What I Go To Church For

        

      With thanks to Brian Donaldson for saving me from my ignorance of this wonder of the world 🙂

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2 thoughts on “What I Go To Church For

  1. Some comments to the guy (Matt) from his website:
    * * * * *
    Earlier tonight, I had to tell my patient that his chemotherapy wasn’t working. The nurses love him because he is always polite and kind, even when he is hurting. I think that his nurse was more upset than he was. He is the kind of guy that treats all of the staff with respect, especially the ones that other people forget, like the housekeepers. His lymphoma has progressed and it is constricting the main vein from the lower half of his body, making it difficult for blood to get back to his heart. His legs are swelling and it’s getting harder to breathe each day.
    I was pretty depressed when I got home and I went to the video section of my home page to look at some of the news reports of the day before I went to sleep. I don’t know why I clicked on a video named “Dancing Matt.” I really don’t know why I am emailing you other than to tell you that when I watched the part of the video where people from all over the world started dancing with you, somehow I felt better.
    * * * * *
    I’m a relief and development worker and I’ve worked in a lot of places, having just spent three weeks in Iraq. I’ve travelled to a lot of places too and seen a lot of death and destruction and beauty and light. Somewhere about the tenth or twelth dead body you see get eaten by wild dogs, you sorta just block things out. I can’t remember when I’ve spontaneously cried at something so simple and yet so inscrutably charming. I just felt myself overwhelmed with emotion watching this video. It was a great feeling.
    Take care of yourself, enjoy your life, you’ve helped me to enjoy mine again.
    * * * * *
    I am someone who lives with moderate depression. I’ve done the therapy/medication route and they definitely help. But recently I’ve been in a low place again — somewhere these treatments don’t quite reach. I always come back, but it usually has to play itself out.
    Yesterday, someone very close to me sent me your video … and I pretty much cried all the way through. But good tears! Really good tears. Watching your adventure and getting another view of this beautiful world managed to somehow take weight off my shoulders for a bit.
    One of the toughest things about depression for me is the inexplicable sense of being totally alone even in a crowd of people. What you’ve created here opened my eyes to a new perspective. No, I’m not “cured,” but I am happier today than yesterday because I was reminded that we are not alone. We just have to choose to join the dance or stand alone.
    * * * * *
    On September 11th I was fortunate enough to be 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first daughter and at home for a doctor’s appointment, had I not been, I would have been on the 101st floor of the first tower that was hit that morning sitting at my desk.
    In the almost 8 years since that day I have lost a lot of my faith in humanity. I never returned to any job, fearing that I would make new friends only to loose them, yet again, in some horrific way, nor have I made any attempts in general everyday life to make new friends for the same reason.
    After going from having too many friends to count to being able to count them on one hand in the span of a few hours, it doesn’t give you a lot of hope or ambition to start over. In a nutshell, I have just been plain scared to get involved again in caring for someone for fear that they won’t be there the next day when I wake up.
    Then I saw your video, Matt, and the feeling that came over me is indescribable. I wish I could put it into words, but I can’t. For those 4 brief minutes I can feel myself believing that people are actually “good”. it made me feel hopeful again. I thank you for giving me a shred of the innocence that I had on September 10th back, I have been needing it.
    * * * * *
    On my way home from work, I stopped off to see Kamila and Ali, a nice Iraqi couple who arrived here with their four children about a month ago. I work in the area of refugee resettlement. At times, my work inspires me, especially on the days when I know that what I do is inherently worthwhile. On other days, it’s a struggle to get out of bed knowing I am going to face another day of watching people struggle to start over, or knowing that another war criminal got away with it, or hearing yet another horrific story about the evil things people do to one another in the name of war. Some days, it hurts to be human. Most days, though, I just marvel at the ability of the refugees to keep moving forward despite the heartbreaking losses they’ve endured. They inspire me.
    Earlier this week, Radovan Karadzic was captured in Serbia. That should have made me happy, but instead it just made me remember all of the Bosnians I had worked with back in the late 1990s. They had been tortured, they had seen their families slaughtered, and at the time, they were nothing less than stunned by the sudden loss of their comfortable, middle-class lives. They told me stories that gave me nightmares for years.
    Our current students are coming out of the refugee camps on the border of Thailand and Burma. The Karen are possibly the sweetest people I have ever met. Many of them have suffered terribly, and yet, they are ready to move on with their lives. We also have Nepalese students who lived in Bhutan but were forced to leave and were left, in effect, stateless. My other students are Somali, Eritrean, and Ethiopian. All in all, the Somalis might have the most jarring memories to process. They tend to do this in a place where they comfortable, and that is often in the classroom, speaking in hushed tones beside their teacher. I have insomnia.
    Today was a day I felt discouraged and out of faith. I saw more that was grim than wasn’t. When I came home from Kamila and Ali’s apartment, I turned on my laptop and remembered that I still had a video to watch, although I had no idea what it was about. I clicked ‘play’ and just knew immediately I was going to like it. About 20 seconds into the video, I just started to cry. Serious, embarrassing weeping. Your video didn’t make me sad, Matt. Your video chipped something hard and sharp off of my heart and stopped it from hurting. That was a surprise. Your video showed another side of people.
    * * * * *
    I watched your video and it brought me much joy, brought up some memories, and curiously I began to weep. Later I realized it brought back memories of my youth in Cuba, where we danced in the street very often. As an adolescent I was put in a prison camp, called UMAP.
    Late at night, on a few precious occasions when guards and inmates were asleep, I would get up from my hammock and quietly do a dance similar to yours. These were brief moments of freedom, of joy, of hope of getting out of there, of being connected to the rest of humanity. This, you do all over the world. I eventually left Cuba, and at almost age 60 my memories of those days are intact. I checked your blog and noticed you have not been in Cuba. I hope you can go there some day, and bring your joyful dance to my native land.—a side I don’t see too often.
    * * * * *
    Dear Matt, in the last four years both of my parents have died, Katrina damaged my home greatly, gone through a bitter divorce and have been diagnosed with cancer, so sometimes I feel a little down. But yesterday I saw your video for the first time and laughed so hard I feel off my chair with tears in my eyes. Thank you for making me smile and laugh.
    * * * * *
    My husband is a Navy pilot and has flown hundreds of missions in the Middle East since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started. When he saw your video for the first time last week, he saw you in front of the Kuwait towers dancing with the dog and go really quiet. Later he shared that he was so happy to see those towers in a peaceful and joyful context. To him they were a navigation aid that took him from the aircraft carrier and into a warzone day after day. To see them again, and to see you dancing with a dog (he is a huge dog lover) just really made him feel better about the memory of those towers.
    * * * * *

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