Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
I have heard some of the news on this and so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits, and people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics, it has no relevance to governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18. And how family deals with issues and teenage children that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that is off limits.
Barack Obama is thing I like #3.
PS E and I got to see him live today!!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
How did I come up with my guess, you might ask? Did I carefully research each of the people on the short list and research their politics and voting records? No. Did I read a lot of blogs about guesses? No. Did I try and think like Obama's strategists? Well, only on one point. Graphic Design. Graphic Design? Has Traci lost it? No, she hasn't. I'm telling you, design matters, and it certainly matters in this campaign. You see, all along I have been following how the Obama campaign has been using rock solid graphic design and branding to make Obama accessible and easy to understand. It's been brilliant and oh-so-fun for Traci to watch. Eye candy! Anyway, back to the veep.
So in "guessing" who the Veep is going to be, I found the "short list" of candidates and I took a little spin around their websites, most of which are atrocious looking. When I got to Senator Biden's I thought to myself... does this website look like it's been tinkered with a bit by Obama's graphic design team? Yes. Does it have the same blue that is all over Obama's site? Yes. Is it easy to understand and pleasant? Yes. Is Joe Biden the nominee for VP, based on my extremely non-scientific analysis? You betcha. The announcement should come this week. See if I'm right.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!"
The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
"Don't cry 'wolf', shepherd boy," said the villagers, "when there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill.
Later, the boy sang out again, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.
When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!"
But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.
Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!"
But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.
At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.
"There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?"
An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village.
"We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"
Friday, July 18, 2008
John Mayer, thing I like #2.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
To understand Ubuntu, you first have to understand linux. Simply put, linux is an operating system, just like Windows Vista, Windows XP, and all of the Macintosh OS flavors (Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Hedgehog -- oh wait, Hedgehog was actually an Ubuntu release.) So there is Mac, there is Microsoft, and there is linux, except it's really hard to put "linux" in the same category as Mac and Microsoft, because Mac and Microsoft are both companies, whereas linux is not. You can't trade Linux on the NYSE. Linux distributions are all supported by the community. And by "the community," I mean a whole lot of nerds. You can include me in this category if you want, but most of the nerds in the linux community are wicked smart, and exceptionally devoted to computers whereas I am merely interested in one thing: getting my computer to work. I might have gotten started using Linux because I wanted to be a smartypants computer geek, but I have stuck with it because it works better than Microsoft Vista, which routinely makes me cry. In the 3 or 4 months that I have been using Ubuntu at home my computer has NEVER crashed, it has NEVER frozen, I have received ZERO error messages, and I have been booted off the internet ZERO times. Ubuntu Linux, you are a thing I like! Look for more posts on things I like as well as more posts on Ubuntu and Linux!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
First and foremost, remember that the purpose of interpreting is to help communicate thoughts from one language into another language. Sounds simple enough, but it can be tricky. The interpreter's role is simple, to facilitate communication.
Some thoughts and stories that might make this clearer.
For those using an interpreter:
1. Talk directly to the person who is using an interpreter, not to the interpreter. Avoid talking to the interpreter and saying "tell him I said x." Simply look the person in the eye and tell him or her what you want to say.
RIGHT: I really enjoyed your sermon! Thank you so much for everything!
WRONG: Tell him I really enjoyed his sermon and that I am thankful.
2. Avoid making comments to the interpreter that you don't want repeated or interpreted. It causes a feeling of isolation or exclusion.
3. If you are concerned that your message is not getting across, speak to the person directly and ask him or her if he understood. Avoid making comments to the interpreter such as "Did he understand me?"
4. If you are a third party listener where an interpreter is being used, do not correct or interrupt the interpreter. If an interpreter is pausing to find the correct word or if he or she asks for clarification, don't "butt in" and "help." It's rude and also distracting.
5. Don't shout! Just because a person doesn't speak English, it doesn't mean that he or she can't hear. Speak in a normal tone and pace.
As an interpreter. (I can't believe I have to type these things. I'm crabby.)
1. Interpret what people say to the best of your ability! If you don't like it, tough! Your job is not to judge or "soften" what is being said.
