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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Something I Read Today

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I read something every day, which is the core nature of studenthood.  Lately, I’ve read all sorts of intriguing things, mostly about my research project (vulnerability factors putting youth at risk for being victimized by sex trafficking) and anti-oppressive practice (white privilege, heternormativity, construction of cognitive binaries, etc.).  A bunch of academic talk for sure, but I do enjoy a lot of it, mostly because I can’t walk away from most of this quarter’s readings without feeling challenged and questioning a norm I’ve accepted my whole life…

After reading a ton of theory and community organization patterns, I was less than thrilled to pick up a book about culturally competent therapy techniques to use with African American families, which is an all-inclusive joke of a title if you ask me, but inside I stumbled across this little nugget:

“Beauty was created by an external force, which African American culture reveres traditionally as God or an eternally spiritual force.  Ugly, on the other hand, was created by people.”

That is kick-ass if you ask me.  People created ugly.  I love it!  And the chapter actually provided some intriguing insight about African American spiritually, especially the respect for rhythm and movement in life that could benefit Western culture significantly.

See, sometimes social work school isn’t so bad 🙂

Soul Saturdays

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Saturdays are good for the soul.  I look forward to them all week-long, because they are the day I try to schedule nothing but time with the real people in my life.  Real, meaning, people who are not my clients, co-workers, or employers.

Two days ago was a soul Saturday.  For starters I didn’t set an alarm, which is a real luxury.  After a somewhat eventful drive to Colorado Springs with tree boughs on the interstate and getting lost as usual, I met with an old mentor and friend, and we caught up on about eight month’s worth of stories and laughs over lunch.  She is an exceptional person, and I never stop learning from her experience and wisdom.  Also, she’s having a baby soon, and she’s one of those glowing, pregnant ladies.  I am real lucky to have people like Tammy speaking into my life who love the person I am but inspire greater things in me; I wish someone like that in every young person’s life.

Then there was date time, for which we had two rules:  no talking about work, and have enjoyable fun. We owned date day with our agenda-less agenda.  He likes to tease me about making plans (since I’m extra good at being Type A), and I appreciate that he is one of the most calm and laid-back guys I’ve ever met.  Days like Saturday-which involved a slow stroll in the sun, beers and people watching, delicious dinner, family birthday tiramisu, and perusing through childhood collections and memories of growing up-remind me of how good it can be to let go of the plan, especially when you do that with someone who is a whole lot cooler than yourself.  Yep, I’m a big fan of Rick.

Ah.  Soul Saturdays.

Blessings

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Something that we could use more of in our lives is blessing.  Speaking blessings to and over one another.  Internalizing truths of blessings instead of false messages of hope. Believing blessings for one another.  Blessing one another through simple acts of kindness.

Maybe that’s why I appreciate blessings.  Anyone can be nice, but it takes genuine effort (and a little sacrifice sometimes) to be kind.  To be nice is to toe the line, but to be kind is to revere, honor, and draw out the dignity in another person.  Blessings are founded on kindness, truth, and hope.  The words examine the crux of being human:  that place where both pain and beauty can be appreciated and accepted.    Blessings teach, challenge, and encourage, much like a soothing balm for our souls.

In my faith community, we end our church services with a blessing, which is a sacred moment for me.  Even if I was distracted during the entire teaching, I somehow quiet down enough to soak in the blessing.  I love walking out the door with that little piece of truth, even if I am not ready to accept it or allow it to alter my life in that moment.  I wish all churches ended with blessings and did a little more contemplating.

Here is a Franciscan blessing about oppression and social justice that I stumbled across this morning.  Words like these help me believe that I can hold true to my personal values while being an excellent social worker; some days I doubt this.  Even if you aren’t a social worker, these words might resonate somewhere inside, if you believe in justice, peace, compassion, and restoration.  Or if you desire to live fully and empty yourself through your work and service to others.  May you be encouraged:

“May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.  Amen.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.  Amen.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.  Amen.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.  Amen.

And may the blessing of God, who creates, redeems and sanctifies, be upon you and all you love and pray for this day, and forever more. Amen.”