Monday, October 10, 2005


Last night I had an epiphany of sorts...or maybe a calling...I am not sure. I just know that I was lying in bed and I was feeling the weight of these many stories I've been told lately, particularly about Africa, and the disparities of our world. I've been reading Just Peacemaking by Glen Stassen and attending ethics forums and going to all these movies about Africa. And I was completely overcome with grief for that part of the world. And I was also overcome with a very urgent sense of the need to do something.

I think about myself and the ways my life could go. I'm smart and educated and J is going to have a nice cushy life teaching philosophy. I could go about my business teaching or getting my own PhD or maybe working for a church. I could write or I could raise kids or I could be my arty self. Maybe make movies or go back to working in development.

But that all feels so local. And what came to me last night is that I'm too smart and too gifted to be local. Not that I'm all that great - but much has been given to me, and I suddenly felt the burden of doing more than just being another person moving the American machine along. Am I destined to be a cog in our wheel? I could have a nice house and really quite a nice little life, I could focus on my own spiritual enrichment and help others worship, and I could travel to the places I want to see and study the things I am interested in.

But aren't I worth more than that? Am I really supposed to take my gifts and passion and brains and only impact a few square miles? I feel like I'm the kind of person who could do more - a lot more. I feel like I'm the person to whom much has been given.

So I don't know exactly what to do with all these feelings. I told God that if she wanted to send something my way, I would take it. I'd leave school, leave J, leave my country (leaving my cats would be hard). Oh, am I already too entangled here? I have this education to complete and I'm married and I have cats who really are like my kids. I have family and now I have a niece and soon a nephew. But at least I don't have any kids of my own to mess up yet.

I want to do something desperately. I feel like everything I do is so stupid. Why am I bothering to read about liturgical theology (much as I love it) when people are starving? Why am I coddling myself with this blog and my own academic success when people have AIDS? When children are orphaned?

And are my talents best used by just going over there and handing out food? Who can I work with? Should I take my educated self and just love people? Where do they need me? Are there even mechanisms in place to allow people with this burden to do something about it, or are we blocked?

And is this even what I'm supposed to do for the kingdom of God? It seems ludicrous not to do something. It seems selfish to continue this degree and this life when there's so much suffering. Who can use a passionate, intelligent woman, who loves to write and be creative, who likes to solve problems, who's detail-oriented and organized, who has experience working in multi-faith, multi-cultural contexts? Is there a place for me? Do I look at the UN, the peace corps, ONE campaign? What? Who needs me?

I just feel so inert. Even if I was doing nothing but handing out medicine and grain at least I'd be helping someone live another day. I'd be really making a difference. What am I doing? How am I contributing to the world - am I helping or am I hurting or am I maintaining the status quo?

I feel like people like me - women like me - are not just called to be voters and mothers and priests, even. Somehow there must be more to be done. I want to be Tessa in The Constant Gardener (too bad I'm not married to a diplomat).

I don't want to be a missionary. I don't want to take the Gospel over there (at least not the way that a missions org would see it). I just want to feed people. I want to be the hands touching them and giving them help. I need some tactile reminder, some experience as the one directly impacting someone's life. And for whatever reason, I need it to be there, not here.

Maybe I can just find some short-term thing to do over the summer or something. I have no idea. Maybe someone who reads this knows someone who needs me. I'll come. God's my head-hunter right now. If I can write or raise money or organize or negotiate then great. But I really want to just hand out some help.

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