2. Don't answer questions that aren't being asked of you! You are the interpreter! It's not about you! (sorry, lots of exclamation points.) For example if someone asks the person you are interpreting for, "What color is the sky?" your job is to turn to the person you are interpreting for and to say "What color is the sky?" Your job is not to say "blue" to the person who asked the question. Duh.
3. Say what the person said! If he says "I'm tired" say "I'm tired." Don't say "He says he wants to go home and take a nap." I'm serious. This is based on experience, people.
4. Watch your body language and gestures. I say this because it's something I personally need to work on. When I am interpreting I tend to get squirmy and play with rings or bracelets or whathaveyou. It's annoying and distracting. I need to do my job.
5. Don't let pride get in the way. If you didn't understand what was said, ask for clarification. It will make you a better interpreter.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
traci: "barack obama is coming to detroit tomorrow and i can't go because i have a meeting."
dad: "who's uncle bob?"
traci: laughter. "BARACK OBAMA"
dad: "oh, i was wondering which side of the family uncle bob was on."
traci: (still laughing.) "i'm going to put that on my blog."
happy father's day, dad. i love you.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
"Forsake not an old friend, for the new will not be comparable to him."
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
1. Write down the names of 5-10 people you love.
i had nine... E, six family members, and 2 friends.
2. Write a word or phrase about each person writing what it is you love about them.
that they listen to me was a common theme, also that they are kind and good listeners. a couple of surprising things came up here, too.
3. Write down the names of 5-10 people who love you...
i had 7... 4 family members, 2 friends and E.
4. Next to each name, write what it is that this person loves about you...
this is harder than you would think, but i came up with some stuff...
5. Finally, write down a list of things that God loves about you.
this was easier than i thought it would be... came up with lots of reasons...
the final part of the exercise was to pick something that surprised you about what God loves about you... i picked "because God is delighted by me." delighted? i delight God? i was surprised that came to mind, but i believe it's true.
i encourage you to try this exercise. it's a pretty private one, which is why my answers aren't really descriptive or clear. it's a good thing to try out sometime!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
What you need:
A quiet space
A flat stone and sharpie (or piece of paper, cardboard, whatever.)
A pen and paper
Got the stuff? You're ready...
1. Write down the names of 5-10 people you love.
2. Write a word or phrase about each person writing what it is you love about them.
3. Write down the names of 5-10 people who love you
4. Next to each name, write what it is that this person loves about you
5. Finally, write down a list of things that God loves about you.
The stone and sharpie is to write down the most surprising thing that God loves about you, to keep as a reminder. Cool, eh? I'll let you know on Monday (or Tuesday) how it goes.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
the commercial is this one:
i'm sure i don't need to spell out the problems with this commercial, but i will anyway, because, ahem, it's good to get stuff off one's chest. while i wasn't around in the 1950s, i hear there were some pretty cool things going on. soda fountains, poodle skirts, etc. i also hear that women were expected to be perfect in every way. they were expected to entertain, take care of the kids (and the dog) and do it all while looking fabulous and feminine. hard to do. then women started to work outside the home. good for us! we have skills outside the home too! but somehow, it seems, that this working outside the home thing has become something that we are to do in addition to taking care of the kids and the dog, maintaining a beautiful home and being a size negative zero with perfect hair and makeup. kelly ripa: you are a fun, talented woman. your husband is a hottie. you are a multi-millionaire. we get it: you are superwoman. however, let us not forget that you have a nanny, a housekeeper, a hair and makeup stylist, a driver, a publicist, and probably someone who picks up your starbucks for you. listen up ladies: wanna stay home and be a mama? good for you! wanna work outside the home? you go girl! wanna do both? i admire you tremendously, but don't think you can do them both perfectly a la this ridiculous commercial. ain't gonna happen.
p.s. make sure to read julie's blog. it's better than this one.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
- I've gotten back on the exersise bus. I used to exersise quite a bit, but in seminary, things like eating nachos and reading like crazy took over. It's good to be doing yoga, walking, pushups, etc. I want to look smashing in my wedding dress.
