Monday, July 04, 2005

Roots, pt. 1

Together with my assistant pastor's wife, I dug up old, useless ground and weeds in early April, tilled the soil - which was very, very rich and dark - and watered the ground in anticipation of new sod. When it arrived in the late morning, we remarked at how lovely and green and strong it was. And we laid it down. Ms. D - as we call her, not caring much for calling anyone by two whole names around these parts, even the pastors get the initials - carefully laid the sod and attached the pieces to each other while I merely kept things wet as the sun approached its pinnacle on top of the sky.

And we expected great things. For once in recent memory, the short parcel of land directly in front of the church would be green, and lush. We would have to mow it twice a week, it'd grow so large and lush and wonderfully green. We would match with many of the other properties in our respectable, residential neighborhood. We could begin working on that awful red metal box to the north of our converted office building, the old train box car that functions as both our weight room and eye-blight.

But, a remarkable thing happened. Or rather, didn't happen. Someone dropped the ball. I don't know who, I'm not sure why. The lawn was watered, but not often enough, and not long enough. All things may have worked out fine if we had received rains in early May. Or late May. Or June.

Total accumulation reached nary an inch, though.

By late June, early July, nearly all area grass is an ugly shade of brown. The local high school, which usually caresses a large parcel of land (by Chicago standards) in greenery, has been abdicated by Mother Nature. All that remains is a very shoddy of hay. I started having nightmares of Arizona. This afternoon I went to my brother's for the first time since March. I noted the lawn, which, for the most part, was green. He watered the lawn in front and back every day (at least every day they were in town), sometimes twice. But still, there were those patches of light brown dryness.

What I learned through this, however, is that the deeper the roots are, the more alive the plant is, the more of a chance it has to survive - for it can draw from more resources. I've learned that the work of rooting is hard and consistent work, but it is not fully dependent on the worker, it needs the help of the full environment. I've also learned that if those roots aren't in place, it can be easily lifted.

Obviously, I'm not just talking about sod here.

I've always felt separate. My auntie is full-blooded Puerto Rican, but she was raised in the US, in an English-speaking household. She never learned Spanish. But because she's so dark, when I was a child, I thought she was black. I also thought it a common thing. I figured that every family had people of different colors in their household, such as my dark brown grandma. My Korean and Turkish neighbors, my Greek and African-American and Jordanian and Mexican and Indian and Eastern Virginian and Guatemalan ("Watermelon?" I innocently asked.) classmates and playmates were all part of the cultural and colorful mix. I didn't understand why people were looking strangely at me as I walked with my disheveled, curly head (looking a good five inches larger than it should be) and white skin bedrocked by freckles to the right of Yvonne and her oblivious nervousness (an ordinary trait of hers). I just figured they were jealous.

I sometimes wonder if that's not the case. My exoticness is a license, I guess, to act a bit different, to be looked at and treated differently. It's only natural, though. A twitch of sorts in contemporary society, something of which everyone, including myself, is somewhat guilty of - self-consciously or not. And, although I don't feel exploited or treated wrong, general comments leave me feeling askew, whether they originate from a friend or no. I'm in or not because I'm not, or because I am.

But I think more often, I'm not.


  1. I have to read part 2 to know where you're going with this. It all sounds very interesting and has me quite intrigued.

  2. yeah, me too.

    let me know how it turns out, i'm still trying to figure out so much of it, and trust me, i've been trying to figure it out my whole life.

  3. it seems like something that only you can understand.

    did you take those pictures? they are nice.

  4. and what i meant by that is that it seems like something only you can understand because you've experienced it. i was having a terrible time trying to comment on it. lol.

  5. as with every other image here: found images. as with most images here: googled 'em.

    but again, i believe in community. slowly. (highly individualistic, i'm just trying to figure out what it means to be a part of a practicing community, not as a consumer, but as a lover, as in Jesus' example of foot washing. except i don't care much for feet. if that makes sense.

  6. yeah, i think i understood you right.

    hopefully, the discovery is a bit more communal and universal, even if the initial understanding is a bit more personal.

  7. When you say community are you talking about reaching out the surrounding community?? The church I go to is all about community. We've become tired of being a church that only focuses on the people within the church walls. So, we're going out and taking the churh to the people. I'm excited. We're doing stuff this month by volunteering our time.

