Friday, July 7, 2017

One more cup of unstirred tea.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. Psalm 37:8-9

Quiet our troubled souls, O LORD, with peace that passes understanding.

Shockingly, I am already becoming a woman of routines. Up at four, made granola by five, and Deb and I headed out for our morning constitutional, a very brisk walk around the neighborhood before the heat becomes truly hostile.

Only this time, as we strode cheerfully past the neighborhood gardens, we bumped into yet another person that Deb knew, an older man buying his morning bread at the roaring fire bakery. After the routine four-kiss greeting he insisted that we go to breakfast at his house; we demurred that we had many meetings today, but we would at least go and see where he lived, greet his mother and arrange for another time.

As we followed him to his nearby house, Deb kept muttering: You won’t believe this story, you won’t believe this story. At the door of the three-story house, which housed three families, we slipped out of our shoes and into the arms of the mother, who could not let go of Deb. The apartment was small, but so clean and full of light. The living room was full with three beds, and later on we peeked inside the other two rooms full of beds. But there were beds.

Last year this family lived with eighty other people in a three-bedroom house. They had a stove in a hallway shared with six other families, and mats that they rolled out at night. That is all. And yet, last year, just as this year, they insisted on sitting the team down in their two plastic chairs, moving the fan to blow right on our faces, and serving us their breakfast of potatoes and eggs, their freshly bought bread, their tea (with three, count them three spoons of sugar resting in the bottom of the small cup that I have learned not to stir), and their cheese. Their two daughters clean at the church and we met their brand new daughter-in-law, an English teacher at a national high school. Their joy and hospitality were ever so humbling. So much for our meeting. And my granola sort of burned.

Last year, twenty thousand Chaldeans lived in tents or warehouses or on sidewalks. This year those camps have been pretty well dispersed into Glenn Beck rent-supported apartments.  All of the Glen Beck sponsored apartments are marked oddly enough with a “Mercury One” sign. Ah, more humbling. Certainly Mr. Beck is not one of my very favorite people in the entire world, (Today’s pontification was on the “No more apology tours: President Trump delivers refreshing speech on the Western Way of Life.”) but indeed he is a child of God. And at the very least, here is a family in a place of hope, unsure if they will return to their home in central Mosul, but now they are standing up tall.

And I can grumble about policy and politics and fuss up a storm over headlines and oppressive maneuvering by the powerful and half-baked lies that explode in the faces of the very least of these, much like the mullings of my dear brother Scott’s letter this morning: I can go nuts thinking about how stupid we can be as societies, as ethnic and political and national and religious crowds. I don't mind calling evil by its name. I don't think that the evil is neat and clean in its adherents. I think that we are always more complicated than that. But we as individuals and groups and crowds are capable of real evil. 

And yet, fret not yourself. It only tends to evil. Another form of evil, but nevertheless evil in that anger and wrath are out-of-focus waiting, giving more weight to the darkness than it is due.

How then shall I live?

Lord God, some of us still ask for signs to know where You call us to go and who You desire us to become. Be merciful and reveal Yourself to us in manageable ways, just enough to see us through today. Amen.

So I will push aside these thoughts, and turn my mind to the IB “Framework for the use of cognitive academic language proficiency,” and how I can turn this information into engaging, purposeful and actually useful lessons.

And, be willing to let the granola burn around the edges as I sip one more cup of unstirred tea.