I no longer roll in circles with people who speak wisdom into my life as a matter of divine purpose. I do, however, roll with people who speak a lot of truth into my life in the name of survival. Their words are no less potent, no less encouraging, no less face-wrecking than the ones that were prayed over me since childhood. They are words shared by people who see me and see how I land and where I need to Get It Together.They also see my children and my parenting (for better/worse) and they see my partner-- tired eyes and shaking head-- and then they go in with love.
When I left the church, I assumed I would no longer be held accountable for my behavior in some kind of spiritually lofty way... I was wrong. Or maybe we just fell into the wrong crowd? I have been thinking about what this looks like and how we buoy and encourage each other while still holding ourselves and others to a high standard of compassion and discourse. And I've been thinking that all the best people I know who are able to navigate life in this way-- which also requires humbleness and a small amount of self-deprecation-- are very curious. Some are curious by nature and some through practice. This curiosity braves discomfort, navigates treacherous dialogue, and claims very little stake in being right. It is a bright light that holds uncomfortable truths without judgement and grasps on to unfamiliar narratives in order to understand the world a bit better. As an in-curious person by nature, I am drawn to this kind of open-endedness and work to practice it. I'm a lousy beginner, though, and try hard not to walk the beam between multiple narratives and high moral standards.
Curiosity is not the same thing as being open-minded, although the two often cross paths. Portland is a breeding ground for The Most Open-Minded People in the World. But try moving people toward a narrative where their comfort is not the highest priority and you will be met with a virtual wall. Or in the case or school boundaries or low income housing or racial equity, sometimes a real life wall. This Right to Comfort is a tool of I'm adept at wielding-- because at it's core, it's a tool of Whiteness. I'm working on it.
Angela Tucker wrote a wonderful piece on transracial adoption and gentrification. She details the conundrum of white families moving into neighborhoods to provide a cultural mirror for their children of colour while systematically displacing the diverse community they seek. Paul and I moved to our neighborhood 7 years before we adopted August but timing hardly makes a difference as our impact on our part of town has essentially been the same.