Easement

I live and breathe my current life around a variation of humans whose stories differ greatly. I grew up, spending high school and college, primarily in white, Christian, suburban life.
This present season of my young adult life, I work and live in a workplace and neighborhood that lets me meet and get to know fantastic people from other lifestyles, other religions, other parts of the world. Some of them have become dear, dear friends.

A season of external diversity, these past two years, has also ushered in some intern diversity–by that, I mean newfound discomforts stemming from challenged perspectives and discovery of frustrating health problems. Completely unrelated in their aligned timing, I often find myself struggling as I wonder why these two walk together.

—-Joy & Pain.  —-Desired learning & provoked research.
—-Stories of growth & reports of failure.  —-Dreams come true & fears coming to past.

Why must they hold hands?

As I wrestle with thoughts and fears, those at my side ask me to look beyond myself.

Those dear, dear friends of mine, and so many more, face similar struggles as they have asked their own “why’s”. Coming from different homes, sacrificing different things, leaving different family members, statuses, communities, jobs, or friends, finding new versions of all this here in this place I call home.
Their beauty and sorrow always walk hand in hand. I’m not alone. 

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I learned a new word the other day. Amidst all that life brings, we all seek it:

EASEMENT // “The state or feeling of comfort or peace”

It seems that many times we deem it necessary to go to great lengths or obtain huge achievements to find such a peace.IMG_4025

A good friend works directly with newly-arriving refugee families. He was telling me the other day of a small blessing. Being out at an appointment with a
refugee family through the lunch hour, he found himself rather hungry, but unable to go shopping. A simple prayer to God asked for no more than a banana to tide him over. Less than a minute later, the father of the family  my friend was helping appeared with a banana and offered it to him. After some refusal and reasoning, he graciously accepted this answer to his silent request. Later, as we talked, he found himself so satisfied and humbled by this gift and showcase that the Lord is near.

This friend of mine is here with his family, having arrived to the United States only ten months ago. He could easily be pleading for greater things, huge fixes to significant struggles, or life-changing provisions. Instead he has kept his faith and trust simple. Many days it seems comfort and peace– easement– are his.

I pondered to myself: how many of us who have the option to struggle and seek more, are first willing to silently ask for the banana?
Perhaps easement more often comes through simple faiths, small asks and ceasing to wrestle so hard. 

 

 

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Embrace Your Raw

One reason I think it’s so hard for humans in our society to embrace their own brokenness is because we are taught to evaluate each other’s lives through social display– Facebook posts, instagram, what you look and act like when you show up to work, a party, church, or the like.

Say, “I!” if you like to show off your struggle.

[insert crickets chirping]

It is far more convenient to mask our trials, our real and raw feelings and our flaws. Even as I began to post on Instagram, this photo screamed at me, pleading with me for a filter to smooth out my eye bags or uneven skin tones.

I realized at some point along the journey this past year that the way I was displaying myself led people I dared to be raw with to be rather shocked by the brokenness or hurt I was experiencing.

Because we are unwilling or perhaps disabled in this, we often live in fear of the judgment of others, of putting their comfort on the line, or of being seen as less than.

I may be generalizing in some ways. It’s not that we all need to begin a public pity party or be vulnerable in everything, but we also don’t need to be hiding the pain that’s a real part of life and thus training each other to not be incompatible with the raw wounds. We may even be harnessing shame to the situation by subtly asking people to cover their open sores. They’re ugly sores and we don’t want to see or smell them, much less feel them.
How could we possibly reflect Jesus if we only know how to rejoice with those who rejoice, but when someone mourns, we seek to fix their pain as quickly as possible because we just can’t handle it?

Such goes one of my favorite lines from a modern day Christian radio song: “Show your wounds. Show your flaws. Show them why you still need the cross.”


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Counter the Culture, Put God on display?

Moments of divine truth often stem from the oddest places or come forth from the mouths of unlikely persons. But interestingly enough, the odd or unlikely labels we default to often end up being a product of our culture. Society tells me who I should be hearing truth or receiving blessing from and it’s not necessarily reflective of God’s long standing style.
Yesterday brought me four unplanned meetings… Well, unplanned by me, but clearly set up by God. Sometimes people of the Word call these “divine appointments”.

