WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Blessed Curses, Cursed Blessings

By Becky Brooks

A close-up of the side of a bright yellow tent, with its fabric hung from taught tent poles.

“Don’t pretend to know everything.”
—Michael B. Jordan

In the early 00s, my partners and I lived in the best apartment in the entire East Bay. It was on Harrison street in Oakland, just a short jog uphill from Lake Merritt. We had the whole top floor of a triplex, with garages at street level. The living room facing the street was so big we called it the ballroom; it had windows on all three sides. When it was hot, we could catch a jasmine-scented breeze. It didn’t matter that the second bathroom rarely worked—we had laundry inside the apartment! It didn’t matter that you had to unplug the refrigerator to use the microwave—we had an actual dining room with a built-in china cabinet! It didn’t matter that the only way to open the garage door was by taking a running jump to hit the upper right hand corner—we had off street parking!

We were twenty-five and living the dream: all the freedom of young adulthood, right alongside all the insecurity, financial anxiety, and underemployment that goes with it. So many blessed curses, so many cursed blessings.

And so it was when we woke one morning to find that someone had broken into the garage. We picked our way through the space, storage tubs strewn about, ready to make a list of what was missing. It took us a while to figure out what they had taken. The well-stocked tool box was there, whole and intact. My bicycle was there. (It turned out to be the only bicycle I’ve ever owned that wasn’t stolen.) Our car was untouched. At the end of the day, we looked at the list: two wool sweaters and a tent. Digging down deeper into one of the boxes, we discovered the tent poles they had missed. They took two wool sweaters and half a tent. Someone was suffering a misfortune here, but it wasn’t us.

There was really only one option. We cleaned up the mess, closed the garage, and laid the tent poles gently on the sidewalk. They were gone by nightfall. I can only hope they found their proper home. I will always remember that apartment with gratitude for its beauty, its contradictions, and all it taught me.

Spirit of Life and Love, thank you for small moments of noticing when my comfort is expendable. Help me learn from these very little things how to break open my serenity when the time is ready for the big things. Help me understand, even in the midst of my comfort, when righteous change requires my discomfort.

About the Author

Becky Brooks

Becky Brooks is a former Director of Religious Education with more than fifteen years’ experience in faith development work. She has served on the leadership teams of local and continental religious educators’ organizations, including a three-year term on the Liberal Religious Educators...


For more information contact .