I Choose All!

Working with the poor and writing have been playing a game of tug of war with my heart.  But, in my recent hours of combing through job openings, I came across something illuminating.

(WRITER) ARTIST IN-RESIDENCE

Yale-New Haven Hospital

JOB SUMMARY

Develop, implement and adapt creative writing and spoken word activities for a diverse pediatric patient population in an acute healthcare setting. Facilitate group or individual sessions that engage children of all ages, family members or staff in self-expression through poetry, narrative, theatrical writing and performance to support the healing process. Share patient work through performance and publication.

Wait…I don’t have to choose?? Once again, God has reminded me that He wants to fulfill all of my desires, and put them in my heart for a reason.

Then, this afternoon I really discovered that something I thought only existed in my imagination is a really thing, that many writers do: running writing workshops with disadvantaged populations.

My teenage self would say: duh!  This is why art and music therapy works – because self-expression is an effective form of therapy.  Helping people learn to express themselves gives them power and can even help lift people out of poverty.

Here’s another example of an organization that runs these sorts of workshops: http://nywriterscoalition.org

I made some great connections today and can’t wait to see where they take me!

 

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Windows to the Soul

I’ve inadvertently entered into a social experiment – one of those where you pretend to be disabled, a single mother, schizophrenic, etc and see how people react.  When I, who could pass as a high schooler, walk around with the African-American baby I nanny, there are quite the variety of reactions…

Spring has sprung –
a new day has begun.
We are enlightened, brightened.
 
Blind to color we claim to be
but a different kind of blindness is what I see.
 
Blind to the colors of the Divine Artist – 
an artist of stained glass to be specific,
windows being his specialty.
 
He works only with the finest, priceless glass
illuminated with brilliantly varied colors.
His windows are world-renowned!
Reflecting the same Light but looking oh – so different
a veritable paradox.
 
Meditating upon the work of this Artist –
(perhaps you’ve seen some of it?)
and in search of Truth, Beauty and Goodness,
I walk on the edge.
In the shadow of the woods
I see the dark undergrowth of “equality.”
 
I thought this was a “new” haven?
Old problems dressed up in new rags –
rags that threaten to hide the work of the Divine Artist.
 
So on this walk (a treasure hunt really)
I discover to my dismay –
birds of a feather still flock together
(especially those stubborn ducks!)
at the edge of the woods.
 
Who am I to disturb the status qu(ack)o?
“Who is this that appears like the dawn?”*
 
“Look at that!  A white woman with a black baby!”
I’ll spare you a lecture  on genes,
but while we’re on the subject,
please pull up yours.
 
Sir, I ask just a moment of your time
I beg you, step inside.
Let the dawn of a new day
illuminate our souls.
 
What color is your heart?
 

*Song of Songs 6:10

You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Lately, the word freedom has been thrown around an awful lot.  As  is often the case with overuse of words, the meaning of this word has been twisted until we have lost sight of its true meaning.  As I’ve written in the last few posts, freedom is about being your true self.  As much as I’ve pondered this idea and written about it, I still can’t quite grasp why that is.  How does this seeming contradiction of Christianity work?  How is it that surrendering ourselves entirely unto the will of God and obeying him, leads to true freedom?   Well I came across this video in which Fr. Robert Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn, theological geniuses and Catholic superstars, discuss the answer to this question.

 

Fr. Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn discuss God and human freedom

Of course the other word which is utterly and hopelessly marred beyond recognition is tolerance.  In regards to that, I’ll just share this lovely meme that has been circulating the web:

 

Every Life is Beautiful

Posts about Honduras are coming soon but I just found out about a new pro-life movie that is coming out on March 23rd in select theaters.  I’m trying to spread the word about it because it’s going to be an important evangelization tool if we can tell as many people as possible about it.

Here’s the trailer:

See the website for more info about the movie, a listing of showings, and information about getting a showing in your area.  Although the production company isn’t strictly Catholic, their website includes a page of Catholic resources which is awesome!

The Genocide They Don’t Want You to Know About

Earlier tonight I attended a presentation on the genocide in Darfur.  The events that happened and are continuing to happen in Sudan are horrifying.  Whenever the subject of genocide comes up we immediately think of the holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur and Bosnia.  We would never allow anything like that to happen in the United States, right?