One of four divine appointments  yesterday was with a sojourning brother named Henry. I saw him hanging outside Little Caesars across the street from my apartments and the Spirit of God wouldn’t let me take my focus off him, so I introduced myself. That divine appointment was for me. The Lord reinforced a lot of truth in my life through Henry’s story, his words, his resilience through his current house-less situation and I was blessed. I was with another brother at the time. He happened to be around when I caught site of Henry and walked away from our conversation to introduce myself. I watched my brother’s rush to pray for Henry, to the point where he couldn’t stop and just listen to Henry’s story. He quickly provoked the prayer time, but quickly tried to end with “goodnight”. I began to ponder how often in our culture we assume that sort of “do, fix, obligation to pray and move on” sort of posture and thus miss out on our blessing. 

What would happen if we stopped seeing ourselves as purely the ministers and started letting the Lord minister to us through those who we think need to hear and receive, but in fact are the givers and the speakers? What if we listened more than feeling the need to declare our knowledge? What if we were willing to be present with people in their pain instead of trying to find an instant solution to their problems? Could we possibly be more of the hands and feet of Jesus by assuming such a stance? Could we humble ourselves and receive blessing from unexpected avenues? Are we missing something when we don’t?

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The Questioning Reflection

This prayer or spoken word is meant to bring forth the ongoing struggle many of us face when we feel pulled between selfless work of advocacy and servitude and being consumed with one’s own problems. It is meant to reflect the trends of our generation that speak vigorously, truly inspired, but don’t always know in their heart of hearts if they mean and would live out what they claim with their tongues.

Jesus,

Give me the heart of a refugee.
Their resilience and positivity.

But honestly, do I truly mean and want this
When I ask it from thee?

Some days I am convinced
It is my route to your glory.

Words I write in vain,
Not all,
But some
I’ve definitely spoken with passion,
Then let them be slain,

By my personal ambition
Or condition,
Of focusing more on my mirror
And less on your heart-filled mission, whole mission.

Amen.

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Why Staying in the Grind is Key

Bring to the table whatever you have to give and receive from the generosity of others when their desire is to help you.

I have been meaning to write this blog for the past two weeks, because this title rung in my ears as a mantra of my current season.

Confession: I have been holding off on writing because I have not felt sufficient time, sufficient mental capacity, sufficient adequacy to be able to compose a worth-reading post. In other words, I wanted perfection.

I often desire perfection. It’s in my nature. Perhaps it’s exacerbated when it comes to writing because I consider myself a quality writer and I don’t wish to publish anything less than prestigious. But how ironic, especially for this particular written expression , that I would be prone to await the perfect words to describe the importance of pulling through the rougher patches in life with whatever capacity you have.

If you’re a reader of The Bible, perhaps you have read through Psalm 89. The writer of these poetic words begins with “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord forever. I will make His faithfulness known through all the generations.” Interestingly enough, the writer later ends up bringing to God’s attention some of his current grief. It’s almost as if he is saying “Oh hey, God, by the way, your servant has been sort of beat up and mocked and isn’t feeling so swell”. On and on he goes. It’s obviously important to be present with the pain and darn it, you should be able to SAY SO… even to God.
The key part here is that the writer ends his grieving expressions with what seems like a 180 degree turn. “Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.”

I was sort of surprised by this. For who could relay their immense troubles in a way that appears they feel forgotten by God and then instantly say, “I bless you, Lord”?

The renown Henri Nouwen says this in this exert “Stand Erect in Your Sorrows”.

“As long as you remain standing, you can speak freely to others, reach out to them, and receive from them. Thus you speak and act from your center [your place of true genuity and rawness] and invite others to speak and act from theirs.”
(Nouwen 62,  The Inner Voice of Love)

The longer I trek through life (and yes, I know it hasn’t been that long),  the more I recognize the confusion from others and even from myself when I worship the Lord, seek Him out, and simultaneously communicate openly the painful struggles right in front of me, some of which have been pretty harsh!

