-Submitted by Susie George, an attendee of the first Damascus Project course
We are living in tumultuous, frightening times. It can be hard to find and hold on to hope. And we know, hope is sometimes all we have. And, in those times, it is enough to keep us moving.
Recently I have been wondering, trying to figure out what can be done and how can we turn this ship around. It is a huge question. And I need to step closer and find out what is MY PART to do in these days.
This personal quest really got my attention this past August when I answered the call from the Southwest Conference for people to join in a “Faithful Action at the Border.” I have been to the border on trips very much like this one many times. I have been working on issues of Immigration for years. This time at the border was very different. It seemed suddenly like being at the border and meeting all these amazing people and learning about all that is going on with relation to the immigration crisis was no longer enough. What did that mean?
Two weeks later I found myself sitting in the first class of the Damascus Project. The course is called Discerning God’s Call in a Changing World. From that moment on, I have been on a journey to listen and watch for what my next right step will be. We are reading some powerful books in this course. (Perhaps I am reading more books than others in the class. J )
In the book Grounded by Diane Butler Bass there was a line that caught my attention. I won’t set up all the back ground for you here (you’ll have to read the book yourself). She said, “If hell has moved into the neighborhood, perhaps heaven has moved in right next door as well.” I love that thought! As a neighbor of heaven, I can choose to act like heaven rather than hell. If that is true, and I believe it is, how does that change me? How does that change how I am in the world and how I act?
In mid-October I found myself back in Tucson where I was invited to volunteer at an emergency shelter that was set up in response to ICE stating that it would release hundreds of migrants from custody onto the streets of Tucson and Phoenix. I was working with Rincon UCC in what was quickly becoming a bustling, welcoming and thoughtful shelter. I was honored to be working with these amazing volunteers doing God’s work of loving our neighbor. And I was one of them! Is this what I should be doing? It certainly felt right. I do not (yet) speak Spanish. And Spanish isn’t the first language of many of the “guests” to the shelter. And still we were able to communicate. I met people and helped them out of the ICE vans and watched as, within a few hours, and after getting water and food and health care they began to relax and realize they were safe at this place.
So, where am I now on this journey? Well, thankfully, the class isn’t over. I am sitting in Minneapolis, going to work, and sending thoughts and prayers to the hundreds of people volunteering and the hundreds of people they serve. I know there is a next right step for me here. I am trying to be prayerful and careful in discerning what that might be.
All of this is to say that this discernment course through the Damascus Project is just exactly what I needed (even though I didn’t know I needed it) and exactly when I needed it. It gives a framework and grounding to my process. So, I am anxious, and honestly a bit nervous, about answering God’s call in this Changing World.