Happy to be linking up with SheLoves Magazine today on their Heritage series.
We were in the basement of a teahouse. It was a blessed funky place, quiet and an almost secret space for the nine of us to meet. Each of us shared brief introductions; you know, the ones that try to capture in less than ninety seconds who you are and why they should like you. It was my turn. I spoke briefly about my family and some vague specifics about myself, mentioning I’m a mother to a multiracial family. I don’t always mention that. I did that night because I felt safe with these eight people. I don’t always. Opening the topic of race and culture can be dangerous with groups you don’t really know. But this is what we had gathered to do – to share from our perspective about becoming a living, breathing, functional, and loving diverse community. So I listened carefully while each shared from their heritage and perspective about living fully in the light. Japanese, Latina, Chinese, African-American, White, and Bi-Racial – our heritage diverse and alive and speaking out loud in that basement.
Asked about culture at home and how we live into it I shared how my family celebrates Croatian, Swedish, Irish, German, Korean and Jamaican culture. And I said,
We are a hot mess.
That got a laugh. Sometimes I laugh out loud at the mess we’ve made. Our home is a jumble of Croatian and Korean vocabulary words; Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day celebrations; Reggae and Oom-pah music. My children feast on Gimbap, Burek, and Crepes and sometimes my six-year-old thinks she is Korean because her sister is, and sometimes my four-year-old thinks he is Jamaican because his sister is, and well, it can become a confusing maze of teaching and explaining. But when all is said and done, ultimately honoring.
And it’s the honoring part that has got me thinking so deeply about heritage. I am at times painfully aware of my heritage and how it can whisper in my ear shaping my acceptance or rejection of the world around me. I seek to understand my husband’s son-of-an-immigrant heritage and how it forms his opinion of those around him. Our understanding of the world pushing and pulling my children as they bring their own heritage to the table. And I pray and I hope that all of it combined whispers words of understanding and acceptance. Its in this wild mix – our wild mix – that I begin to consider the richness that is our family. Our interwoven, knit together, unbreakable heritage all swirled together and dumped out in our home to revel in. What a lovely mess we have made. Lovely indeed. This piece of heritage inherited, yes, but this piece cannot be taken from them.
There is another piece though, and this one is too easily stolen. This I want to give to my children as an inheritance – to listen, to consider, to learn, and to speak with others openly about race, culture; heritage. To be open to hear another’s story, and to be humble enough to receive that story as a gift even when it is vastly different than what you expected it to be. This piece of heritage perhaps most important; this gospel living, light loving, gap standing heritage. This is the gift of heritage I will bring my children and lay at their feet like an offering. A heritage prayer that they will live among. This kind of listening and storied living can be difficult, even dangerous. But it will leave their souls stronger, first to understand themselves and then to seek to understand others. This dual heritage I bestow.
So as I think back to that basement conversation with warm hearts all around I wish I could change what I said. I would say instead,
We are a beautiful mess.