Moments on top of moments have passed when I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. For goodness sake, where could God be the seemingly unending trials anyway? And yet time and time again I find the rewards from staying in the rough, walking through the trials as opposed to around them, and standing erect in my sorrows. Believe it or not, struggling does not isolate you from community, it doesn’t remove your influence on the lives of others, and it does not put your relationships on hold… at least it shouldn’t. If it has, then I’d dare to say you have thrown in your towel.

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Joy is present in the pain, especially when you walk it out with Jesus. One might never know that this picture was taken on one of my mentally and physically weakest days a couple weeks back. The photographed moment with this little guy followed a transparent talk about what was going on in my life with his mother, Fatemeh. I did not want to be transparent. I did not want to show my pain to others. But what would ya know… speaking from my center invited Fatemeh to be present with hers. And being there with her family actually brought some rest and authentic smiles.

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Hearing Their Narrative

With every face you see, hand you shake or voice you hear comes a story.

I consider myself sort of spoiled in the story-receiving world. I hear about so many tragedies and victories, faiths and follies, cultures and worldviews.

Everyone has a story– it’s their life and the ongoing journey they must be on.
Upon swapping stories with so many people of all ages, faiths, and cultures, I’ve realized that the specific stories we choose to speak aloud are exactly what define the ongoing narrative we tell about our own lives. Do I continuously share stories of pain, hope, wondering, learning moments? You can learn a lot about someone’s life and perspective on the world simply through listening well to their ongoing narrative.

Let me tell you a few stories I hear.

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Middle-school girl friends– one from Iraq and the other from Afghanistan– have become afternoon hang out buddies and friends of mine. I recently invited them into a card-making session with me, asking for their artistic assistance in my efforts. They showed up at my door on a Thursday afternoon, informing me that they were ready. Upon coming in and settling down to a table around some iced tea and pistachios, they each began to switch off telling me stories of family members they had tragically lost in their home country years ago and how they perceived those happenings as young children. I listened. We shifted from the murder of an uncle to two older cousins committing suicide. They were treating the stories as light, factual statements. My question to them was. “Do you think its okay to commit suicide?”. “No!”, they responded. “Why not?”, I inquired. “Because we are all on a journey that we must live out.” Thus says a 12 year old. Stories continued and eventually they asked out loud, “Why are we talking about these sad things?”. I shrugged my shoulders to give them the space to answer their own question…and they did. “I guess everyone just needs to talk out loud about these things some times and be listened to.” Smart girls. 

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A single Afghan gentleman whom I met through World Relief approximately one year ago has a profile picture on his messaging account that says “Worship the Creator, not the Creation.” This photo sparked a conversation between us that allowed for spontaneous contact until finally we got to invite him to a June fellowship dinner held in my apartment. The young man graciously bent against the Afghani way of being treated as a guest and brought some food and donated a sufra (an eating mat for the floor) to my household items. He lives with a few other Afghan Muslim men, but expresses a desire to have intentional conversation with those of other cultures and faiths than just his own. His request after the iftar dinner was that I send him a digital picture of our group so he could send it to his family back in Afghanistan. I later inquired how his family responded. He told me how happy they were to see him looking so at ease and content. He also told me he felt like he was at  home at our iftar fellowship dinner that night. 

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A story recently shared with me all the way from Southeast Asia: A Muslim man who has come to faith in Jesus told a friend of mine, “There is a saying that during Ramadan demons are chained, the door to hell is closed and the door to heaven opened.” Then he said, “So what about the other 11 months? Ah, that is what Jesus means to me. For with Jesus all through the year the demons are bound, the door to heaven is opened and the door to hell closed.” 

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These are just a couple. Are you listening to the narratives of people God has placed in your life? Are you wondering about their relationship with the God of the universe or trying to better understand how they see the world you both live in?

How enriching it truly could be if we paused to listen to the stories being told (or wanting to be told) and then subsequently let our hearts, minds and discerning spirits interpret the narrative flowing out of each human we know–each human that God created and loves so, so deeply.

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In a Spirit of Peace

It was yet another day in apartment land. Post-school hours and mild weather brings every last kid out into the open to enjoy their roller blades, watching their siblings and kicking around soccer balls. By now, my fender-bent gray Mazda has been established in the minds of my young friends, so they can easily identify my pulling into the complex. I may have been parked 5 seconds before I was overwhelmed with greetings.

