Sunday, November 9, 2014

Smiling here

I smiled when I realized he was concerned
I would somehow think the request
was 'beneath me'.

I am being asked to consider going to a new community:
living among the people there, 
getting to know them, 
answering phones, 
running errands for staff, 
helping with office work -
while I learn who they are, 
what they dream and fear;
figuring out how I can be present with them - 
in all ways, 
great and small -
mostly small.
He thought I would be insulted; 
that my career, 
played out as it had been
against a backdrop of urgency, 
life and death decisions, 
with life altering consequences 
would have rendered me incapable
of appreciating the importance 
of small goals and tasks.

I smiled when I realized that, 
while at a certain point in my life this might have been true, 
it certainly isn't true now.
If my years of visiting the reservation in South Dakota have taught me anything, 
it's that living cross culturally means
being present and paying attention; 
it means suspending life 'as usual'; 
it means being open to seeing new things 
and hearing how a community,
which has endured for centuries,
 longs for change,
if they do;
it means being present in a community consistently enough
that an invitation to be part of a small change 
may be extended to you.

And, among Native Americans,
through whose communities people have come and gone on a regular basis,
generally only experiencing a week or so of 'their culture', 
with no sustained interest in what their lives are truly like,
it also means being a face through which people can redefine 
their experience of someone
from the dominant culture.
A smile,
help around the house,
taking an Elder to a doctors appointment, 
grocery shopping...

tasks with the potential
of increasing someones faith 
in the goodness of others
or in God...

there's nothing more life altering than that.
I don't need anything more -
and won't settle for anything less -
 at this point in my life.

Please pray that decisions about a placement in Navajoland 
will be what all  - 
but especially God - 
I don't think I'll need my camera at all,
do you?

Smiling, smiling, smiling!

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