peace in portland

Peace in Portland: Create your own sunshine

Today is a beautiful day in Portland, Oregon. I am finding peace in Portland. I am so happy that we moved back to the Pacific Northwest, escaping the cold, heartache, and cruelty we experienced in Minnesota. We met a few friends in Minnesota, but we also met many people who hurt us.

Minnesota, like much of the Midwest, is majority conservative Protestant Christian. We met Minnesotans with cold, cold hearts who went to church on Sunday, thanking God for all their blessings. They then cursed me and my family during the week, honking their car horns and mocking us as we struggled to push our stroller in the snow. They laughed as the snowflakes fell around us, holy tears from heaven. The brutal cold in weather and spirit crushed my body and soul.

I love Jesus, and I can’t ever see him laughing at a young family trying their hardest to make it in the snow, to raise a child in cold society. Jesus will not crush a bruised reed, but his conservative “followers” are often quick to do so.

Now we are back in Oregon, place of our son’s birth, and place I have adopted as home. I will never have to brave the face-ripping, heart-crushing cold again. The trees, the mountains, the ocean, all speak healing over me. The people are less Christian here, and much more accepting of the poor. Portlanders care more about people, and are less motivated by money than the Twin Cities retail culture. Portland culture is laid back, live-and-let-live.

Portland has also grown far more diverse since we left three years ago. This is a welcome change because Oregon has its own ghosts of racism.

Right now it is a gorgeous, peaceful Portland weekend afternoon. The sun is shining, and the weather is warm, a peek into the coming summer months. I am playing at the park with my son. I daydream in his imagination, and in the joy of all the children playing under the gaze of ancient pine trees. I feel happy and at peace. For this moment, life is good.

Create your own Sunshine

This week is supposed to be rainy and cool, typical Portland. The Pacific Northwest is a temperate rainforest, full of cloudy, misty days. I love the rain, the introspective, cloudy yin balancing the bold, sunny yang. Some people in Portland, especially those who have moved north here from California, find it hard to deal with all the rain.

I saw a little girl at the park wearing a shirt that said,”Create your own sunshine.” What a message. When the rain keeps falling, and life seems too hard, create your own sunshine. Find your peace in the Spirit. Let the Son’s light shine over your pain.

It has rained so much in my life over the last five years. Christian persecution. Unemployment. Employed, then laid off. Poverty. Disability. Loss.

All these experiences created a storm that felt like it would never end. Each experience stretched my heart to the breaking and the blessing. My heart for the oppressed has grown with God’s heart.

God’s heart is on the oppressed, Jesus guides the poor with tenderness and love. Spiritual protection is all we have to cling onto amidst the hurricane of human greed and selfishness.

I am learning to create my own sunshine. The Holy Spirit is teaching me the wisdom of patience in persecution. She is teaching me to love my body as a vehicle for my spirit to enjoy life. I play in the park, splash in the water, take walks in the woods, run with my son in this body.

People may judge me, but God created me in beauty and light. I am a daughter of heaven. This body struggles with pain, war wounds from the journey on earth, but, someday, I will be completely whole. I create sunshine through the rain. How would I know the meaning of joy if I didn’t also know the meaning of pain?

I have found a new season of peace in Portland.

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