A wise mentor recently shared this story with me. She was a special education teacher and there was one student that she remembered being particularly challenging within the system they were trying to work in. On a day when she was especially tired and worn he looked up at her and said, “Why do you look so sad?” She was honest, “Some days you make me very tired.”
”Teacher, you make me very tired too”, he answered back. Isn’t it true? Broken systems create broken relationships. We exhaust ourselves and one another.
When Nathan and I made the decision to quit our professional careers to take on the work of full-time farming we thought we knew how broken the systems were. We had solutions for what we thought would work, and in many ways they did.
What we weren’t prepared for were all the barriers and obstacles in place for those who live in marginalized and oppressed spaces, whether they’ve been intentionally or generationally applied to their lives.
As we left HOTEL INC last night a storm came through and took out the lights. As we arrived at the Reimagine Charity event at @cec_bg candles were being lit. Thankfully, the lights came back on.
Later, Shawn with the @theluptoncenter applied profound insight to the situation. He explained that if the lights had not come back on we would have lit more candles, but over time we wouldn’t want to become dependent on candles to light our way. We want the systems that make our lives possible to work.
In my privilege, I understand that while I’ve chosen the hardships of full-time farming I know the people to call when the systems aren’t working for me. This puts me in a place of choice.
I can use that knowledge to build and create opportunity for myself, keep others dependent on me to make the calls for them or I can nurture and make room for spaces where others feel knowledgeable and empowered to make the call themselves.
As a full-time mother and farmer who works “in the body” for most of my day I was encouraged when Shawn said to show up in Heart & Mind. My faith and commitment to prayer is what both allows and challenges me to do that.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist