Right now, that's what I'm feeling this last few months and especially weeks has been about. Discovering courage. It's Friday night in a shabby motel in a corner of Oakland that my father would never have subjected his family to. I recall accompanying him, driving illegal immigrant farm workers to Mass in the station wagon on Satruday evenings, but I know he was also very careful. We never saw gang violence (even though we went to school in Santa Ana), if we ever saw prostitutes or pimps I certainly don't remember, and I do know he'd get back on the freeway without filling up if he didn't like the look of a neighborhood and its gas station.
So what sort of courage am I considering? The courage to be alert to the intelligences that aren't part of my gray matter. The courage to look at what is real, to see beyond my preconceptions, and notice that yes, it's rougher than I'm familiar with here, but still good.
It's 2:30 am and it's quiet. I hear the random, infrequent sounds of people having fun (real fun, not some twisted notion like adolescent boys sometimes get on lazy summer afternons when a hapless dog wanders by), but nothing scary. There are lots of folk around who are clearly keeping an eye out for trouble. We stand out like sore thumbs, but I can't help that. We had dinner in a small ill-kept restaurant last night, and the mistrust of us was so thick I could scarcely breathe. But we presented no judgment, and pretty soon restaurateur family members began to come back out of the woodwork and get back to the business of being family.
I'm considering the courage it takes to fight for your neighborhood. To stand up to thugs. To hire a patrol service for a shabby motel, and to call it when there's a hint of trouble. My blog friend Lime is starting to face this kind of courage.
I'm considering the courage my children are showing, living without a kitchen, getting their homework done in spite of not having a desk to work at, making plans for the new bedrooms they will have, bickering not with malice but rather to strengthen each other.
I'm considering Xena's courage, as her dream of getting a college degree seems to slip yet again from her grasp, yet she chooses to motor on and work for a promotion as well as to keep alive her relationship with her children.
I'm considering my own courage, to dance out along this limb, to say yes to the abundance of God's plan for me and these beautiful people.