Advent Lessons: Do Not Fear, Welcome Strangers, and Start a Revolution of Love

December 8, 2015

According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remains among you; do not fear. Haggai 2:5 The world is a friendlier place than I think it is. (Me)

My laptop became agonizingly slow. Holiday busy-ness made me agonizingly anxious. Hence, little blogging. It was frustrating for everybody.

 Fortunately, I just bought a new ipad and a fancy new keyboard.  Expensive, but so worth it if you are a writer.  I also finally managed to get back into my routine and so I am feeling less anxious and back in the holiday spirit.  Yay!     
I am now the community coordinator at work.  I love it!  Basically, I have found a way to get paid to play.  
Last Saturday, I took a group of peers to a free holiday party, called the Jingle Bell Jubilee.  Corny name, corny music, but still fun.  Octave, Atlanta's all-female a capella group, needs some diversity, but for the most part, they were good.  I almost always enjoy a free concert.  I did not enjoy the two upper class white guys obviously not aware of their privilege and space who were standing and talking right in the middle of one of the doorways to the refreshment tables.  It was a bit uncomfortable to everyone who had to squeeze by them in order to get the food that was advertised to be available to everyone, not just the men who saw no awkwardness in almost totally occupying a doorway.  Now that I am mentally envisioning the scene I realize that I should have asked them to move.  I didn't because I did not already know them but that really is no excuse for not calling out people unaware of their own privilege. Being more direct and assertive with people is a skill that I am trying to improve.  
The party overall was a good idea, but the best idea was to walk to the MARTA station instead of taking a bus.  We also missed the bus.  I would have had us jump on when it stopped by us but we did not yet know exactly where it was going and hopping on a bus with vague hopes that it will get you where you need to be is best experimented with by one's self.  Here's the thing about walking though: it is harder to walk and read than it is to sit and read, therefore walking leads to more possibilities of human interaction and glimpses of natural beauty, at least to a reader like me.  
Here is when I fear many people would respond in fear-you should not talk to a stranger, you should never accept anything from a stranger, you should certainly never step into a stranger's yard.  Except that we are all strangers in that we all have our own private thoughts and revolutions that we never share with anyone else.  I am proud to say that we did all three.
The end result was glorious.
It was really the man's fault - he was just so eager to share his passion for gardening that he called out to us as we walked by, "Hey! Did you know that if you take a branch from this plant and stick it in the ground, it will grow and spread?  Isn't that great?  Let me tell you all about it!"
He had no idea who we were, except that we looked like a happy bunch.  Turned out he is in law enforcement, considers it his duty to try to prevent more youths from going to jail, has major home and garden renovation plans, is actually supremely pleased that the area is pretty gentrified  because he has lived there forever and now his house is worth a lot and oh, yeah, follows HGTV religiously.
"Everything you need to know is on HGTV!" he would burst out about every five minutes.
The man is, was, a character.  We learned a lot and we laughed a lot.  In the end, we also left with a lot, as he decided to generously give purple plants to anyone that wanted some.  He did not just give a little, either.  People were leaving his yard with armfuls of purple-ness.  Bags and backpacks were overflowing.  When we got back to the center, we spread the plant-love to anyone else who wanted some.
Now I am not stupid.  I joked to one person afterwards, "I may venture into someone's yard, but I am not stepping foot into someone's house that I have never previously met."  She nodded and smiled with relief.  
You know, our society is based on a rhetoric of fear.  In the beginning, we feared a certain type of government, so we created our own.  It would have been better if we had decided we did not need any government because we are compassionate and responsible enough to each rule ourselves in a mutually loving way but that is not the way of man, unfortunately.  
Fear now almost totally rules our society and the whole world today.  The whole Republican party has decided that the famous quote, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," by FDR was a crock of shit and today their motto could be summed up as, "fear everything that is not you (and by you, we mean only those who are white, male, straight, -cis, able bodied, "Christian"and rich).
This is advent.  Strangers, more than ever, are to be trusted at this time of year.  Wise ones from the East followed a star, as dirty, out-on-the-fringes shepherds also trusted mysterious celestial beings.  An innkeeper offered a stable when he had no other room to a young, pregnant foreign couple who, as it turned out, had to go home another way because people in power wanted them dead.  Even the wise people, possible powerful rulers themselves, had to go home in secret also.  
Even more so than at other times, this is the time of year when we are called to not fear but trust in divine possibility, no matter how strange or foreign the source.  All who speak of fear at this time should be ashamed.  You ask me how I can be a Christian feminist?  It is because I follow the way of Christ, whose tradition tells us to be fearless and start a revolution of love and joy, not because of capitalistic expectations but because of a more beneficial gain - the power of love, peace, hope and joy that is available to all, especially to those of us with oppressions, challenges of mental health and otherwise and who believe on erring on the side of idealistic goodness rather than promoting an ideology of fear. 
Talk to strangers, open your heart, call out oppression and always, always, let your living be love. 

artwork by artist HappyBloomMarket

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