Skip to main content

My Tribe

I have concerns about community, about shibboleths, about only wanting to be around "people like us."

But there is also something visceral, something that looks at a picture, reads a blog post, hears a conversation during coffee hour, and breathes in, "This is my tribe."

It was a picture of a friend's mom that reminded me of this. Joy on her face, love on her shirt, a friend at her side, clutching a banner of her belief ... deeply and reverentially, I inhaled, held the breath, and thought, "I have never met her, but I know her. For we are related. She is my tribe."

If she and I were to speak, we would already be speaking the same language. We might argue about the accent, but we could understand each other, even if we did not agree.

How important is that! In this world, where we not only don't agree, but often times, we can't even understand each other. We speak the same language, we think, yet my words go whizzing past his right  ear, as his fall into ashes under my left ear. "I ... what?  ... you mean? "

The thought is unfinished. We look at each other blankly.

Blink. Blink.

She reaches out to me, from the picture. We hum Spirit of Life together, we exchange stories. Perhaps, like my parents' friends, she argues with me, heatedly, but yet with love. "But you don't understand!" she glares. "No, YOU don't understand!" I whine.

The chasm between us seems large, but then she looks over her shoulder; I look over mine. The chasm is here, on our beautiful island. We are separated from the rest of the world by hundreds of ocean miles.

The chasm seems small, suddenly. We reach out, at the same time. Our hands touch, and we follow them with our feet, wading out to the cool middle.

"Kind of cold for this time of year," she says.

"Eh, I think it's a bit warm."

We smile. We are in the same water. No matter what we call it. The water runs over the rocks, past our ankles, on to a future we can't yet know.

Our future.

Our tribe.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Don't Trust Your Instincts, or, "Well-Meaning People Can Exacerbate Big Problems"

My evangelical friends talk about being "convicted." That moment when you hear or read a message and like an arrow, it dives into your heart, and you know that you have been guilty, and you have some growing to do. At the very beginning of my learning about Bowen systems theory, the professor was laying out the basic idea: that we all feel anxiety, and when we do, we act (often in unhealthy ways) in order to lessen our anxiety. And in an unhealthy system with emotionally immature people -- a family, a business, a church -- one person's anxiety can trigger the anxiety of others. Here's a great primer on that. Really great. Like, watch it 20 times in a row. Or every morning as you drink your coffee. (I'm not kidding. I think your life would be better. Consider it a spiritual practice.) So back to my conviction moment. The professor went on to talk about how when we see someone who is "vibrating" with anxiety, our instinct is often to rush over,

The Most Controversial Thing I'll Write All Year

Back when you were a kid, you learned a lesson. It was wrong. And it's time for you to unlearn it. You learned that you were responsible for other people's feelings. Not that you should care about other people's feelings. (You should.) Not just that you should be sensitive to other people's feelings. (You should.) But you were taught that you were actually responsible for other people's feelings. It happens in almost all homes, even the loving ones. In abusive homes, it's more blatant. If Dad is unhappy, you get hit. So you learn that it is actually your responsibility to keep him happy, or there would be consequences. But even in non-abusive homes, it happened. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  You are not responsible for other people's feelings. That's their job. And in fact, you are crossing their boundary if you try to control their feelings. They get to decide how they feel about something, not you. They may decide that you

Me and My Collar

You may run into me on a Friday, in my neighborhood, so it's time I let you know what you might see. When I was doing my required unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), my supervisor suggested that any of us who came from traditions where a clerical collar was an option, take one "collar week," to see how we were treated, as opposed to wearing regular professional clothes. After a couple of days, I joked to the Catholic priest, "How do you manage the power?" In regular clothes, I would walk into a patient's room, and it would take about 5 or so minutes of introductions and pleasantries before we could really get down to talking about their feelings, their fears, the deep stuff. With most people, as soon as that clerical collar walked in the room, with me attached, they began pouring out all the heavy stuff they were carrying. I was riding the bus back and forth every day, and though not quite so dramatic, the collar effect was alive there, to