Thursday, September 29, 2016


I have your sunglasses
I have your heartache
You have my daughter's tiny black slipper
Its partner graces my living room floor

Lives split by location
and shared by forgetfulness
Debris scattered
in heart and home

I gave you lip
You gave me instruction
Or, I gave you a hand
You gave me distraction


I have your heartache
Like those little shoes
Lives walk into one another
And forget to walk back out

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Remembering Orlando

A speech in memory of the victims of Orlando, compiled from this moment, and too many other reactions to other moments of violence.

the memorial I designed: meant to move, and to move us
each name of the known lost victims
To My LGBTQ Family:
This memorial isn’t honest without acknowledging our LGBTQ family. Humans died. We’re all human. We all mourn. But our brothers and sisters here were targeted. In their safe space. Because of who they are. They live with the same grief I have, but complicated by fear, and a burden to continue living against the grain of long held biases, myths, lies, judgments and institutionalized languages and structures of exclusion.

To you, my family: You’re tired. I know it. I felt the wind go out of the earth when you sighed, and many of you mourned from the safety of your beds. You’re overstretched. You’re suffering. You’re trying to live your life, but also having to fight to do so. Taking the time to confront your reactions - to lean into your mourning - with the added burden of doing it publicly and representatively adds an exhausting layer of complexity to your grief.

Let me carry this burden with you. Teach me how to pick up the hammer that dismantles the words and institutions putting you outside the family and leaving you vulnerable. Forgive me for perpetuating brokenness, for cowardice in your cause, for not asking you sooner for this education.

To all of us – I have a reminder in the weakness of grief and pain:

Our society doesn't prepare us to live in the weakness of the time for mourning. We act. We opine. We argue... We escape. We make decisions without the wisdom of deep experience. We deny our suffering, bending our impaired hearts and minds toward superficial interpretations. Rhetoric and arguments lend us a false sense of control and power in the relative helplessness of suffering.

But, by refusing the journey of grief, we stave off healing.

Our task for this time is to mourn. To weep. To grieve. To be present to our suffering. To select symbols that remind us why our hearts
feel burdened even in times of levity. To connect. To validate the weeping and grieving of our neighbors.

We mine the depth of our brokenness over the loss of these people. 

We reject the tendency to let fear drive us to positions of power, anger, violence, judgment, and war.

Instead, we choose presence. It takes courage to face the darkness of these nights and acts. It takes community and intimacy and love to overpower them. 

Reach out. Bring in. Blend. Open.

Take comfort in knowing this time belongs to itself. The time of laughter will follow. That time is not our concern. Live this moment, now. It enriches and informs the time to come. 

May we aspire to a love that sows words and behaviors of peace and connectedness – a love of self-giving and self-sacrifice. May we love lavishly, and be willing to share our power with those more in need. May honesty in failing and suffering and loving and living knit our world more closely together, and create a safer space for us all.

Friday, December 18, 2015

2015, or, Why I Went Missing

Facebook offered me my 2015 year in review. I immediately felt nervous.

2015 has been the hardest year of our lives (Jason and I reached a consensus on that). It brought me beautiful things: my Lulu, and my incredible coworkers. Also, Jason lost his job. We lost all our savings. My pre-natal and post-natal depression came back with a vengeance. We sold my stupid, beloved Mini. Our teeny baby was so sick. At 8 months she still wears 0-3 month clothes, and doesn't sleep the night through (or even 4 hours at a time). We haven't slept in 8 months. We feel thin.

I don't know why I'm posting these harsh realities. Except, maybe someone else needs to know they aren't alone in hardship. In this post called the Brutally Honest Christmas Card, written from a place of "radical vulnerability," DL Mayfield writes this about her even awfuller year than ours:

" But perhaps the most significant thing is that Jesus is no longer an abstract person, a walking theology, a list of do's and don'ts to me. This is the year I recognized him as my battered, bruised brother, and I see how he never once left my side."

When she has the courage to say, "We don't have the energy to pretend we're ok, because we aren't really," I feel like she's telling my truth.

We can say Luisa Jane has a beautiful, freely given smile. We can say Valentine loves big, and thinks big, and plays big. We can say Alphie faithfully nuzzles mama's hand every time I cry. We can say our house is warm -- still missing the kitchen cabinet doors -- but cozy. I can say the work I'm doing is the most meaningful of my life. I can say that all the suffering has made me think, love, and believe in new ways. I can say that every once in a while, through the fog of stress and sleeplessness, I look over and see my Jason in all the beauty that is him, clearly, dearly, lovingly, and I know my partner in this life is the best. 

Even if I can't say I'm ok, these are good things to hold onto.

