First, let me say, going home is 1) for a visit, and 2) always to two places for me at this point: Atlanta and Tallahassee. We’ll get to Five and Two later.
This blog has been brewing and thinking since the beginning of April, and I’ve almost started it several times, but haven’t. I don’t think that was purely my own procrastinatory (is that a real word?) habits, but some of the spirit wanting me to fully be present for everything the month had for me. All the learning in this Lenten and Easter season, as well as my trips to both of the places I call home and to all the people I consider family, both biological, church, musical, and any other kind of family there could possibly be.
We’ll start with how these trips came to be. I wasn’t expecting to really get to go to Atlanta or Tallahassee at all this year. Plane tickets are expensive, and I had resolved myself not to GoFundMe a trip for this YAV year, thinking that if I did a second year, I’d do it then. I’ve never had a year where I lived away from family where I haven’t been able to visit them, and I know that’s a reality for many folks, and if that was part of this year, that was a part of this year. Clearly, other plans were in the works. I’m thankful for those plans, really and truly. My wonderful friends John and Jen Washburn (does it feel cool to see that in writing guys? It feels so good and right to write it!) wanted me to sing their first dance song. I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten a better Christmas present in my life. Maybe the present that was Linda Tracy before I was born, but I didn’t know about that then 🙂 So I got to go to Atlanta. And then, the now Rev. Linda Pitts wanted me to sing with a quartet for her Ordination to ministry (she’s now officially a hospital chaplain. What an amazing ministry! She’s an amazing person, and I’m so thankful to have her in my life and have grown up with her and her husband as role models!) and so I got to come visit home as well!
So I went from a first year in my life of not getting to see any of my family, which if you know me, is odd. My family has always been close. Very close. And by family, I mean extended and immediate. We don’t always agree on things, we differ in views. Some folks don’t understand my opinions or beliefs, but we love each other. We’ve struggled through so much together, and to not get to see anyone, that was going to be hard. So I’ve been blessed by this. And the community there in Atlanta, that is family. Yes, we’re not related by blood that runs through our veins, but we are rooted together in the blood of Jesus Christ and a love for each other and for building community and a better understanding of what it is to be friends and to be together. I really do feel that the Young Adults, more commonly known as the “Humans of North Ave” helped lead me back around to becoming a YAV. Back to this program I’ve thought and prayed and interacted with so frequently throughout my life.
So that brings me to the last piece of this, what I’ve learned. I’ll write more soon about the trips and more specifics, because there’s a lot to unpack and a lot I’ve thought about and prayed about and everything. But the five and two. So during the service of Ordination, a young pastor named Bobby Hulme-Lippert (I say young, I have no idea how old he actually is, but you’re as young as you feel, and he seemed young to me, so we’re going with young!) preached a marvelous sermon using Psalm 23 and the Feeding of the Multitude (I can’t remember which version now, I want to say it was either Matthew or Mark though). He had a few points, all of which seemed to call to me about my YAV year this year. The Disciples had been sent out to preach and heal and come back telling Jesus everything they’d done. Jesus tells them to come away and rest. Emily Curtin (shout out) said before I left she had a feeling this year, while difficult and stretching, would be a rest for my soul and would rebuild so much. Emily, I want you to know, that was such a prophetic word to me. It has been. Jesus called me away. It has been hard, yes, but so much has been right. I’ve learned so much.
That being said, as Bobby pointed out, the story tells us, the crowd sees them as they travel to the deserted places, and goes ahead and meets them there. Jesus has compassion. Compassion. This year has taught me what it is to have compassion for myself. Also for others, but really, to be compassionate towards myself in a way I never knew was possible. I don’t know that I have EVER realized how little care I have taken for myself before. I’ve spent so much time in the care of others that I just forget, or ignore. Self-care doesn’t mean neglecting compassion to others though, it’s a healthy balance. That’s what I’ve learned here. The balance of self-care and care for community. I’m certainly not done with that learning, and I am so grateful to Mirra, Mary, Erik, and Graham for being amazing community members who struggle in that learning with me, and Alison for helping us along in our learning. I’m thankful for Leona and Dora and Alma and Candace for being amazing co-workers and leaders in teaching me how to care for others in the work we do, and Pam and Barb and Ed for being the best Ambassadors and Rubin and Greg and Efrain for being the feet and hands who provide the food people need through our agencies. There are so many others of course, but just those immediate folks come to mind when I think about folks teaching me compassion. Finally, Jesus doesn’t call us to think about what we don’t have. He calls us to think about what we do have. Go and see what you have, he tells the disciples. That’s your five and two. Sometimes, I think back to this point last year. I don’t know that I thought I even had five and two. Some days now, I don’t know how in the heck my five and two will fit into some kind of call, but I’m learning so much. This past discernment with Amy Beth Willis and Katie (whose last name I can’t remember) and Emily Miller and my whole community…it seemed so much more tangible. And that brings me to the last piece here. I’m going to continue to discern more of what to do with my five and two, how to use them, where God is calling me and what he is calling me to by coming back for another year here in Tucson as a YAV. I don’t know yet what my work site will be, but I am working on that mutual discernment process now, and am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for me here in my second year!
Peace and love, Y’all!
PS: If you’re in Tallahassee, go see Tallahassee Community Chorus perform Bach St. John’s Passion with period instruments. I heard their dress rehearsal last night and it is going to be STUNNING.
And as always, I need your support, prayers, letters, care packages, comments, emails, cards, and financial donations! I’ve got another year to fundraise and the amount is increased for 2017-2017 to $4000. Obviously we’re still working on this year, but please be thinking and praying about next year. Donations can be made via the pay pal button on tucsonborderlandsyav.org or you can send a check to 400 E University Blvd Tucson AZ 85705. Checks made out to Tucson Borderlands YAV. Just make sure to put my name in a memo or a note so they know who you sent it to support!