- Speaking of wedding dresses... my mama and I went shopping for them this weekend! We are still waiting on a lot of blahbity blah with the visa, but we are getting closer, and so I felt justified in shopping. What girl doesn't want to try on wedding dresses? The one I liked the most was at Macys. Calvin Klein. It is simple by the Traci definition of simple, not simple by most people who sell wedding dresses definition of simple. No beads, no bows, no sequins, no frilly frilly frou frou stuff. It looks nice, but would look even nicer with... EXERCISE! Ha ha.
- Also last weekend, my dad retired! We presented him with his Scholarship Fund and he was thriillled! I was happy too. What a great weekend of family.
- Oh, one more thing we did this weekend: play video games. I felt kind of bad for all of the teasing I have done of losers who play video games, because I LOVED the nintendo wii. Seriously, I may have to get one of those for E and I to play during our first year of marriage. How hilarious would that be? We played guitar hero, golf, and these carnival games. Super fun.
- It is beautiful outside. Absolutely gorgeous. It stresses me out that E is probably going to be moving here in the ugliest time of the year and will have to wait months for this to come back around again. Ah Michigan. How I love your weather. Not.
Friday, May 9, 2008
20 Common Mistakes of Eager Leaders
1. Winning Too Much. The need to win at all costs and in all situations—when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point.
2. Adding Too Much Value. The overwhelming desire to add our two cents to every discussion.
3. Passing Judgment. The need to rate others and impose our standards on them.
4. Making Destructive Comments. The needless sarcasms and cutting remarks that we think make us sound sharp and witty.
5. Starting with “No,” “But,” or “However.” The overuse of these qualifiers, which secretly say to everyone, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
6. Telling the World How Smart We Are. The need to show people we’re smarter than they think we are.
7. Speaking When Angry. Using emotional volatility as a management tool.
8. Negativity. The need to share our negative thoughts, even when we weren’t asked.
9. Withholding Information. The refusal to share information in order to maintain an advantage over others.
10. Failing to Give Proper Recognition. The inability to praise and reward.
11. Claiming Credit We Don’t Deserve. The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.
12. Making Excuses. The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.
13. Clinging to the Past. The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.
14. Playing Favorites. Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.
15. Refusing to Express Regret. The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we’re wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.
16. Not Listening. The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.
17. Failing to Express Gratitude. The most basic form of bad manners.
18. Punishing the Messenger. The misguided need to attack the innocent, who are usually only trying to protect us.
19. Passing the Buck. The need to blame everyone but ourselves.
20. An Excessive Need to Be “Me.” Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they exemplify who we are.
from Business week via Brand Autopsy
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
is there anyone who ever remembers changing their mind from paint on a sign? is there anyone who really recalls ever breaking rank at all for something someone yelled real loud one time?
it reminds me that the true persuading is usually done in quiet conversation and patient listening. not so much on billboards and yelling loudly. though i do like to yell, sometimes.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
sometimes i think photos can help when we feel jaded. (i'm pretty sure that's what the person meant when he said bored, he meant jaded.) this one struck me as particularly powerful today.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Dig, by Adam Again (covered by Jars of Clay, which is how I heard it)
I had big idea
I had a crazy eye
I broke the sacred seal
I told a lazy lie
I've had my conscience bent
I've had my patience tried
I've been up in the desert
And down by the riverside
Will the eagle fly
If the sky's untrue?
Do the faithful sigh
Because they are so few?
Remember when I cried?
Remember when you knew?
Remember that look in your eyes?
I know I do
And count the stars to measure tme
The earth is hard, the treasure fine
To the sea I'll crawl on my knees
Feel it coming in
Feel it going out
Water covers sand
Blood covers doubt
So I begin again
Again, the healing bow
There was a time that I might have surrendered
But not now
Consult the cards to measure mine
The earth is hard, but the treasure fine
At the sea, I'll wait on my knees
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
i have made more progress on this goal than any other goal this month. i am the picture of healthy eating... wuuuu-hoooo. got the portion thing down, and the salad thing down, and the cookies. basically the only cookies i eat these days are in those 100 calorie packs. good deal.
