Divided Humanity

One of my closest friends, a white American woman, is married to a black Jamaican man. She doesn’t really watch the news and so I was explaining to her what I had read/heard about the situation that has been unfolding in Ferguson, MO. She mentioned her own awakening awareness of racism since marrying a black man and, unfortunately, his introduction to racism since moving to the U.S.

At the age of 22 I worked for the summer at a camp in Wisconsin. Most of the kids coming to the camp were from inner city Chicago. Black city kids at a mosquito infested Christian camp with an almost only white staff. It was a particularly difficult summer for me and likely also for them. This was partly because I had just been kicked out of Bible college,  and my inner brokenness made me more fragile and less capable of connecting with my campers.

White people who want to steer clear of being called racist tend to do an opposite kind of injustice to their fellow brown humans by pretending that skin color is the only difference, missing the rich differences in culture. I have never heard a black person make this same mistake. On my first or second week as a counselor at camp, I was wrestling heavily with the communication-by-insult factor. On my insistence that regardless of how ubiquitous this was in their families and communities, it was still not nice, one savvy 12yr old said with great inflection, “You don’t know many black people, do you?” 

I didn’t bluster and say, “I have black friends” because I honestly didn’t. Growing up in the suburbs of North Seattle did not bring me into contact with very many black people….

Read More

Holler

If I could create a drawing that described this year, it would probably be a comic strip. The whole thing would be a roller coaster ride.

After sitting here thinking for a while, I realize that describing the pictures I would draw is probably less effective than just describing the year itself.

January: This was a month of great elation. I had just completed the School of Biblical Studies, which is a marathon of studying for 9 months. I had puffy, bluish skin under my eyes and a great big smile on my face.

February: I went home for 6 weeks to “raise support.” I put it in quotes because that is not as concrete an activity as some might make it out to be. Basically I hung out with my friends, made new friends, and spoke to a few groups of people about the work I feel called to do as a Missionary….

Read More

Coming of Age

My work as Camp Pastor is now over. It was a lot harder and a lot more rewarding than I expected. In fact, I don’t think I realized I was expecting anything until it all unfolded.

Here’s what I learned about Jr. Highers:

no images were found

Their faces do not express what is in their hearts unless you are relentless and then they will cry. Their skill with waiting out the awkward silence almost matches my own. Let’s be honest, a few times, they won the silence. They are both adult and child, mixed together in a way that makes it difficult to navigate things like kindness and discipline. I think it’s mixed up for them, too…

Read More

Jr. Highers vs. The Awkward Silence

This week at Jr. High camp, the theme is Finding Your Place in God’s Epic Story. Even though I worked at this camp for 8 years, this is my first time really being involved with the kids. For all of those years I worked in the kitchen or the bookstore. Now I am Camp Pastor. I give it capital letters because the thought has freaked me out a few times.

No more at any point than it did last night in the middle of chapel. It’s one thing to realize you have a gift for a particular thing and it’s another to begin the journey of using that gift. As you may know, there are a lot of things to learn and these lessons are often learned in the middle of making mistakes….

Read More