Monday, December 17, 2007
Christmas Market, Huddersfield, England
( my mom's from the hills above the town centre) gjb
I received the following from my niece, Cindy in Ohio. It's a Christmas message about the gifts within us that are ours to give to others if we open ourselves up to those perceived as being the least among us. Anyway, with Cindy's approval I have posted it here. gjb.
Hello Fam and friends,
Christmas Greetings. These days I am learning that it takes all kinds to make the world turn. Maybe we don't like the way the world turns but it turns never-the-less. In the last 6 months I have moved into a very eclectic and diverse neighborhood. I have always said everyone should experience time on a psych ward and time in jail. Now I have added one more to the list of things we all should do in order to better understand those we share this world with......I have added that everyone should live in 'the hood' at least for a little while. I find it exhilarating, curious, infuriating at times, and interesting to say the least. I live in a small apartment complex of about 30 apt.s. I am one of the few white and employed people here. Once I was found approachable, it seems I had a steady stream of people knocking on my door asking for 'just one dollar' or 'do you have any cigarettes' or can I borrow your car'? The traffic has since died down since the answer became no to all of the above.The people are friendly for the most part. The ones who aren't are basically trying to keep the white girl from noticing their illegal activity which doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out. Speaking of illegal activity.... well the neighborhood is cleaning up with a new land lord but prostitution and drug deals are one ways some of the unemployed here make their money. I know the ones involved because they have cars way better than I will ever see in a life time. lol. I just nod, say hi and keep on going. The local drunk @ times causes a stir but usually he stays inside during the winter. He loves my dogs though so in the summer we had long senseless talks as he waxed on about his great talent with animals and I wondered how he can even stand with the amount of beer he drinks continually. It's probably been years since he's been sober.And gun shots..........no that hasn't been a problem....there's an unspoken rule that this neighborhood doesn't harm or snitch on each other. Of course occasionally there's drama involving girl friends/boyfriends. And when that occurs there's loud fighting, glass shattering, tires squealing, language that would make your ears fall off the side of your head. And I don't bother to turn my stereo on cause everyone else's is loud enough for all of us. Rap and hip hop is a running theme drifting from one apt. to another. And drugs????? I may now have wacky weed in my system because I smell it so often. I guess its one of the main food groups up in here cause I smell it so often. Yeah, from time to time I have called the police...that's usually when my sleep is being disturbed and we know how much I love my sleep. I just didn't take too kindly to the neighbors ex girlfriend throwing gasoline on the front porch. This white girl came out and gave them all a piece of my mind!!! Then I went straight to the pound and adopted the biggest dog I felt I could handle. Now when you have a big dog....you earn respect. I think often of the bible verse be in the world and not of the world. It's going to take time to make friendships and earn trust but I hope that somehow over the months and into next summer I can get through race barriers and economic barriers to establish a type of relationship with the people 'in the hood'. Alot of the younger ones call me mama. I at first was offended as it was a reference to a fact that i don't want to accept and that is I am growing older. However I am learning that it's a sign of respect and the African American community is big on respecting age......so at least I've got one thing going for me. I am compelled to love these people I call my neighbors because of the great grace and love that Jesus has shown me over the years. I may not be smooth and eloquent at this thing called spirituality and godliness but I know who I believe in and I know that He compels me to pass that love on. I MUST because He has given it so generously to me. In the midst of my unbelief, bitterness, and confusion He has blessed me with the knowledge of His love and presence in my life. I can do no less than pass it on to those around me with no judgment passed on with it. Some in my family were asked to write a verse that meant alot to them and submit it. I struggled with what 'string of words to come up with'. How do you narrow a year long of lessons into a few short words...and I don't mean to be disrespectful of the Word. Well, as I submit this e-mail I guess the verse just somehow intertwined into it so now I am immensely relieved that I can be a part of the requested verse assignment.
What will next year bring? I'm not sure. I do know that I will become a grandma which will be another life-changing event that I am so looking forward to. And maybe this will be the year I gain financial independence. lol. Maybe I'll decide to go to school. Maybe I'll be able to forgive those I haven't yet. Maybe I will lose weight. and Maybe, in the end I will sit on my front porch talk of my kids and grand kids with my with the prostitute and the drunk next door and work on the fine line between being in the world and not of the world whatever that means.
I wish you all good times, much peace, and wisdom how to live joyfully and effectively in a crazy world