(note: I had much more to write and journal about. It’s delayed…life happens. This is a condensed version. I appreciate the kindness and gentleness I entrust pieces of my story to you all.)
In a 9th Confirmation class, I wrote, “Jesus could have dined with the elites, but he chose to dine with sinners.” I recognized Jesus was different and radical, even if I did not have the language for it. Jesus chose to dine with the outcast, with women, with people from all walks of life. Jesus calls me into this same feast, where I am nourished by the Eucharist and am called to embody that call to be a Eucharistic believer – blessed, broken, and shared. That can only happen in community, and it is through communities and groups of women in which that has largely unfolded. Community is the sustenance and the locus of Boundless Love.
What is the primary injustice that makes me angry? Hunger. While it started in my little high school heart with a food drive collection for a local food bank, this expanded to an awareness, an opening of my heart and intellect to the realidad of global hunger. I boarded a plane alone in June 2008 to Chennai, India for an agricultural research internship. I spent two months there as a seventeen-year old white girl who had never traveled outside of the United States. My eyes opened wide, and my compassion muscle flexed and stretched and ached. I came back to the US jarred by the materialism in malls, frustrated and self-righteous that my high school friends didn’t give a lick about global politics, and felt overly confident that I was meant to change the world. This experience in Chennai profoundly shook me up in every way; I saw grinding poverty and more importantly, the people that were crushed by unjust economic, political, and social realities. I ached alongside the rural women I interviewed who entrusted their stories to me. I grappled with my own social location and what it all meant.
Now, I comprehend that thread of my “why” around hunger more broadly. I experience Eucharist in an embodied, authentic way – way beyond the wafers inside a cathedral. I witnessed the grief and joy and suffering of the crucified peoples, and a call to downward mobility, to really interrogate how God animates us to take people down from their crosses, and to examine our own. Only in a deeper grappling with my own woundedness and grief am I able to engage in this accompaniment. That grappling is not linear.
This “why” of hunger stretches to spiritual hunger, of hunger for intentional community and mutuality, and has unfolded primarily in spaces of women. I currently witness my own hunger and that of other women in ministry, whose manifold gifts are not fully celebrated or utilized to build God’s reign. I experienced hunger for community in the wake of immediate loss and as I continue to grieve my dad, aunt, grandma, and others. I witness the hunger of my students, who desire to be a part of faith communities and work for justice, claiming spirituality as their own. I am called to be a co-conspirator of the deeper work of nourishment. In the past year, I presided as a priest/officiant at two friends’ weddings. It was one of the deepest honors of my life, and truly a feeling of rightness, to preach and preside at Elaina and Jessica’s wedding (yes, the Elaina LeGault here!).
This is what I have wrestled with most over the past 5 years. I wrestle with claiming my voice. I also recognize that I sometimes hold resentment at my sensitive heart, that Jesus desires for my life a heart open to suffering and to light. I wish sometimes that I could turn my brain and heart off to the immense suffering and brokenness around the world and in my own life. Yet, Jesus invites me to deeper vulnerability. I definitely feel a capacity to hold space for others, but struggle with finding that emotional and spiritual space for myself. When I am not well I remain in patterns of past woundedness, guarding my heart and distrustful that anyone would be interested in holding pieces of it with gentleness and care. In this woundedness I remain closed off to Jesus’ invitation. I feel deeply and feel a strong current to denounce injustices and protect the most vulnerable, yet grapple with my own vulnerability and holy anger. Can you tell I am an Enneagram 8? 🙂 . There is a greeting card that holds the inscription, “the people of God are in need of my gifts” from a cherished wisdom guide, Chris Rodgers. This mantra, while not fully answering the why, gets at the why me. I look back at previous experiences as a Eucharistic Minister, as a lector, as a preacher, and all of those just FEEL right. God invites me to be a vessel, to be a prophetic, joyful witness, to help us collectively imagine something anew.