Thursday, August 12, 2004

back from Red Bird

got back from Red Bird tonight -
aside from group dynamics and the specific details of our trip from St. Paul's, which were, as on most trips like this, I expect, a mixed bag, I found the experience of working there very meaningful, cause for a lot of self-reflection. I'm always feeling frustrated with myself because, as cliche as it sounds, it's so easy to talk the faith talk and not walk the faith walk, the one that Jesus so clearly calls us to. Pastoral ministry is surprisingly not hands-on sometimes, or at least, not hands-on in terms of interaction with least and last, with oppressed and underprivileged. Much of ministry, most of ministry, is spent with middle-class folks much like myself. God knows all of us middle-class folks are in need of ministry, but I feel like it's so easy to shut out God's precious ones...
But being in Red Bird was eye-opening in my own self-examination. I'm amazed at my own classism that reveals itself - I think, working on this little house in rural Kentucky, about my hesitation to use 'their' bathroom, to eat food prepared in 'their' kitchen because the house is dirty and smelly. I think 'uneducated.' I think, "why can't they clean their house, even in their poverty?" I think, "Why do they spend their money on cigarettes? Why do they pollute their young children's bodies? Why are they so gruff with their children?" And I'm amazed and appalled at myself. How judgmental! How blind! Like racist responses and attitudes liberal white people try to deny they have (myself included), these are my classist responses, privileged responses that I want to pretend I don't have. As if I don't know or understand how poverty is linked to self-esteem and self-worth and stress and family dynamics and health care and environmental issues and quality and equality of education. As if I am not part of a system that by my benefiting from it makes it more likely that others suffer from it...
A challenge to me. Between that, and getting to use a circular saw, it was a pretty full week...
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