I wish you a connected new year - one in which you know who you belong to, and you feel the people who belong to you weeping when you weep, and rejoicing when you rejoice.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Thanks to Melissa Kircher for this rendering of my words. See her writing and other works here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

In Light (and Dark) of the Murrah Bombing

Taken on one of my many trips to the Bombing Memorial
Tomorrow Oklahoma pauses to reflect on a searing, scarring day for all of us. The day sin tried to win. The day murder and violence tried to steal our joy and purpose and routine. The day Timothy McVeigh pulled a truck loaded with explosives, parked it in front of a building filled with children and adults, and walked away as his anger blew up.

I sat in a basement room in my algebra class, seventh grade, 13 miles away. Several guys playing checkers said they watched the pieces rattle across the board. I didn't notice a thing. But within a couple of hours, we were all gathered, watching a television, worrying -- and, in a moment, aware of living in a much scarier world.

Most of us didn't leave the television for days. Some incredible people rushed to the site and jumped in. I remember watching as men and women scaled the gaping wound of the building, debris bleeding out, looking for survivors... and remains. I knew one victim, remotely, through a dear family member. I know one responder, one of the very first on the scene, who still carries the immutable, unspeakable horror. All of us do, to one degree or another.

Let's not pretend sin isn't real. My new found faith is soft, and warm, and joyful, and loving, but groundless if I can't acknowledge that in big and little ways we are capable of destroying each other.

This isn't a diatribe, or a rant against the evils of the world. This is a lament. And, a moment of clarity for me. Even 20 years later, I still approach this day with a familiar, deep ache.

I've been thinking a lot about sin lately. Such an ugly word. One I react to like a blow from a bat, before I even hear the context in which it's spoken. One I've heard used to create an impenetrable line between God's (self-selected) beloved, and whoever they can't imagine living life next to.

A concept I'm finally unafraid to address, because I can't pretend that even my "good enough" life doesn't cause, and participate in, harm.

Sin could have been the most unifying concept in the Christian faith (and possibly between faiths), if we hadn't used it to define and reject the other. We ALL break communion between each other, we all break communion with God. We all participate in power structures that abuse, whether overtly or not (think of choices to buy cheaper goods that come at a cost to the animals or humans at the bottom of the supply chain, tolerating corruption in our leaders, politically protecting our wallets instead of our fellows, refusing to acknowledge our privilege).

The ugliness of 20 years ago is extreme, and feels unforgivable. I'm not conflating the hidden sins of every day "good enough" lives with the instantaneous destruction of that one. Nor am I neglecting the shared brokenness of each. Each need the grace of a big God, and the effort of big-hearted humans to replace destruction for healing. Empathy for anger. Genuineness for cattiness. Prayer for vitriol. Imagination for scars.

These words don't remove the ache of the Murrah Bombing for me. But, in a strange sense, they give it motion. They remind me of the work to be done, bringing Kingdom Come. They cause me to make meaning of the reality that the peaceful, upside-down Kingdom of Jesus already existed that day.

They remind me to shine the light of a perfect, human-god life into my own, and examine the deep places where I don't root out the subtle and not-so-subtle sins that break me and break my relationships.

I hope I never lose the ache. I never stop grieving the lives lost. I never stop working against the brokenness that creates the vacuum filled with this violence. May we mourn tomorrow -- deeply, honestly, and filled with awareness.

May we mourn the lives. Mourn the lost sense of safety. Mourn the depth of human brokenness.

I pray, that by confronting the darkness head on like that, we will more clearly see the grace God fills us with, and express that grace with renewed hope and motivation.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Resurrected Ritual (delayed reflection on Good Friday)

Photo by  Rev. Amy Rogers:
We're interested in your reaction to how the cross frames the word Division.
I wore a cross around my neck for the first time in years this Holy Week. I wore it sincerely, honestly, and reflectively -- using it to remember how intertwined my living and breathing is with the Jesus story.

On Good Friday, I joined with several local clergy and a friend to walk the "stations of the cross" in our little downtown. We carried a birch cross with a crown of barbed wire before us, and each had a masonry nail, hot in our hands. Stopping at every cross-walk, we read a prayer, and reflected on Jesus' final steps toward death.

We looked like religious fanatics, I think. Which is funny, because I know how committed these clergy are to wide, inclusive grace, and how the most rigidly religious have excluded them from acceptance. I felt uncertain, and embarrassed by our appearance. Then, I remembered, "I believe this story. I believe in this man-god and his lonely, broken, disgraceful walk with the cross. I believe in his subversive way of living, and believe it led directly to this long walk." And, I asked if I could bear our little birch-wood, to remove more of the barriers my heart built between his journey and mine. 