2. i will worry less about future events and spend more time focusing on current blessings
again, i'm doing fairly well on this one. living in the now, being where i am. i give this one a B.
3. i will nurture my love for art by creating more art, learning more about art, and visiting the art museum more frequently
hmm... i'd give this one a B- for the month. actually, come to think of it B.
4. i will eat less take-out (this will help with goal number 1, but will also help with general laziness and spendingtoomuchiness.)
for me, one who constantly struggles with tidy-ness, i'd say i'm doing pretty good on this one. the hardest to keep up on this month = (gulp) dishes. the cooking for myself healthy foods means there are quite a few dishes. i'm working on straightening things up bit by bit, though.
6. i will try to err on the side of compassion in my personal and professional life. (again, hard to quantify, but i know what i mean.)
hmm... i give this one a B as well...
7. i will drink more WATER, plain detroit tap water, when i am thirsty i will sometimes choose WATER, not diet soda, not tea, not coffee, not juice. WATER. (i am hopeful that this will help with my migraines)
excellent! been drinking water like a fish. the only problem = still getting the migraines. i was pretty convinced that dehydration was a major factor, now that that's clearly not it, gonna have to keep working.
8. i will finish the devotional book for my dad
This one gets a C- i'm keeping up on it, but barely, and i'm doing them like 4 days at a time. i'd really like to sit down and do a month or two to get ahead.
9. i will get out of the apartment more, especially when it is lighter in the evening)
I feel fairly good about this one as well. B to B-... taking walks in the evenings, going out with friends, getting back to YOGA!
10. i will attend more lectures/seminars/workshops and/or read more books on peace and justice related topics.
Again, I'm not doing well on this one C-... it's a good thing that there are 8 months left in this year to keep up. I have been keeping up with Torture news (that sounds funny) and politics, and a little bit with the UN and its involvement with the food price crisis, but other than that, I have not been to lectures/workshops and i've read exactly ZERO BOOKS on peace and justice this month. May, May, your month is coming.
11. i will intentionally nurture my own spiritual growth, recognizing that i cannot minister to others unless i have received spiritual nurture... i will be willing to try a variety of different things throughout the year (worship service i can attend, spiritual director, personal prayer journaling, etc.) i will keep at it and report on my progress monthly.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I think: I know a little about a lot.
I know: who I am.
I want: peace.
I wish: I had the piece of paper we've been waiting for.
I hate: hate.
I miss: E.
I fear: a collapse in the world economy.
I feel: sleepy.
I hear: the beautiful voice of Sara Bareilles.
I smell: chipotle pepper hummus.
I crave: limeade with mint.
I search: for historical context of Bible passages.
I regret: very little.
I love: many things..
I ache: after yoga.
I care: how the story ends.
I always: am changing.
I am not: a reader of fiction.
I believe: Jesus showed us a better way to live.
I dance: in my apartment to loud music.
I sing: in the shower.
I cry: spontaneously, sometimes.
I fight: sometimes.
I write: less often than I would like.
I win: less games in Scrabulous than I would like.
I lose: to my mom, usually.
I never: know where the road will lead.
I confuse: my cat when I come home in the middle of the day.
I listen: to music most of the day.
I can usually be found: via email within 3 hours.
I am scared: of high open spaces.
I need: to be still.
I am happy about: the opportunity to see my family in a couple of weeks.
I hope: this post isn't too obtuse or boring.
I tag: all of the bloggers who read this,
Monday, April 28, 2008
Monica: Oh, what are we gonna do! I don't wanna see her!!
Phoebe: Ugh, Let's just cut her out!
Phoebe: Cut her out of our lives! Just ignore her calls and dodge her 'till she gets the point!
Monica: Oh, I guess we could try that, but... it seems so harsh! (to Chandler) Have you ever done that?Chandler: No, had it done to me though. Feels good !
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I was reminded today of the remarkable story of Horatio Spafford. Many who read this blog have, no doubt, heard his story, but for those who haven't (and even as a reminder for those who have) here's a reminder of the two tragedies that led to his writing of the hymn. (from wikipedia)
First tragedy: The Great Chicago Fire
On October 8 1871, as Horatio and his wife Anna were grieving over the death of their son, the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city. Horatio was a prominent lawyer in Chicago and had invested heavily in the city's real estate, and the fire destroyed almost everything he owned.
