Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When the Rubber Hits the Road of Authenticity

I attended the Women’s Circle Meeting of my church yesterday. The topic of study was “Blessed are the poor” from The Beatitudes. The lesson was well taught and challenging questions were raised, such as,

Who is responsible for the poor---people of faith or the government or both?
What institutions would you like to see address the issues of poverty?
What should we be doing to get to the root of poverty rather than addressing the surface?

I won’t answer the questions here because I would like for my readers to struggle with them yourselves and because I’m going a different direction with this post.

But one hint: there was good discussion about the role of public education and Christian education.

After the lesson was over, I raised my hand and said, “I was one of the poor children we have been talking about today. I was reared and nurtured by women like those around this room. I can’t go back to those women and say ‘thank you’ so I would like to thank everyone in this room who has extended their love, nurture and guidance to the children of the poor.”

I shared with the group the wonderful African word “ujamaa” which essentially means community or the concept of “it takes a village to raise a child.” I was one of those children who were raised by the village instead of by my family of origin.

It didn’t hit me emotionally until after I finished speaking that my statement to these women was, in essence, “coming out” to Lexington as a child of poverty. I served with many of these same women on various boards and did volunteer work in the community. Not once during those years did I reveal my background. I was at the stage in my life that I needed to prove I was worthy of being part of this group that I so admired and wanted to be considered their equal. I was still developing!

Authenticity has become my mantra---yesterday the rubber hit the road

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