Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Well


At worship a few nights ago, the pastor was preaching about the story of the Samaritan woman at the well whom Jesus, a Jew, asked for a drink of water. That a Jew would ask anything of a Samaritan in those days was unthinkable - it just didn't happen. And then he moved on to talking about Lent. It was, after all, and Ecumenical Lenten Worship, where different congregations and denominations gathered to worship together during Lent. The pastor posed this question: if we of different Christian faiths could come together on a Monday night to worship together, could we also lay aside the divisiveness in our daily lives and open our minds and our hearts to people who aren't like us? Could we, like the Samaritan woman, open our minds to things foreign to us and learn to respect and perhaps appreciate different lifestyles or points of view? After all respect and appreciation for someone else's way of living or belief system doesn't mean we have to accept it as our own or even agree with it. Could we do this, especially with those who make us most uncomfortable? 

 As he was speaking, I was sitting between two of my children, who have been raised to respect and accept people from all walks of life. I just kept thinking about how blessed I am to have our homeschool community - our big, loving, diverse homeschool community. Each Friday my kids get to get together with people of a wide range of ages, colors, and spiritual beliefs; of differing cognitive, social, physical, and behavioral abilities; of different sexual and gender identities; of a rainbow of haircolors; of varying heights and weights; boys with long hair, girls with short hair, and vice versa; people who hula hoop and people who are completely deficient in the art of hula hooping; with vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, celiacs, those who eat only raw foods, and people on varying diets for food allergies or sensitivities or treating various illnesses or disorders. In this community, we don't judge people by appearance, ability, lifestyle or belief system. I do admit that one might let out a giggle at the lack of hula hooping ability of some. Well, ok, of me. And usually it's me laughing at myself. And my kids laughing at me. I just can't seem to figure out how to keep that hoop aloft.


My daughter, Haley, in a skit about bullying at homeschool co-op, written and acted out by students.
She played the bully - and the girls she hurt in the skit came together to offer the bully love and friendship,
realizing her actions were based in hurt and loneliness, and because everyone deserves to be loved. 
In this community I have never heard anyone take offense over someone else's questions about why they don't eat this, whether they're a girl or a boy, why they have a different skin color than their siblings, or any other question. I've also never encountered anyone afraid to ask a question such as "why does that mom wear a burka?" or "why do you use a cane?" Here, difference is seen as an opportunity to learn something new, not a cause for discomfort. Here questions are normal, acceptance is normal, diversity is normal, love is normal. 

Homeschoolers building a human pyramid on "Share Day" -
their class was about learning to work together to accomplish goals.
How I wish I had had a chance to speak with that pastor, to invite him to come and see the well of acceptance and love that exists in our little part of the world. My weekly drinking in from this well sustains me through the myriad news stories and personal experiences of intolerance and hate in this world. 

For us, putting aside divisiveness is not a what if - it's the only way to live. 

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