Tag Archives: Support group

the class who shows up | on the 5th annual homicide-loss walk

After five years of standing in line watching men and women, propped up babies on hips and grandparents escorted with walkers, this year was different altogether.

It is both encouraging and discouraging to see the crowd grow year after year at the Commemorative Walk for survivors of homicide-loss. It’s been my privilege to listen to and learn from these men and women in a weekly support group, but to see them walk through candlelit paths holding photos of their murdered husbands, sons, grandsons, wives, mothers and grandmothers is altogether horrifying and holy at the same time.

And it has been every year these last five years since the very first walk. It is always holy in the way honestly telling the honest truth is always holy and almost always horrifying.

But this year, there was something new for me as I stood in the evening’s mist.

Looking into the line of men and women with faces barely glowing from the candles in their hands, I saw my students. The clock strikes nine every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and my students are faithful to be patient with me in class as I dance onto tangents, threaten with grades and bribe with food. They have listened to me grow awkwardly teary about the histories of movers and shakers from the margins of the field whom God has used to bring kingdom change across the globe. They have held on as we’ve acted out counseling sessions, as we’ve debated the reasons for poverty and welfare, and as we have pushed the questions of power dynamics and our goodwill to the limits. They always show up.

But this night, lining the sidewalks where women and men who have become dear to me walk through their glowing candles and make clear that their murdered loved ones will not be forgotten, my students showed up. As tears filled my own eyes, I lost my breath in thinking that these very students were standing physically and symbolically right on a dangerous line. They were being both witness to the hard and horrible and hopeless truths like rampant homicide in a community, and were also making a symbolic promise that as social workers who are Christians they will join in the kingdom work to make peace on earth as it is in heaven.

My prayer for those students and any of my students, is that some day in the not-so-distant future there will be professors of Social Work or Theology or Education or Business standing up in front of their own classes telling the names of my students, and talking about how they pushed in from the margins to make peace and to change the world with and for Christ and his kingdom.

And when I hear those stories told, I’ll remember the way their faces glowed this night.

djordan
Pine Tree

RELATED POSTS | what they are teaching me | what they are teaching me 2 | when others tell their stories

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a race against the clock, and a willingness to pause

It’s been one meeting after another. It’s remained a race against the clock day in and day out. Class starting, support group starting, fundraiser planning, t-shirt making, early meetings, late meetings, long board meetings where hard work is refreshing, other long board meetings where hard work makes more problems.

It’s been the kind of multiple week stretch that refuses to wait for sleep or calm or slow to arrive before it begins again.

But the work is good, and filled with life and promises of life, so it’s an honor and a privilege.

But because it is an honor and a privilege doesn’t mean it’s not stressful and exhausting.

I raced in from one meeting to try and sit with a client for counseling today. As I attempted to lean back in my chair, clasping fingers behind my head so as to help him lean back and relax and calm down, I felt my heart beating rapidly. My cell phone started ringing as soon as the client began talking, and I could feel my mind start reeling wondering which thing, which job, which person it was.

And when I glanced back at the man, he had tears in his eyes as he was telling me his story, and his hopes.

My heart slowed suddenly. My mind came to a screeching halt.

Yesterday, I was clamoring away on the edge of a nerve, and a friend came by the office to drop something off. He spotted the frazzle, came in, sat down, and closed the door.

He stilled the clock for just a second, I dumped it all out, and then it was back to work for both of us.

I think today, with that client, the cost of ignoring that slice of a moment was apparent as I turned back from wondering who was on the buzzing phone and saw those tears on his cheek. It made me grateful for someone willing to pause yesterday on my behalf, and I hope it pushes me to pause the next time.

djordan
Pine Tree

RELATED POST: not drumming alone

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pain is no measure of his faithfulness

Reflecting one year later on a great deal of change and uncertainty, loss and newness, anger and sadness, knowing and knowing nothing, I’m reminded by a friend tonight of the words below. On the eve of the homicide-loss support group beginning again, and the ways we try to hold the pain of great loss and injury saying both that it should not have been this way and yet somehow hoping God is still faithful, I’m reminded of these words. When I curl up on a couch with a neighbor and hear of wrestling with family and wrestling with heartache and wrestling with what we thought would be versus what actually is, and then wrestling with how to look a neighbor in the face and tell the truth about it all–– and ultimately how we try to make sense of God in it all––I’m reminded of these words.

And more than anything, I’m reminded that I need not push so hard to try to force something meaningless to make sense; to try to force something heartbreaking to be lovely; to try to force a fix on anything that is broken. I can, however, say that the heartache and loss and grieving and wrenching and uncertainty are no measure of his faithfulness. And so we fight not to make sense of it, not to make it prettier or easier to share over a game of bridge or a glass of wine, not to make it a lesson for Sunday School class that ties nicely into felt and boards. Instead, we fight only to manage to open our hands, and open our hearts, and do our best to remain open to what waits ahead. We wrestle to remember that the mess is no measure of his faithfulness.

Especially one year later.

So to my friend, thanks for the reminder.

djordan
Pine Tree

I believe in a blessing I don’t understand 
I’ve seen rain fall on wicked and the just 
Rain is no measure of his faithfulness 
He withholds no good thing from us 
No good thing from us, no good thing from us 

I believe in a peace that flows deeper than pain 
That broken find healing in love 
Pain is no measure of his faithfulness 
He withholds no good thing from us 
No good thing from us, no good thing from us 

I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes 
To all that You have for me 

I believe in a fountain that will never dry 
Though I’ve thirsted and didn’t have enough 
Thirst is no measure of his faithfulness 
He withholds no good thing from us 
No good thing from us, no good thing from us 

I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes 
To all that You have for me 

No good thing from us, no good thing from us 
He withholds no good thing from us 

I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I will open my hands, will open my heart 
I am nodding my head an emphatic yes 
To all that You have for me

+ Sara Groves, “Open My Hands” from Invisible Empires

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