Of Faith and Boots

I am a mother with two young boys, a job, and meeting responsibilities in addition to other volunteer work. So when another Friend mentioned to me after our meeting’s Thanksgiving potluck in 2004 that AFSC’s Eyes Wide Open exhibit would be swinging through Texas and shouldn’t it stop in Austin, I thought, "Oh no, here comes the ask." I instinctively prepared myself to say no. My life was too busy, my family responsibilities too demanding; moreover, the holidays were upon us. No sane woman would agree to organize a public event in three months under such circumstances.

But almost as if I were suddenly in the audience at a movie, I saw myself pause as the Friend explained how she would be out of town and couldn’t organize it herself. I thought about the war and how its reality was being hidden from us. I thought about how much I needed some way to make meaning out of the death and destruction confronting me each day in the morning newspaper. Then I watched as the most powerful word in the world escaped from my lips, "Yes." Yes, I would help. Yes, I would convene a committee. Yes, we could raise the $2,000 and 200 volunteers needed in a month and a half right after the holidays. "Go ahead," I heard myself say, "tell them to come."

For the next six weeks, I barely thought about the 1,400 empty soldiers’ boots and 1,000 civilians’ shoes making their way to Austin. Consumed with staging Christmas, I had no choice but to trust that what was needed for the exhibit would fall into place come the New Year. But such easy faith was soon tested with the end of the season and the sudden round-the-clock ringing of my phone. We needed a location. We needed a meeting. We needed money and hundreds of volunteers—yesterday!

At this point in a project, I usually have a feeling of rising anxiety that everything depends on me. But I was somehow more centered with this event and a different approach arose. I felt fairly free of worry. When things began to wobble, I returned to my initial sense of clarity that the Spirit would provide what we needed—way would open. I did not have to "make it happen." All the committee and I had to do was keep