Tag Archives: my kids

A city of hope

I have always maintained that my favorite thing about Washington D.C. is the public space: hallowed, holy, set aside for all. It is that demarcation which makes this nation great, the “our’s” which we identify, recognize and choose to hold in trust together.

This was a busy week, Holy Week. Children were out of school, many parents released from work, our electorate at recess as well. But the crowds wandering and the spaces devoid of business as usual did not lessen that sense of space  sacred.

We took  elementary and senior high students alike. Most did not read every marker, some tried. Most did not catch the significance of every symbol, some had eyes more able. Most did not regularly know, name or number the heritage of those swarming about as were we.  But,  all of them experienced that space. I watched them take it in, their eyes stretched down far horizons, their necks craned to capture heights, the breath within them held tighter and longer than their chests’ regular rise.

I watched them experience people, not at war, in shopping malls and upon green malls alike, people whose ideas might be, but whose bodies recognized better angels indeed. I watched them make friends with folks who hold ideals they might (unknowingly) besmirch in yet unlearned jest. And I watched shared humanity water the seeds of humility and understanding.

I watched our kids stretch out their hands to veterans on perhaps their last trips and to vendors not long among us. I watched them laugh with others in lines, and more remarkably, remain in love’s sway with their sibling like companions.

Washington is a city of compromise and sometimes compassion, a place where we can all sense the riches of the trust we have been afforded.

Above all, it seems to me, a city of hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shout out for Rachel! Hurray!

I certainly don’t have the readership of Sarah Bessey has nor can I  toast as eloquently as did dear Preston at Deeper Story.  But, I want to say something today as Rachel’s new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood,  releases. Allow me to at least lift a glass and utter my, “amen.”

I am just a mama, wife, teacher and youth leader, working perhaps too quietly, in the town where Rachel Held Evans grew up. As such, I won’t attempt to comment on the breadth of her influence…huge as it is.  But, I would like to share the depth, the generational impact her heart and words are having, even here, in this town, which is tough on the message she is suggesting we reexamine.  What I read, the young women I mentor usually read themselves or get in some successful trickled down format. At 47, her words are freeing to me, they echo the questions I cannot so well articulate. At 17, 18, 19 and 20 her words are springboards…

The finest natural theologians to ever cross my path here in Alabama are young women. The most talented preachers and the most gifted pastoral hearts among our youth group of 250 are girls. The youth pastor and I realize what God has released to our care. We make room for it, encourage it, strengthen it with skill and exposure and most importantly, OPPORTUNITY!

When we are absent, away or just tired, they preach, they teach. Jeremy, our youth pastor, explains he is making up for 2000 years of inequality, so they get the slots. And be sure, they rock it when they do…

I just want to say to Rachel, thanks for leading the way, blocking a bit for those who come after…they are coming! They are right on your heels, girl! I know that makes you smile.

So, thank you from Birmingham! I am sure Tennessee and Dayton claim you now, but so do we, and we always will.

Congratulations!….to “a mother in Israel.” – Judges 5: 7

Kim Sullivan

This post is part of a synchroblog hosted by J. R. Goudeau thanking Rachel for being a woman of valor who speaks for so many of us. Read some other posts at J. R.’s blog.

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inside, OUT

I live in a very conservative,  constrictive, state. One can barely stretch, much less move. Often, dialogue and discovery are not encouraged, exploration is portrayed as an Enemy to be corralled, even eviscerated.

I love dialogue and discovery. I love learning, pressing paradigms, considering alternative options and better, innovative, new ones.  My kids are like me, my natural ones and my spiritual ones. They like the tension and the questions and the freedom of exploration.

Yesterday, while we sat before my fire, eating our down-home butter beans and squash casserole,  some of my kids and I looked at photos from a famous photographer…many of the shots taken at festivals in the Pacific Northwest. My son, the wanderer want to be, keeps begging me to take him there…my daughter, not naturally, pulled these shots for us to see. We stared at the foreignness that does not frighten them AT ALL: the glorious landscapes and the free-falling, high-flying folks.

“Take us,” they whispered.

I nodded gently, yes.

We are surreptitious in the way we wind in thoughts and images and mindsets more free. We play the music that calls such from us, we paint and write and dream.

My son presently wears his hair longer than mine. My adopted daughter, who helped us design costume yesterday, wrapped her hair in tartan plaid and bore it about all day as if she were a proud Kenyan or guru in India.

Some folks look strangely at these two…truth is, they are brave and strong enough to be – on the outside all they are within.

Dang, I admire them.

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Captive

We were painting Powder-Puff run-throughs with the cheer markers in my room, which is always commandeered for such during Homecoming Week. Let’s just say the air was thick with hallucinogenic fumes and thin with plain ol’ oxygen. That is one reason I do not hold class Homecoming Week. Also, as I am in charge of nearly all activities of the week, I run around organizing, counting, putting out fires and getting important things done.

This particular period, I  was overseeing the making of the parade signs and our ink intoxication. The Child I Love and the Child I Am Fast Falling For were manning the markers. They have steady hands and draw good clean lines. When they had finally finished, I called TCIL over. I asked if she had read my new series on my blog about my weekend away. TCIL and I write back and forth for fun and as an outlet to vent or to think things through. She regularly reads my blog.

As she had not, I thrust my Macbook into her hands and sat her against the wall aside me. ( We had emptied all my room’s space of chairs and tables early in the week. ) The floor fit our excursion better anyway.

At school, she alone knew why I was going on my trip, the reasons obvious and not so. She writes with me remember? She shares some of my secrets and helps to bear me up like the other young-guns who are stationed all around me.

