this week in my social policy class i watched one of the most disturbing videos about the united states of america. it blew my mind. it made me want to swear and scream and cry all at the same time. my heart raged as i saw people being forced out of their homes, pilots being paid less than a manager at taco bell...my eyes filled with tears as i watched a family mourn over the loss of their mother, only to find out that her death brought 80 thousand dollars to Wal Mart who stealthily paid in on a life insurance deal for her. (meanwhile, they struggled to pay all of the hospital bills.) huge companies getting paid thousands, sometimes millions of dollars for their employees deaths? young people going to a FOR profit juvenile delinquency center in pennsylvania? it's madness. it's corruption. it hurts to know about.
as i took a nice rainy drive with hannah to a book store afterwards i began telling her how all of this made me feel. (i am a verbal processor. i need to talk things out, put words onto things and make sense of them.) the more i talked about it, (she so graciously listened.) the more i realized that i was thankful to be made aware of the issues no matter how hard they are to see, glad to be studying social work even if it means carrying really heavy burdens. my heart began to soften and shift as i realized that this is something i could commit my life to... fighting for people trampled by this system. i want to place value on people who are stamped invaluable. i want to create a circle of hope in this corrupt and broken country. to love people stuck in these horrifying cycles. like kelly's heart beats for uganda and the child soldiers, my heart moans for the corruption of capitalism in this country, "land of the free," as perhaps it used to be.
it seems to make sense, too. i mean, people always ask me about the places i have been (nepal, ecuador, kenya, london, india...) and question whether i feel a deep desire to return to a certain place. normally the answer is no, not really. would i pass up an opportunity to return to any of those places? definitely not. do i want to travel? yes. do i have a really deep desire to spend next summer working over-seas? of course. but, the more i learn - the more heartache i see here, the stronger pull i have towards this country, broken and hurting as it is...
i keep thinking about Henri Nouwen's words - about how we must not refuse to read the paper and learn about the heartache. we must not shut ourselves off from the grime and the pain. Jesus came and immersed himself in the filth of humanity, and in that filth he found the pearl of the kingdom, he set that kingdom in motion...it's our job, too. to reveal that kingdom, marred by our dust. to bring redemption, to hope, to love, to embrace. (Lord, have mercy.)
---> a quick note on the kingdom of God. growing up i always heard the language used that we must "partner in building the kingdom" - build being an emphasized verb. this semester in my theology class however, dr. green is always saying "we don't build the kingdom, the kingdom has already been built. instead we uncover the kingdom, we reveal it. the kingdom has already been set in motion." although for some time this discussion seemed kind of petty and unimportant to me, i didn't see why the language of building vs. revealing as such a big deal, slowly my mind is changing... perhaps even the idea of building the kingdom is fuel for my pride. if i am building the kingdom then it is all about me and my abilities. if however, my job is to "reveal and uncover" the kingdom - then everything is in God's hands, for i only see what he reveals to me. he is already at work on this earth and if he reveals that to me, then by his grace i can reveal that to others and we can join in the movement, participating in that which has already begun - working together towards the day of ultimate redemption.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
disclaimer:// sorry for anyone expecting a real sappy taylor swift kind of love story. the title comes from the name of the documentary we watched. my apologies for any dashed hopes.