I was talking to someone about the presentation and he challenged me to consider whether genocide happens in our country.  I thought for a few seconds and then it hit me: abortion.  I have thought about this parallel before but he succeeded in reminding me of the atrocities that are happening right on our door steps.  This secret genocide may not be as visible or violent as others, but it is real.  Here is a chart comparing elements of other genocides to abortion:  http://www.blackgenocide.org/abortion.html

Abortion doesn’t quite fit into the legal definition of genocide, but it is, quite simply, the mass murder of a group of people with something in common: they are unwanted.  Here is the internationally accepted definition of genocide: http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext.htm

I also decided to look up some statistics about abortion to see how they compare to the death counts for the holocaust.  It is estimated that up to 17 million people died in that genocide.  Worldwide, 42 million abortions are performed per year. In the United States, 1.37 million abortions are performed each year.

The use of choice to justify abortion has never made sense to me.  Forced abortion is considered a form of genocide, yet if a woman chooses to abort her own baby that’s perfectly fine.  If someone kills a pregnant woman, that person is charged with two counts of murder, yet if a mother chooses to kill her own baby, that is perfectly legal.

Well there’s your think-about-it for the day.

Taking Back the Night for Victims of Sexual Violence

See a photo Gallery from Take Back the Night

I think I need to take a class on criminal psychology or understanding criminals or whatever would help me understand why people commit violent crimes, abuse the ones they love and generally hurt their fellow human beings.

As I social work major, it is drilled into my head that I need to empathize with my clients and “tune into” what they are thinking and feeling.  However I find this impossible to do with perpetrators of abuse, murder, rape and other violent crimes.  I just can’t wrap my head around intentionally harming another human to that extent.  It befuddles me how someone can possibly be filled with that much hate, rage or jealousy.  Crimes against children especially disgust me.  How anyone can look at a precious, innocent, vulnerable child and then proceed to harm that child is beyond me.  This is taken a step further when the perpetrator is a parent or other family who should be filled with the instinct to protect and love that child at all costs.  Mental illness aside, there is no excuse for this.

This is on my mind because April is sexual assault awareness month and I have participated in a couple of events having to do with that.  Earlier in this year I helped out at An Empty Place at the Table, which is a memorial to people who have died from domestic violence.  Then I volunteered to help out at Release the Light, my campus’s day for sexual assault awareness.  This all culminated last Thursday night with the nationwide event Take Back the Night.  This rally has a long history, which dates back to October of 1975 in Philadelphia.  Today, cities all over the world hold their own versions of this event.  Here in Scranton, we marched through downtown and then joined with hundreds of students at the University of Scranton for a moving and powerful rally in the courthouse square.

The majority of the night consisted of an open mic during which survivors or friends and family of survivors could come tell their stories.   As person after person went up and told their story, tears began streaming down my face.  There were people from all walks of life; sexual violence does not discriminate.  Some of them had been raped by strangers, others by family members as children and still others by boyfriends who claimed to love them.  The people who shared their stories are only a small percentage of the population of people who have experienced some kind of sexual violence.  Click here for the scary statistics.  I sat there horrified and numbed by the idea of what had happened to these survivors.  Yet, they were survivors and stronger because of what they had gone through.  Gripping my candle for dear life and trying not to melt into a puddle, I vowed to work for a world where sexual violence no longer happens.  Next year I plan to be heavily involved in the RAE (Relationship Awareness and Empowerment) task force.  I feel God tugging on my heart through all of these things and think he may be calling me to work with victims of abuse, especially children.  This has been a surprise since its not really something I had thought about doing before.  This may require me to work with and understand their abusers, which is obviously going to take some work.

I was ruminating on this today and it hit me:  God loves the perpetrators of these crimes.  Jesus died for the people we consider the scum of society: the child molesters, rapists and abusive parents.  He loves them just as much as you and me.  Not only does He love them but we are also called to love them.  Love and forgive them.  These are the enemies we are called to love.  This is what radical Christianity looks like.  How can we learn to love them?  When you figure it out, let me know.

Article from Scranton Times-Tribune