on standing up to the fist: A Rock Home Companion
I covered our empty purple hallway with Seth’s photographs from Mozambique. It was my Christmas gift to Seth, and it made him cry. Like somebody who hadn’t cried in a long time, it made him cry. These pictures are of the people who have changed our lives. They’ve blessed us. They’ve changed our perspective,
but none of that makes it not hard. Africa. There’s a thing about it, and I’ve never been, but I am going to get my baby there, and so I grapple as best I can without ever stepping foot to a place that has somehow given us roots. Funny, too.
Roots is the name of a mini-series they played when I was little. I remember missing a show and getting upset. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what was true it was so harsh.
I’m from Alabama, North, in the hills. There had been a sign on our mountain warning other races to not let the sun go down on them there, or else.
I saw a black man for the first time around the age of three or four. I remember it vividly because it stopped me in my tracks. I stared so deeply that I fell into a daze. My family moved about without my realizing it, but to me, the world stopped spinning. I remember it like I was holding my breath. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking, but I know that he was different, told he was different, and I couldn’t contain it until much later – what was the truth.
One of my brother’s best friends was half Panamanian. His mother picked him up on the side of the road on our bus route. A girl yelled out the window, “Go back where you came from!” and she called her a wicked name. I stood up behind her, yelled “Hey!,” the only time a fist has ever been at my face. She was a big girl. I sat down. I never said another word.
When I first stayed here in this Rock House, when it was Grandma and Grandpa’s, I slept in the attic bedroom with a glass case full of WW2 ammunition, a knife, a gun, badges, and other oddities of war Grandpa took off a Nazi he had captured. Right next to all that was a human skull. I tried to sleep, but the dark room never hid it, just the findings of Grandpa as an Oklahoma boy, just the head of a Native American. (I know. This is really freaky.)
The desires of my heart are right. The Holy Spirit speaks to me every day about a little girl. We have named her and made her a room. I buy her books and clothes. I know the truth, but there are times that I wonder what I’m doing, times I try to change my mind. What all are we addressing here? I cannot contain it. I cannot save the world, not even a little bit.
I keep coming back to it in tears. I can’t get out of it. I love her already, my daughter born abroad, so I know I must face issues head on that I’ve had the ignorance to ignore.
To help me stand up as best I can to the fist that scared me back into my seat at the back of the bus, Seth bought for me a few books. There is No Me Without You and The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (or Children of the Revolution) by Dinaw Mengestu. You can hear a reading from this book here. It has been so good to read not only because I don’t get to read very much as a mother, but also because I need the voices and eyes of those who have lived differently than I. I need it. I’m in love with the characters in Mengestu’s book.
I’m writing this vulnerably today to ask you to join me if you need to, if in trying to be honest about racism, you get a little wop-sided or scared or hoe-hum. I don’t know any other way to deal with it than to just be honest about it. Please bear with me, and pray for grace.
Revolutions #7-10: Be honest. Peal back to the root. Be grateful. Change.
Please also pray for our wisdom with finances, so we can officially begin the journey of adoption.