I always find my spirit and mind pretty tired by the 5 o’clock hour, but the presence of the kids seem to rejuvenate me. We let my car doors hang open, my trunk serving as a sitting and talking space.

There’s one young guy, we’ll call him Buddy, who seems to have a playful yet rough personality and not the best grasp on his anger and his tongue. He spotted by pink volleyball and asked to play with it.
“Sorry, it’s flat”, I said. “I have a pump!”, he blurted and ran to grab it so he could fix my problem.
My payment for this service? 10 minutes of volleyball with the boys in the lot.

I went in, but found myself back outside in a flash as my dog needed to be walked, once again. My friend Dida came running up to me, advocating for another young friend, Zella.

“Emily! Emily! Can you help us? Zella is upset because Buddy said mean things to her, about her family.”
“What do you want me to do?”, I inquired.
“I don’t know; go talk to him or something. Will you solve the problem?”

Life around my refugee neighbors has its unique moments, but you might be surprised to hear that most occurrences, skirmishes, rejoicing, or pain is close to and familiar to that which penetrates everyone’s life– the mundane day to day events.

I wasn’t sure what they expected of me, but I meandered in their direction. Buddy ended up letting me talk to him and agreed he should say sorry to Zella. We walked over to Zella together and forgiveness was humbly exchanged. It was the oddest of moments as Zella’s parents were standing right there and I was being asked to orchestrate the peace. My conversation to follow was sweet. It was good to finally meet the Iraqi parents of my young lady friend as they sincerely thanked me for handling the situation and asked about my life.

Jesus often found Himself handling disputes. People knew Him as wise, knowledgeable, bold, and peaceful. Because of this, they sought Him out when issues arose.

Pursuing a spirit of peace on a daily basis looks something being neutral in a situation where your Afghan friend is explaining her struggles at home to you and you choose not to take sides. It looks like suggesting to my middle-school friends that we say encouraging words to each other instead of insults. It looks like simply maintaining patience and gentleness when irritation is knocking at the door. It looks like asking what positives exist in someone’s life when they’ve expressed hopelessness.

And somehow, someway this speaks to others that at your core, you are a peace-maker.

Yet again was I invited into a situation when I wasn’t seeking integration.
Blessed to be living amongst and alongside this community. Thankful that a spirit of peace goes before me.

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Through the Eyes of a Kid.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It is so easy to make friends with kids.

One day I returned from a bridal shower and without changing out of my nicer clothes, took a walk with my  6-pound dog named Mia. No matter the age of the kid, this tiny dog seems to captivate the eyes and hands of almost every kid in the apartment complex- girls and boys alike. As I headed back to my apartment after the walk, each eye that spotted the puppy drew right toward her.

“It’s Mia! Awww, hi Mia!” ….. [stroke, pet, drool,]… “Oh, hi Amelia!”
Though I must be at least twenty times taller than this cute creature, I tend to be the second one noticed. It’s alright; I’m the one who ends up in conversation.

That particular day, the boys were playing soccer (better known as futbol) in the alley way. An abandoned roller blade boot and razor scooter serving as one set of goal posts and the red painted curb serving as the other. Mia eventually went back in the apartment and a few of my young girl friends helped me make some fresh popcorn. We sat on the curb, stuffed our faces, I listened to the latest school drama and we watched the boys whip around with their fresh futbol skills. I wanted to play, but needed an opportunity to prove myself. The ball rolled through one goal and straight to my toes. Now was my chance. I hopped up, scooped up the ball and drop kicked it back into play.

“Whooaaaaaa”…and then a few glances back in my direction, as if the boys didn’t know girls could kick a futbol correctly. I eventually invited myself into the game. We formed teams and played to 5 goals. I may or not have shown off my skills.  That day the boys learned my name and haven’t forgotten it since.
Futbol and food makes friends and the acceptance I received from those kids that day filled my heart right up.

Most of the kids that hang outside in my apartment complex are the children of refugee or immigrant parents. Most of their families have come from Iraq, Afghanistan, or Mexico.

