Saturday, July 7, 2007
We drove up to Pasadena Thursday super early to visit Rudy and hear about Harambee. They are an organization that chose to move into a neighborhood that was once a "medieval fortress" for drugs and gang activity in Pasadena. 35 houses strategically surrounded a central point, a sort of headquarters for the BGF (black guerilla family). "cops just didn't enter". Over Rosco's Chicken and Waffles I tried to keep up with all that he was saying. He talked to us about racial reconciliation, what it means for him to be a Mexican man married to an African American woman living in this community with middle class white kids getting out of the front seat for him...knowing that the neighbors are all watching. Harambee is a Swahili word for "Let's get together and push". It's original meaning comes from Hindu Indians who worked in Kenya as slaves, but the people of Kenya made it their own and today in Kenya and Pasadena it stands for unity and purpose and fits well for this organization. 6 houses all in a row with no fences equals a giant back yard for kids to play basketball, run around, and serves as the location for the occasional Krumping competition. Basically they're there to live alongside people (John 1) and show that there is another way to live.
The thing that I was thinking while I was there was that when I visit places like this that seem to be so on target, places like the Alexandria House in LA, or Floresta in San Diego, or Restore International in India, or a semester for Creation Care in New Zealand. Places that impassion me and get me fired up...I have some really wonderful motives that I believe are placed in my heart by a loving and passionate God. and then there's this part of me that wants ownership over these things. Psychology research, classes and my own thoughts have been on motives for a really long time. Why do people engage in goodness? For whom? To what end?
we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us....It is in solitude that we discover that being is more important than having and that we are worth more than the results of our efforts...To the degree that we have lost our dependence on this world, whatever world means--father, mother, children, career, success, or rewards--we can form a community of faith in which there is little to defend but much to share...when you are able to create a lonely place in the middle of your actions and concerns, your successes and failures slowly can lose some of their power over you. For then your love for this world can merge with a compassionate understanding of its illusions.
This means so much for me right now. To find solitude. To simply be. To not evaluate my worth based on the approval or admiration of others, or my productivity. One of the compliments I've received both in the far past and recently is "you know who you are". I don't know why but I've clung to this and given it value. I'm not exactly sure what people mean when they say that to me. but it makes me feel like I've got it all figured out. Like I'm living an admirable life that is noticed and I want to throw up as I type this. I don't mean to insult those giving the compliment, but as I examine my heart now I realize that the reason I value and remember this compliment above all others is because it sows seeds of pride. It makes ME feel good about MYSELF. I'm not Stiller...but lately I feel myself wanting to be. To have some sort of security and peace because "I know who I am".
God, examine me and know me. Test my thoughts and know my ways. See if there is anything offensive in me and lead me in the way everlasting.