  8. community of the beloved and incarnate starts first and primarily in God. trinitarian love. it then reaches out to us, the beloved community (jn 17). we then reach out from there to the surrounding community out of love and in action.

    it's a slow, laborious, unsexy and completely rewarding working out.

    i'm excited for you too. if you decide you want to work on some stuff in the big city, call me, we'll set you up. but i see the primacy of need to the immediate community, and i believe in that. in fact, keep me up to date on that and how that works itself out in your area. (we're all in need, it's just the need works itself out in different ways for diff people groups.)

  9. Ok, I thought that's what you were meaning.

    it's so important for us to be servants in our community. I remember this quote by Jane Addams that goes, "When you take away the service of the church then the church becomes irrelevant to the community."

    in July we're doing small acts of service, like going to a block party and passing out free water and candy and then just being of help wherever we're needed there. then we're going to pass out free cups of coffee to people at different train commuters. we're having a free car wash and we're doing a trash pick up. i guess we can't do anything really big until we know people in the church are willing to join in and serve.

    after that i'm hoping we'll find out the needs of the community and go after that.

  10. and it helps to know the needs and the boundaries.

    alright, i swear i'm going home, to bed. even though i'm not tired.

    but, we used to do free car washes every once in a while, as a service of grace. the local car wash didn't appreciate it too much though. i guess it wasn't very gracious to them.

    btw, i don't think you ever mentioned where your church is.

  11. and why are we the only two bloggers on the internet on the 4th? i don't too much care for fireworks, but dang, that was yesterday.

  12. my church is in tinley park. haha. i didn't go see fireworks. it's lost its appeal for me. i'm still on because my lovely little brothers who use my ebay account to buy legos and things want me to bid on something for them. it's finally over. i can go to bed now.

  13. hey fireworks are great! they're alright! I went to see some though, they were fun, i always tend to find it kind of odd that we celebrate our Independence by blowing up fireworks in mid-air. My train of thought is that you'd think battle-firelike sounds wouldn't really want to be recalled. Oh well!

    To touch on other comments...Jason...Tag..your it! :-) lol

    Also..the community thing, I just wanted to throw this out there, b/c I felt it was very interesting when I read the partial of it. But there is a book called "The Gutter", I do not know if you've heard of it or not, but it talks about ministering outside the boundaries of the church walls and reaching the community, more specifically the homeless community. Anyways, it says that they decided to take food and were met with hostility by those they came in contact with for the mere fact of food was not necessarily their need, they had a shelter nearby, but rather other things such as clothing, or shoes were a need. But it was moreso a fellowship and such type of thing. They didn't want it to feel like a charity type of thing, but moreso an act of love. Okay so I just thought I'd throw that out there...have fun ya'll!


  14. yeah, our food & clothing ministry is, in a sense, a means to an end. the end being that our clients (or guests, rather) become part of the church. we give out nice, warm lunches (full meals), rides to-and-fro, and clothes (although i still think we need to reevaluate how we pass them out. sometimes it quite literally becomes violent, as people stock-pile on clothes and others hunger after those same much-needed resources), but also most importantly, a smile and some friendship, real genuine concern.

  15. and fireworks are always nice when you see them. but unlike a good game, movie or music, the effect is completely of the moment and not really very glorious (all this ooohing and ahhhhing. it just seems so fake.)

  16. this is true, but what are we oohing and's so immature (not meaning that in a derogatory i think i spelled that way wrong)...we're regressing back to childhood with our "oooh...look at the pretty colors!"

    well that was a pointless remark, but hey..whatever!

    I should probably get back to work, before I get into trouble...oops...lata

  17. "the deeper the roots are, the more alive the plant is, the more of a chance it has to survive - for it can draw from more resources."

    Parable of the sower, of course. I've let that lesson slip me. Gotta dig it up from Mattityahu again. Tanks :)

  18. um, yes, of course. that's what i was doing...

    ok, i wasn't referencing that, but... well, i'm not letting the cat out of the bag.

    although, honestly, Jesus was one of the most efficient, universal, yet specific and sometimes puzzling, storytellers i ever heard from. or about. great storyteller, made greater by his life, ethics,and truth underlying it all.


Be kind. Rewind.