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This past week had been a rough one and not just for me. As if trying to process two deaths in my circle of relationships wasn’t enough, I was also battling some minor seizure activity that flares up from time to time. Sometimes it takes me a while to regain all my speaking and listening abilities after an episode. I had just experienced some activity but let myself out for an evening walk with Mia. Some of my favorite girlies in the complex found Mia (and me) as we walked. I wasn’t feeling too great, so I dismissed us, promising to loop back around on our way in.

My friend, Dida, found me again. She had been having a hard time (6th grade and refugee life isn’t all sunshine and butterflies, you see) and needed to enter into a venting session. I tried to explain to her why I was struggling in my communication and listened to the best of my ability as we sat on the curb and talked a bit through her latest struggles. I didn’t know how much my explanation of seizures had really made sense to her or how helpful my words or advice about life really were.

Next week came around and I saw the girls again. Dida came up to me, reunited with her best friend in the complex, and they both gave me hugs. She asked me how I was doing and if my brain was okay by now.
Sweet girl. She had remembered.

Dida and her family are from Iraq. Her Dad is living in Arizona and working a job there, visiting the family only once every couple months, according to her. Her family of 7 is living in a two bedroom apartment. I don’t write this to provoke pity. But seriously, take a glance. Refugee life and youth life mixed? It’s not easy.

Some of my favorite moments in the week come from 5-15 minute moments spent with the kids. It’s times like these–stealing their soccer ball, greeting them by their names and asking them about their day or seeing them put a water bottle on their head and challenging them to a more impressive balancing job– that allow me to be a very real human who isn’t too busy to stop and have a little fun or listen to whatever they deem most important in the moment.

In the midst of a week filled with pain, struggles and not enough energy or time to feel very capable of hardly anything, what I could do was be present with my neighbors.

The kids in my complex are some of the best at paving a way for neighborly relationships.

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Community in Practice

It was Saturday afternoon. My apartment had been given the royal treatment. Candles were burning to create the aura I desired, though I knew that appetite-stirring aromas would soon dominate the room as valued guests found themselves in my home, bearing dinner dishes that properly represented their country of origin.
It is an honor to open up my apartment and my arms.

There are a handful of varying activities or places that bring me sweet joy. Those include everything from hiking mountains to attain glorious views to tasting the intricate flavors in a vast array of coffee beans. But no matter the experience, it is almost always enjoyed more when shared with a friend.

On a broad scale, there are few things I enjoy more in life than COMMUNITY.

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Here is a perfect representation of just that!

This past Saturday night, I had the privilege of co-hosting a group of Intervarsity college students who opted to spend their weekend away from Sonoma State and in Sacramento. They wanted to try out the flavors of our domain here , particularly the ever-growing refugee community.

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Food + Folks = Fellowship

So we collaborated…my refugee friends and I. Sometimes I forget how recent their transition to the states took place because it feels like we’ve been friends for years.  Fatemeh, Rustam and their son Arsalan are from Afghanistan. Bahram, Arezoo and their son David are from Iran.

I’ll admit.. collaboration was a stretch. It’s not within the cultural/societal norms in Afghanistan nor Iran to ask a friend to help you host other guests in your own home. You are either a guest or a host and culturally-speaking, you would never ask a guest to share in the work load. But I was brave enough to ask and they were brave enough to give it a shot. Together, we all understood our unified purpose of representing our city and community to the students through an enthusiastic presence and some authentic food!

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Learning from each other.

The evening was lovely. There were 14 of us in total, gathering around a suffra (An Afghan-style mat for eating on) on my living room floor, dishing out delicious dinner onto each other’s plates with little to no self-control. We each told where we were born, our names, and if we could travel anywhere in the world where we would go. I loved the diversity, but I particularly loved the bravery of my sweet friend, Dida. She is 12 years old and her family is from Iraq. We made friends here in my apartment complex a few weeks back. She heard about my dinner and wanted to come; I invited her and so she came! Sweet girl was the only one her age in the room and while Fatemeh and Arezoo could converse in their mutual language of Farsi (Dari in Afghanistan), Dida could only participate in English. She was ecstatic to share with the group where she would love to travel when she is older.

I was especially proud of the ladies.
Arezoo and Fatemeh made such a grand effort to engage the women students, even while they are still improving their own knowledge of the English language.
The men engaged swiftly as well, swapping stories of their favorites philosophers and theological teachers.

