As I was walking down the streets of Chiapas, nearing the end of our trip in June, I remember turning to Professor Chris and saying, with an overwhelming feeling of helplessness, “How in the world am I supposed to share everything I’ve learned here? If I’m giving a sermon, what can I say that will move people’s hearts—when I only have twenty minutes to speak?”
She smiled, and I knew I was not nearly the first person to voice this concern. “You don’t,” she said simply. “You don’t try to share everything. You pick one thing, and you share that. And then the next time you pick another piece, and you share that. Don’t stress over trying to share the whole story; you’ll only drive yourself crazy.”
Professor Chris was right, of course. So I followed her advice. In my sermon, I focused on one morning of our trip. In the blog, I tried to include a balance between overview and detail. In conversation, I answered people’s questions without trying to make them relive the entire trip with me.
When I was in Chiapas, Phoenix wasn’t even a blip on my radar. But now that I’ve returned from Phoenix, I’m trying to keep up the practice of following Professor Chris’s advice; I try to limit myself to what my audience is ready to hear, and I trust that when they are ready to hear more, they will let me know.
So far, I have talked to people about the lessons I’ve learned in civil disobedience, human rights, the state of our prisons and justice system, immigration, oppression, the civil rights movement. But these topics, much to my surprise, have not been the most difficult lessons to impart. My conversation partners have not always agreed with me, and this has led to some very thought-provoking discussions, but I feel I was at least able to get them to see where I was coming from.
The hardest lesson to share, either in person or through written media, the lesson that has met with the most resistance, has been the simple message that we are all related; the loving message that you are my sister, my brother; the honest message that the only way to build a world of peace is to build loving relationships. Somehow, this burning truth that underlies everything else I’ve been trying to say—somehow, it gets lost in translation.
Right now, my friends, this is what I’m struggling with. The hardest lesson: love one another.