Resurrection

A few days ago I received a phone call from a friend of mine.  He had recently learned that he and his mother will receive their social security cards and residency papers.  They will be able to stay in the United States.  Wonderful!  We are lucky to have them- good, caring people; hard working people.  Gentle.

This family was forced from their home country by negative situations beyond their control.  They moved to the US only to live in the shadows, experiencing violence both personal and systemic.  When you live in the shadows you cannot fully participate and share your gifts.  You live in fear – fear that you will be sent back, you might lose your job and a thousand other fears.  Those fears, though, are nothing when compared to the lived experience that sent you away from home.

Now there is hope.  There is hope of permanence and pertenencia, belonging.  Having grown up in the only city he has ever known, he will now be able to participate fully in all of the rights and responsibilities of belonging.  Moving out of the shadows.  May we hear the same positive news for many other immigrants so that they, too, may move out of the shadows.

This blog was started about 5 years ago as an Advent gift for a 12 year old.  The waiting of Advent has come full circle to an emerging from the shadows:  Resurrection.

You always belonged.  Now it’s official.

Pizza Dough

Here is the mix I use…

  ½ Recipe Full Recipe Double
Warm Water ¾ cup 1½ cups 2¼ cups
Yeast 1 package 2 packages 3 packages
Sugar 1t 2t 3t
Salt ¾t 1½t 2¼t
Olive Oil 3T 6 T ½ cup + 1T
Flour 2 cups 4 cups 6 cups

Mix everything except the flour and let the yeast mixture become foamy for about 5 or 10 minutes.  Then, add the flour until it is no longer sticky; knead for 5- 10 minutes; you may need a bit more or a bit less flour.  Let it rise until doubled (about an hour, depending on how warm your kitchen is), punch it down and it is ready to use.  I won’t explain how to use it.  If you would like more information please let me know.

By the way, 1 package of yeast = 2 rounded teaspoons (a bit fuller than full).

Let me know how it works.

Social Currency

She listened carefully, watching his face, watching his lips. When he finished speaking, her eyes looked up and to the left, thinking. Remembering. Nodding.

Her eyes, then, returned to her 61 year old son. “So your patient wants you to travel with him to Houston,” she paraphrased. “That’s wonderful! He must respect you and trust you… and have a lot of money!”

“Mamá, he wants someone to accompany him and yes, he trusts me. I worked with him and his wife when she was sick. But we can’t do the type of surgery that he needs.”

“I see.” She paused again.

“Impressive.” She nodded again.

“How much will you charge?” she asked, looking him right in the eyes.

“Oh mother!   I don’t know. I have never been asked to do something like this before.” He took a sip of coffee.

The answer didn’t matter and she knew he wouldn’t say… but maybe he would. No harm in asking.

The conversation went silent for a bit. Then she turned to me and said, “And you just returned from that overseas training your company sent you to. How did that go? They must think the world of you, sending you off to a training in another country! They wouldn’t send just anyone, now then, would they?” She looked up again, not waiting for an answer.

Then I understood. I could see it in her eyes. This conversation was not about accomplishment or money, per se; this was about social currency. Later in the evening she would go on her evening constitutional to the casino. Some people find community at church or with their neighbors. Some go to a bar where everybody knows your name. She goes to the casino, every night if someone will take her; she can no longer go out alone with that bum leg of hers

Yes, I understood: When she gets to the casino she will slowly find her favorite machine, talking to friends and relatives amid the rings, dings and bings of the one-armed bandits (that mostly worked with the press of a finger). With her cane and her attendant she will stop and talk to everyone she knows, perhaps someone new. What will she say? Not much has happened since yesterday evening. She spent the day with meals, the newspaper and Netflix so what will she add to the conversation?

“How are you tonight?” Someone will ask as she walks the aisles looking for her machine.

Putting her hand on the other’s arm she will take out some of that social currency and say, “I am good. You’ll never guess where my son is going to go…”

By the end of the evening she will have talked to many who passed by to share their stories. She will listen carefully while watching their faces and lips. She will ask questions, thinking, remembering and nodding as they speak. Tomorrow, we will be brought up to date on the members of that community. We will ask questions that she will be sure to get the answers to as the carousel takes another spin.

Happening in Peru: Flooding

Off the coast of Peru and Ecuador the ocean has warmed 5º C or more.  This warming is known as the Costal El Niño and it is wreaking havoc on the land and people of those countries.

This article from Reuters explains and shows what is happening.  Be sure to scroll down.  Here are some more images of the flooding.

Today is the 4th day of no classes for students in Lima, as directed by the Ministry of Education.  Because of the flooding, travel has been difficult if not impossible in some areas and most everyone has been affected by water shortages. The excess water, filled with dirt and debris, has overwhelmed the water treatment plants, shutting them down and cutting the water supply.  Schools cannot operate if there is not a steady supply of water.

