…

I kept hearing from people they didn’t have the time to care. I mean that is a little blunter but my summary.

They wanted to but needed to get food on the table. Or only had one pair of work jeans and need to look professional to keep their job. They liked church but didn’t think they had time to make it multi-cultural or go to meeting about how to change it.

They didn’t have time.

I questioned how they didn’t have time to engage intellectually with world issues like Ferguson.

 

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Dr. Cornel West being arrested during a protest in Ferguson.

Fast forward to today…well Sunday. This was the call to worship…

http://www.christenacleveland.com/2014/11/adventdarkness/

Go ahead and read it. I’ll be here.

Now that I am married to the beautiful Hannah, and she gave birth our first born junior, and we bought a house. Now that all happened I spend more time wondering how to get food on the table than where all of it came from. I only have one pair of work jeans. And our budget—our globally rich dual income American household—is stretched every month. We have a kid that takes a lot of time to care for. We have a house that takes a lot of time and planning to take care of.

And…

Sadly…

I don’t have time for Ferguson. I don’t have time to tell people that racism is still happening and that power is still manipulated. I don’t have time to research what actually happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson. I don’t have the time to engage about the military equipment used against protesters being too much. Or if the protest groups are causing the police to show up in tanks because of what they are bringing.

I don’t have time to contemplate gender or income inequality. Although I believe they are issues.

I have no more emotional space. I have no more intellectual space. I have no more physical time.

I can’t follow blogs or stories because some have become too stuck in their position and I have heard it all before or… I disagree with them.

I barely have time to write this (most of it during the sermon after that call to worship).

I will be back one day. I will be back to advocating and debating and learning one day.

But until then I will fall asleep on the bus instead of reading. I will play with my son instead of writing another blog with the same thoughts as 30% of what you all read. And I will wash some more dishes to prevent ants and critters in our little home, instead of telling people to know where all their food and stuff is made. Although I care about it. I don’t have time.

But I ask, that those who do have time PLEASE advocate. Please write. Please read. And please for all that is right and holy, know and do something about what is happening in this state, country and world because I want it to be there when I am back!

 

 

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, Junior, Marriage, The Jesus Way, Transparency

Homeless awareness

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Last Friday morning I stood in Pioneer Square with about 200 people of various faiths, ages, genders and experiences.  We had walked about a mile through downtown checking out some of the various ministries that serve the homeless and were now standing in solidarity for a change.

It was a good event, but it was…

It was a little too much like walking through a zoo for me.  Groups of 40 people passed the homeless waiting outside buildings for a meal or services while we were escorted through.   There were a couple women having a cat fight while medics took care of another woman inside.  Those becoming aware of homeless issues just listened about how there were services offered at this location to a vulnerable population.

While a massive group that had engulfed my solitary walk a few blocks before entered one of the largest shelters in town, a woman screamed, “I am homeless, are you aware of that?”

I knew I was done.  I followed the group into a large room that had been remodeled to fit more people for events, and listened to a sales pitch I had heard a few times before.  I slowly moved to the outside of the group and then busted for the same door that the homeless use to escape the loud dining hall.

I walked past another couple minders and jumped the MAX to our final destination.    I was glad for the warmth of the train, because it was cold out and I couldn’t really take it.  I felt like one of those I was supposed to become aware of as I was eyed for not even pausing at the ticket machine.  Except unlike most of the homeless that get judged, I had a job that provided me an annual transit pass, which was in my pocket.

As I exited the light rail train…after one stop…I walked towards my employment as I have most weekdays for the last five years, but stopped in the square for a cup of mediocre coffee from the big blue bus filling a need.  I looked at the vendors and realized I have them in the Rolodex of info in my head but haven’t really used it.

While tempted to just head to a warm office, I stood there for the hour of the presentation…on the outside of the circle…near the homeless and the travelers who were just in the square for the coffee.  I, like they, became very cold just standing there and started moving.  The whole time I kept an eye on the clock to “respect my employer”…or honestly, to get out of the cold and be able to sit down.   I enjoyed the presentation but was a little tired of hearing about the problem while it is still everywhere around us and seeming to get worse.

As I left and walked the three blocks to my paying job, I felt not very different from 2 hours before when I started the walk.  I realized I can’t take the cold and wondered why anyone would choose to be homeless in this weather.  I wondered if I would ever be able to relate to the population that my heart seems drawn to help.  If I would be gracious, kind and generous enough to help.  Or if I would continue to judge both the homeless and the suburban churches who help them differently than I do or would.

Along the way, I sent four people to the big blue bus for coffee as they walked around to get warm.  Then as I walked into my nice office building…with 3 layers of clothing, time -faded jeans and hiking boots…I was looked suspiciously at by the fill-in security guard.   He stared at me while I boarded the elevator and then watched the security cam of what I would assume was the elevator’s camera.

It took an hour for my feet to warm up, my knees hurt until after lunch and I had a headache all day.  And all I did was stand for an hour on some hard bricks and walked less than a mile.  Maybe I did become aware of the plight of the homeless.  Maybe the cold taught me something about having and using resources.

It would be great if we thought of them, and did something that would make them thankful for us this holiday season.

I bet a smile, pair of socks and question of how they feel will go a long way! 

If you need some place to donate time or money in the PDX area please comment below and I’ll hook you up!

 

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Filed under Freewrite, Global Community, Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People

Woe!

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As I have once again started reading news and blogs about the US political system and international struggles I came across this verse.  It sums up what I think about it all succinctly.

 

Isaiah 10:1-2

New International Version (NIV)

10 Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.

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Filed under Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way, Three O Clock People