Mar 292012
 

 

A few months ago, I went into Tish’s kindergarten classroom for my first conference with her precious teacher. She told me lots of wonderful things about Tish’s obedience, positivity, helpful attitude  . . . so many of these things, in fact, that I asked in all seriousness if she was sure she was referring to the correct paperwork. She was. At this point I felt kind of silly that I had brought our lawyer along.

A few minutes into the conference Tish’s teacher showed me a writing sample from the start of the school year. She explained that they’d been working on the sight words“I,” “like”  and “to” that week, so to assess the kids, she’d asked them to complete the sentence:  “I like to….”

Then she pulled this paper out of her folder and placed it in front of me.

 

Ah. I said. Interesting. Hm. Wow.

Tish’s teacher smiled and said yes, you can see she really knows her sight words.

Yes, I said. That’s just what I was thinking. About how proud I am of her sight word ability. Yes. Good.Proud.

 

I called Husband as soon as I walked out the school doors:

Husband: Hey! How’d the conference go?

Me: I’ll tell you how it went: TISH LIKES TO SIN.

Husband: What? So she’s being bad? Bad report?

Me: No. Good report, but she wrote about how she likes to sin. To her teacher. She wrote: “I LIKE TO SIN” in her official kindergarten assessment. The one they keep on record. So when she gets suspended in high school they’ll look back through her file and say, Ahhhh…yes. Well, the child did always like to sin. She told us from the beginning.

 

Craig: Okay. I’m totally confused. Are we in trouble? I mean, she likes to sin? Who doesn’t? At least she’s in public school. They don’t care that much about sinning, do they? Let’s just be grateful we didn’t send her to that catholic school.

Me: I just think it’s weeeeird. I’m nervous. What five year old writes that? Isn’t she supposed to write about liking puppies and jump roping and eating cookies or something? I think it’s weird.

Husband: Ohhhh. So you think it’s weird to write down your truthful response to a question even if it’s different and makes people uncomfortable?

Me: Shut up. Good bye.

 

I promised myself I would NOT bring it up to Tish. This was her writing, her private thoughts. It’s not like she put it on a BLOG. I decided that she deserved her privacy.

So I waited two whole hours, then caught her after dinner and said, “Honey, come here for a second.”

Craig glared.

I showed Tish a copy of her assesment.

“Sweetie. Your teacher showed me your writing. This is awesome.”

“Thanks, mom.”

“So, talk to me about this. Tell me more.”

Tell me more is what I say when I don’t know what the heck else to say. It’s actually ridiculously effective. With girls.Not with boys. NOT.

“I don’t know,” Tish said, “I just like to sing. It makes me feel good.”

 

Ahhhhhhh.

 

Me: Craig! She doesn’t like to SIN she likes to SING! She’s not evil, she just can’t spell!!!!

That’s great honey. I like to sin, though.

Me: Me too. I like to sin, too.

 

My take away: One little g can make a big difference.

 

 

Love,

g

Mar 262012
 

 

 

Link after link after link after link.

Folks have sent me link after link about Trayvon Martin,  asking me to write about it write about it write about it. I’ve read them all. I’ve read the articles and the reactions to the articles and the comments about the reactions to the articles. I’ve looked long and hard at all of the pictures. I’ve talked about it to no one. I’ve tried to let it all sink in.

After a few days, I think I know how I feel about this tragedy. I think I know what I think. But I feel like I can’t write about what’s in my heart because we are not supposed to tell the truth about these things. My rule is, though, that whenever I decide I can’t tell the truth about something, I must write about it truthfully immediately.

So it is with serious prayer and great fear and trembling that I set out this morning to explain what I feel and think about Trayvon Martin’s murder.

What I feel:

My, God. That precious boy. His almond brown eyes and the apples of his cheeks and his baby smooth skin. What was he thinking about as he walked through his daddy’s neighborhood that evening? A pretty girl? Video games?

His little brother waiting back home. Waiting for his big brother to return. He’ll be waiting forever. And the weary, numb masks Trayvon’s parents wear these days as they’re rocketed into the middle of a national firestorm without any time to grieve privately for their son. Their son, who was their boy, before he was a national symbol. And the Skittles in Trayvon’s pocket. Could there be a more universal symbol for innocence than Skittles in a young boy’s pocket?

And Zimmerman. God, who knows.

Maybe he’s sick. We don’t know yet. And so the rage I feel now is mostly for the “justice system.” Has this man  still not been arrested? Still, this morning, while I sit and write this essay?  JESUS. What does one do with that?  I don’t know. I don’t know what a white woman with no direct power in the Florida police system does with that except to demand, at the top of her lungs, in the place where she’ll most likely be heard: ARREST HIM. A BOY IS DEAD. ARREST HIS KILLER AND THEN FIND OUT EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED AND THEN TELL US. AND SENTENCE WHOMEVER NEEDS SENTENCING. AND THEN REVISIT WHATEVER THE HELL LAW IS ON THE BOOKS THAT WOULD ALLOW THIS MURDER TO HAPPEN AND THEN GO UNPUNISHED.

