Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A day to celebrate a dream... reflecting on MLK Jr. Day

Almost 30 years ago my parents took a leap of faith and moved their small family from a suburb in Southwestern Washington state to a town in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico (sorry, NM friends, it's true).  Gallup, NM is mostly known for it's brief mention in the "Route 66" song as well as its amazing ability to be on the way to just about anywhere in this country.  (As in: "Oh, yeah, I think I drove through there, once"...)  A few years later, as a fourth grader, I realized the unpleasant truth that children as far away as exotic Michigan didn't even know we existed, as a state.

I went to school with kids who had never spoken English until they came to board at our school.  They knew nothing of the gringo world except grocery stores and tv. I was a minority.  I thought they had the cool life.

I remember vividly learning to sing "Jesus Loves Me" in Navajo.  I remember going on field trips to the Rez to watch the sheep shearing and to watch the women weave on their large upright looms.  I remember, as any child who grew up in New Mexico must, the taste of fresh fry-bread filled with honey, or with pinto beans and cheese.  And of course, I remember chilies.  Not the restaurant- but actual chilies.

My mom, I'm sure, must have wondered what we were doing out there.  My dad was probably just doing his best to find a good job after finishing his PhD.  My sister and I loved the sunshine, the wild open spaces and the friends we found.

Regardless of what happened to my family after that, or whether we stayed in touch with friends (thank you Facebook)... I know that Gallup, New Mexico will always be part of me.  As the sun is part of the horizon.  

I realized very early on, as I suppose most 16 year olds must, that a suburban life is too restrictive for me.  I was made for deeper waters.  Acting on some sort of epiphany, I traveled to genocide-torn Albania, through coffee fields of Nicaragua, and stayed in towns gripped by drug cartels in Colombia and Ecuador.  I saw broken people, I saw beautiful people.  I loved traveling and I hated it just as much.  I was never alone but was always lonely.  I sought some sort of adventure that would surely add purpose to my life.

My life has changed, a little.  I live in a suburban neighborhood where every house is the same.  I home-educate my kids (so far) and love my church, my family and my life.  I haven't sold out.  Quite the contrary, actually.  The battlefield of mediocrity (in my own life) seems to be my toughest challenge, yet.

My number one job is mother.  There are two small lives entrusted to my care.  This is scary.  I knew when we had kids and then when we bought this house that I would struggle with fear, doubt and questions.  I also knew that the answers had to be deeper than geography.  I'm not about to ship off to a proverbial desert just to prove a point. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."  Indeed.  I pray (and work hard to see to it) that my kids will lead a life of character worthy of notice.  Skin color may be a fading concern in our world, today, but content of character is not.  Let my adventure be this; to raise children that make a difference.  To show them a world worth living in and worth saving.  And in the meantime to "drive out darkness," as Dr. King said, with love.  

In the journey I now travel, I daily meet broken people.  And beautiful ones. I love traveling this life, and sometimes I hate it.  I'm never alone and sometimes feel lonely.  But now I know that my life is the adventure I was seeking. My creator has a great purpose for me, and somehow, this is it. 

What's yours, dear friend?  


Katie said...

Nice, Tori. I have some of the same memories - and the same goals too.

Tiffany said...

Ah, that post brought back memories. I can close my eyes and smell the playground at Rehoboth, see the New Mexico blue sky behind the striking red rock cliffs, and hear the sound of silence in a canyon. Makes me wonder what my children will take away from the adventures we've been on ... will their senses recall childhood as keenly? Thanks for taking me back there again, Tor Tor.

Thru a Tori-lens said...

Thanks to both of you for your thoughts... I love getting comments on my blog- helps me realize people are reading!