It takes a village

I really suck at this blogging thing.

Aside from that, today was a great Sabbath. My great friends, Gregg and Cyndi, had their baby dedicated today so I went to their church and enjoyed so much being a part of the intention of raising this kid we call Brennan Brave Hampton. I'm a big supporter of the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. And we felt like one, too, as we gathered on the left side of the church behind Gregg and Cyn - us people asked to "sponsor" and love and grow Brennan up to be a good boy and a better man. The church should've tipped a bit. We were a heavy village.

This past week I went home to NY to spend Thanksgiving with the fam. I joined up with an old and very good friend. We've known each other since we were 3 and our parents collectively raised us. We went to the hospital Wednesday night to visit her father-in-law in ICU. He passed the moment she arrived at his door. The family was called and we waited for them to arrive. The wife came with her two foster children, 4 and 6. Why could she think she would be good and qualified to raise them at her grand and respectable age of 80 something? Becuase she wouldn't be the only one offering direction and care... it would be the whole community.

As this family gathering was playing itself out, the wife and her daughter needed to step out. The two boys and their pepsi's were placed in one office-furniture chair next to me with the instructions, directed at me... "You yell at them if you need to", "Boys, you listen to this lady if she speaks to you." I'm an adult, somehow connected in some way - clearly I'm trustworthy and at that point in time, was a member of the village - therefore, I was to be heeded if I spoke.

The teacher in me whipped out a packet of colored pens and drawing paper from my magic satchel and we set off to create monsters and creatures not yet discovered. After Shaka had traced his sweet little hand and learned how to write his name he enjoyed expending his energy on large and fast strokes of the pens. The other was much more meticulous and clearly, and honestly, was quite creative with what he had.

People came in and out. A large community came and I noticed that when someone was not occupied with a family member, offering condolences or discussing, they were offering words of instruction to the children because, well, that's what you do. Children need not go too long without hearing the voice of some elder in their lives.

After the the evening was over, at least in the hospital, and many hugs were offered, "God bless you" was shared in abundance, and we moved like a tribe to the elevator, I said to my friend, "This is one of the things I love about the Black Community, they know what it means to be a family, even when they're not. They know how to take care of each other and they know how to be a "village", as it were." I remember thinking when one of the other adults spoke up to one of the boys about what they're were doing "We don't see much of this among us white folk" because white folk don't do this... and if they do, people get offended. We tend to be isolated and independent, to a fault. When another adult speaks to a child, offense is taken and often a "this is my territory" look is given. Ridiculous.

I liked today for so many reasons, but today was so good to see these friends of mine say, "we realize we can't do this alone. We need all of you behind not only us, but we need each one of you to be committed to our kid because we don't have everthing he needs... but hopefully one of us in this group does. And if we're lucky and blessed, you'll all be around at some stage of this precious kid's life and we give you permission to help shape him as you see fit." I just think that's cool. I think it's reflective of Jesus' kingdom, the one I hope to see happen here on earth.

So, Good Sabbath, good thoughts for my heart today.

Thanks Gregg and Cyndi and Brennan for letting me be a part of today.


kate said...

great post jenn. it was an awesome day. it is such a privilege to be invited into brennan's life in that capacity. what a great bit of community to get to take part in.

Anonymous said...

Jenn, I think I agree with your village child raising thing. But tell me, did you ever stop to think that although it takes a village to raise a child, it may take a Village Inn to feed a child? That is, if this child wants a funny face pancake, which happens to be one of the fabulous child menu items offered by Village Inn.

I just got paid $5 for this post!