There are days when I crawl into a dark closet, close the door, and doubt the realities of my experience.
When I am there I ask myself if this recently-endowed nickname, Funlaina, is an ironic jab at my pain-in-the-assness. I don't find myself to be a very fun person very often. I am mostly mourning and lamenting underneath my pink fleshy walls, I think that surely everyone can see that.
When I am in that dark place, I wonder if everyone sees me as jerk: willing to confront every issue, arrogant in my abilities to do something about it, and fully incapable of actually seeing the real people who live in this thing I've made an issue. Or I wonder if everyone has found me out: that I am a immature, goofy youth minister posing as a serious graduate student, that I will laugh at fart jokes and I will pretend to know something about Karl Barth if you ask me.
I wonder if my activist-friends have figured out that the only thing I know how to do is print nametags and order food and that I don't know anything about community organizing except that I read a biography about Ella Baker and think she was amazing. I wonder if my roommates will know how deeply insecure I am that I have imposed my student-hood on them, eating the food they make for dinner without cleaning up and asking for rides to school on a weekly basis. I wonder if my friends in other places are sick of never hearing from me and have decided that I don't love them anymore. I wonder if my friends in town feel like I've abandoned them when they need me for an inconsequential paper. I wonder if my family thinks that I am the black sheep that has wandered away from them in pursuit of a ridiculous dream.
I don't go to this place often. It isn't pleasant, but it exists. I can't assume that it is the sort of place that exists underneath everyone's fleshy walls, but I have a sense that it is within some of us. We don't talk about it because it makes us seem weak and fragile and exposes us to the wolves. Nevertheless, when I go there, I have to talk myself out of it: slowly, gingerly, carefully, with tea, long runs, repetitive readings of Psalm 147, and tears. There are always tears.
When I talk to my friends and my colleagues and my family about this place, the initial reaction is something like, "Hush now, little baby, don't say a word." Then on occasion, there is admission of mutuality, that this place is a shared space, a community center where everyone is hoveled into tiny closests, hiding behind the old smelly and abandoned coats.
When someone tells me that they've been there, that they know exactly the smell and the coats and the thoughts that I am talking about, when they nod and breathe deeply and give me a hug, the door of the closet cracks open. Ever so slightly.
This post was crafted alongside my synchroblogging friends on the topic of "Community." Their words pushed me to share my own. May they do likewise for you.