The day itself was great. The day before . . . I cried. A lot. And I watched the movie Pieces of April (which I surprisingly loved, especially the crazy apartment aspect of it. That I could relate to). I couldn't even call my sister for fear of sobbing, all day long.
But we woke up, the day was nice, I went for a lovely jog, starting cook food in faith, watched the parade half-heartedly on TV, ate chocolate croissants. Then, some friends from Bhutan came (and they brought friends, including a little boy!) and we had a lovely meal (save for the fire on our burner, which greatly agitated everyone). There was a lot of food. Our friends did a really good job of eating as much new food as they could handle. We laughed. Some neighbors from upstairs joined us. Everyone drank a LOT of orange soda. [Side note: this is the only place where I feel as though I can speak with authority, and so I will tell it to you straight. It has been my personal experience that when working with people from other cultures, you cannot go wrong if you show up with a couple of liters of orange soda and some family size bags of Spicy Hot Cheetos. This will ensure grace and favour with you wherever you go, in most cultures. I don't know why this is true; it just is].
After they went home, we collapsed for an hour or two, revived enough to eat some cake and pie, and then the child and I packed up the remnants of our meal and went down the hallway to our other friends house. She was not able to come to our meal so we brought it to her, and her neighbors came over as well. Our neighbor made us some lovely Somali food to complement the feast, and we ate and watched wedding videos and laughed and made toasts (with orange soda, naturally) and it felt a teeny bit like family. Sweaty, hot, spicy, tired family. And then it snowed, which I found magical until I had to go outside (I don't think I am going to survive this midwest winter, ya'll).
The day in itself was a gift to me. There is nothing else I can say about it. Being surrounded by people who I don't even know that well but who surrounded me with family--this was Christ, reaching out to me.
As I have been processing here, aloud, on this blog, I think you can tell that we are learning a lot. Paradigms are being shifted. Lies are being sorted out, truths are gently being placed in their stead. I am starting to realize all the times I clung to easy charity, when I have been called to long-term, unsexy, lonely old justice. And we are also placing our toes in the pool of some of the deeper issues troubling the surfaces of the waters. Like how the holidays are hard for most everyone, how they exacerbate loneliness, old patterns, family hurts.
Thanksgiving is no exception. Here in our neighborhood we have a lot of Native Americans. This in of itself opens up another way of viewing history, of celebrating holidays. I can't begin to understand these different points of view, but this is something I am praying the Spirit opens up for me.
One of my Simple Life Pleasures is the This American Life podcast, which I listen to every week. For Thanksgiving, they aired an episode devoted to one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history: the largest mass execution in our nation, of 38 Dakota men in southern Minnesota. This year marks the 150 anniversary of the hangings, which took place the day after Christmas. There is so much sorrow in even reading or listening to these events, but mostly I feel shame. Shame that I don't know this history, that it has never bothered me before. And just moving to a place where I have neighbors who care, has caused my heart to open a crack. And as painful as it is to listen to such stories, it is for a greater purpose.
As we are approaching Advent, I am trying to live in the reality that the light has come and is coming, and that the darkness cannot overcome it.
As as I slowly start to become more aware of the night all around, the light is shining brighter and brighter.