February 2011


In late January Mark Driscoll tweeted:

“I will never understand why people think the carts at the grocery store are free like the bakery samples & just push them home?”

Now, Driscoll and I have our differences when it comes to our beliefs on men and women. But I still respect him and think he is an incredibly talented preacher.

BUT.

When I saw his tweet I felt as if I had shriveled up inside, suddenly aware and ashamed of the privilege¹ that I benefit from on a daily basis that keeps myself and others like me blind to the reality of others who are living alongside us.

Driscoll has never had to think about why someone would actually need to push his or her groceries home in cart.

It seems like a simple, black and white issue. Taking a grocery cart off store property is considered stealing. Stealing is wrong. So why would you ever do it?

Growing up as a White, upper-middle class, non-disabled woman, I never had to think about how to transport groceries without reliable transportation… because I always had reliable transportation. To this day, I’ve never had to walk or take a bus because it was my only means of getting somewhere. There was a year or two in college where I would ride my bike to the store and come back with bags swinging on my handlebars. But for the most part, someone has always been available to give me a ride, let me borrow their car, or I had my own vehicle.

Let me tell you about my 80 year-old neighbor, Rosa*. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about her life, but this has been my experience with her.

Rosa lives next door to me in a yellow stucco quadruplex with black wrought-iron bars across the windows. Her adult son also lives with her. When I moved to Boyle Heights last summer, the first place Larry and Niki (the owners of the house I live in) took me to eat was at Rosa’s restaurant. We went out to breakfast and, having taken French in high school and ASL in college, I learned how to order “dos huevos con jamon”. She also makes fresh juice… cantaloupe, pineapple, watermelon. And damn, the food is good.

Rosa’s restaurant is so small that you could easily pass it on the street without realizing it’s there; tucked between several other businesses on busy 1st Street, just 3 blocks away from my house. Inside, the restaurant has 3 booths and 2 small square tables; square feet-wise, the entire restaurant is probably smaller than my kitchen. Rosa has one other person help her, but she does all the cooking. We give our order to her and then she literally walks 5 feet and cooks it for us.

I often bump into Rosa leaving her home, pushing a grocery cart full of fresh food ready to be cooked, around the same time I leave for work in the morning. I greet her in Spanish and ask her how she is doing. Though she moves slowly, she is always cheery and happy to talk. Because of my delinquency in the Spanish language, our short conversations usually start in Spanish, morph into Spanish and English, and end in English. At night, around 9 or 10pm, if I’m in the living room, I’ll see Rosa coming back from her restaurant, pushing her empty grocery cart.

This is her work. This is how she supports herself. Her restaurant is open for all three meals of the day. This is a good time to remember how old she is. She’s 80.

I can see her grocery cart now, from where I’m sitting in my back yard. It’s a matte medium gray and doesn’t have any store markings on it, resting outside her doorstep. It sat through the hail and thunderstorm last night.

Not everyone takes or uses shopping carts for the same reason. But I wish that next time Mark Driscoll wonders why a person would push one home, he would picture someone like Rosa.

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*name has been changed to protect and respect identity.

¹Privilege: An advantage or immunity given to a certain group of people. This could be based on gender, race, socioeconomic status, able-bodiedness, sexuality, education, language and much more.

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This guy is insane.

I spent this weekend propped on a plush, pillow-laden couch in a large studio in North Hollywood filled with Persian rugs, floor chairs, and even more colorful pillows, decorated with paintings resembling the intersection of pregnancy and seed life.

Why was I there?

I was taking a birth doula¹ workshop to become a certified doula. And it was amazing. For 2 days, 12 women ranging in age from 20 to 40 shared enriching and traumatic birth stories, role-played comforting a laboring woman, affirmed each others strengths, and watched videos of women giving birth. It was powerful. We sipped Moroccan peppermint tea from Trader Joe’s and talked about organic food and ate fresh bread with butter. We practiced massage techniques on each other and coached each other in breathing patterns. We were mesmerized as our instructor shared the contents of her doula bag with us – everything from grape seed oil to a light purple rebozo to her aromatherapy kit.

Our instructor said something today that stuck with me: “Women are dying for compassion from one another.” And I think that’s so true! We become so competitive, so catty, so desperate to “one-up” each other. So to be in an environment where we were cultivating health, affection, and support of one another was incredibly powerful and life-giving.

And that’s when I realized, I love women. I mean, I LOVE women. There is just something about witnessing women cry and grieve over their birth experiences or share in the struggles of parenting while working full-time. Somehow women who are single or do not have children are able to relate. We have so much in common simply because we share the same body design. And yet, we are so diverse and unique. The beauty of unity within diversity.

I think women are my calling. I want them to be my work. I don’t think it will always be in the same capacity, but I think that they will be the common denominator in whatever slew of careers I end up having.

We ended the weekend by sitting in a circle and listening to a song that spoke of sisters: women leaning on and believing in each other because of their friendship. Below are the lyrics.

“Sister”
by Cris Williamson

“Born of the earth
Child of God
Just one among the family
And you can count on me
To share the load
And I will always help you
Hold burdens
And I will be the one
To help you ease your pain
Lean on me, I am your sister
Believe on me, I am your friend
I will fold you in my arms
Like a white wing dove
Shine in your soul
Your spirit is crying born of the earth
Child of God
Just one among the family
And you can count on me
To share the load
And I will always help you
Hold burdens
And I will always help you
Hold burdens
And I will be the one
To help you ease your pain
Lean on me, I am your sister
Believe on me, I am your friend
Lean on me, I am your sister
Believe on me, I am your friend”

We need more of this mutual support! I know I could use it, and I certainly need to learn more about what it means to provide it.

I was thinking about the women in my life and all the various roles they play. I want to share some of them with you, so below are links to blogs of women I really admire.

Jonalyn Fincher blogs on women and spirituality.
Hollie Baker-Lutz has a new blog on “finding feminism in the everyday”.
Kimberley B. George blogs on the intersection of gender and all kinds of injustice.
TulipGirl blogs on “mothering, theology, and gracious living”.

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¹Doula: a woman who provides emotional, physical, and informational support to a woman during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period.