I can only imagine

I have feared homelessness and have experienced it.
I have feared hunger and have experienced it.
I have feared abandonment and have experienced it.
I have feared unemployment and have experienced it.
I have feared poverty and have experienced it.
I have feared gay oppression and have experienced it.
I have feared age oppression and have experienced it as a youth and as an elder.
I have feared mental health oppression and have experienced it.
I have experienced first-hand the crushing blows of religious absolutism.
I have been systematically misinformed about my intelligence, beauty, goodness, flexibility, zestfulness, and power.
I have won races, excelled in school, gotten awards, met celebrities, and danced on tables.

With all of this under my belt, I think I can be pretty empathetic. But not always.

I have not experienced racism as a target of it.
I have not experienced sexism as a target of it.
I have not experienced what it is to be a teen today.
I have not experienced what it is to be a student today.
I have not experienced what it is to be a parent.
I have witnessed death, even gotten pretty darn close to it myself, but I have not experienced it.
I was born in a period of time when education could still more reliably lift one from poverty, when we were taught that police were our protectors, and greed was wrong.

My young friend Frank, now studying in Europe, has a life I can only imagine in some ways.

My young friend Frank, now studying in Europe, has a life I can only imagine in some ways.

After visiting a friend this week at her dying mother’s bedside, I had a really deep conversation with someone I had just met. Her spouse died a few years ago; mine, a few months. We agreed that we were shocked by the intensity of grief. We also noted that there were scores of people around us most days whose lives were as challenging as ours have been during our periods of grief. On the bus, in traffic, at the check-out counter. Silent. Struggling. A part of and yet apart from community.

So, too, are there new parents, recent grads, successful applicants, and thrilled gamers in the same spaces. Silent. Bursting. A part of and yet apart from community.

There are those who didn’t get into the program, who witnessed the shooting, missed the deadline, or got off the train too early. Silent. Apart from.

A part of community.

One thought on “I can only imagine

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