Yesterday I shared how as a child-immigrant I felt and thought, a mixture of sorrow, anger and nobody understands me. I was also an invisible immigrant. Until I opened my mouth, and spoke American with a Dutch accident, I seemed just like other children. I was also an immigrant seeking gratitude for reasons much different than refugee-immigrants. My father, mother, younger sister and I, had left a country, The Netherlands (Nederland, Holland), which actually had a tradition of offering liberty and freedom to others. For instance the Dutch gave the Pilgrims religious freedom and shelter while awaiting opportunity to create a colony in America. One can visit the Begijnhof in Amsterdam to see where the Pilgrims worshiped.
The Pilgrims arrived in Holland, Spring 1608 to await the opportunity to sail for America.
In 1963 and 1964 we were in Holland, waiting for word to immigrate to the U.S. We came in under the Indonesian quota, as the Dutch quota was full. My father’s citizenship sponsor lived in Salt Lake City, Utah and the neighboring towns of Provo and Spanish Fork became our first homes.
The Jobsis-De Vries family immigrated not as refugees, but for opportunity, for wide open country, homes, careers which were more difficult to find in the Netherlands. Holland still had a housing shortage and opportunity shortage decades after World War II.
I am grateful for America. I now have two homes. I still wish that this childhood fantasy could come true. Maybe if I took a magic paper map of the world and scrunched it in the miles and ocean between the U.S. and Holland that the distance would disappear.
Then I would take a car ride, followed by a ferry ride to see my Dutch relatives, walk on cobble-stoned streets, ride for miles on bicycle paths, and speak so much Dutch, that after awhile I think in Dutch. And of course it would be great to be on the famous Dutch food schedule:
- Your daily eating habits and schedule is like Hobbits. Remember Tolkien’s characters? Breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch and so on. Actual Dutch schedule: You drink tea with breakfast, coffee at 10 am, lunch, tea at 3 pm, dinner and coffee again at 8 pm. All tea/coffee with cookies or biscuits of course!
The reality is that I have to save to go to the Netherlands. The reality is that Don, Dakota and I have yet to save enough to go as a whole family. The reality is that in America anything is possible, and we could soon visit, by making the travel a priority.
In 1972 I became an American, easy to do as my father A.C. “Kees” Jobsis was already a naturalized citizen. My mother waited ‘till the events of 9/11, when her national pride won out, and she became a U.S. citizen too.
Here is a story about one of the times—years ago, that I realized the nuances of gratitude which have grown in me since age six, and still need to grow up to the present moment.
What are you grateful for? How do you do with praising God in all things? Let me know.
About a decade ago I called my 12 step program sponsor, all bummed out. My job was the pits, finances were rough. I knew my sponsor would spend some time listening to me and my sensitive feelings. Instead she quickly said to make a gratitude list and call her back. I sat and stared at a blank page of paper. How could she? I just needed her to listen, maybe to cry with her, to share, and she gave me the oldest, dumb, recovery exercise around!
Well, I figured if I wanted her to listen to all my woes I’d better write the gratitude list. When I did I was surprised to see that many things which deeply upset me, made the list. It wasn’t that I saw each one as “okay,” I just felt moved to put them on the list. I called back my hateful sponsor and liked her again. We had a great talk; I felt grateful.
(You also know after reading yesterday’s post, that my hatred of elementary school Thanksgiving gratitude lists was coming full circle. The focus of gratitude is a perpetual salve for any hurt.)
When have you had a conflict with “dumb” advice? Again, what are you grateful for?
and…since it has probably occurred to you that it is not true, when any of us think (like I still do sometimes) that nobody understands you, AND you are building the awareness that understanding others is even more important. Here is the following prayer:
Prayer of St Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where there is hatred, I may bring love – that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness – that where there is discord, I may bring harmony – that where there is error, I may bring truth – that where there is doubt, I may bring faith – that where there is despair, I may bring hope – that where there are shadows, I may bring light – that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted – to understand, than to be understood – to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.”