D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

my week in review

what up, week? this hasn't been a very easy one, has it? first there was the car that broke down on the husband's birthday, at the nice bagel shop that we drove to (we wanted to pretend for a moment we were back in portland, that life was familiar and safe). we arrived to a smoking car, green ooze spilling everywhere. while we tried to figure out what to do on a sleepy sunday morning, i set down the diaper bag on a table. we left, took our sweet time driving the 3 miles back to the apartment, stopping to take walks so the car didn't overheat. the toddler protested, cried some big fat tears. we finally made it back. we realized the diaper bad was no longer with us; calls to the bagel shop resulted in nothing. it was gone, taken, my wallet and my husband's ipod the only real things of value in it (and the humor is not lost on me, that our stuff got stolen when we drove to the "nice" part of town for a little escapism). happy birthday, baby. then there was the week of meeting new people, being exhausted by small talk and never really knowing how safe you can be, still be chafed by how little you know about this town, this community, the place you are now committed to (o acedia, you fought us hard this week, always dreaming of good times past, of alternatives to our present reality). there was the night i woke up in a panic, seized by a faceless terror, and could only think to pray from the book of revelations, some bit of holy truth about the blood of the lamb and the word of my testimony, repeating it over and over, telling things unseen to be gone. and if this sounds crazy, let me assure you that it is. our safety nets having been flung aside, the cracks in the world are starting to appear. but so is the gold, underneath.

there was the radiator in the car, of course, and the money to fix it. there were the carbon monoxide alarms that went off in the apartment, scaring the baby half to death, the fire department coming to check everything out, the night i thought for sure we would all die in our sleep. we slept restless, not very long, the sounds of the city reaching up to us and always reminding us to be wary, on guard.

and then there was yesterday. i got up and went downtown saw a little bit of a conference that was geared towards the very thing we moved here to do: to build up neighborhoods, to reconcile the divisions in our churches, to go to the forgotten parts of the cities and stay. and i got to hear john perkins give a bible study. does it really matter what it was about? he was beaten half to death by police officers just for being black, for loving peace and justice. and jesus told him to love those oppressors, that they themselves were bound and enslaved by racism, how it had affected them as well. i would listen to anything that man has to say, for he knows how to love, knows how to endure. it rather put things in perspective, really.

i saw all those young people with a passion for community development (and brown boots and scarves, evidently), drinking their coffee, taking copious notes. i felt detached, frumpy, only there for an hour or two and not succeeding in relaxing. i narrowed my eyes at all those dreamers, thousands of them stretched out in front of me, and i thought: well do it now, honeys. do it all, while you still have the brain capacity to think beyond the thousands of mundane life tasks that take over once you have children (it may or may not have been a rough week for a certain 2-year old in our house).

and even as i think these thoughts, i love those dear little children and their heart for something different. and i see, scattered throughout the crowd, people who have been doing it for twice as long as i have, married couples holding hands, living this different way together. and i have come and i have been encouraged by all of it, the naiveté and the experience and the excitement and the burn-out of it all. and i walk out the doors, because you always have to at some point, and the work has already begun again.

it's been a long week, hasn't it? and it's only one out of 52.

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