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From the moment I was born I noticed things in the eyes of my parents. I noticed I was loved, and I noticed that a conflict was brewing in the Tall Oak Forest. At least, that’s what we call home. It was a conflict, a conflict between the humans and the animals. It is a battle that has lasted for centuries. Tall Oaks once was a peaceful community, but when the humans came, centuries ago, they just decided to settle down, and live on our land! Of course we were infuriated about this. So long story short, we declared war on them. They don’t know that though. They can’t understand us. But we can understand them. That’s the way it is to this day. I know my parents wanted me to live in a peaceful environment. They did not get their wish.
The day I was born was a, warm, sunny, spring day. I stared into my mom’s eyes with wonder. Like I said, I could read their expressions that day. Loving, yet worried expressions. All the surrounding creatures had similar expressions, joyful and fearful. Read the rest of this entry
Chapter 1: The Mysterious Conversation
The sun shined, and a light breeze blew. For once, Maria was happy. She and her mother had been sailing on the Monarch, and elegant private cruise bound for Holland. She loved the smell of the salty sea air instead of the reeking city air of San Francisco, the place she had once called home. She also loved the clear, cloudless sky instead of the gray, stormy sky that had been looming over the ship for days. It was a wonderful day at sea.
“Maria! Come down! Dinner!”
“Coming mother!” Maria scurried down the stairs to the dining room. The smell of beef stew overcame her senses. She ran faster.
When she reached the bottom, she took her seat in between the captain and her mother.
“My darling Maria. Are you hungry?”
“Oh yes I am.”
Fifteen years ago, on September 11, 2001, I started my first shift as a Chaplain Intern at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana. My role was to go room to room, check-in on patients and let them know that as chaplains we were there to listen and pray with them if they would like.
I still remember the first news reports playing on the in-room televisions saying that a small plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers. There was not much know about the incident but it seemed strange.
Then, very quickly, the reports changed as the second plane crashed into the other tower and it was clear that it was a commercial airline. Needless to say, it was one day when conversation was inevitable in each room as we all looked on in disbelief at what was unfolding.
By the end of that long shift, we were leading a multi-faith prayer service at the hospital. I just remember a state of fear at what was happening and no one knew if there were going to be more attacks like that in other areas of the country.
The shift ended and I drove back to Upland, Indiana where I was a senior at Taylor University. Fighter jets flew overhead and the line of cars waiting to get gas was over a mile long.
Weeks after that fateful day, I remember researching pathways into the military and ranks for college graduates. I felt like I wanted to do something in response to what had happened.
Then in January 2002, our Christian Education Department took seniors to New York City to visit different ministries in the city. We toured the rubble of the Twin Towers and listened to first hand accounts of those who suffered through that day. We walked by the fences with pictures of loved ones who were in the towers. Hillary was also in New York City that week with majors from her Communication Studies Department and that week sealed our new relationship as we walked through the city.
Though we weren’t personally connected to those who perished that day, September 11, 2011, it changed our outlook on the world. As we were married in the summer of 2002, we started our new life in a very different world than the pre-9/11 world.
Anna has experienced multiple different cultures and races since she started school. She started preschool in southwest Littleton and most of her class was white. Then we moved to Champaign, Illinois where at least half of her class was black. Now we are in Edgewater and at least 80% of the children at her school are Latino.
Our hope is to expose our girls to the way the world will be, not the way the world is. Part of this is experiencing and building relationships with children who are different from them.
But today I realized that this battle of combating racism is a hard one.
As we were driving out of the school parking lot and experiencing lots of traffic, Anna yelled from the back seat, “It’s those darn Mexicans!”
Where did that come from? What led my daughter to say something like that?
I immediately scolded her and told her that we don’t talk that way in our family and explained why. But I was genuinely surprised that she would say something like that.
Just because our daughters are around children who are from different cultures and races, we still need to be more diligent in combating racism that so quickly creeps in. We have to be purposeful and intentional is breaking down stereotypes, helping our girls look beyond societal racism and build relationships outside their own comfort zone. I have to work on it myself.
This is the only way we can cross race boundary lines and create a world where situations like Ferguson, Missouri become more rare. But it begins in the home and talking honestly about racism.
We made it to Nashville last night around 7 p.m. and enjoyed some great Nashville barbecue with Jaron Kamin, our former worship leader. First Presbyterian Church in Nashville has a great gym facility so we spent the night letting out steam in the gym. This morning we are heading out to Mobile, Alabama.
Thanks for your prayers!
“A child miseducated is a child lost.” John F. Kennedy
With massive state budget cuts, schools across our nation are in need of basic supplies. Donors Choose is a great website for finding specific needs in your community schools and showing you how to make a difference financially. I found 1o needs right here in Champaign.
Check it out here: