... if you like talking about justice, public schools, loving your city, and living like the church were your wise old mother. Maybe also your very complicated and sometimes embarrassing mom, but still: home.
The conversations aren't easy. But what did that chalkboard say at your yoga class the other day? "The hard thing and the right thing are often the same thing." God's like that.
Let's talk. Welcome.
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In July, Sarah and I went to my hometown to speak at the little public library where I worked when I was 14. My mom and stepdad and some of my aunts and cousins and even some strangers packed the tiny room that in the late ’90s was a garage for the village’s EMS.
Someone (unfairly) asked me (in the presence of my mom) whether I’d ever consider moving home, back to the place in Ohio where I’d graduated a decade and a half ago.
“I mean, could you do this sort of thing” — she referenced the new-monastic-like, Year of Small Things, radical-faith thing — “here in a rural place or a small town?”
Maybe the most important work of the Lansing Youth Football Club team isn’t what happens on the field.
Sure, soccer matters to the dozen and a half guys on the team. Almost every day the players carpool to Lansing’s Francis Park for two or three hours of practice. Occasionally they scrimmage teams from Grand Rapids. They train for tournaments in Detroit, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
“This (team) is our passion,” said one of the team’s captains, Damber Magar. Like most of the players on this independent soccer team, Damber’s family are Bhutanese and came to Lansing as refugees from Nepal. Damber’s family was resettled through St. Vincent Catholic Charities in 2010.
To welcome someone into your home is to show them what you think’s important. Remember the first friend-date you had as an adult? For mine, I was staging my coffee table with smart books and a candle (I should’ve dusted the dust jackets first for maximum credibility).
Now, you know you’re my friend if you walk into the space now occupied by Lego, library books, and eleven hundred little scraps of paper Louisa tells me are “bookmarks.” (I love you and I can’t keep up with my many, many children, is what my living room says.)
But to welcome someone to your hometown is to show them something deeper, something maybe mitochondrial. Ah yes, I’ve said when I see friends’ hometowns. I can see this place in you.
So, that’s happening next week at a book event in the place where I graduated, got married, and flee to when I need my mom.
“This is home,” Nael Al Saedi said, sitting on his couch one rainy Saturday afternoon.
His family walked in and out of their living room, taking turns telling stories and listening to each other’s. The home has been theirs for less than a year — bought about seven years after arriving in Lansing as refugees.
Inside, the youngest helped herself to ice cream at the kitchen table. Outside, a red, white, and blue pinwheel spun in the landscaping.
This is home, he said.
“You must be coming to visit me!” We were halfway around our block when were stopped by a wave from our octogenarian neighbor who lives behind us. We weren’t technically coming to visit, but our walk turned into a tour of her ever-changing garden. Her garden is her thing: I notice her from the kitchen Read more about And finally, it’s spring: where our words have been[…]
Of all the chapters in The Year of Small Things, the hardest to write was about self-care. For one, pretending you’re Dorothy Day feels good; prophetic, even. Talking about depression doesn’t.
But. It’s important to talk about with other people if only because it shouldn’t be awkward. Vulnerability was the posture I wrote from, and now that people are seeing the stuff on the soft underbelly (I’ve had three children, what do you want from me), people have felt compelled to share their own mental junk.
Dorothy Day — my patron (almost-) saint — was arrested for picketing for the rights of women to vote. And even after the 19th Amendment passed, Dorothy Day never voted. The cofounder of the Catholic Worker movement felt problems weren’t solved by politics, her granddaughter Kate Hennessy writes in The World Will Be Saved by Beauty: An Intimate Read more about You know, Dorothy Day never voted[…]