Monday, May 10, 2010


I pace the floor of my living room, rubbing my temples, and stare out the window at nothing in particular. My cheeks are wet and my stomach is agitated. I pray as if I'm venting, and then, as one who is sharing a burden with a close friend. I close my eyes and see faces. Tear stained faces with vacant eyes where hope used to reside, paradoxically child and war-weary adult, occasionally breaking in a moment of universally buoyant and childish glee. An ocean between us, these hauntingly beautiful faces beckon to me. We are worlds apart.

These faces pull forcefully at my heart, a magnetic attraction. I could resist, but I don't want to. I am adrift at sea, unsure of whether to tread water, swim for shore, or climb aboard the nearest boat. All I know is that, increasingly, I just want to be where these faces are.

My conversations with God vacillate between waves of nauseated emotion, indignation, sorrow, helplessness, hope and pleading supplication. The knowledge that there are children living "free" as slaves, working the streets for a scrap of bread, abused and violated, without hope for a better future, without protection, without even the basic provisions, without family, without love - this wrings my insides like a wet towel and sets me aflame. I wrestle with the position of privilege I was born into, the life of relative ease I enjoy and the opportunities that are spread before me like a fine feast, while others - these little children - eke out a meager, day to day existence. This isn't just the guilt of White privilege I'm feeling; it's a mystery beyond that, of why some are born into abject poverty, to such heartache and suffering, while others of us are born into a life of provision. Surely none of us are sheltered entirely from suffering, it falls upon the poor and the privileged. I have walked through my own sufferings in my lifetime thus far and have survived my own earthquakes. But I still started off better than these children, far better. And while I ache with the question Why, a more relevant question to me is, How then do I live?

How, then, do I live in this beautiful, safe neighborhood in Seattle, in the United States, going between my job and my friends and my life pursuits, when somedays, all I want is to fly across that ocean and look into the eyes of one of these little faces, and hold them, and walk with them until they see a future that is pregnant with hope? How do I live when I want to give more than my money; I want to give myself, my love?

I remember going on walks through the neighborhood with my Papa, strolling along at a leisurely pace, contemplating life together. I'd ask questions, most of them ones he could not answer, and indeed, he often didn't try. He just listened and absorbed. Sometimes when I'm walking through the neighborhood, feeling the breeze off the bay, admiring the colors of the flowers and the shades of blue in the sky, breathing in the fresh air, I imagine I am walking with Papa again, talking about life. And I remember that I'm also on a walk, having these conversations with my Father, Papa God, and he's listening intently, absorbing everything I'm saying. And if I'm quiet enough, I may hear him share something that is on his mind, or we may just continue in companionable silence. But either way, I know I am not on this walk alone, and regardless of how it seems sometimes, I'm not adrift. I just can't see where I'm going yet or how these trails so intricately connect. I've been walking this path long enough to know there is no need to run ahead or forge my own trail or sit down in the middle of the path and give up. I'll just keep walking, not shutting my eyes to those faces, praying I keep heading in the right direction, holding tight the hand of my traveling companion.

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