Phew, it’s been awhile since I last wrote! There are a couple of reasons for that: 1) I try to write when I have something decent to say, and 2) I’ve actually been quite busy! As far as the busy part goes, I was out of town this weekend to celebrate the birthdays of three of my friends from camp – one being my co-counselor from the summer, Math. It was so wonderful! In all honesty, I was really nervous about spending a year in DC. At first glance, it wasn’t my ideal place to live, and I had my heart set on Seattle. But I have been quite blessed to be so close to so many wonderful friends as well as many family members! College in Iowa really separated me from familiarity, so it was quite a treat to party with about twenty of my friends from camp!
Really, not too many things make me happier than playing guitar with Math. We broke out into some good old camp songs – Trading My Sorrows, Grace Like Rain… and yelled for crowd participation on a classic entitled “We Shall Not Be Moved”. Math taught me this song, which I suppose I should have known already, and it was immediately fun to play! Not only that, but it was also quite an empowering song from a social justice perspective… much of how I’ve spent my year so far. Just like a tree planted by the water, we shall not be moved!
So as I said, I tend to prefer blogging when I actually have something mildly profound to say. But rather than one big speech to give tonight, I’d really just like to catch up on a number of little things that have moved or affected me in one way or another over the past several days:
Thursday night, I spent the night in the Luther Place Night Shelter with my friend John. The night shelter is on the 4th floor of Luther Place Memorial Church (where I work), and has 31 beds for homeless women. It is essentially the first step in the N-Street Village homeless shelter. Women come into the night shelter around 4:30pm and have to leave by 7:30am the next morning, at which point they can spend their day in the day shelter at N-Street. Some women stay in the night shelter every night for up to a year, as they try to move on to the next step of their lives. Every night, the night shelter needs two volunteers to spend the night, making sure the ladies follow the rules and have a safe night. I must say that I was a little apprehensive to spend the night. I feel so young, so little, and so inexperienced! I was sure that I would not be respected. Au contraire! These women were so fun and loving! We were there for such a short period of time, but it was enough time to see them work together, do chores, enjoy community, and show responsibility. I thought it might be saddening to see such poverty, but it was quite the opposite; these women are working hard, and I really felt overjoyed to be there supporting them! The bad news is I got very little sleep that night (lock up around midnight, lights on at 6am!). Nevertheless, I can’t wait to go back!
On a completely different note, there’s Ramadan. Boy oh boy is there a lot to say about Ramadan! The first week was hard, definitely. The second week was much easier (in terms of feeling more used to an empty stomach). But I tell you what… fasting really helps you to become aware of what you’re putting into your body. I, for one, have never thought twice about what I’m eating! Iron, protein… what the heck does that even mean?! I never cared…until about a week ago. One night, I broke my fast with Five Guys: big greasy burger, tons of fries, and a coke. Sounds delicious, right? Well it was. Then I topped it off with a sugar cookie… …and felt immediately nauseous! I had to go to bed right away, it was terrible! The next day, I spent quite a bit of time googling phrases like “Is Ramadan bad for you?” or “Ramadan +diet” or “Ramadan +drink water”. I learned a lot about the importance of one’s diet during Ramadan. Fasting could be really bad for you…IF you don’t eat the right foods. I read that you should steer clear of grease, caffeine, and sugar. Whoops! Well, I decided I had to clean up my act and be more conscious of how I was breaking my fast, realizing that perhaps the foods I enjoy – greasy, unhealthy food – may not be so good for you after all. What a disappointment. So my routine of eating a healthy dinner around sunset continued, and week 2 was much, MUCH better. That is to say, until Friday night. As I said, I went to visit a few friends at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. I hadn’t eaten all day (and didn’t get much sleep at the night shelter the previous night), and rather than breaking my fast with a nice healthy meal, I snacked for awhile instead. I quickly realized that this was NOT sufficient. I felt very faint and dizzy, and had to grab some dinner and go to bed. Perhaps all of this sounds scary or unhealthy, but to be honest… I’m really enjoying being in a physical state that is slightly fragile, as it’s teaching me more about my body and the way I should be treating it. (Which is, perhaps, not the way I have been treating it over the years…)
Lastly (for now), I must share a sentence or five about my newest achievement! Today I led the first-ever rehearsal of the N-Street choir of homeless ladies! I am going to be leading choir rehearsals for an hour a week as an activity that the ladies can sign up for (they must have so many activities in order to earn the services of the shelter). About ten ladies showed up today, and we sang Amazing Grace and talked about how wonderful the lyrics are! I am so excited to be more involved at N-Street, especially when it comes to sharing the gifts of music I’ve been given!
It seems like there is so much more to say, but this is getting far too lengthy. I have yet to go into much detail about my job, and talking about my dance lessons is a must! Soon and very soon…