a few days ago...after a LONG night at work (I'm a waitress) I slept in past my alarm and got to coa an hr late. and I'm so glad i didn't roll over and decide to just skip. Poung is so freakin loving. constantly tellin me to have a good day. each day. Poung is vietnamese, gender unknown...and that's okay. and constantly encourages me to get more sleep. take care of myself. "be happy and have good day. you have good day today, tomorrow and i see you wednesday. all week have good day." and means it. really really means it. and cares about each individual day that i'm going to wake up to. He/she also has a very diligent desire to learn the English language...so I spell words on one of many napkins Poung has saved in a shirt pocket and even spell my own name wrong so that the phonetics I know Poung's relying on won't be confused by my very not phonetically spelled name. I just can't imaging being in that place in life and having the energy and heart to wish a wonderful day of rest on someone who I know had a bed to sleep on last night...while I slept on concrete. I'm much too self-centered to be concerned about someone who's better off than me.
Oh lay me down again/here at your feet/show me how much you love humility/oh spirit be the one that leads me to/the humble heart of love I see in you/you are the God of the broken/friend of the weak/you wash the feet of the weary/defend the ones in need/I want to be like you Jesus/to have this heart in me/you are the God of the humble/you are the humble king.
There was a man at COA on Monday who was out of it. said he was groggy from sleeping pills. looked lost, needed lots of assistance just to sit down in a chair. i felt compelled...my heart was pulled towards his...even if only to pull his chair out for him and set down the hot cup of coffee. I turned back towards the food line after getting him situated and Susie had tears in her eyes (i love that girl's heart). She was right there in her heart with that man as he struggled. A few days later she was in San Diego with me visiting some of my college girlfriends and we were in Pacific Beach as a man in a wheel chair shuffled himself with his feet and limited arm strength across a street and up a sidewalk ramp...something we probably wouldn't have noticed so plainly a few months ago. I couldn't pinpoint his nationality, his age, socioeconomic status, or the mental disorder I'm pretty sure he has, but regardless, he was a man who was obviously physically struggling to make it up this curb...and from my car we watched him battle against his own limitations, the strain on his face and the second by second push that seemed at any second was just an instant away from failing and would sending him rolling backwards into a busy intersection. right at the point of greatest struggle this white, middle aged businessman was headed towards him from the other side of the street...and as he approached this man and the street corner..he just walked right on by. almost had to walk around the man in the wheelchair to make it to the same corner to stand next to the him and wait for about 3 minutes to wait for the next pedestrian signal. and so the two stood /sat next to each other while the lights changed. and I yelled inside the soundp roof (i hope) doors and windows of my car. I was angry at this man. This priest, this pharisee, who just passed the bloodied, bleeding man by in the ditch. careful not to dirty his holy robe on the pain and sweat and struggle of a man in need. I think of Bill at mid-city and the hugs I would give him, and the way I often had to hold my breath through the smell of those hugs..and the nagging knowledge that the smells were now passed onto me for the next few hours...I'M SUCH A BRAT. God let me be inconvenienced. let me enter into the dirty, painful, messy lives of those around me and see the Christ in them. Let me recognize and acknowledge our shared humanity and move forward from there to ask not "who is my neighbor", but instead try to understand how to be the neighbor.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
this was the title of our WOW summer sunday school class this morning. Keslie, JoAnne and I took 15 5th graders to Hillcrest to give out door hangers we made and to sing songs with hand motions and pretty weird "kidstown" theology actually...
Anyway, I feel like my "continuing team" component of this internship has been kinda touch and go. The idea is for us to not just have a summer of gospel living and leave and go back to normal life later with this memory of a summer one time...but to both let that integrate into the daily fabric of my own life and to intentionally (in addition to coincidentally in my existing relationships) create a continuing team. My chosen team was "kids". this proved challenging. 2nd graders didn't get why we made cookies for the Cambodian congregation last week, they just want to eat the dang cookies. and even if Scott and Robert from COA came in person to explain their stories and church, sometimes I wonder if the kids just bring bags of donations because a flyer got sent home and mom and dad cleaned a closet out. Hopefully there are conversations happening at home as well...I'm pretty positive they are.
But today I feel like it sank in. We had all 5th graders...and they had fun making the door-hangers and singing the songs in the class. And then we drove to Hillcrest. I explained why these patients were here...that we needed to be quiet but we could be cheerful...teacher-ly things mostly. ~~I remember the first time i went to a convalescent hospital as a kid. I was freaked out. I didn't know what the smells were, why that lady kept squawking...truly squawking. why everyone looked so sad and depressed. and i knew it was a place i didn't want to stay at for any longer than I had to.~~ Today I watched kids goof off and play at church and then all this sudden become silent and scared and need to be prompted to say you're welcome when that woman in the robotic bed said thank you or told the little girls they looked pretty... But when we sang they came a little more alive. and when one man who was a little off his rocker (aren't we all) asked if he could sing to us and sang an old Sinatra tune they all applauded and relaxed a little and said thank you to him...and said hi to Anita and Ron, some of the MS patients I work with during the week. It was awesome to see that shift. To know that the past few months of prayers and planning and intentions to not just do something good but to change these kids' awareness and their attitudes to the marginalized of society was actually resulting in something. Instead of being taught to avoid people who look and smell weird and to not talk to strangers and never give money to the guy on the street corner, they're eyes are being opened just a little at a time...and I was privileged to witness that outbreaking of the kingdom today. Thank you Jesus.
I'm also realizing the significance of relationships in these moments. I think random acts of kindness can be a breath of fresh air for some of these patients and the workers there...but the relationship our church has, and that i have through working there twice a week is what made today possible. I even feel weird knowing I taught a sunday school class today and I honestly won't remember any of those kids names...it was a one time thing...and it was weird for one little boy to call me mrs. chelle later in the day...(for one i'm not married...and for two, how come you know my name kid??) I'm so grateful for the relationships I have at Hillcrest and I hope to have after this summer is over. I don't know the future after grad school (the reason I moved to Long Beach)...but I know that right now these people are my friends and I love them.