Just Eat the Bread

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.

rodolfo-marques-772228-unsplash
Photo by Rodolfo Marques on Unsplash

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?

0I 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!

Life Vests Are Awkward

One of my favorite memories from our recent trip to Oahu is the moment I learned something new about Frank. I always thought he was a mountain man. He loves hiking and exploring and much of our early relationship was founded on trails through the Rockies.

IMG_5457Seeing him in the ocean, I realized he’s not just a mountain guy – he’s a nature guy. Growing up just an hour away from the New Jersey shore, Frank grew up swimming in the ocean and couldn’t wait to dive in.

Even though I grew up in California, swimming in the pacific just wasn’t part of my childhood. We’d go to the beach and play in the waves but the water was cold and the days were often foggy. My idea of a great beach experience includes a sweatshirt and a hot mug of cocoa.

One of the activities was a catamaran and snorkeling excursion. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn something new, so I waited to try out snorkeling until we were on the boat. While everyone pulled on flippers and dove into ocean to join a sea turtle feeding on the reef, I was handed an incredibly awkward life vest and told to stay near the lifeguard.

It was a humbling experience. I did not look cute or anything – I looked like an adult in a giant yellow plastic vest. I bobbed on top of the waves. I was kind of self-conscious.

But I’m so glad I tried! I saw beautiful fish. I got to see that sea turtle having a mid-morning snack. I experienced part of the world I never would have seen if I hadn’t just strapped on that vest and jumped in.

It was a reminder that I never look as graceful as I imagine but if I let that stop me, there are many experiences I’d miss out on. I’m learning to take a few more risks, life vest and all.

Have you ever had an experience that was way more awkward than you imagined? What are some risks you’ve taken lately?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “try.”