 

But I know that to rage against the broken machine and to call others to action is not enough. Those two things are just NOT ENOUGH. Not in the face of a tragedy like this. Trayvon and his family deserve more than that. They deserve more than justice. They deserve to watch the loss of their boy change the world. And so I have greater responsibilities to them. I must do more than rage.

Here are my responsibilities:

Rage. Grief. Responsibility. Refusal. Resolve.

My rage at Zimmerman and the “justice” system has transformed into a deep, quiet grief. I feel grief and I feel responsible. As a member of this family called humanity, I feel responsible. And I feel a staunch refusal to add any more fuel to this raging media fire. This fire that, if we allow it to, will eventually consume us all.

And finally  -  I feel a strong sense of resolve. My resolve is to turn inward.

In honor of Trayvon and each victim of racism and every other ism, I have to deal with my own prejudices. I have to look for them and talk about them. We have to start telling each other the truth. We have to talk about this. Not just in terms of them, but in terms of us.

All of this finger pointing- it’s warranted. But if we don’t eventually point that finger back towards ourselves – Trayvon’s death will be fruitless. Our anger will succeed in intensifying the war but will not allow us to roll up our sleeves and do the hard work required to make peace. It is easy to yell, it is harder to work. It is easy to make demands of others. It is much harder to make demands of ourselves.

And so our rage must be channeled into resolve. A collective resolve, to look inside. To change things, starting with ourselves. Starting with our own minds and hearts.

There isn’t one of us who knows how prejudiced she is. When we say we aren’t prejudiced, what we are really saying is that we are both prejudiced and ignorant of our own prejudice. We might mean we’re not racist. But prejudice is different than racism. Prejudice is in our subconscious. It’s there, we just don’t know it’s there until it’s too late. Until we’re already scared of the black boy in the hoodie and we don’t know why and we wish it were different but it’s not, and we find ourselves walking to the other side of the street. We have to protect ourselves, we think. We are just being logical.

And we are being logical, based on what we’ve been shown, told, and encouraged to believe.

It is night. I am walking down the street with my purse and my young son. I am approached by three black boys in hoodies. Am I afraid?  Am I more afraid than I’d be if I were approached by three white boys with surfer hair and Abercrombie rugbies?

I might be more afraid. I might, whether I like it or not.

Because fear of black people – it’s been ingrained into my subconscious in myriad ways for thirty six years. The most powerful way is the flagrant imbalance of black crime media coverage versus white crime media coverage. I don’t think a black man has ever stolen from me, but I know that white men have stolen thousands of dollars from me in the stock market and mortgage scams. The fact is that I’ve never been offered drugs by a black man. All of my drugs have been offered to me by rich white fraternity boys. In Abercrombie rugbies, not hoodies.

I’ve been trained to be afraid of the wrong people. On the news and Cops and sit-com after TV drama, I watch black men being arrested. I never see the white people who steal from me get arrested. Do they ever get arrested? Where are those Wall Street guys, anyway? Where are their mug shots? I am not suggesting that the white guys are bad and the black guys are good. I’m just saying if we’re going to see any of the mug shots, we need to see all of them. Black and white. We actually NEED to see them.

Because all of these images…they get in. They sink deep, deep down . . . and they turn into thoughts, which turn into words, which turn into actions.

At some point, each of us has to admit that we are prejudiced. Not that OTHERS are prejudiced but that I am too. I am. Glennon Melton. I am prejudiced. I am the problem.

And since I am the problem, I am also the solution. And so are you.

We have to start talking about this. We have to start being honest about how we feel and why we feel it. We need to stop agreeing when people say, “I don’t see color.” C’mon. Lying is not helpful. We see it! It’s there! And so we need safe places to talk and listen and say the wrong things and be forgiven and try again. And once we’ve figured out what’s deep inside us and how it got there, we need to learn how to balance the images and ideas we present to our children –  so that their collective subconscious becomes different than ours. Truer. We need scientists and psychologists and movie producers and writers and teachers and parents involved in this peace making process – not just politicians and protesters.

When one member of a family develops a mental problem, it is the whole family’s problem. Racism is a sort of mental problem, and it is OUR problem. It is everyone’s problem who counts herself part of the human race.

I pray that justice will be served for Trayvon. I demand it, as a matter of fact.

But I want more than justice. I want change.

And I’m just here to say that I need help. I think we all need help. We need to find a way to get inside our own minds and turn them inside out. For Trayvon.

Help us, God.

Help us fix our human family.

