Thursday, March 19, 2009

How rich are you?

I was looking at my friend Faye's blog and she had posted this link. It is super interesting. I looked at the disparity between my potential salary, if I raised the full amount each month, and the salary that the production manager at Sari Bari makes. There is a huge disparity between our annual incomes but we both end up in the top 15% of the worlds population. With so much of the world living on less than a dollar a day, it really puts everything in perspective. Check out this link and find out where you stand. Be prepared for a shock!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Human Beings

I just read a couple of articles on CNN about a high class sex ring being busted and i need to ask can we please stop using the following words:


These words demean and denigrate human beings. Of the women and girls who work in the sex trade, selling their bodies, 95 percent have been sexually abused prior to entering the trade (this may include men too but i do not know). I have never met a women who at the age of 7, 10 or 19 wanted to enter the sex trade. We live in a world of sexual brokenness and distortions, why would we presume that these human beings choose something that destroys identity and dignity by its very nature and that now they lack humanity because of it. Whether a woman has entered the sex trade due to addiction, poverty, trafficking, trickery, or even choice (as someone will surely say, if do not--however, i do not believe it is a choice when you have no other options), they remain human beings who by their very nature should be given dignity and value. When those words are used, women lose humanity, my friends lose humanity, i lose humanity, the men and women who use these words to describe others lose humanity. The words we use to describe one another can destroy dignity or restore it. Let's restore and give dignity to other human beings, rather than stealing value with our careless names for those we do not understand or care to know. there are other words that we can use to describe professions or lines of work with out making the person their job. None of us are the job that we least i hope not. All of us are human least i hope so.

Monday, March 16, 2009

neverending exodus

My heart breaks with every loss, every stumble, every pain that my dear friends suffer on their road to freedom. It is such a long, long road to walk. I have said before that just like the israelites, many may not see the promised land of wholistic freedom. But still I live and work and hope like they will. I was remembering tonight how and why we started Sari Bari...the dream for freedom. We started and began to dream for the impossible, for thing we may never see. We claimed romans 5: suffering produces perseverance, perservrance character and charter hope and HOPE will not disappoint us. We wanted to live like Isaiah 58 was possible...we dream of well water gardens, of places of hope and restoration, we dream of streets and dwellings restored. The dreams glimmer in reality some days and some days it is hard to remember the dreams.

This morning we talked of faith, we HOPE in faith, even though we can not see, we can trust that God IS. These words are begining to answer the question for me of: Where is God drawing you? My sense is that He is drawing me to trust more deeply, not with my eyes but with faith knowing and trusting that what i can not see now will someday be revealed. Maybe that, the dreams I dream for my friends, will be realized, completed. Maybe that the dreams and hope that these beautiful women look toward would become reality. I want to believe it but some days everything tells me all is lost. As I shared my heart this morning about my own journey of faith and I could see in my dear friends eyes that my struggle held true for them too. We talked of our losses and our struggle to trust that God hears us. We named names, we named losses, we named fears, we named hopes...all things that we can not now understand, all the things that we can not see. we dwell in darkness but for the HOPE that in faith what we now can not see will someday be revealed.

So until then we will proclaim with faith that freedom, healing and restoration is possible! May the Exodus one day end and the promised land be revealed underneath the rubble of now!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Never make eye contact with a Kolkata Street dog

Never make eye contact with a street dog in kolkata. Not because they will attack you but because they will think you actually care for them and follow you where ever you go. I have a standard practice of petting while not actually petting the dogs here. I just make stupid human noises that sound kind, while moving my hand 6 inches above the dog. They act like i am actually petting them. They wiggle and wag all over. I do not have much compassion for the dogs...too much human suffering always out weighs their plight. Sometimes i wonder how it is that they can appear so content with so little, they eat trash, they get stoned and run over, yet that does not stop them from lying in the street, taking long naps, playing with each other and looking for eye contact from humans. They are eternally hopeful and amazing survivors. I try not to resent their contented behavior, i mean seriously, they eat trash, but sometimes after a long day I wonder how it is that they can be content with so little and I who have so much still am not content most of the time. I am embarrassed to have written this blog about the dogs...but apparently even they have something to teach me in Kolkata.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Yes, I am stealing Chris' Blog posts because they are just so good...

Vulnerability means to be hurt over and over again without seeking to love less, but more. Divine love is sheer vulnerability—sheer openness to giving…Being vulnerable means loving one another as Christ loved us. If we did not have to forgive people, we would have no way of manifesting God’s forgiveness toward us. People who injure us are doing us a great favor because they are providing us with the opportunity of passing on the mercy that we have received. By showing mercy, we increase the mercy we receive. The best way to receive divine love is to give it away, and the more we pass on, the more we increase our capacity to receive.

— Thomas Keating’s, The Heart of the World: An Introduction to Contemplative Christianity, page 15.

Grace of Brokeness

Sunday, March 08, 2009

good questions

i love meeting cool people who ask good questions. questions that they have wrestled with themselves. questions that have a sincerety in wanting to know the answers to the questions. questions like what is the difference between Word Made Flesh and Servants? How does the incarnational commitment look different for these two communities? how is simplicity lived out, as singles, as marrieds, a families? why is there on man for every two women in these post modern "incarnational" communities? why do some organizations fail to empower local leadership? Why does community provide a more sustainable model than the single, i can do everything, warrior model? We had really great conversation today based on these questions.

