Is this what “calling” feels like?

The job I’m working in is tough. I work with families in the midst of abuse, poverty, substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration . . . some of these in generational cycles. I sit in their homes for hours and I, the outsider, am supposed to know what to do. To be trusted, I dive deep into their lives.

I think nearly drowned when I first started.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have my M.A., or pertinent experience, or a drive to help others. But I thought I had found my breaking point. My experience had been with a different population, I couldn’t personally relate, I was working heavy hours, it was new, I was overwhelmed. I thought about other options.

I still think about other options. But lately I’ve also been thinking, Someone needs to do this work . . . and why not me? Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I get weary. But I can’t shake the feeling that what I do is necessary.

The word “calling” has always been strange and vague to me. I value emotion, but I’m also a huge fan of logic, and sometimes my all-or-nothing mind has categorized a calling as some sort of spiritual “It just felt right.” Callings don’t seem to follow rationally.

Which is why this current cognitive dissonance has me wondering, Is this a calling? I can see plainly why my position is not ideal for me. But I can also feel a strong push against that: What you are doing is worthwhile. And you are needed.

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A man approached me tonight.

I’m writing this because I haven’t always identified with those “Protect Yourself Against Attackers” warning articles or those “Harassment Is Everywhere” awareness pieces.

“Excuse me ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you.

This is a pretty impractical hole of optimism/blindness in my usually rampant realism pessimism. And while I do think that women have received the short end of the stick in many areas for an all too great majority of time, I’m usually not one to cry at every moment IT IS THE FAULT OF THE PATRIARCHY or LOOK HOW MUCH WOMEN HAVE TO PUT UP WITH EVERY MOMENT OF THEIR LIVES. I try to be balanced. I prefer individual stories to brush-stroke histories.

“I’m sorry, but last night I was beat up and robbed. All my stuff was taken.

He was polite, and well-spoken.

“I’m wondering if you have anything to spare tonight?”

It was the small, involuntary backwards step I took that put things into perspective. “I’m sorry, I don’t have anything on me.” (I really didn’t. I hate lying.)

“No problem, ma’am. I’m sorry to have bothered you. You have a nice night.”

“You, too.”

We walked away from each other and I looked back at him and wondered how he would get on, because I am (somehow) optimistic in that I want to believe truth in others. But also I remembered all the rapid neuron-firing that had filled the space of that small step. –he appears unassuming–I am in a public place–it’s not dark yet–is he telling the truth–he doesn’t look very beat up–he is still much larger than me–what does he really want– All in the space of a half-second. And I realized I had been (unconsciously, instinctively) nervous, because I Know What Can Happen To Females In Situations Like This.

It’s not an esoteric problem that I don’t face. These worries aren’t fringe extremism.

I’m writing this to say, finally, Me too.

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that girl

I’m suddenly that girl.
I’m the girl who lives up the spiral staircase
I’m the girl who’s got a bird’s nest for a balcony
The girl you’re always so curious of,
In the house you’ve always dreamed of.
Who lives up there?
What books does she read?
Is it dark and mysterious in that tippy top room of hers?
The girl I’m always so curious of.
Who lives in that house?
I do.

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selfie

So as we all know, last year was the year of the selfie. See the following from the Oxford Dictionary:

selfie

NOUN (PLURAL SELFIES) • informal

  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary

Origin

early 21st century: from self + -ie.

I just want to know why now? I mean, I have proof that people have been taking selfies for at least nine years now. It may not have been taken with a smart phone, but I present to you the vintage selfie:

vintage selfie

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season three

brightly crisp sun-leaves
warmth seeping outside to in
sweet tea in autumn

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I stare at my veins
the trees of my arms
roots going deep
And I think of my size
the massiveness of me
(I only feel normal
because I’m me)

Hemoglobin can’t fathom
being five-foot-three
and I can’t even begin to think
of nanometers as home
How could I be a mountain?
none but a mountain could say
and a mountain would call me an ant
But to some I am a mile-high cliff

I am gnat and I am giant
I am one in a family of many
I am populated by a city of cells

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intellectualism + christianity

God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.

-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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“naked and shivery and without any bones”

A collection of Willa Cather’s letters is soon to be published. Here’s a beautiful excerpt:

In other matters — things about the office — I can usually do what I set out to do and I can learn by experience, but when it comes to writing I’m a new-born baby every time — always come into it naked and shivery and without any bones. I never learn anything about it at all. I sometimes wonder whether one can possibly be meant to do the thing at which they are more blind and inept and blundering than at anything else in the world.

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