Second tragedy: The wreck of the Ville Du Havre
Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a holiday somewhere in Europe and chose England knowing that his friend D.L. Moody would be preaching there in the fall. Delayed because of business, he sent ahead of him his family: his wife Anna, and his four remaining children, daughters Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie.
On November 21, 1873 while crossing the Atlantic on the S.S. Ville Du Havre , their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Somehow his wife, Anna, survived. On arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Spafford beginning "Saved alone."
Spafford then himself took a ship to England, going past the place where his daughters had died. According to Bertha Spafford, a daughter born after the tragedy, the hymn was written in mid-Atlantic.The first verse is so powerful when you know the story.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
When I reflect on the fact that Mr. Spafford wrote those words as he stared into the very same waves that claimed the lives of his four precious daughters, I am so moved. We do well to learn the history of the hymns we love.
I know many, though certainly not all of the people who read this blog are hymn lovers. Tell me, what are your favorites? Post them in the comments!
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Here it is "Sol Solecito" (Sun, Little Sun)
Sun, little sun, warm me a little today, tomorrow and the whole week! Moon, little jingle-bell moon! Five chicks and a calf! Snail! Snail! At one o’clock the sun comes out! Here comes Pinocchio playing the drums with a spoon and a fork!
"The truth is a river where the strong can swim down deep and the weak and the broken can walk across so easily." -Caedmon's Call
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Having said that, I want to talk a bit about how strongly I have felt God speaking to me this week and I am wrestling with God is calling me to do about it. In order to explain, I have to go back a little bit... In seminary my friend Nick, a dear soul, one of my best friends on earth, once prayed over our lunch with this simple prayer, "Lord we thank you for this food, and as we prepare to eat it we are mindful of those who are without food today and we ask that you would provide for them in your mercy, Amen." (Sorry, Nick, if I misquoted it, but that is almost exactly what you said, I'm fairly certain.) I never forgot that prayer, because it touched me so much. How appropriate it is to pray for the hungry before we ourselves eat. It humbles us, reminds us not to take things for granted. Since I heard that prayer, I have begun to pray it on my own before I eat a meal. I don't pray before every meal I eat, but when I do, I almost always pray for those who are without food, that God would provide for them.
Over the past week or so, as I have been reading and studying the worldwide food crisis, I have found myself praying for the hungry in our world a lot. It has been there, in the back of my mind, all the time. It's very weird, and I don't know what God is saying to me. Is God calling me to pray, night and day, for the hungry? Is God calling me to write prayers about hunger for other pastors to use? To do more research? I'm not sure, but I know that for now, I will continue to pray for the hungry in our world. More on this later....
For now, read this article in the NYT... it's amazing, and heartbreaking.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
In about an hour I will facilitate a discussion on the book Religious Literacy: What Every American Should Know -- And Doesn't by religious studies professor Stephen Prothero. The book's thesis is simple: US Americans are fairly ignorant when it comes to religion. We lack a basic knowledge of the world's religions, even though we are fairly "religious" as a nation. Prothero explores this paradox and then provides a detailed glossary of religious terms every US American should know. I highly recommend this book. If you are a JAPC member and want to join the study, you are more than welcome to join. Email me for dates and times.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
About a week and a half ago, we learned (officially) what we have been saying for years now, that "harsh interrogation techniques" used on Al-Qaeda suspects were authorized by the highest government officials of our nation. Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet, Ashcroft -- all of them, gathered in high level meetings to discuss the grim details of torture, including waterboarding. (Note: "harsh interrogation techniques" is usually code for torture, as understood by the Geneva Conventions.)