Differing culture, different faiths, differing paradigms, philosophies, and perspectives.
Isn’t this what the Honorable Jesus did while He dwelled on earth?

I had many reasons this night to be proud of the community I am surrounded by. We were accomplishing exactly what I know I’m commissioned by God to do here… connection, stories, community.
We were creating Raft Amad.

 


 

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Raft-Amad

There is something sweet that we often overlook within a tight-knit family, and that is the way that they commune under one roof and freely come and go from their fortress, their place of refuge. This is particularly seen when adult children live with their parents or when teenagers become licensed to drive.
There is an unspoken permission to come and go as they please.

In Middle-Eastern culture, this freedom to come and go oh so regularly spreads beyond the family and into dear friendships. In Afghan culture, it has a specific name– RAFT-AMAD. If you and I have Raft-Amad, then I will come to your home and expect that you come visit my digs as well. We are participating in mutual friendship, hosting each other, welcome each other into our lives and homes.

It’s the going and the coming. It’s personal relationship.

“I wish your family and I can have this Raft-Amad”, I said recently to some friends of mine.
“Yes, we will keep the raft amad”, they said, blessing me in the process.

They are a family of three from Afghanistan: two well-educated parents and their sweet 3 year old boy. I’m still getting to know their story, but the bits and pieces I’ve heard so far have been amazing. We enjoy swapping information about American and Afghan ways and increasing our cultural-intelligence on both ends. This is the way we all grow relationships, build trust and invest in people, is it not? I love to intentionally invest into my Afghan and Arab brothers and sisters here in Sacramento because by doing so, I learn so much about them but also about myself and my own culture.

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Who is my neighbor?”, asked an inquisitive religious leader of Jesus’ day.
The Good Samaritan. You know the story. There was no hero or “better” man. There was a random act of kindness that completely sidestepped a huge cultural gap. There was a neighbor. Apparently loving your neighbor doesn’t actually look like tolerance or small favors, but investments that, like any other relationship, come with vulnerability and risk.

What are the chances you have opportunities for a going and coming sort of relationship with a neighbor of yours (And who is your neighbor, again?) and you’re missing out on its benefits?

If you’re a visually-oriented human being, growing Raft-Amad looks like this:

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Sharing personal life after it’s clearly been a long day.

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Sharing Personal relationship with the whole family.

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Sharing Personal Life by intentionally communing

Sharing Personal Life over Food.

Sharing Personal Life over a lovingly-prepared meal.

 

 

 

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Shift

As I stepped out late with my dog into the brisk night air, I was overtaken by a feeling of mystery and change. The wind blew with great strength and the coldness of the atmosphere barely bit my skin. I looked upward to lay my eyes on great clarity as the constellations shown in clear view. The contrast to the previously cloudy sky was indefinite. Something was shifting. The unknown bewitched me as I could not yet put my finger on what change was about to take place. 

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To Make Way for Peace

It’s been an invigorating year and 3 months and I continue to have the privilege of working with World Relief Sacramento. NOT ONLY THAT, but I now have received the gift of living within one of the most concentrated Arabic and Afghan populations in Sacramento.

I love it. God has blessed me with relationships here. I met and made a dear friend, Adara , whose family came from a well-off life in the middle-east to escape violence and threats and find refuge here in the states. They are one of the loveliest families I have met, embracing me with their arms and hearts– every inch of my outer and inner being.

Day by day work continues to be of service to the refugee community and seeking to ask Jesus’ Church in Sacramento follow His command to LOVE THE STRANGER in both practical and relational ways.

Today, work sent me to make a home visit to a recently arrived family from Afghanistan who was temporarily staying with the husband’s well-to-do uncle and aunt in Tracy, CA. I took my friend, Adara, with me as a companion for the excursion.

God continues to bestow on me a gift of being received by others in a way that allows for stories to be told and lives to be shared.

As is polite and tradition in Afghani culture, the family’s uncle invited me and Adara to stay in his home for lunch after our staff-to-client relations had concluded. I evaluated the remainder of the work day and decided that we could graciously accept the offer.

