Prayer of a Dying Man
And though I behold a man hate me,
I will love him.
O God, Father, help me, father!
O God Creator, help me, father!
And even though I behold a man hate me,
I will love him.
From An African Prayer Book compiled by Desmond Tutu
I’m currently wearing jeans from India, a camisole made in Nicaragua, and a sweater which comes from China. It’s an opportunity to be very globally connected. The truth is that I feel anything but that; I know nothing about the people who put my clothes together. It’s still odd to me how something so small can mean so much. But it does.
I’ve been in a stage for a few years now where I’m longing for some sort of re-invention of the way we put to use everyday things. What this looks like I’m still piecing together but it involves something like stopping, appreciating, and understanding where the products I use come from.
Sometimes this means a bit of research. It could mean setting higher standards—if I put energy and time into my purchases I can find organizations which will give me the transparency I demand. There’s re-using/recycling—it’s hard to even begin on the multi-layered symbolism of that act.
In today’s case I am simply in the stages of creating. What better way to appreciate the things I use than to make them myself? Today I whipped together some fabric scraps and thread and put my mother’s old Singer to work. I don’t think I’ll use a wallet in the same way after sewing one this afternoon. How fascinating, how remarkable the amount of work which goes into making one. There’s so much of its functionality I take for granted. And when it comes to the finished product I use it with awareness and appreciation.
As Betsy Green puts it:
“…there is something undeniably magic about putting on a handmade garment for the first time…something that fits you as if it were made for you—because it was made for you.”
“When I learned to knit, I started to gain an understanding of the work that went into making a garment. Those seams certainly don’t stitch themselves. Now when I buy new clothes I find myself wondering who is really behind the factory labels.”
-Knitting for Good: A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change, Stitch by Stitch,
Well put Betsy Green. Perhaps I’ll even take up your craft in my spare time. Might I foresee a visit to the Close Knit group at the Jackson Township Library in the near future? What a pleasantly delightful prospect.
Lord grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
-Martin Luther King Jr. A Testament of Hope: The essential Writings and Speeches
Martin Luther King. What a great man—the way he responded to social injustice during the civil rights era is such an example to me and others. I love this idea of his that he introduced especially. It’s pretty radical when you think about it. Which I challenge you to do.
Thank you Dr. King for all your work and contributions.
One of my favorite authors, Maya Angelou, wrote this poem in memory of Mandela. I highly recommend taking a moment of time to listen to it…
Did you know…
“Globally, one in five of us does not have access to clean drinking water.”
(World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st century. Ed. Allen Steffen. Abrams, 2006. 186. Print.)
One of the workshops I was influenced by most during the Jubilee conference was the one led by Jay Jakub. In this workshop Jakub presented about the way he strives to incorporate a jubilee oriented economic policy in the think tank of his company. It was fascinating!
Along with the speakers at Jubilee there also were a number of noteworthy organizations. One of these was Blood:Water Mission. If you haven’t heard of this organization before, Blood:Water Mission was put together by the award winning band Jars of Clay and activist Jena Lee Nardella. Its mission is to partner with African grassroots agencies in addressing HIV/AIDS and water crises. For more information check out http://www.bloodwatermission.com/.
Going along the lines of my last blog, Dan Allender was another speaker at Jubilee who I would recommend to students. For those of us who have experienced or know someone who has experienced sexual abuse, this author’s contribution is irreplaceable. He speaks and writes with an honest sensitivity that is difficult to find.
At the conference Allender discussed shame and the hold it can have on its victims. His books also came highly recommended. A few of them are Leading with a Limp and The Wounded Heart.
I know in our be.justice life group we’ve been talking a lot about human trafficking. There are a lot of students out there who are passionate about this issue and rightly so. These students aren’t alone. Malone as an institution has partnered in the past with Remember Nhu to address the issue of sex trafficking of children. International Justice Mission seems to go hand in hand with a lot of the passions that Malone students have so I’d recommend it to my student body out there, especially to all of you who haven’t heard of them. This organization participates each year in Pittsburgh’s Jubilee conference. This year they had a speaker, Bethany Hoang, speak about her experience as Director of IJM institute for Biblical Justice. She told students about how she came to have a passion for addressing human trafficking. She also told a remarkable story about the role that prayer plays, and has played, for their organization in addressing issues. If you are interested in learning more I’d check out http://www.ijm.org/ or Hoang’s compact, efficient book Deepening The Soul for Justice. Also—I talked with some representatives of the organization and they told me about a campaign coming up on April 9th called Stand for Freedom. There’s the possibility we could organize participation among students on campus. Let me know if there’s interest and I publish some more on this later! -K