Thursday, January 08, 2009

Growing

++++WARNING++++Long, boring, self-involved, non-adoption related post+++++++++++

For the past 24 hours I have found myself grappling with something that I really don't think I can adequately put into words. I am knee deep in studying for my first TEI (Theological Education Institute - for the licensed lay ministry program I have mentioned earlier) classes which are this Saturday. As part of my reading assignments for a class titled "Church in the World", I was to read Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" which you can find here if you so desire: http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html .

About 2 minutes into reading this, I started reading it more slowly, more carefully. Then I stopped. Have you ever had a moment when you realized just how little you knew in life? Did you ever look at yourself and think "Man, I am SO uneducated...how have I made it this far?". I am not necessarily speaking about the subject matter of racial equality that MLK was writing about. I was utterly and completely blown away by A) His ability to express himself so beautifully, truly enough to bring one to tears at the sheer ability to work with words and craft them in such a way that people are moved to action, B) The intelligence to distinguish the subtle nuances of a complicated issue and then to extrapolate that which is the most important to be used in making his case, C) Grace - He is the Paragon of Grace in writing to those with whom he has an important fundamental disagreement. I will forever remember this example when I am in a contentious situation and use it to guide me in my own thoughts and actions.

And thus far, as I re-read what I have written I see I, unlike MLK, have completely failed to really say what I am feeling right now. Maybe it is impossible to admit that you recognize that at 42 you are so ignorant. Again, I am not lacking in some knowledgable about the civil rights movement, and actually spent a lot of my pre-teen years pursuing my interest in researching the subject of slavery and racial injustice. Around the time I was in 3rd or 4th grade the book and subsequent movie "Roots" came out, and this ushered in my transition from youth reading to much more mature reading. I begged my mom to let me stay up late and watch the mini-series, but it was during the school year and she wouldn't allow it.

So I went out and bought the book, which of course was far superior to anything I would have seen on screen, and found myself making more than a transition from youth reading to adult material, I eventually saw this as an introduction to the adult world of thought, it broadened my world view in a way nothing else could have at that age. I came away from the experience with a profound sense of incredulity of man's inhumanity to man. Growing up in the 70's and 80's in Southern California which was a sumptuous blend of cultures and races, it was inconceivable to me that anyone could be discriminated against because their skin was darker than mine. I still find that inconceivable today, that even highly educated people could use outward appearances to judge inner beauty and intelligence. It's ridiculous. I also find it hard to believe that anyone could not see the inherent beauty in any race. I felt that way long before we ever considered adopting children of a different race, and perhaps that is why I never gave it a second thought. Admittedly, it is also perhaps why at moments I am not as sensitive to the race issues that my children face daily...is that progress? To be so unaware not because you don't care, but because it is such a non-issue? Even though sadly it will always be an issue "out in the world"? Hmmm....an interesting dichotomy to consider.

But this is all aside from the point, as my thoughts about all of this are stemming from something that has nothing to do with the Issue of the Day that MLK fought for, but has everything to do with understanding that he was brilliant, and I wish that at 42 years old I had read something he had written long before now. I have often felt foolish for not having attended college, but yesterday I really felt my lack of education in a profound way, it was as if I realized I have suffered a great loss and only just recognized it as such. It is a little as if I am in mourning for the person I might have been had I encountered certain things in my life earlier, if that makes any sense at all.

I also kept saying over and over again as I read "Oh man, if only I could write like that!". I have never really yearned to be like anyone else or have their skills...until yesterday.

But what also enveloped me was what I think was the point of the class, and that was a true desire to find or understand my own personal mission in life. To have that kind of passion, where the words flow so freely because you believe in something to the very marrow of your bones...because you live it, breathe it, shed tears over it...that is to some degree why I have felt compelled to take these classes. Because something is building that is beyond my understanding at the moment, but I have felt long before now. Two years ago Dominick and I had a long conversation about this, that it seemed learning experiences were stacking upon one another to lead me down a particular path, that we could almost visibly see it but couldn't figure out what it was. I still can't, and it is frustrating and not just a little fear inducing as it feels large and looming, as if it is a shadow hovering over my life and yet I can't quite make out its form. It is also a blessing beyond belief to have a husband such as mine, with whom I can openly share such things and am supported 100%, not laughed at, and joined hand in hand as I try to discover what lies ahead.

It seems as if I will be learning a lot through my experience with TEI, much of which might outwardly appear to have nothing at all to do with spiritual things, but inwardly will mold me in ways even I had not anticipated.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

My dad always said...don't let school interfere with your education. You are far more educated and eloquent than many of the highly "educated" people I know. Seeing and appreciating the amazing qualities of others and appreciating where we have room to improve takes a very strong person with a very internalized drive to learn. You are so lucky to have found your partner so young too...I am jealous...I wasted so many years without my DH. I guess everything comes when it is supposed to huh?

Bob; Carrie DeLille said...

May I just say....you ARE a gifted writer and you bless those of us who read what you write. You, my friend are on the move and it's so much easier for the Holy Spirit to steer those who are moving than it is to steer one who sits idle waiting. You are taking steps-He will guide you and you will find peace in the end.