My Past has Shaped Me

I am a white girl, who grew up in a poor family.  My dad worked construction, and of course we had to move where the work was.  There were many times that my dad decided he would go to another state to work and send money back to us, just so we would not have to change schools.  There was a time when we lived in a tent, but my dad did not allow us to go to school in dirty clothes.  I remember the heartbreak of being in junior high and not wanting to make friends because, I did not want them to know I did not have a home.  I would actually go eat in the bathroom to avoid being made fun of.  It was a devastatingly difficult time.  As I grew up, I rejected religion, yet was oddly fascinated by it.  I tried it all, new age, Buddhism, Hinduism, Spiritualism etc.  It was not until I turned 19 that I decided Christianity was the path for me.  Jesus was the main reason for my decision.  He did not judge, he preached love of all and he came for everyone!  He accepted all!  All.

As I have continued my journey, I have come to realize that everyone has their path, and I love listening to their stories.  I love sitting a talking with those who believe differently from me, so that I can better understand where they are coming from.  What they have been through.  How they overcame whatever it was they went through in their lives.  You see, America is pretty cool that way.  We have come from different places around the world.  We celebrate culture and diversity.  We celebrate being different.  At least, that is what I thought until lately.  But maybe it has not changed.  If I and all of us, have been shaped by our past, that means that we can learn from our mistakes as a nation.  This means, that instead of becoming more divisive, we can come together in peace, love, and unity despite our political agendas or religious preferences.  It means that we can find common ground.

It seems to me that we as believers in Higher Power or those who believe in humanity,  have all been taught something similar:  to welcome the stranger.  To practice a hospitality so radical that it means to extend our hand and hearts to those who are in need.  This does not change in any religious belief.  It is common ground.

I implore everyone to seek facts and not fake news.  To meet others different from you, and to extend your hand to ALL.  We do not know everyone’s stories, but we can learn to listen.

America

In January, another woman and I started a community meal in the basement of our church in our local downtown.  Our town has a very high percentage of homeless people and is probably more diverse than other places in the state.  We call it a community meal because all are welcome:  rich, poor, all religions, ethnicities and beliefs.  A meal in which we sit down together and eat.  It has grown from five to about 120 every Wednesday.  We make food from scratch, serve it on nice plates. It has become a family.  All together.  The sign when entering says:  “All are welcome here.  Only kind works and actions beyond this point.”

One day, a man who was strung out on drugs was sitting at the same table with three business men, two gang member and a family.  All of them were laughing and talking.  So many boundaries were broken that day.  The homeless man came up to me when he was done and told me that he loved my motto:  all are welcome.  He said it makes him feel normal to come to this place and eat with a variety of people.  You see, no politics are spoken here.  No gun control rights, no talks about who is running for office.  This is real every day life being lived.  People who are just trying to survive every day, and want to be remembered as normal too.

We can blame guns, we can blame politicians, we can blame each other.  What it boils down to is ourselves. Have we blamed ourselves?  Have we gone beyond Facebook, Twitter or Blogs to reach out?  We are living in a world that is full of hurt.  All of us have been hurt at some point in our lives on a deep tragic level.  How can we begin to understand what the other is going through if we do not reach out to one another?  Share a meal?    Stop treating others as if they are different than you.  Instead treat others with dignity, and they will respond in dignity.

I am a white woman living in America.  I have never experienced a bit of racism in my entire life.  I do not know what my black brothers and sisters are going through.  I will never know, but does this mean I never try to understand?

I am not in law enforcement.  I do not know what they see on a day to day basis, or what they go through.  But I can try to understand.

America, it is time to go beyond words.  It is time to reach out to one another.  It is time to remember that every day people live their lives, some more in fear than others.  It is time to start reaching out and trying to understand one another.  It is more than words, it is action.

I love this country, and all the people who live in it.  We are a family, who have our disagreements, but when push comes to shove, we come together.

Love,

Suzy