Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Winter Summary

Travels since November have taken me through Washington, Oregon, California and landed me in Arizona (my first time in the southwest). I rode through northern California with the company of three young community-searching, simple-living explorers. All of us, strangers at the beginning of the trip (brought together by a Craigslist rideshare ad), hugged goodbye after the 8 hour drive.

In California, I was confronted with questions about my life plans and kindly offered a house in exchange for serving the poor (this is a very simplified version of the story). I declined for the time being.

A few mornings, at the crack of dawn, I accompanied a volunteer to the San Francisco food terminal to retrieve unwanted and/or unsell-able produce. We filled our large truck with six full pallets of food to be distributed to the hungry. Despite my not being a morning person, I was able to stay alert enough to speak Spanish with the laborers and avoid being run over by a forklift or two.

For a week, I spent time along the central Californian coast, breathing in fresh air and coming close to tears as the sun set. I even went to a barn dance.

The holidays beckoned me to Los Angeles where I was reunited with my LACW family and boyfriend, Sam. Originally planning to spend only two weeks in southern California, I spent two months. I figured this to be an improvement from the last time I expected to stay a limited time and ended up staying for two years.

A venture to another community quickly sent me back to Los Angeles. I am learning many lessons on hospitality, thankfulness and humility, and finding that the most effective (and the most undesirable) way to know how we should treat others is to experience mistreatment by others.

And now I am in Tucson, Arizona, with Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa. They have graciously hosted me since the end of January. The pair publish the radical newspaper The Nuclear Resister, which chronicles acts of dissent by those who advocate an end to war and nuclear weapons. Also printed in the paper are the address of peace prisoners who are serving time in jail for their nonviolent civil disobedience. Subscribers are encouraged to write letters of support and hope to these men and women. Jack and Felice have been doing this work for 30 years.

In their three decades of witness and independent reporting, they have acquired stacks of archives. I am here as their intern, helping to dig through and organize their boxes of articles, photos and letters until April.

Tucson is a friendly city with erratic weather thus far--80 degrees one day, clouds and rain the next. The city is scattered with cacti and haloed by mountains. It is also bike-friendly, by which I mean it has bike routes and is substantially flat. Tucson hosts the University of Arizona, which means there are a lot of coffee shops and obscure stores. I am happy here.

For now, this is my life and I am grateful for all of (mis)adventures I have come across since June.

Lent is upon us now, and I am turning my thoughts inward, slowly sculpting my heart to be more open to God's eternal Love and Grace. If you also celebrate Lent, I hope yours to be fruitful.