Though I am frustrated it hasn't received more coverage by them, The New York Times published an OpEd piece about it today. There's so much I could say about this, but for now, I will just remind you of one thing: torture does not work as a means of gathering information. Though it seems cool on shows like "24" it is simply not true that reliable information can be obtained from suspects through torture. No one doubts that torture produces information. Of course it does. Wouldn't you say something if you were being tortured? The problem with torture (the fact that it is immoral and cruel notwithstanding) is that it doesn't work. There are many articles/resources I could point you to on this point, this one is a good place to start if you are a "scholarly" type person. If not, just google "ticking time bomb and torture" and read what people on both sides have to say. I have no doubt that the argument for torture in this circumstance will sound silly to your ears, as it does to mine.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
For me, the housing the homeless week has been very enjoyable work, both in the preparation of the previous few weeks and then this week itself. I have enjoyed working with the other churches that we have bought in to help with dinners. I have had fun coordinating the making of lunches, the preparing of snacks, the planning of activities, the collection of toilietry kits, the staying up most of the night. This week has reminded me why I became a pastor: I love to serve God's people, and (even more) I love to help others serve God's people. There is one thing, however, that worried me about participating in this week from the very beginning, and that is how the experience would affect me emotionally. Since I was a little girl, the idea that some people do not have homes to sleep in at night has affected me deeply. Even though I have since "grown up" and learned that "that's the way life is," I was still a little nervous that I would be so saddened by the stories of the people and the reality of homelessness in our country that I would be deeply, deeply troubled all week. This has happened to me before. Soon after I moved to Detroit, I ran into a homeless woman who was having a migraine headache. Since I get migraines, I know how awful they can be. I couldn't imagine suffering one on the street. She asked me for Excederine and grapes. I was very upset over her story for at least a week. I still think of her when I eat grapes.To try and guard against becoming too overwhelmed with the reality of homelessness, my plan was to be friendly and welcoming to the guests, but intentionally stay away from asking to much about their individual situations and inviting conversation about their specific needs and stories. My plan hasn't worked.
One by one this week many of the guests have stopped me in the halls as I have been scooting from the kitchen to the dining room caring for food and entertainment needs. "Pastor, can I talk to you for a few minutes?" or "Pastor, can I see you?" Though I tried to steer clear of such conversations I haven't resented these requests at all. In fact, I have been honored that the guests feel I am someone to be trusted. For the most part, the guests just want someone to hear them out, to listen. (Don't we all?) The surprise for me in all of the conversations this week has been how much hope they have shared with me. Whereas I was expecting to feel overwhelmed about homelessness and distrought over its harshness, I have been ministered to by the people I am alleging to serve in unbelievable ways. (How often this happens in life...) A man from the country of Georgia who knows more about early Christian Church history than I do told me all about Saint Nina, and how she brought Christianity to his home country. "You see," he said "Women like you have been doing important work for Christ for a very long time." He also told me about why he is proud to be a Detroiter, how this city is the first city in the world to have a traffic light and a paved road, that we have the second oldest Opera house in the country. "Don't forget," he said "This is not a dead city." Another man made me laugh when I was talking to him about movies. The group has watched a lot of movies and went through the 8 or so we had in the first couple of days. When I told him I would work on finding some more, he responded by saying "Reverend, you're so sweet." and then he paused and said "Excuse me. I don't mean sweet. I mean, you are a very spiritual woman of God!" I told him that calling me "sweet" wasn't a problem for me. In fact, it was quite a high compliment. I have been touched by our guests' concern for one another, how they have sought to protect one another. Though I am not able to honor requests for clothes, shoes, and medicine, many of the requests I have received for those things have come from one guest about another.
I have, of course, been disheartened by some of the stories. People have been telling me about personal tragedies in their lives so painful they don't want to go into details, they have shared how they are overwhelmed by life in the shelter, and the lack of privacy. There is an elderly man with diabetes who often smells of urine who can't get up from his mat, who spends almost the entire time he is here from 5 pm on curled up in a fetal position on his mat. It's not all rosy. There are still questions and heartbreaks. Yet, amazingly, through the grace of God, I have been blessed this week by a group of people who have recognized my call to ministry and have told me every day how blessed they are to know me. I am truly humbled.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I will warn you that it is difficult to watch. (The embedded YouTube video that follows is the same as the linked one above. I found the YouTube version loaded easier and was smoother than the New Yorker version.)