Monday, April 9, 2012

No Place Like Home

As if it wasn't before, the pressure is on. Time is getting short, to-do lists seem to be getting longer, and months of anticipation are turning into reality.
The 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church begins in only two weeks. Since I work MFSA, a caucusing organization within the church, it seems that 100% of my life right now revolves around this huge event that happens every 4 years. In fact, it is such a big deal for our organization that our entire staff have already taken one trip down together to visit the area and conference center, and are going to be on the ground and organizing a FULL WEEK before the conference even starts. Which means my D-Day for departure for this year's location (it rotates) in Tampa, Florida is only 8 days. AHH!

Realizing today that this is my last full week in the office, I was ancy, stressed, and as a result quite snarky all day with my fellow staff. Fortunately, so were they and we are all close so all was well and we laughed about it together. But all in all, though nothing specifically went wrong today, this tension and growing pressure really just made today "one of those days."

Which brings me to now. Here. As I sit writing this in the comfort of my home, snuggled up under a blanket sitting on my bed with my computer on my lap.

Something about the growing pressure of this work significantly diminishes as I sit in my safe space to do it.

No, I cannot get everything I need done on this computer. No, I do not have my colleagues next to me to bounce ideas off of before I hit "send" on emails. There are lots of things that make working at work a whole lot better and easier. But tonight, I'm grateful to get lots done, and grateful not to be there.

Because, in the words of Dorothy, there really is "no place like home."

It is good to realize this as I prepare to leave next week for a month-long journey in Florida (I will be there for 18 days for work then take a week of leave with friends in Orlando). It is good to spend time at home, safe and comfortable and in the quiet in my "safe space." It is good to make time for reflection and prayer in the midst of the craziness around me.

And it is good to have this reminder as I prepare for all that is to come. I am excited about it and would have it no other way than for me to be there for the duration, but I have no illusions about it being less than strenuous, difficult, and trying physically, emotionally and spiritually.

So today, I celebrate this opportunity to take in solitude and click my heels. I may even work from home for a day this week. Because really, truly: there is no place like home.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


The best thing about family is that it doesn't matter how often you see each other, it can be comfortable and feel like you were never apart. That was certainly how this weekend was as I spent the past 2 days with Jess and Greg and Greg's family.
They leave to head back to South Africa in the morning, so I've left them to their packing. After a short visit with my sister (family of origin who lives in NYC), I am now on the bus back to DC, where I will spend Easter with my 'home' church tomorrow.

Our weekend was full of great tourist activities like standing in line for hours to go to the Cake Boss's bakery (pictured above) and strolling through Times Square at night just to see it. Activities I hadn't done before but had a great time doing if not purely for the company I kept.
Jess, Greg and I in Central Park
So today I celebrate that we live in a small world in which some of my South African family can visit my country (and look forward to the visits of others, queue Grassows and Kleins). I am tired from a couple of busy days, but more so renewed and refreshed by the life, love and energy that comes with spending quality time with family - no matter how long or short it is.

For that I am grateful.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughts for Maundy Thursday

"Around the table of death and life, bread and wine, where we can still meet each other, there are sounds to hear if we listen carefully. There is the sound of going down into the abyss and being lifted up, heart and body, not to heaven but to the good earth. There are sounds of the lively ghosts of God, laughing still with love. There are the sounds of men and women, stirring, standing. There is the sound of the season's changing. And wine. There is the sound of day breaking. And bread."
--James Carroll

Monday, April 2, 2012

Plumblines for Justice

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking back to my office after meeting with friends for lunch when we saw an innocent construction worker standing on the corner. I have no doubt our simultaneous reaction to him caught him off guard as we exclaimed, "Plumbline!" and immediately asked to take our picture with him.
With my co-worker Chett and our local
plumbline-holding construction worker.
Photo Courtesy of Amy Stapleton
You see: for me, a plumbline has become much, much more than a construction tool. It is now a reminder of our theme verse for the organization I work for, the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). At MFSA, we often quote Amos 7:8, "I am setting a plumbline in the midst of my people, I will never again pass them by." Plumblines help us to stay level, to keep on track, and at MFSA, to stay in line with the justice to which we are called to bring to God's creation.

Fast forward a week and I cross that same street as we arrive in front of the US Supreme Court Building to take part in the Affordable Health Care Witness. This time, I am walking on the exact same corner talking to folks and listening for good quotes I can tweet as I carry a sign (pictured below) that reads, "People of Faith for Heath Care!"

The photos we took throughout during the witness have become some of the most commented-on posts on MFSA's Facebook page. It has led me to reflect on why and how, which has become a great inner-dialogue about more than social media strategies. It has also been an invitation to consider what we do that matters, that affects lives, that allows people we are working so hard for to truly know that we care. How does our work impact individual lives?

Most of the time, it doesn't. It feels like red tape or too much paperwork. But the reality is, it does. It trickles down. It leads to small moments like a staff outing to the Supreme Court (less than 1 block from our office) so we can stand together, firm like plumblines of justice who are called to step in on behalf of those whose voices are not being heard. Our national platform allows our voices to be heard as those of faith leaders who care about all people and take seriously Jesus' call to care for the sick.

We are just a collective group of imperfect people trying to (and often falling short of) living our lives in accordance with the call Jesus has placed on us. Imperfect or not, moments like these are the ones that make me grateful for the opportunity to do this work to which I am called, with nothing less than the best team I have ever had the privilege of working with.
MFSA staff in front of the Methodist Building following
the Affordable Health Care Witness on March 26