At home our basement cistern ran dry but the water tanks on the roof still held water; we did not run out completely.  Three buildings down, where my mother-in-law lives, they were without water for about 12 hours.  This is to say that we have been extremely lucky!  A few hours with no water is nothing when compared to the destruction in other areas.

There are many organizations that are gathering items and money, the Red Cross being one of them.  Please help the international effort if you can.

Which Side?

Beside the freeway bus stop
the boys play soccer
with a piece of trash
(today it’s a tossed-aside
one liter water bottle).

The bigger one kicks off his
shoes, towards his mother
who is selling fruit to the commuters,
because the sneakers’ sole
became unattached
to the hole-y canvas upper
making it hard to beat his brother
at trash soccer.

“Put on your shoes,” sighs mom
as she takes a few cents for a
watermelon slice, all the time knowing
he won’t.

The commuters,
with purses, backpacks and briefcases
(and slices of fruit),
climb the stairs of the pedestrian bridge
that spans the freeway.

Which side will they come down on?

Still Possible

A few days ago I was asked why I am worried about a Trump presidency.  The asker was not an ardent supporter of Mr. Trump but believed that Mr. Trump was a better choice than Clinton.  I am not an ardent Clinton supporter but believe that she would have been a better choice than Mr. Trump.

When I think of the United States, the country where I was born and raised, I think of possibilities.  I believe that it is possible for people of different racial/ ethnic backgrounds, different religions (or no religion), differences of many kinds to come together for the good of the whole.  I believe that it is possible to rise above tribalism to create something better than any of us could create alone, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  I believe that the United States of America is possible- that all are created equal.

When I hear Mr. Trump make racist comments I worry about his presidency.  I worry that people who are already on the fringes of society will be further marginalized.  There are many ways to be in this world.  We can celebrate those ways, accept those ways, without saying “my way or the highway.”   Someone’s difference is not a threat to me  (although violence is a threat that needs to end) if I am secure in my identity.  Maybe Trump’s comments were made in order to get elected; if so, those who support him because of those comments worry me.  Do they seek to limit the identity of the United States to those who are like them?  Do they seek to rid the country of difference?

When I hear Mr. Trump make sexist comments I worry about his presidency.  Anyone who knows a woman worries (or should be worried) about this type of violence.  Denigrating anyone is offensive.  Would I want someone saying such things about my mother?  My wife?  My daughter?  Would I want my son or my students at school to learn this behavior? If not, then it is not OK for Mr. Trump to say those things.  Maybe Trump’s more recent comments were made in order to get elected; if so, I worry about those who support him because of those comments.  Referring to people as objects is dehumanizing.  If we are all created equal then let us raise one another up instead of pushing some down.

When I hear Mr. Trump  speak against immigration I worry about his presidency.  Friends of mine have been told that, “Trump will kick you out, send you back.”  These friends are U.S. citizens.  Students have been cornered by groups of other students who shouted, “Build the wall, build the wall.”  The adopted daughter of a friend of mine asked her mom if Trump was really going to send her back to her birth country, a place she has not been since she was a few months old.  Maybe Trump’s anti-immigration comments were made in order to get elected.  Right now they are having an immediate effect on the lives of people who do not look white.  I worry about the people who supported Trump because of these comments.  This country is a country of immigrants (some of whom who added terrible violence to the lives of many of the original inhabitants of this land).  My ancestors came from Ireland.  The whole southwest used to be Mexico until the border crossed the people and included them in the United States after the war.  To suggest that the United States is a white nation is to ignore history.  We can welcome the stranger.

I believe in the possibility of the United States where we define ourselves as all of us.  I believe in the freedoms, rights and responsibilities that belong to everyone in the United States.  I believe in the gray areas, the messy areas, where life is not a dualistic either/ or, open/ shut, us/them.  Together we can navigate the muddy waters of gray, together.  Let us, then, rise above, come together to continue creating a welcoming, bountiful community where all are welcome and all is possible.  Let this be a place where violence and discrimination are shunned in favor cooperation and courageous conversations.

For now, I will wait and see.  I will never completely write off anyone.  Because you asked, though, those are some of the reasons that I am worried about a Trump presidency.

P.S. A self-described single issue voter asked me about abortion and how I could support someone who is pro-abortion.  To begin with, I do not know anyone who is pro-abortion (in the sense that a person believes everyone should go out and get one in the way someone might be pro-chocolate- I am pro-chocolate).  I do know that in countries where abortions are/ were illegal they still happen in very dangerous conditions making a bad situation even worse.  I also know that the number of abortions has been dropping since the early 1990’s and is down to numbers not seen since the early 1970’s.  Perhaps we can continue to improve education and situations so the number of abortions continues to drop.