Crowded Memories

Photo: puzzle pieces scattered on the table

Going through my boxes of old files in the basement, I am now working on files related to activism in solidarity with Indigenous people in Boston back in the 1990s. I found some correspondence with one particular activist, for example, and I am remembering the long process of getting to know each other, building trust, and finding ways to be helpful in that struggle. But when my ministry calling required that I move to another place (Cape Cod, at first, and then Maine), it meant that all of that relationship-building was lost, in a way, and I had to start all over again in a new place to build trust, to make connections, to find ways to be of use.

When white people are moved to act in solidarity with Indigenous people, it requires a lot of work to create relationships of trust. There is such a long history of colonization, of oppression, of theft, of genocide, between us–and a long history of “helpful” people doing damage. And yet, the more I became aware of that broken history, the more I have felt moved to participate in such solidarity. Not without mistakes. But I have continued in these other places seeking to build relationships of trust with other Indigenous people, doing the long work of decolonization.

I am not one who usually has spirit-filled dreams at night. Usually, in my dreams I am at a conference or gathering somewhere, along with a whole crowd of people, only some of whom I am acquainted with. I am trying to find my way around, or find food, or find my way back to where I was before–such mundane anxieties. Sometimes I meet old friends there. Often, I feel lost and overwhelmed by all the people I don’t know in places I don’t know.

I started feeling like that as I was going through these and other files from Boston. So many people with whom I have done work, shared conversations, struggled for justice, had significant experiences, lived in a household together, loved, hurt or been hurt by, and yet, I had forgotten so much of it. If I were not looking through these files, I wouldn’t remember much of what is in them. It all slips away with the effort and energy of building a life in a new place. Only a few relationships carried into long distance realities.

Sometimes I fantasize about not having moved everywhere, living somewhere and staying there my whole life. But I realize it is only a fantasy. This came clear to me a while back when I watched the movie Kuessipan, about two girls who grow up as best friends in an Innu community. In the description, “their friendship is shaken when Mikuan …starts dreaming of leaving the reserve that’s now too small for her dreams.” In reflecting on that movie, I realized, I would have been the one who left. In fact, I did leave a small town to go off to college, and I kept traveling to “bigger dreams.” I guess that journey is also in my blood. My grandmother left Canada to come with a foreigner to America when she was 17. Perhaps she too was seeking a bigger life, bigger dreams.

And now, here I am, sitting alone in the basement, going through memories, looking back on the many people I met over so many years. Sometimes I feel so tired. Sometimes I feel lonely in the midst of the crowded gatherings in my dreams. Sometimes it is a relief just sitting alone with the boxes, trying to make sense of the puzzle pieces of my life. It is a humbling journey. May Spirit help me to remain curious and grateful.

Patience and Grace

This week is I have been trying and failing at patience.  The carpenter and the heat pump installers are …almost… done.  Everything was theoretically going to be done by today, and now we are looking at Friday instead.  But, here are some of the beautiful results.

French Doors to PatioThis is not the best photo ever, but our French doors from the kitchen to the deck are installed–we just need still to get the keyed entry put in, since this will be our regular entry door.  It was a cloudy day today when I took the picture, but this is a south facing window, and brings a lot of light into the house, and links us to the back yard.

The door on the right is the one that opens, pivoting from the center–in our research we learned that it is more energy efficient to have just one side moveable, and we can swing it totally around to rest on the other side, with a sliding screen for those days we want a breeze.  It will also give us a 32″ wide pathway directly into the kitchen, for wheelchair access, when we install a ramp up to the deck.  In permaculture design they call it “stacking functions,” when one item fulfills multiple functions–so this one has entry and exit, beauty, access, energy efficiency, light, ventilation, and the cats will likely be sitting there looking out at the back yard, too.

French Doors to Office

We also installed French doors from the hallway to the office–once again, for access and for light.  The opening they create will provide a better turning radius for a wheelchair to get into the bathroom across the hall, and if either of us do ever need to use a wheelchair ourselves, the office can be converted to an accessible bedroom. Saturday, when we met with the carpenter, the bottom of the doors were not aligned when closed–but he fixed them so they align perfectly now.

 

 

Finally, here is one heat pump, sitting up in the corner of the back bedroom. Two are installed, and a lot of the wiring is finished, but they still have two more units to install inside, plus the outside unit.  You can’t really see it here, but the walls around the window have also been spackled and painted where they were messed up from the window installation.Heat pump in back bedroom

And if you are still reading all the way down, today our realtor did a second showing with a couple that had seen our old house last Friday.  This is the other place where patience is a challenge.  Now that the house is on the market, and we’ve de-cluttered and cleaned, and our realtor hosted an open house, all we can really do is wait.  But it felt very hopeful to hear the level of interest and inspection that they were engaged in.

To be in this process is such a vulnerable transition.  Perhaps anyone who had done a big move knows this feeling. So much is at stake, and this time of year isn’t the best for selling a house, but it is the time of year in which our own journey has unfolded. So all we can do is enter the process as fully as we can, do what we can do, and then wait.  It is very hard to have patience for all of these processes to unfold.  After feeling a lot of anxiety earlier in the day, for some inexplicable reason, I relaxed as we were driving home after visiting the new house.  I entered a space of trust in the unfolding of the universe.  Is that grace?

 

The Adventure Continues

Back Door & Window DSC02518Despite the setbacks we’ve experienced, we are still feeling good about this small house with the lovely yard we’ve found in Portland. Today we did something fun–we talked to a carpenter about some renovations we want to do.  We need to convert a one-car garage into a two-car garage–and it turns out it’s fairly easy.  The garage is wide enough, we just need to add a wider door.  We want to put in a French Door from the kitchen to the backyard, in place of the door and window in the picture.  With such a great backyard, we want to have a better connection between the interior and the exterior.  Plus, a French Door will make the entrance wide enough for wheelchair access when we need it.

We also talked about widening the bathroom door for the same access reasons, and putting in French Doors to the office across from the bathroom–to create a wider turning radius in the hallway, and make that room accessible in case of future needs. It will also bring in more light into the hallway.  One more project is to add a window in the back bedroom to bring in more light and connection to the yard. The carpenter said all of these were very straightforward projects, and he’ll send an estimate in a couple days.

After the last weeks, we had to step back and re-decide if we could love the property, even with the Water District taking up part of it.  We learned that the water main is of a kind that may never need replacement or maintenance–the old cast iron pipes before World War II were better made than those following. And the undeveloped land off the back is owned by several abutting neighbors, which makes it less likely to be the site of a big future development. Now we have another land survey issue that we’ve asked the sellers to work out.  So many complications. But all in all, we feel so lucky to have found a good home with a big yard in the city, and so we’ve decided to go forward, and hope that all the complications can be sorted out. Send us good luck and prayers!