Friday, January 29, 2010

My Journey--Getting Interesting...

Today's an anniversary of mixed emotions...the day that 7 years ago ripped me from the job--and mission--I thought I'd have for life, director of the shelter at Hesed House.

As the Universe is prone to do, my unexpected anniversary reminders came today gift-wrapped--unrelated pleasant messages from some folks I knew from my shelter days.

Thankfully I don't remember the anguish of the days surrounding the break. And, even more thankfully, my life has had lots of rich moments since then.

I peeked ahead at tomorrow's reading from Mark Nepo's Book of Awakening, my "bible" of sorts, and found the quote that I inserted on this photo I took on my journey. 

I guess I'm a pilgrim. I'm constantly being transformed. I'm learning how each moment of NOW, each encounter, each surprise and opportunity is a gift. I'm amazed at the gifts and opportunities that come my way.

This isn't a journey that I planned. That's what makes it so wonderful...when I take that moment to be awake to my world. 

I've met incredible people. I've seen breath-taking scenery. I've learned to be quiet, to listen to my inner voice and to what is being said to and around me.

And I'm still journeying. I don't know for certain where I'll end up, but I'm getting better trusting that I am where I should be. This anonymous quote hangs over my bed, an essential reminder when I lose my way, as I still do...
It is simple...I am where I should be, doing what I should be doing, otherwise I'd be somewhere else doing something else.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Unsung S-heroes

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream. -Martin Luther King Jr.

S-heroes, heroines. Can't we come up with a better name for amazing, courageous women? But I digress. On this day of honoring Martin Luther King Jr., I'd like to pause and honor special s-heroes, specifically the 7 women whose stories are featured in our new documentary, "It's All About the Children."

We've struggled to find a name for this film, an hour-long look at homelessness from  women's perspective. It's All About the Children comes from words spoken by Darlene Newsom, CEO of the impressive Phoenix program, UMOM, that houses and assists homeless families and women. It is all about the children. That's why we do anything worthwhile in this world--so children can have it better. That's what led me to my s-heroes.

My current cross-country journey now has several purposes, but my deepest pleasure comes from sitting down with each woman in our film and letting them see it privately. Julianna (left) in Tempe was the first. Her gripping account, augmented by footage from home movies, shares a saga known by many women, told by few, domestic abuse that traps and debilitates, inevitably destroying the mom and her kids in the process, unless they escape.

Watching her modest, hand-me-down TV with her as these stories unfolded was humbling. While the other six stories touched her, leaving her in admiration of her "cine-sisters," I, knowing the painful details of her story, remain so grateful that she, and the rest of our ensemble, had the courage to share their unique but similar personal accounts of how their lives fell apart and their struggles to regain forward movement. Each woman has deep insight into the underlying causes and effects of their tribulations, as well as hopes and dreams for the future.

Homelessness is, was and will always be misunderstood and misconstrued by unenlightened ones. Blaming the victim, Pat Robertson's specialty, is pointless. The bootstraps theory--insensitive, maybe well-intentioned--oozes from people who don't know the rest of the story. The one antidote to misunderstanding is learning from experts. It's All About the Children provides that opportunity.

My s-heroes are these women, and so many more like them, who struggle to survive, to help their children not only survive but thrive. They fight the injustices that MLK railed against in his campaign for justice, injustices that seem to multiply with each passing day.

Our best hope is to direct today's efforts to the future, ensuring this world will be ready for the children. Julianna, the women of "Children," and countless s-heroes are doing just that. I'm just the humbled, honored instrument. Their stories fuel my quest for justice and equality, especially for the children. We cannot rest until that happens. 

Julianna's photo provided by her

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Wrecking Ball of Life

Now is as good of time as any to transform "Camper's RVue" to its new bent--a more personal/societal reflection. Today contains a dark cloud that needs to be shared.

Having worked for 25 years in human services, with perhaps the most in need of help populations, homeless adults and children, I'm no stranger to suffering, mostly of others, though I've had my share of "stuff." Today, a Friday, the day most emergency service workers will tell you is a magnet for disasters, especially right before closing, shift-change, etc., proved true to its reputation.

A woman I've been trying to contact for a few weeks called me back finally, and I settled into what passes for an easy chair in Tillie, ready to catch up. But her first sentences crashed down like a huge wrecking ball, not on my life, but on my image of what I thought her life was. Trust me, without hearing the gory details that I can't share, she has far exceeded the standard of "if anything could go wrong it did." And she doesn't deserve it, nor does her ever-so-fragile family that's swirling around in crises now.

I could only share this with the one person we have in common, and I was grateful for at least that gift of a knowledgeable, compassionate listen. But when I hung up, the cloud returned.

This Crises, deserving of more than just a capital "C," is not unlike what happens to other families. And this family has
endured and survived a lot, though what they're going through now probably equals the sum of their history, a heavy dose concentrated in 3 months. It's more than I'd ever imagine being able to endure or survive, much less come out on top.

But that's what troubles me--this family HAS TO come out on top or they lose everything they've worked so hard to accomplish. And I'm not talking about a nice house, lots of cars, jewelry. I'm talking about the basics of life--a home they call their own, albeit a single-wide somewhat ramshackle trailer, a reliable car with lots owed on it, school loans and a few outstanding bills for stuff they really needed.

What most people don't realize is that the theoretical safety net--the one we imagine would be there if we had lots of bad stuff happen--it's not there. Sorry. It's gone, leaving in its wake the trail of bodies on the streets, in homeless and/or dire straits. And perhaps that's the worst part of this for me....

It's like watching someone drowning, with sharks patiently waiting nearby, with the entire family falling overboard.

I believe in a higher power, though I haven't settled on the design that makes most sense to me. Right now, I'd look for a knight on shining armor, charging in on a powerful white steed, to undo all the tragedies that swirl around this sweet family. But I guess I don't get to pick my form of divine intervention, and I suspect I have no control of the outcome.

My fervent hope--that the incredible mettle that has kept this family moving forward will be tested and found true. In my wildest imagination, I don't know how they'll do that. But that's where the unknown
indomitable goodness comes in, the Grace that somehow keeps at least most of creation on the right track.

And I need to sort out my role in this. Why am I in the path of this wrecking ball, being splattered by debris? I certainly can't change the wrecking ball's trajectory, but perhaps I can extend a hand, maybe even gently guide my friends in a less perilous path. Or at least let them know I care. And I do.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A little late--but coming soon, a new blog!

Yeah, I know I've neglected this blog. Sorry. But I'm going to revise it, real soon if I have anything to say about it.

So check back, or better yet, sign up as a follower so you'll get notice of my new post. Or join me/HEAR US on Facebook.

Thanks for stopping by!