Saturday, May 14, 2011

Last Prayer letter for awhile: June 2011

Dear Friends and Family-

A few days ago, I was in the midst of saying goodbye to my dear beloved friends and sisters at Sari Bari, my community and my life in Kolkata. I was flooded with emotions, broken heartedness, fear of the unknown future, doubt if taking Sabbatical was the right choice. Now sitting at my dear friend Daphne’s home, having spent a couple of days getting loved on by Jared and Julie Landreth, the feelings have lessened but still linger and I wonder what I am supposed to do with all these feelings.

I have spent a good part of the last 10 years in Kolkata where if I am honest, everyday has been a battle. A fight for justice, a fight to love, a fight to give mercy when I have been hurt, a fight for a seat on a crowded metro or even a fight simply not be cheated or taken for a ride by a local taxi driver. As a fighter or at least one who has had to fight to survive life in Kolkata, I have been very well equipped with weapons of war. I have a clenched jaw and a hard face that appears without my permission and a struggle to trust, a healthy fear of men who stand too close and some sweet evasive moves to ward off potential harm both physical and emotional.

As I was getting ready to depart, I reflected to Beth that I think this may have been the hardest year of my life. It began more than a year ago when I transitioned out of the field director position and the strain of the transition was hard on relationships. And then almost exactly a year ago our friend Pornima was murdered and her loss was followed by many other losses. Our community has engaged one trauma after another in the last year. I think we are all ready for something new. Ready for a little more life, a little more hope and a little more space to be renewed by the presence of Jesus.

So my hope is to be an intercessor for my community even as I Hope to receive the gift of sabbatical.

When I departed Kolkata, I told the ladies, when I departed the USA ten years ago, there were many hard goodbyes and since then my mind and heart remember with joy all the people, family and friends, whose presence I miss in my day to life. And now, so many years later, it is the women of Sari Bari, my community in Kolkata, my dear friends Upendra and Radha, the names of the women at Sari Bari and Kate and Emma whose names will be coming to mind and whose lack of presence will be felt deeply over the next 8 months. I find this turn around in perspective to be a gift. I am thankful to built such beautiful relationships in India. And just as I have been drawn to return to the states to soak up the love of family, in the same way I will be drawn to return to India because that is where my heart has planted itself and grown new roots.

A week before my departure, I was able to covenant with the Upendra and Beth and with the community for the next two years. And I am thankful to have been sent out with promise and to be able to return renewed and re-visioned and maybe even made new myself.

I have new email for sabbatical and I would love to hear from you about your life and what God is speaking. My email is and my cell is 541-530-3116.

Thanks for giving me the gift of this time and many thanks to all of you who sent cards and gifts to help me get off to a good start!

With love, Sarah

Monday, May 02, 2011

Overturning idols

I sat down with a couple of people recently and as I looked around the table, I thought wow, we are all broken people. Of course, we all understand this in theory, but the practice of understanding and welcoming the brokenness of others, especially people who we look to as leaders is an almost impossible task.

I grew up as the daughter of a preacher man and probably have seen more than my fair share of the underbelly of the church. And the "Church" is the one place where in truth we do hope that broken people will gather. And where real broken people come together, real brokenness in relationship follows and so on the other side we hope do real healing and reconciliation.

I am guilty. Guilty of forgetting that people who have led me, people who have walked with me are broken, imperfect and perfectly fallible. Being surrounded by brokenness, even creation groans and writhes in destructiveness, I am looking for something better, something less broken, more perfect. So guilty, I confess that I have put people who are leaders in the position of being that something better, that something less broken. In fact, they are not less broken, maybe they just have more responsibility and maybe sometimes they handle that badly.

I lead people, have led people and sometimes, I do a crappy job and have done it pretty badly with my brokenness spilling out in all my sloppy need and sin. I need grace, I desperately want to make right my offenses, I want to be forgiven. I want to lead people well but sometimes, I fail.

Yet, I struggle to forgive the debts of those who basically broken like me but hold positions of power, I simply can not get over that they are not more perfect than I am. I have made them demi-gods. Given them power in my life and expected that they would use it well and i fiercely hoped that they would not fail me. They did fail me. They have failed me. Many leaders from childhood till now have in fact hurt me, wounded me. Should i expect less or more? People who lead are broken, they are me, human, frail, fallible and destructive at times. Hopefully, they are also vulnerable and transparent, if in fact we will let them be...

The failings of leaders, parents, bosses, pastors and priests bring us to questions about God. Questions that come mainly because we presume these people of position to be better than us, to be more like God than us. Some leaders fail us because they present the possibility with their behavior and words that they are not fallible...they deceive us. But we know its not true and we eat their deceit because we want good leaders, we want people who have our best at heart, who love well. We in part do not want imperfect leaders, we want lower case g...gods who give us something to believe in outside ourselves. So when a leader fails, it is not only their brokenness that is revealed but ours. And because our lowercase gods are reflecting badly on capital G..God and our general opinion of the creator of the universe drops when people who call themselves godly fail, maybe we should let those who lead, be people too, maybe we should ask for and demand their vulnerability, maybe they should be given the freedom to ask for and demand our vulnerability. Maybe we could all be a bunch of parts connected in a body that all have different jobs, sometimes body parts will fail and the rest of us should maybe compensate till that part heals. Maybe capital G, God is enough god to go around.

The Violence of Love, Oscar Romero pg. 43

We must overturn so many idols,
the idol of self first of all,
so that we can be humble,
and only from our humility,
can learn to be redeemers
can learn to work together,
in the way the world really needs.
Liberation that raises a cry against others
is no true liberation
Liberation that means revolutions of hate and violence
and takes the lives of others
or abases the dignity of others
cannot be true liberty
True liberty does violence to self
and like, Christ
who disregarded that he was sovereign,
becomes a slave to serve others.