It’s just struck me that, long before we had the knowledge and research and psychologists, church leaders knew a thing or two about behavior change. We don’t change ingrained habits and thoughts in a day or two; even after a week or two we are likely to slip back into old ways. But 40 days? That’s a good start to change, to a new perspective, to remembrance. I’m staring at my bowl of lentils and brown rice, and part of me is selfish and irritable because they aren’t what I WANT right now. But the other part? The other part know how unbelievably, how extraordinarily blessed I am–really, I am filthy rich. I am the world’s 1%. I am the camel trying to go through the eye of the needle.
I’ve been heavy-hearted these last two weeks. February/March last year held loss, a lot of it: a very close family friend, my dear Oma, a young girlfriend, and a cousin’s grandfather. It felt like all I did was work and travel for funerals. It felt like we were getting beaten when we were already down. I’ve realized I’ve not really grieved, not fully. That terrible two weeks really started what’s turned out to be a crazy year. After all the funerals, I had two out-of-country trips, decided to quit my at-that-point-very-stressful job, resigned and started the hectic process of closing out a patient panel, decided to move to Baltimore for grad school, searched for housing from afar, moved out of my lovely home with my great roommates and neighborhood, left church/friends/community/volunteering that I loved and (finally) felt deeply connected to, moved halfway across the country (in a crazy interminable road trip which I survived mainly due to the presence of a dear friend), started a new grad program in a new place, tried to make new friends/community, find a new church and grocery store, and generally make a life here. Just as all that was getting settled, my grandfather died. I’m telling you, this year has not stopped. If I were the hamster, I’d have worn the wheel out by now. So I recognize a need for some rest, time to grieve and process and find solace, to remember. I’m not sure when that will come as my program apparently believes we are all robots and not humans. Perhaps spring break. Maybe summer. But I know that it needs to happen.
This weekend I had the opportunity to road trip up to Philly for the Justice Conference. It was good to get away (even if that meant 10 of us crashing at a rowhouse of a friend of a friend), to be reminded. That the work of doing justice is hard, it is challenging, it requires perseverance, it is messy, it is uncomfortable, it will be opposed–but it is good. And every once in awhile we are given an incredible glimpse into the stories, the lives, where justice was brought out of injustice, beauty from ashes. Really what I hoped for out of this weekend was not anything fresh or new (after all, the call is from of old: love mercy, do justly, walk humbly with your God); but rather it was to be reminded, to remember. To fan the flame that flickers in the midst of a self-centered, self-gratifying culture in which it is far to easy to ignore and avoid the orphan, the widow, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the oppressed, the abused, the poor, the slave, the unwanted. To be reminded that we are not alone, that we will never be left alone.
I’m ready for March, for spring, for promised newness.