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FISSURE: A Life Between Cultures

A HOLIDAY LETTER: A Guest Post by Sarah Couch

My friend Janet shared with me her daughter Sarah's holiday letter to the people she loves. I was deeply touched by it, because it so beautifully and truthfully embraces the hard and the tender, the warmth and the cold in our lives. It reminds me of the central importance of hospitality. I'm grateful to Sarah for her willingness to share this letter with you. The only thing I changed was to remove her daughter's name.




Dear People I Love,
I saw my nephew today. I drove down to meet him near where the bus from the homeless shelter drops him off. I couldn't find him at the meeting spot so called. He reminded me he can't stand in front of buildings, even if he is waiting to meet his aunt, because they will say he is loitering or they will call the police because they are uncomfortable with how his delusions express themselves through his body and words. He stood, instead, in the gutter, and waited for my minivan to turn the corner and legitimize his right to take up space in our community. 
It is harsh, right?  Why would I start my holiday letter like that?  Should I not be telling stories more joy filled and hopeful?  Shouldn't my words be full of all the good things from the year, like the puppy we adopted from the pound in February, and the new chickens whose feathers shine silver when the rays of the sun hit them at the right angle, and the growth and changes in my business?  Shouldn't I tell you about my daughter and how she has lost all her front teeth and has a toothless grin that lights up a room, or about the way her body fills with pride when she reads all the words in a book, or about her brilliance and her understanding of numbers and how she counts by 1s and 10s and 20s? 
And maybe it is age, or maybe it is experience, or maybe it's just real. All of it. I can't pretend that driving down the street and seeing the impact of poverty and drug use doesn't impact me. I can't deny that watching people wake up on street corners, and listening to people tell stories of hopelessness and overdose and suicide and terror doesn't create some heaviness in my breathing, a weight on my heart. I can't ignore that wars, and hate, and injustice and inhumanity fly around in ways that strike me at my core and make me afraid. Concurrently, I can't pretend I am not inspired by the ways bulbs break through the soil to welcome spring, or the way water sounds as it trickles through a creek and down a rock in the mountains. I can't ignore how people stop to create moments of connection, or how people offer themselves up to support a cause, or how neighbors can surround each other to create an oasis of lights to buffer the early darkness of winter. I can't deny the way the cold morning air hits my lungs with piercing clarity reminding me I am alive. I am alive. And with my history of depression and feelings of hopelessness and desire to sometimes not be alive, I say again, I am alive. And I'm here for all of this.

So I hope this letter finds you alive. And I hope this holiday season is full of amazing moments of joy and light in the darkness and families and friends and good food and sleeping in and funny movies and delicious treats and long hours spent in nature. And I hope, also, there are moments where you feel the empty grief of your loved one who is no longer here, and the sweet sadness of watching the children in your life grow up and grow into their own true selves, and that you feel longing and fear and maybe a little bit of terror, so you can fully embrace the closeness and hope and moments of safety and calm. I hope all of this for you. And I am so very grateful you are part of our life.





Sarah owns her business, which provides social work services to children in the Albuquerque Public Schools.

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