The Oklahoma wind blew the red dirt between my teeth and into my eyes. And the workaday hum of life on brick streets kept us from communicating. With each step, and each new (nominal) discomfort, I buried myself a little deeper into his ultimate protest and victory against greed and sin and pride and corruption: the most loving act, the most deliberate walk, the truest self-giving in the history of godkind and mankind. I was uneasily conscious of living between my modern, busy, material day, and this powerful, but painful day when the hope of a few died, but set himself up to live forever as the hope of the world.   

My husband remarked today how striking it is that I'm engaging in so many religious behaviors, like wearing a cross, accepting ashes on my forehead, completing the Stations of the Cross, preaching, doing special observances. But, he said, he knows it's because for the first time, these stories and rituals mean something life and perspective changing for me.

He's right.

I'm so grateful for every painful step of this walk from darkness to doubt-infused-hope, or hope-infused-doubt -- regardless, a place where I have the life and love of Jesus to show me how to live in and love my world.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Upending Grace

She was so old. And lovely. Her skin had that ivory, crepe paper transparency of very old and frail white women. Articulate. Intelligent. And, no longer in control of life's most personal functions. I spent about 20 minutes cleaning her, changing her gown and linens. She was mortified. "I am so sorry you have to do this," she said. I told her, "I know you don't want this. If Jesus could wash the feet of the disciples, it's my privilege to care for you." It seemed to calm her.

Jesus stripped off his robe, clothed himself with a towel, and crouched down to wash the road weary feet of the disciples. Peter, perhaps used to the facelessness of a servant performing this function, found this too great an intimacy from the man he called master. Reading the passage through my biases and filters, his reaction feels like more than just attempted politeness. He seems truly uncomfortable with how this reverses roles, and upends norms. But Jesus tells him, "If you don't let me do this, you don't have a part of me."

We went without steady, or much of any, income for nearly four months. We lost our savings, and my silly, but loved, little car. Needing the care of others in broken and vulnerable moments makes me intensely uncomfortable. I want to protest, and apologize, or worse, hide the mess in my heart, and pretend nothing hurts. I remember the night I made a conscious decision with my small group from church (aka the best group of friends I've ever known) to tear down the walls of pretense, share my tears, and practice lamentation. The woman sitting next to me lifted sad eyes to mine, reached over, and gave me a hug. The group joined in our suffering. They held together my messy heart, and for the first time in my life, I knew the full capacity of human grace.

Recently, a dear friend received a gift in a sum she cannot hope to reciprocate. An amount that makes you question yourself, to be certain you never abuse the position you hold, or the words you share. A form of grace that upends roles and norms. The type of gift one will never find adequate thanks for. It struck me, in trying to help her experience this as an offering of love; sometimes humans deliver such a grace to us that we can never repay. One that mirrors the great, wide, incomparable grace God offers us. When our pride keeps us from experiencing the fullness of human grace, we miss the chance to see an earthy presentation of God's grace, and perhaps, we miss the opportunity to be spurred into such grace-giving to our human folk.

These graces all required an overwhelming intimacy. Jesus, on Holy Thursday, washing dirty feet, cleaning between dusty toes, demonstrates a collision point of supremely human and divinely godly action.

I was surprised to discover how uncomfortable others are with the idea of a foot-washing service at church. Perhaps, because intimacy has been such a key theme as I put our last few months into perspective, and because it characterizes the work that healthcare workers give every day. But then, I remembered how much work it took for me, just to talk about the depth of my confusion and emotional suffering with our closest friends.

I believe I absorbed a message at some point telling me I must appear whole, saved, in control. I internalized a notion that need undermined my lovableness, and ruined my exterior show of completeness, knowledge, and Christian privilege (in words of my former days, my "testimony"). I got so good at denying my humanity that I emotionally abandoned it. I locked it behind multiple doors in the house of my soul, and sealed myself off, not only from self-awareness, but from the ministering presence of other humans.

I was Peter, denying Jesus, or anyone, a chance to get close enough to leave a part of themselves on me, or take a part of me with them. 

It took years of therapy, and the last two years of un-learning god, and re-learning God, and the last year of learning about glorious, glorious humans, to jettison the pride and falsehood and sheer burden of being needless.

Maybe it's not a foot-washing at church for you. Maybe it's accepting charity. Maybe it's taking a meal. Or sharing a sin. Or an agony. Or a secret that undermines you every day. Or, maybe for you, opening up yourself to true human contact means receiving a compliment, or a condolence, without brushing it aside. Maybe, it's asking others to rejoice with you over the kind of thing that may seem mundane, but just makes your heart sing.

I'm convinced we see the face of God most fully, not in buildings, or nature, or religious experiences, but in the face of our fellow humans. I pray we open ourselves up, not just as givers as grace -- a lop-sided, power-sustaining notion of living, I think -- but as people in need of grace.

May you see God this week. May you open yourself to receive a grace you can't repay, and rather than it humiliating you, may you know, know, know, you're loved.