I am particulary interested to understanding how families in incarnational groups make it work...does simplicity have to be lost? or does simplicity even matter? I know one family who has lived in slum for 10 years in single room with their two kids. They are the exception not the rule. they are fairly extreme but truly hold my respect for their longevity and commitment to those they love in their neighborhood. Most families, need or want more for their families, really for survival and sustainability. There is a conflict between wanting the best for their kids and living in poverty contexts where, though people want the best for their kids, they do not have the ability or choice to provide the best. so there is always a conflict...I have no answers really, my love for the families i know far outweighs most thoughts. I just wonder what incarnation looks like for families...i am sure there is no one way but many. I know my parents at one point considered a move to a innercity ministry in the states but decided for us kids that it would be better not to go. they feared we would lose something. when they told me, i actually felt a loss that they had not gone and moved our family to chicago (who knows if i would say that if we had gone but it interesting to think about it).

Incarnation implies presence in the places where Jesus may not be present in the physical sense. So relationship really means more than the things that you have or hold in your hand. But the things you hold in your hand can prevent relationship, stall it or even act as a barrier. I have been wrestling with the issue of simplicity alot lately. Wanting to maintain or even lower my standard of living but also knowing that simplicity is really more an issue of the heart. And my heart is really the issue. i accumulate because i am lonely, or unsatisfied, or trying to fill some hole in my heart. I sway between legalism and grace. fear of outside judgement and a care-less what you think posture. love for my neighbors who are poor sometimes comes into my decision making but more often then not, my attitude of entitlement governs my choices. i am not sure if resolution is possible really, maybe i will continue to wrestle for year to come. this is also something that we do not really talk about, even a community that celebrates simplicity as a lifestyle celebration. We may judge one another but fail to speak into each others life for fear of having others speak into our lives. We do not submit our purchases, we hide them. We do not ask if someone else might be served by the time or money that use, we use it for ourselves. I know i have not submitted in this area. i want to talk about it more. beth and i have been talking, wrestling a bit. but i wonder how we can be more open in submitting our lifestyles to one another. in the context of international partnership, this is an essential aspect. can i not only submit my lifestyle choices to my north american community but can i submit them to the indian staff. can i and will i allow them to speak into my life in this way. I want to...i just need make that choice. in the states, finances are personal, but in india finances are for the family, everything is shared. so i am asking myself, if my community here is my family, can my finances be submitted to them? can we share everything is common? i hope so...i want to continue to move in that direction.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

when to say when

We had the Sari Bari Retreat yesterday. It was A M A Z I N G! I talked with one of the newer ladies and she was so so open. She was so encouraged to finally be able to see freedom and new life as something that was in within her reach. She never thought that she would be able to have a good job in a good place and be treated with dignity and respect. Those are her words not mine. She just confirmed for me that there is nothing i would not do for these beautiful women. Conversations like those move me forward, remind why i do what i do, why i put up with false friends, nasty landlords, and verbal beatings. Their freedom, the people who they are and will be and the Savior who compels it, is sometimes the only thing that makes sense to me.

But yesterday, even in the midst of the resolve, I was thinking of past hurts, recent hurts and wondering, when do i say, when. Do i get to say when? Or is there a point at which i just say that's enough, no more false friends, no more arbitrary rules, no more verbal abuse, no more lying landlords. Or do I never say when and keep accepting the hurts as they come, regardless of humiliation. practicing forgiveness, remembering that i am not the only one who has been hurt, i can identify more deeply with those whom i love through these hard hurts and i can practice forgiveness everyday until even that hurts. I do not know the answer, i know what Jesus did, but that still is not giving me peace at the moment. I just feel a little weary and wounded. Jesus help me.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Where is God drawing you?

this is a good question. i am afraid to ask it because the answer requires to me let go and lose control of the direction i have decided to go. I am going to be reflecting on this for the next month...and i am a little scared but also a little excited about the answers that i may find.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Just gotta keep growing

When you are kid you think that there will come a point when you are a grown up. But i think being a grown up only signifies that our bodies have stopped growing not our minds our hearts or our spirituality. i feel like i am continually challenged to keep growing...though i do often wish there would be a stopping point at which I could stay that's it, i am done growing up. growing up, growing at all in any way really, is super painful. growing pains used to mean leg cramps in 7th grade and the unfamiliarity of a changing body that seemed to grow faster than my mind. but now it means saying well we have been doing it this for awhile but there is a better way to do it, one that is more humane, more dignifying, more right. growing now causes other types of pain, like letting go, re-identification, re-membering of myself, my thoughts, submission of desires, submission of dreams, submission of self to the other. i have been waiting for years for life in kolkata to normalize, to have a rythmn that stays the same but that day has never come. every day is a challenge to grow up into something different or better. i feel like i have to grow out of things that have been one way to allow new things to spring up and there is loss in growing out of things. growing out of a way of a way of thinking or believing so that i can grow up toward the sunlight where there is a wealth of food and nourishment for my soul. the community here in kolkata is growing these days, most certainly in numbers, but more significantly in how we can and should do life here, how we can submit ourselves better to culture, simplicity and one another. i am definitely challenged and even in a little pain with the growth we are experiencing but i know that i just gotta keep growing. The day growing up stops we die.