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Posted on May 21st, 2013 | Filed under Community, Featured, News, Topic of the Week
Tagged with , , , , , ,

This image is being passed around social media in a show of solidarity with the people of Oklahoma

Home is a concept that has little to do with a physical building, but everything to do with the emotional, psychological and spiritual space that we each occupy. We live in this space no matter where we are geographically, and no matter what dwelling we inhabit.

Still, there is something to be said about the physical structure that becomes a home. It is a place where multiple people occupy tangible and emotional space together and are tied to it by common memories.

When you lose this place – the building that you call “home” – you lose the memories, the connections and comforts that are necessarily contained in that physical place. But you do not lose the inner space that is really home. In fact, you expand it to include people that were previously separated from you by walls and miles, and suddenly thousands of people are occupying that space with you.

For most of us, the inner home that is with you no matter where you are is linked to a physical, geographical place. It is where you took your first steps, laughed and celebrated with your family, and to where you always return when the world is too harsh, too demanding and too exhausting.

Oklahoma is my home. I was born and raised here, and my family currently lives in Norman, Oklahoma. Norman is about 5 miles south of Moore, Oklahoma on Interstate 35.

If you have been watching the news in the last 48 hours, you know that hundreds of families in Moore, Oklahoma lost their houses in an absolutely devastating storm on May 20th, 2013. Many of those have lost those loved ones and their lives will never be the same again.

But, these people are not without a home. Oklahoma, the United States and the global community are coming together to give those in Moore, Shawnee, and all places in Oklahoma who have been affected by this most recent string of violent storms, a home while their houses are rebuilt and while their hearts are healing.

Please be a part of this effort. There are instructions below for ways to donate to the relief effort here in Oklahoma. But, please, remember that these families need more than basic supplies to survive this ordeal. They need a home.

Make room in that emotional space that you call home for these people who so desperately need to be connected, to be listened to and understood, who need someone to hold them while they cry and most of all, who need to know that they have a home.

 ____________________________________________________________________________

How to help:

-          Visit www.redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the relief effort.

-          Text STORM to 80888 to donate $10 to the Salvation Army relief effort.

-          If you are in Oklahoma, please make donations of diapers, clothes, packaged foods and bottled water to your local Food Bank, Salvation Army or RedCross donation center. Also, the University of Oklahoma is accepting similar donations for those in their housing facilities.

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6 Responses to “Home”

  1. Susan Butterworth says:

    “Please remember that these families need more than basic supplies to survive this ordeal. They need a home.” Ms. Taylor goes to the heart of pastoral care with these words. It is very good to donate money to the Red Cross and diapers to the homeless shelter. True pastoral care, however, is a matter of seeing and listening to stories of woundedness and loss. A healing ministry is a matter of offering a home to a homeless heart. I’m reminded of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which we might take as a metaphor for both interfaith hospitality and for offering true pastoral care. The good neighbor is the one who sees woundedness and takes the time to take the injured man to an inn – a home. It’s certainly not a coincidence that the origin of the word “hospitality” is the Latin “hospes” meaning host, guest, or stranger. Hospitality is offering a safe haven, a home to the stranger. We can offer a home, regardless of whether we’re in Oklahoma, by opening our hearts and listening to the stranger’s story.

  2. Allana, your presentation of “home” is thoughtful and relates to the practice of “presence.” Having worked with home-challenged (homeless) folks for many years, I would only suggest that we need to be careful about spiritualizing the human need, human right, for adequate shelter. I was troubled by your opening line that home had “little to do” with the physical, but I hear your point. A truly compassionate, inclusive response to the (daily) tragedy of lost homes has to offer both physical and emotional stability. Thank you.

  3. Susan Butterworth says:

    This is a both/and. The home-challenged need both material shelter and spiritual support.

  4. I’m with you, Susan, yet cautious about the “spiritual support” element. The Salvation Army offers that. Evangelical agencies and congregations offer that. My question is, when does the “spiritual support” become the be-all and end-all of helping? This connects to one critique of Mother Teresa, who “helped the poor” because she saw them as “Jesus in distressing disguise.” I look upon that kind of “spiritual support” as self-serving and self-righteous. Why can’t people simply help when others need help and in the manner in which they need assistance, without “doing it for the Lord”? Of course, everyone has an agenda. But I’ve seen too many abuses of “serving others to serve God” to take this lightly. In fact, the potential for dehumanizing by spiritualizing is pretty upsetting.

  5. Susan Butterworth says:

    I hear you, Chris. When self-serving “spiritual support” is about the needs of the giver rather than the needs of those who need help, it’s condescending and worse. But it can go the other way too. It’s easier to drop a check in the mail (okay those checks are important yes please do drop them in the mail) than it is to really see and listen. And there are some who aren’t able to give material support but could be great at offering healing to the heart, just by being a good listener and offering a few well-chosen, appropriate words of support.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on home with us and for reminding us that while much physical aid is needed, emotional aid is even more imperative. It’s a great reminder that our home is more than simply a physical dwelling, and yet at the same time, the physicality of where we are stationed remains important.

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Allana Taylor completed her Masters degree in Divinity at the University of Chicago in 2012 and is currently living in Norman, Oklahoma with her wonderful husband Kyle and their one-year old gift, Isaac. She served as the Communications intern for the Council for a Parliament of the World's religions in 2010-2011. In the fall of 2012 she was a participant in the Middle Prairie Institute for Religion and Public Life's, a non-partisan think tank, annual session. Though her academic interests focus on Islamic Law and the modern state, she has also done research on the intersection of law and culture and questions of institutional justice versus morality. She identifies as an atheist, but is committed to inter-religious engagement and dialogue and is determined to be part of that conversation.


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