Do you have “that” drawer? You know the one – it’s filled with the most valuable stuff you can imagine, value perhaps that the rest of the world doesn’t see quite so easily, but you do. It’s the stuff that really supersedes any qualitative categorization to fit neatly in any other drawer. When I open my “that” drawer, I’m usually looking for that thing that I know I saved, but I can’t remember where I put it, but I remember thinking that at some point I would probably need it, so rather than throw it away, I put it someplace. It’s that ball of loose string, that extra pair of gloves just in case, a knick-knack that doesn’t fit anywhere but you love because someone you love gave it to you. It’s those snapshots taken on that old camera that you used to have to drop rolls of film into, and maybe even that old camera itself. It’s a certificate you received for attending an event that really didn’t do much for your life or career but you went. It’s your old varsity letter for playing on a team or a medal for finishing a race, or a ribbon for showing a calf or sewing an apron. It’s those two puzzle pieces that wound up on the floor underneath the table where you put the puzzle together that fell down there without you noticing until two months later when you were vacuuming and you picked them up because if you ever put that puzzle together again you know how anxious you will feel the rest of your life if two pieces are missing and it can’t be completed. Yeah, it’s that drawer. Really – two months later was when I was vacuuming? Snort.
Sometimes we get all organizey and think we should sort through that stuff and find places to put it so that drawer can be put to more appropriate use. Plus sorting and separating would make it much more efficient to find that hard to find thing right when we need it and how much extra time would we have in life if we weren’t always searching for that thing we need to fix something we need to fix or tape something we need to tape or scrapbook something we need to scrapbook and after hours of going through that drawer to find it we lose the energy to actually do the thing we were looking for it to do anyway.
Life would just be easier if everything fit – if we didn’t need to have that drawer…or that social service…or that school bond…or that mandate for accessibility…or that budget line item for mental health…or that program for early childhood education…or that fear about gun violence…or that discussion about white privilege…or that awkward conversation about rape culture…or that Supreme Court decision…or that maximum speed limit when you’re in the middle of nowhere in northwest Kansas and no one else is driving a vehicle in a radius of 100 miles and the road is straight and there are no trees and you have the need for speed…ummmm, I digress.
That’s the problem really, isn’t it? That life, or more to the point, people and their ways of being, won’t fit into neatly organized categories so that we can find the exact tools to fix them so that they will stop being and doing and talking about stuff that clearly makes us and anyone who agrees with us uncomfortable. We generally don’t have a problem with diversity, it’s just when people won’t stay in the defined categories into which we decide they should fit and be happy and quiet and try to get along like the rest of us are doing that causes the problems.
I travelled to Lincoln, Nebraska last weekend for the consecration of our new Bishop and because I went a day early, stayed in a local hotel. As I was walking up to the door to check in, a man walking up behind me said, “let me get that door for you, darlin’”. I turned and looked at him with a brief smile and thanked him. We walked on in and were waiting at the front desk, and he said, “what’s a nice girl like you doing in a town like this all alone?” This time I turned and looked at him square in the eye and suggested he not make the mistake of assuming I was alone, that my business in Lincoln was none of his, and that I would appreciate him respecting me and I would try and do the same. At which point he sneeringly suggested that he was just trying to make conversation and that it’s women like me that give sweet women a bad name.
I’ve travelled alone many times in my life. I know how to be aware and I’ve learned to trust when the hair on the back of my neck stands up that I’m in the company of someone who is not safe. Upwards of five years ago, I would have used my sense of humor and my verbal skills to deflect this man’s conversation in a way that would have appeased him, stroked his ego a bit, and in its own way, degraded my right to feel both safe and respected as a woman making my way in the world. I’m no longer willing to do that. I’m done. Just. Done.
So now I guess I fit in “that” drawer. You know the one, where we put stuff that refuses to fit into any neat and organizey kind of category. And I’m guessing you may fit there, too. That maybe all of God’s children fit in to “that” drawer, you know, that one that’s not so easily defined by stereotypical roles assigned because of gender, or race, or ability, or sexuality, or class, or age, or ethnicity, or religion, or maybe even political persuasion. And if we all somehow fit in that drawer where we put stuff that doesn’t really fit any neatly defined category, maybe our commonality comes from the respect and kindness we have in the recognition that we’re the same in our vulnerable and messy different-ness.
You know what I found when I opened that drawer to take a picture? A replica of an old converse high-top tennis shoe that Ivy Hey gave me one Sunday at Baldwin 1st after I’d done a children’s sermon wearing my Kelly green high-top tennis shoes from Jr. High. I love that! Because I love Ivy, and I love my time at Baldwin 1st, and I love my Kelly green high-top tennis shoes. There ARE valuable things in “that” drawer – I hope you love what you find!