Lunch brought a time of traditional Afghan eating–sitting with crisscross legs and knee to knee with each other on the floor while our food lay in front of us on the eating mat. It is a beautiful place of fellowship.

The uncle, whose name was Qader Qudus, eventually shared his story of being here since 1982, his complete successes in working his way up the economic ladders and later facing imprisonment and injustice here because of the way he was compassionately transferring donated money from individuals and churches to poorer students and communities back in Afghanistan. He was suspected of money-laundering for drug dealers and even terrorist activity and held for over two years, though they could not find any evidence against him.

With tears in his eyes, he told us “I know God had a plan for me through all of this.”
My heart broke and stretched at the same time.

Friends, if the heart of a Muslim man (or woman) can tread these paths, there is certainly something beautiful and cultivating of peace to be learned from and loved. It is worth building peace and understanding between followers of Jesus and followers of Islam. Truth may find its own way to the surface if unconditional love and empathy pave the way.

Let us begin to love our neighbors, share a meal, and ask them their stories.

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The Empathy in You

Empathy.
How do you help me?
You can’t help?
No “woe is me”,
Just please don’t spit upon me sympathy.
“You’re okay”, “but at least..” you say
That my feelings aren’t real
And my pain should lay
Quiet until you’re gone.

Empathize and join me in the pit,
Down here ain’t no room for sympathy spit.
I’m real. You’re real. We’re human and pain is a thing.
Sometimes supposed sayings of comfort leave less of a calm and more of a sting.
So tell me my feelings are valid and present,
Connect with me via a feeling in you that understood my vent.
I’ll remind you of my hope in Jesus and you’ll realize all along
That empathy does not endorse self pity but sings a prophetic song.

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Rise and Wonder

Proud of my early rising; the first body in the house to stir.
The morning sunshine is my daily splash of cold water—invigorating and awaking body, soul and mind for the day.

So I venture out for my walk.
My path, usually tread by running feet of mine, is an ugly beat up gravel road beside a ditch holding garbage treasures.
But in the early day, it’s a glorious auditorium facing the stage of the sunrise.

My morning tradition of oil-pulling restricts my lips from uttering a word or singing a note, though my head is filled with thoughts and my heart with a song.
Perhaps silence is the best symphony.

Halfway down my road I perch beneath a tree, the only one of its kind.
Leaning on a branch, I gaze into the growing daylight.

I think of a somebody… Maybe two. I think of my Jesus. What do each of these mean to me? How have I shown them so?

This poetic wording of sorts begins forming in my head. I reach for that electric device we entrust to capture our lives, finding it to be still at home asleep…

Feelings of gratitude and disappointment wash over. Will my memory do its job and cling to these words in my head for me? It’s been as a slacking, lazy employee lately and I’m afraid I’ve been the overbearing, impatient employer…
Unwilling to teach and repair, willing to implode.

I look forward. Shall my walk finish the running route?

I look back. Dreaming has a time limit. It’s time to return and face my day.

Loveliness captures my eyes so I stop to take it for myself. The golden petaled stems stick to my fingers like sap, as if to punish me for breaking them from their root of life.

I move on only to swoop low for some lavender. Pick and sniff, only to be greeted by a pungent odor. Lavender ’twas not. Punished yet again.

I suppose some forms of beauty were not meant to be mobile.

Home I continued… Releasing my mouth to speak and choosing silence as the better option. Perhaps such a choice would reserve my words and thoughts for paper and pen such as this goes.

Thus begins another day of living with the potential of being worthy of ink at the end.

-Amelia MaySun

 

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Stranger in the City

City blues.Travel far and wide,
Can’t pick all the cues.
I come to explore you,
I intend to find out,
Who and what
You are all about.

Dynamics and diversity,
They rage and range.
I’m sensing new in this place,
Many others feel strange.
For they’ve come from a land
With far greater gap
In culture, weather, and aptitude
Than from where I fall on the map.

Semi-stranger me
meeting fully-stranger they,
At the end of the day we’re each humans
Needing acceptance and support day by day.

#arriveministries #worldrelief #refugees #welcomethestranger #lovethestranger #wearethestranger

Categories: Spoken Word | Leave a comment

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