 

Love,

G

 

 

 

*Post Script – For the sake of clarity as you begin to post comments- I just want to make sure I emphasize that this essay was meant to be a reflection about two things:

1. The police response to the murder. I am not suggesting that Zimmerman be sentenced tomorrow, just arrested and questioned. Whether it was murder or manslaughter- provoked or unprovoked – an unarmed boy is dead, right? And Zimmerman shot him right? We DO have those two facts. And so here’s where race walks in- in my opinion. Maybe not with Zimmerman’s concern with, pursuit and shooting of Trayvon – what if it WAS some hideous accident???? – but with the RESPONSE to the shooting. Because the truth for me, in my gut…says that if Trayvon were white, Zimmerman’d be arrested by now. At least arrested and questioned. Likely the same night Trayvon died.  I don’t LIKE that I think that’s the truth. I just DO. And that was my point here. That I believe strongly that Trayvon’s race played a role  in the RESPONSE to the murder. And I think that’s worth talking about. If you worry that I’m attacking Zimmerman here, please – re-read the above essay before deciding.

Like everyone else here is saying- we just need the rest of the facts instead of rumors. But in order to GET the facts – we need a police investigation instead of a media investigation. People keep saying… BUT WE DON’T have the facts…and I’m just saying – EXACTLY! How are we going to get them? Our best shot is a thorough investigation.

2. What I believe is one of the many appropriate responses to this tragedy – soul searching and intentional peace making.

Love,
G

 

 


 

Mar 252012
 

 

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”

-Robert Frost

 

If you’re part of our Momastery Facebook Family, you know that this weekend we learned that our Rwandan adoption is done, closed, over. We sort of already knew that, but not completely . . . and that little space in my heart left open for hope sucked me in like a vacuum. I was kind of floored, actually – devastated for myself and the other waiting families, many of them with empty arms, and for the babies who were so close to finding forever families. So close.

It is official. I am officially the worst adopter EVER. Eight years, we’ve been trying. Eight years. To put this into perspective, we started trying to adopt BEFORE ANGELINA JOLIE started trying to adopt. Pre- Maddox. As a matter of fact, I recently told Sister that if a movie of my life were ever made, I would want Angelina to play me because of our incredible similarities in height and grace and successful adopting history.

Ugh.

I was thinking last night about how we really don’t have control over much at all. How even when we try to follow our dreams and do the good we want to see in the world, things likely won’t end up as we planned. Strange. We can’t even choose who we are going to LOVE. People leave or die or never come at all. Dreams are dashed with the signature of a stranger. Our eager, earnest hearts plan to love the world in some big way- like create a marriage or foundation or raise a child or be a friend and those honorable and right things just fall apart, slip through our hands like sand.

I want a little control. Is this too much to ask? Just a teeny tiny bit. Enough to make a plan and sort of believe in it. But nope, no way. Not the way it works. Like St. Anne says, if you want to hear God laugh, tell her your plans.

 

But I woke up this morning thinking-  No, that’s not totally right.

I do have control over one thing. One thing is ALWAYS my choice. I might not be permitted to choose who or what or how I am going to love this world. But those are not the questions. The question is WILL I LOVE? Yes or No are the only possible answers. Without buts or only ifs.

There is really only one question in this ridiculous life. Will you love or will you not? Will you love THIS place, THIS plan, THIS jacked up situation, THIS wretched person, THIS part of your life that was never, ever in your plan?

Will you love this life, this one that’s been put before you?  We can choose to love. That is our only real power, I think. But Love is never  the safest choice. Because we have to follow where she leads, and her path is twisty and turny and narrow and branches jump out from nowhere to try to knock us unconscious and the path is dirty and rocky and that Love, she rarely leads us where we hoped she would. Do we ever even get to the end of her path? Do we get to see where she’s leading us? Not sure.

 

Yesterday, upon hearing the Rwandan news, I said “NO THANK YOU, LOVE. Let me off the train, STUPID LOVE. I don’t know where you’re going but my family and I are getting off at this stop. Buh-Bye. You suck, honestly, Love. Shame on you, for hurting such nice-ish people. Meltons- OUT.”

Then I stayed in bed and watched HGTV for hours and wondered why no one will make over MY ROOM and then I slept more and only woke up to eat SUGAR and CAFFEINE and GLUTEN and everything else I’m not allowed to eat. Then I slept more. Then I watched Bridesmaids. LOVED.  It was a glorious day, really. “Oh, HELL no, Love,”   is a perfectly fine and good answer sometimes.

 

But this morning, I think I’m done with No. Today, I say Yes. I will love. Without buts or only ifs. If it’s the only choice I can really make in this ridiculous little life, I’d like to choose yes as often as possible. Not always, but quite often.

This week I choose to love a Monkee who brought herself to my attention this week. She sent me an email that said- Glennon, You Need To Read This. She was right, I needed to read her message. So do you.

Her name is Jen. She’s a wife and friend and mama to two baby Monkees. I will let her speak for herself, because she is also a hell of a writer. Comments are closed here- please, go join Jen and leave a note for her. Let’s follow her today and tomorrow and love her for as long as it takes. I’d like for us to join her team, join her fight. I would like her to wake up each morning knowing that there are thousands of Love-ers around the world choosing YES for her. I also think we have a whole lot to learn from her.

Love,

G and J