Ice – Katherine Boo

ice

Unthanked

This is just a little draft, dedicated to my amazing mom. Thank you so much for always being here for me. You are amazing!  ❤

This one goes out to the ones who go unthanked,
The ones whose check is blank,
Who are full of strength–
The kind of strength that does what needs to be done,
Seeks acknowledgement from no one,
With consistency and integrity continue to run
The race that is set before them
Don’t care if you ignore them
Or scorn them
Deplore them
Cause they know there is more than
What you see when you look around.
They’re a movement of resolution and constitution
They say everyone wants a revolution
But no one wants to do the dishes
Not dismissive or submissive
But not just looking out for their own interests, their wishes.
They’re the real activists
Just by living out their lives making a difference
On each person that they touch and together,
That’s the way to change the world.

The Ones Who Said Yes

I’m tired of saying to God, “You’re not enough.” Not with my words, but with my actions, with my thoughts. With my heart.

The Christmas story is a story of God coming near, heaven breaking open to earth. It’s a story of a God who would do that–and it’s a story of people who said “yes” to him.

Mary. Joseph. The shepherds. They didn’t know what was going on. But they trusted. That God was in control. That he was enough. That he was ______ enough. It wasn’t a big, bold move, of grandeur and glory. Its bigness, in fact, came from the fact that it was unglamorous and unexciting. It was gritty and grimy and unspectacular, because it didn’t culminate in one fireworks moment but meant a lifetime of living this way, a lifetime with everything life throws at you especially when you’re outside its ideas of what should be.

Mary was willing to get pregnant, Joseph was willing to take the blame, and the shepherds went back changed. The “Jesus scandal” wasn’t something that would fade from her reputation. The angels in the sky could be dismissed as hallucinations. But they knew the truth.

And it mattered, because they said yes.

 

This one goes out to the ones who said yes.
The crazy ones
The brave ones
The believing ones
The faith-filled ones.
The ones who are terrified
because it means they could be ostracized
penalized
last in line
classified.
But though they’re petrified
they will not be paralyzed.
They may be quiet
but their lives are far from silent.
I think I hear a rumbling
a mumbling
a muffled far-off thundering
It’s the sound
of a world about to turn around:
Something about it confounds,
astounds the earth-bound,
spellbound,
as heaven is unwound and glory touches down.
They are the unnamed
world-changers
earth-shakers
custom-breakers
culture-makers
change-creators
And all they did
was say yes.
I thought I saw the mountains move,
when what they knew was turned askew
but by a prayer they made it through
and came out with a changing view
and what do you know–
it changed me too.
It’s not that they knew
or lived up to
or had something more than you
but that they just said
yes.
And that was why the mountains moved
and the seas were made a walking-path
and curtain tore when skies went black
and baby lay with cow and calftorch clear
Because even though they were afraid
their answer was what made them brave
They left the shade
They didn’t cave.
It was unspectacular and inexplicable
Not impressive or incredible
and yet it’s somehow powerful:
They said
yes.

It’s NOT fair

Someone explained to me the concept of stewardship vs. ownership this way: When you own something, and you let someone borrow it, you tend to be pretty clear that sure, you can use it, but DON’T FORGET IT’S MINE. (Don’t laugh, you know it’s true.) And God, he’s the same way. Not in a petty way, but in a this-is-a-gift-from-the-King-of-the-Universe kind of way. Don’t forget it’s his. “Ownership” is the false perception that you’re in control; stewardship is recognizing who really is.

2 Corinthians 8:1-9 talks about not just giving to God out of the extra. Because that’s what we tend to do, isn’t it? But if we really set our eyes on the end goal here, if we really believe that this world is not our home, then isn’t it true that whatever successes to which we lay claim, whatever secret treasures we tuck away, whatever castles we build are really all just made of sand?

But that’s hard though, right? Because this world, well, we can say we’re strangers in a strange land, that this isn’t our final destination or our true home, but…it’s all we can see. All we feel like we’ve ever known. Maybe that’s why, in the everyday miracles of life, God gives us a glimpse of eternity.

It’s in the bride and groom, smiling into each other’s eyes and seeing only beauty and joy as they are united as one.

It’s in the father telling his son “I love watching you play,” after every game, win or lose.

It’s in the fact that even when all seems lost, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow morning, and it’s never too late to start over.

It’s in the sisters who argue over shower time, but when it comes down to it will always defend each other.

It’s in the phosphatase of your cells, just one of the millions of enzymes, each one without which your cells couldn’t live.

