The other day I was sitting next to Tui in Family Literacy when she offered me a partially eaten baguette from the Safeway bakery. Truly not hungry, I thanked her and declined. Showing up to Family Literacy means showing up to a feast every week. Some days, homemade empanadas show up; others times packages of Oreos are sitting on the back counter. One week we all enjoyed the sweetest Somali tea, thick and gritty with fresh spices.
Nancy, the teacher eats everything. When Nagham offered her some white Cheez-It crackers, she graciously nibbled on two of them. There is not treat she turns down.
I was thinking about Tui’s offering the other day and realized it wasn’t about me being hungry but about sharing bread together. I don’t need any of the treats these women offer, but they continue to share chocolate-peanut butter granola bars and samosas freely.
Sharing snacks is a big part of doing life together. It takes our relationship from a teacher-student level to a relational space, made tangible by the food we share. They don’t expect reciprocity but they do hope for gracious acceptance.
Tomorrow, I’ll be on a plane by myself, heading to Syracuse for the start of the RubyWoo Pilgrimage. I’m excited and nervous for many reasons, ranging from the fact that I haven’t ever left the girls for so long to the curiosity of how this will impact and change my life. In one of our early group calls, the question was asked, What are you hoping for from this pilgrimage?
Answers were as varied as the women attending. Put on the spot and having to choose just one succinct reason, I recognized that my journey toward activism and partnership is incomplete without tangibility.
I can read all the article and books, watch documentaries and TED Talks, and listen to my heart’s content but until I eat the bread offered and tangibly get involved, I am a passive part of the change. What good are books and knowledge without action behind the learning?
I’m a fairly self-sufficient person and feel most relaxed when my ducks are in a row. Our family very rarely veers from our routine, I usually meal plan, and I’m pretty intentional about the books I read and how my worldview is being shaped.
But I wonder, am I overlooking offerings that I may not need but will nonetheless deepen my relationships with others and with the earth? Am I missing out on what God is offering because of my well-laid plans?
As I prepare for this pilgrimage, I have a stack of articles to read, some videos to watch, and a general idea of what we’ll be doing along the way. But the organizers of this journey are keeping the details vague. They want us to show up, to be in the moment, to come hungry.
I’m learning that I just need to eat the bread offered to me. That building relationships and deepening my understanding of activism and partnership go beyond well-curated books and experiences. Sometimes it means accepting what is offered, sitting and listening.
What about you? Do you take the bread that is offered or is it counterintuitive to accept gifts?
I would value your thoughts and prayers as I go on this journey – for learning, for peace, for this time away from my family. I’ll be writing about these experiences in the coming months, I know, but for now, I’m looking forward to absorbing and getting into this new world.
And, if you’d like, Freedom Road is still accepting donations for the trip. Our GoFundMe page is here. Thank you!