She quickly made her way through each post, nodding her head with unspoken approval. Finally, she looked up at me. “I love Callaway, Mrs. Kim. We have a chalet there. I don’t even know how many times I have been…I know this place, Mrs. Kim, I know it. ( In my spirit I heard, “I am with you. there, too.”) And she is. with me. making my days at work . and even away. mean and maybe matter more.

She helped me this week, in little ways of which she is not aware. She up and left her normal crew stationed and spread out up front, moved to the back of the room with a new friend, near my desk and my weakness the days I was so physically, and consequently, spiritually weak.  It may have been unconscious, but it buoyed me. I felt protected. She checked my eyes several times a day to make sure I was not overwhelmed or somehow in need of help. And everyday she found me at the day’s end to assure me she would see me the next day…that she would be there.

I write about her a lot. She is grace to me…even here at school where I struggle so to sense it. At least once a week, some adult will mention her to me in some fearful way. I don’t know why. She has never caused any real trouble. She does her work well. She is kind and gentle. But, for some reason, maybe her foreign Catholic upbringing or her sometimes less than studious or squeaky clean comrades, she is rarely seen for what she is.

That’s okay. They can have what it is they want: shellac and supercilious spirituality.

I’ll take grace now and with me wherever I go.

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I like everything about it

I like everything about it…except the exhaustion. I like the silly games which I get to make up and not play – I am not a game player. I like the dress-up days…I am all in there. I like the charity money-raising class contest which produces sheer frenzy in the last few hours and minutes…hundred dollar bills and pounds of change fly at me, held out in secret strategies to gain the win. And, I love our rinky-dink little parade through the neighborhood to the church. It is nothing but a joy in good weather…which we were blessed with yesterday.

I love the powder-puff game where the competitive amongst our girls put on a show the varsity would be wise to watch and I even like the homecoming court and queen’s crowning. Most of all, I  like working closely with my team of kids who run the games and make crazy dress-up examples of themselves and race around the building, begging, promising their future services and otherwise finding a way to come out on top of the charity fund-raiser – AFTER – they have bankrupted their own piggy banks , cleaned out their cars and given away their  next month’s lunch money. I love counting fifty pounds of change with them and making signs with hallucinogenic inks with them and seeing them work so hard to make it all fun for everyone. I love these kids…who give a damn. Who won’t win our cool prizes or even a shout out on the intercom. Who won’t be crowned or recognized by the local paper as an extreme athlete. Who work hard and smart and secretly to make everyone’s week as fun as it can be.

Every year, teachers and admin’s ask me to please run this thing called Homecoming. ( No one else wants to.) They thank me, but no one ever asks me why I do so. It’s an easy question to answer: I do it to hang out and suffer the joy with those who care, who get there early and stay so late and really do give until it hurts.

I do it to be with them.

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this boy

Linking up at Amber Haines for the weekly concrete to abstraction study.  Always fun for me. Our word this week is “boy.” Here’s what came to mind this busy, crazy week.

For years he never spoke a word save through that white guitar of his. It sang. He played far to the back on the school praise band team. I never heard him sing a note. I never heard him say a word. But, he always came and played.

Three years ago: the one person I always saw him with moved on, angry. In a random poetry assignment, he offered that his father had just done likewise. It was a rich, tight tale. He gained my attention, full.

Two years ago: I got a shot at one of the Bible classes, was sort of commissioned to work a miracle or two. I choose him for my class. He chose me as well.  We wrote.

Last year: He started to sing back-up vocals in the band. He smiled at me as we passed in the hall.

This year: He was recruited to play with Hannah and Trent in the “big band” at Epoch. He agreed.

This summer: He signed up for EDGE.

This weekend: He came around the corner from the Green Room.  I heard their giddy sounding footsteps and wondered what it would be like to be 17 and playing in such a venue. His smile broke wide as he saw me, his teacher, and maybe more, a  muse…who said when others ceased to…”You can do this, I know you can.”

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That deathly quiet boy now leads worship and sings lead, no longer hidden behind those incomprehensibly good guitar licks. He brings me his poems, sets them out, stands back, smiling more. He shares his still hurting heart freely for all of us at EDGE to pray.

******

I put my arm around Alex’s friend, my ex-student as well, his collaborator in the set. He, too, grins that I have come. I turn and face Alex; his arms are wide for me.

How I love this boy.

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We all came back alive

This past weekend we finally pulled off our long-awaited, “Weed out the Weenies” weekend. We camped, no bathrooms, no electricity, no running water, in the relative wild of Helena, Alabama. There were a few fateful moments of potential pitfall, including our 1am pitch black ( no flashlights) Capture the Flag game in a field that daylight revealed to be more treacherous than did the flickers of the falling stars that cheered us. But, though we did stumble and otherwise fall a time or two, no one was cast head long nor seriously hurt. And we made up quickly for any bravado we showed during the game…we are serious gamers.

Jeremy, Tiff and I sat in the warmth of a fire, watching faces that we love more than life, speak hard questions and respond to them, not with proof texts and platitudes, but with unshakeable Love. Somehow, these kids get what it took us years of unlearning and then learning to get ourselves. They run through the ravines and briars and pitted places that snared us and rolled us to the ground and charged us for the experience.  They run narrow, dangerous spaces as if they are wide and smooth. Because, to them, led of Love, only, they are.

I find myself too often, frozen or feeling my way along, only inching my feet forward, trying to stay on the track of Love…

God, put me, too, in that wide, safe space…and let me, too, run without regard for life and limb. Amen

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