Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Welcome, Wildebeests

*Originally published on November 14, 2015.  After the horrific events that occurred in Orlando early Sunday morning, I couldn't help but come back to this piece.  Friends, at some point, if we ever want this madness to end, we have to be willing to stretch.  After Sunday I feel it.  I feel that desire to stretch my arms out in either direction towards my fellow person so much, and so far, that it might feel as if my soul is daring to escape the cage of my body.  This is the work we have to do, friends.  Because this isn't about guns, or chicken sandwiches that were donated.  This is about people.  Today it's about our people who are the baby Wildebeests.  The LGBTQ Community needs us, now, in this moment, and we need them.  Friends, let's be willing to get uncomfortable for the sake of us all.  Let's stretch ourselves.  Let's all attempt to put aside our pride so we can see the persons standing in front of us.  That is the work of Jesus.  That is our work to do.

via Wikimedia Commons

My husband, Dearest, and I abandoned our tv cable subscription eons ago.  I'm not going to pretend this doesn't continue to hurt my heart a little every time I mention it.  Quite the opposite.  I believe I am less of a person without cable's trashy influence over my life.  And by "less of,"  I mean probably better.  I hate admitting that because watching people on reality television talk blatantly scripted trash about one another is my love language. 
ANYWAY, in an effort to salve my war torn heart, we have a subscription to Netflix.  And because I make sense, we watch a lot of deep, sometimes philosophical, documentaries. 
"About what?" you ask.  And I'll tell you- all the things.  We like to be Jacks of all Knowledge, we Keanes. 
One night Dearest turned on a documentary about animals in Africa.  I mean, I think the title was something like that.  I'm not really sure.  Anyhow, I finally stopped trolling Facebook for the night to pay attention.  The narrator was describing this massive wildebeest migration to the Serengeti.
Now, for those of you who don't know, the Serengeti is apparently the really rad place where all the African mammals are like, "Woo Hoo! Serengeti time!  The grass is tasty, there's room to run, and we can have our babies there!" 
And they do.  They all go.  Every year.  It's one giant Wildebeest/Zebra/Antelope party.
Which is great. 
Until the predators show up.
There was this one cheetah who just waltzed on in there with her seven little baby cheetahs and started casing the place- you know, just deciding who she was going to pick off first. 
She was greedy. 
She was hungry. 
She was out for herself.
The wildebeests just let her be for a time.  They just kept on eating their grass- ignoring her.  All 200,000 of them.  They just stood there and let her do her thing. 
Until they couldn't.
Mama Cheetah got into gear and decided that it was time.  It was time for food.
So, she chased a few of them, until she landed on a brand new, fresh baby wildebeest.  That was that.  It was over.  She and her cubs dined that day. 
The wildebeests were one less.
In that moment, I commented to Dearest how unfair and odd the world is at times.  Because in that moment, the cheetah was incredibly out numbered.  She and her cubs were actually sitting ducks, but no one seemed to notice that.  In that moment it was not the wildebeest who should have been afraid, but the cheetah.  If only a handful of those wildebeests had decided that the cheetah was to be no more, then she and her babies would have been no more. 

It was not too long ago that I had my eldest child, Eldest, and I started on the journey of a lifetime.  I had no idea that the having the child part would only be the start of the difficulty.  What I mean is I had no idea that I had no idea.  You know what I'm sayin'?!  I had no idea HOW tired I was going to be.  I had no idea HOW much he would scream.  I had no idea HOW much my heart would hurt listening to him scream while I was so exhausted, but knowing that I could do nothing for him because everything had already been done and he just would not.quit.crying.
I had no idea.
I call this, "the bad place." After I visit with a new mama, Dearest often asks how they are coping with their new role.  Sometimes I reply, "I think they're in the bad place," and we immediately share a silent look that is a prayer going up for that mama and her family.  Because we know of those dark days.  We can still hear them, taste them, smell them, and feel them.  They were hard.  They were too much. 
They were a time that we almost belonged to the cheetah.

But then came the wildebeests.
There was Katey.  She told me I was not alone in the biggest way.
There was Julia.  She told me I was not alone in the most consistent and life giving way.
There was my mom.  There was my mother-in-law. There was Cathy.
This handful of wildebeests saved my life.
They saved my family's life.

Watching the documentary, I could not help but draw a parallel to all of the evil in the world with the cheetah- terrorist acts, bullying, corruption, etc.  The cheetah is out for herself.  The cheetah is out for her own agenda.  The cheetah will make sure she preys on the weakest, so the strongest are afraid to fight back.
  I also could not help but think of the majority of people as wandering wildebeests, myself included.  Although, what if we stopped lazily waiting for destruction to hit us, our families, our lives, but instead rose up for the cause of one another?  What if we woke up for that?  For our brothers and sisters in HUMANITY?  What if we did that? 
What would this place actually look like?
And so I'm trying.  I'm waking up.  I want you to join me.
I hope that Different is Different will be a place where you can laugh, cry, and so often say, "Me too!"  Because we are not alone in this life.  We are in this together.
Come as you are.  You are welcome here, wildebeest.


  1. This is powerful and so timely this week! I have had the same thoughts and am inspired to step out and wake up for those moments of helping and protecting our fellow "wildebeest."

  2. This is powerful and so timely this week! I have had the same thoughts and am inspired to step out and wake up for those moments of helping and protecting our fellow "wildebeest."

    1. Right?! All of our fellow wildebeests are worth it!!