It’s in the best-selling, under-read book that secretes truth that cleaves between heart and soul, bone and marrow, and that gives a foundation of rock in a sinking-sand world.

It’s in the things we overlook, the everyday, mundane miracles, the little hidden messages of God, saying, I’m here.

Because sometimes, it’s so easy to forget. Because I feel sometimes like I’m drowning, under the weight of the expectations, demands, standards, responsibilities, pressures, choices, decisions–the heaviness of it all threatens to crush me and I want to complain that I don’t deserve this but the fact that I have the option to choose these things puts me in a really, really privileged place.

And you know what? Sometimes life isn’t fair. But this world is not our home.

In closing, I wanted to share a poem I wrote last April bemoaning my frustrations when it connected that you know, my frustration and exhaustion and overwhelm and indecision and demands really do suck, but there’s a whole lot of things that really suck a lot more, and probably don’t have half as much volume. And maybe, just maybe, despite how worn and fed up and irritated and exhausted and wanting-to-scream-into-a-pillow-feeling I am, the real question should honestly be, how much more can I give? Because in reality, this world is NOT my home, and all these castles, they’re made of sand, and will be worn away with a single wave unless I find for myself a foundation of stone.

 

It’s not fair
That I try till I cry
and I’m never recognized
It’s not fair
that I’m putting all my time into this
and still expected to live
up to everything else.
It’s not fair
the expectations and standards, requirements and demands
the time I don’t have;
I’m struggling to stand and
It’s not fair
that kids are abused
and women are used
and some are refused
respect
based on the color of their skin
It’s not fair
that the world we’re in’s
so full of sin
that no one can win
It’s not fair
that children in Africa are forced to drink
the same water that killed their mothers
because they have no other option
It’s not fair
that we live in a world of illusion
absorbed in self-delusion
and all are refusing
to listen
to the cries
of the invisible broken.
We’re all human together!
We can stare at the stars
or stand in the dark
or just watch from afar
and ignore the suffering of our brothers
We made it to the moon, but somehow
we still can’t reach each other.
We’ll never find justice, till we stand with one another
and say
and shout
and sing aloud
with one voice:
This.
Is.
Who.
We.
Are.

800 Million – Video

Hey guys,

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus last week. But to make it up to you, I’ve made a video, as per suggestion, of my poem of about the water crisis that I published in August. I hope you enjoy. You can check out the text of the poem here or read my other post that talks about the effects of the water crisis on poverty here.

Please consider donating to the Water Project or Project Humanity.

Blessings,
Bre

800 Million

70 percent of the earth’s surface,
but for 800 million, that water is worthless
Nearly a billion people
suffering from this evil–
Lack of sanitation
Desalination
Concentration
or even consideration–
Trapped
by their situation.
We take it for granted
cause we don’t understand that
thousands are dying,
crying
salty tears that they still can’t drink.
Imagine what they’d give to have a working sink.
We live in a world of delusion,
gotta destroy the illusion
that the problem is quantity–
no, it’s simply distribution.
What we need’s
solution.
This is for humanity,
fighting inequality
and needless suffering
I think our hearts could stand a little softening.
This is the real world
with real people
But we hide behind church walls,
afraid to go beyond the shadows of our steeples
But
Right now,
Where you’re born,
determines when you die,
And I, I will not sit by
and watch my sisters try
in vain
to provide, for their families
with water that only makes them sicker
while we drown ourselves in liquor.
Babies who’ve never known the taste of purity
Played in the mud, grown up in poverty
They wail
for more milk
that their mommies don’t have in them to give
They live
in the slums of society
Is there no piety
left?
We. Need. To fix this.
One dollar brings a four dollar return
and in doing brings something all people deserve:
It’s called life,
and for it, I will fight
I will stand
I will speak
until my voice is hoarse and my lungs are weak
until every human being is freed of this need
for a simple glass of water and something to eat.
This is life.
Let’s live for one another
Let’s live it for each other
Until the whole world stands
kneels
weeps
at His beautiful feet
And we’ve found, what it is
that we truly need:
The water
that breathes
that bleeds
that sees.

I wrote this poem a few months ago. The water crisis is an issue close to my heart; you can find my previous post on the topic here. If you want to learn more or make a donation toward helping solve this issue, check out the links below: 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/oonrjkqjk00qvm6/Clean%20Water.pdf?dl=0 (this is an extended version of the blog post linked to above)

http://projecthumanity.org/

http://thewaterproject.org/why-water

http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/

A woman from Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 
(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water again.”

John 4:7-15