I’ve Got Soul, But…

Photo: I am not a poet, but when I see this nasturtium leaf, thoughts come to mind. It’s as if the leaf is saying it does not matter where you roam  or just how far you reach, there is always, always a path toward home. All roads will lead you there if you should need. But then again, I’m a homesick fool.


I had come to an important transition point in my Saturday morning. The boys were about to step out the door to go to the Boy Scouts Raingutter Regatta. I had just scrubbed the hell out of the upstairs bathroom (it needed it) and The Husband had decided to hold me up by getting in the shower before I could. I was still in my bleach-stained cleaning clothes, my hair a mess, my hands ashy from all the washing and scrubbing and spraying… I’d parked myself on the couch with a satisfying sigh, just waiting for everyone to leave so I could take my well-deserved shower…

Of course, that’s when we got the knock at the door.

I covered myself and flopped my hair over to go answer. Why? Who knows. I didn’t have to. It’s not really what people do around here.

There stood two Jehovah’s Witnesses: a handsome Black man, old enough to be my father, and a young Hispanic boy, probably Major’s age if not a few months older.

It’s disarming, you know, to stand in front of a beautiful child in his little nice suit, doing his best to project the same sort of wizened dignity as his guardian was. I wasn’t going to slam the door on that adorable face. Of course, having spent the last week staring at the images of so many children who look just like him suffering under the worst possible circumstances, I just… well, I stood there and did the neighborly thing. We read the Bible together, we had a chat. They were both very kind and polite and respectful of my time. I apologized for my appearance, flustered… the man couldn’t have been more polite or forgiving.

I say this all to say–in the end, I sent them off and wished them well. “I know this isn’t an easy thing you’re doing… going door-to-door. It’s a mission and a the duty of your faith and I have great respect for it. I hope that people are kind to you today.”

It was a sincere hope and a prayer I said all day. For the sake of that precious boy in his little suit, his heart out on his sleeve, his feet walking his faith. It’s easy for people to be mean, especially here and now. The hopeful brightness in that child’s eyes were too perfect. It wouldn’t take that many door slams or mean words to diminish them a bit.

The act of their coming up my driveway has stuck with me all weekend. The faithful, patient, diligent duty of it all. Two people, vulnerable for different reasons in this world, going door-to-door with Bible in hand, hope in their hearts. I admire them because this is a thing I know I don’t have the spirit to do. Neither for my faith nor for my party nor for any of my favorite causes have I made myself vulnerable by going door-to-door and speaking to my neighbors.

I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier.

But I’m haunted by this, because soldiers are necessary right now. Van Jones, who I mixed feelings for, put up a reminder on Facebook over the weekend: “There will be no blue wave without blue WORK. Until your feed is filled with friends saying how tired they are from working the phone bank all day, or how sore they are from doing some neighborhood canvasing, this wave in November isn’t going to happen.” He thinks we’re on track for a bust in November. He thinks we’re on track to see Agent Orange reelected in 2020.

It is a dire warning, one I want to disagree with, but I don’t think his opinion is terribly off. We all have parts to play.

Soul is not enough.

What I’m grateful for is the quiet lesson taught by example by two vulnerable neighbors who came up my driveway not knowing who would answer. They did it because they are asked to, because doing so is a tenant of their faith practice. What we value requires our time and dedication, our vulnerability and our diligence. As I write every Friday, doing this shines a bit of light in the darkness and makes space for others to try and do and shine as well. In this case, I see an example and a pathway to do my own courageous work on behalf of my values. I’m going to be more physically politically active this cycle, as scary as that feels to me. I won’t just write or give money, I’ll make calls and… with strength and courage, even knock on a few doors.

Because it matters. What I value matters. The lives on the border matter. Immigrant lives and the lives of all people of color matter. Black lives matter. My boys matter. My life matters. So I will stand for them, and do the work for them. The world I want requires work to create.

This is a Monday in summertime. The green and the warmth, the carefree laughter of children, the easy flow of booze and no-thought television… it can dull the sensation of that uneasy feeling you’ve got in your gut, Dear Reader. It’s so easy to forget it all when you’re comfortable, or when you’re busy getting ready for vacation, or when you’re laying on the beach and all your cares are finally, finally melting away…

I don’t suggest that you give up those opportunities to heal and rest and be… I just ask that when you come back anew, you commit to doing one thing. One important thing. Choose a bit of work. Be vulnerable, be courageous, be tenacious, be relentless…

Your world won’t come without your work.

Until Wednesday, Dear Reader, take care.

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