Sunday, January 1, 2017

moving forward

This dreadful year. We chose power over peace. Rhetoric over dialogue. Boundaries over generosity. Strength over vulnerability. The present over the future. Anger over mercy. Retribution over justice. Self preservation over humbleness. Our full tummies over the hunger of the poor. Our housing market over the homelessness of millions of displaced persons. Shouting over learning. Judgment over radical acceptance. Comfort over comforting. We gathered our power and hoarded it and shored it up. We invested in the myth of our superiority, to avoid the gritty reality of our fallibility, and the suffering of our fellow humans.

We could make the argument that it's human, or natural. But, one human lived the most human life ever and chose humility, generosity, conversation, mercy, empathy, and ultimately, death over all things self-preserving.

In 2017, I want more of my life to reflect the thoroughly human life of Jesus. I hope to Us folks will gather together in pursuit of this unconventional, subversive, wildly loving way of living.

Also, I'd like my kid to be healthy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

tubie* god

A thin cord snakes down the length of a pole and into the belly of the baby sleeping in the manger – feeding her. Today, god is a tubie*. Pierced and disrupted, already. And what do you let that do to you? 

Does it disorganize you to consider a god who willingly chose a form so disruptable and piercable? Do you cling to a Greek god inspired Jesus - all muscles and masculinity and stoically abstaining virility? To a god of all-knowing, all-presence, and stoically abstaining potency? 

… 

It softens me. My baby is a tubie. Disrupted. Pierced. Fragile. 

Strangely, a god unable to partake in the same sufferings – incapable of the same design errors – makes me angry, rather than secure. 

This is about more than ability inclusion in modern day nativities. It’s a homing to a being participating in the same world and rules I live in. A god who doesn't stand in observation of our travail and nativity, smirking in knowledge and sympathy, open-handed and willingly ineffective. Rather, a god who is his own cycle of lament, and advent, and Christmas. Just like my baby.

*a "tubie" is a baby dependent on a feeding tube to meet their nutritional needs. My daughter has a special, implanted tube that allows us to put liquid formula directly into her small intestine - although other babies may receive food into their stomachs.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Detritus














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

Intertwining
Unwinding
Weaving
Knotting

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

Motherhood


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.