Posts by katie

The Loss of a Mothering God: Exploring Noah

Posted on 16 Feb 2019 | 0 comments

Most of our depictions of God are of the old, white guy with a beard in the sky, prepared for judgment. If we’re lucky, we’ve rediscovered the vibrant, multi-faceted and very non-white God who Fathers us with love and power and compassion. But if we’re honest, the concept of a Mother God disrupts us and makes us desperately uncomfortable. It’s no surprise that when The Shack revealed God as an older, loving black Mother that so many of us rooted in traditional Western Christianity lost our ever-loving minds. But some of us felt the whisper of DEEP MAGIC in that story. The Deeper Magic that reminds us that Male & Female, we were created in the image of God. That there’s a Mother in there, the Hen gathering Her chicks under Her wing, or the agony of a torn veil at the death of a son.

When we imagine the story of Noah, we often think of a high and mighty warrior God, smiting most of creation in order to satisfy some sick judgment. We are deeply disturbed, and even with the salvation of one single family and a bunch of animals, the devastation of the planet seems incredibly troubling – despite the rainbow at the end. I mean, it makes total sense to me why Noah goes on a bender within short order after landing.

But I want to re-imagine this story, trusting that God was not distressed by Goddess culture in the ANE, and that God didn’t feel threatened by Tiamat, but that God wanted to provide a counter-narrative to the birthing of conflict of terror and violence that erupted from Tiamat’s womb. I want you to imagine, if you will, that like other women since the dawn of creation, God realized that she was birthing something that had what we might call “failure to thrive.” And this realization led to one of the most heart-wrenching, grief-filled decisions that this Mothering God had to make. Does She allow the toxic, violent, murderous life to poison the whole womb of creation, love, and ordering that She’s gestating and co-laboring for in this primordial world? Or does She make the agonizing decision to flush the dying children from the womb in order to give Noah’s line the best possible chance to survive and create something beautiful? Perhaps the termination of this portion of her gestation was the best possible choice of No. Good. Choice. And maybe, just maybe, God understands the woman’s grief of having our identity and value in society determined by the by-products of our lady parts.

When we imagine the story through this lens, we are transported into a profound counter-narrative to other flood stories and a re-integration and remembrance of creation in the most confounding of stories. We are invited to return to the promise of the Spirit hovering over the waters and breathing life into the most meaningful and life-giving of creations. We are invited into the womb of darkness and despair in order to emerge into the world of light and air.

Noah’s story, then, becomes a place of healing and hope for those who have lost pregnancies, had to terminate them – by choice or by necessity, for those who fail to conceive. The Mothering God understands deeply the loss of women who have pregnancies that fail to thrive in a world that is hell-bent on determining the worth of women by the production of their wombs. The story becomes a beacon of a Mothering God’s understanding of what it is like to see life that you intended for blessing washed away in saline and blood. It invites us into a story of blessing and hope for the imagining that God creates as She blesses woman after woman in the Scriptures not only with children when all hope was lost, but also with purpose and identity, creativity and grit beyond the birthing of babies. We see a Mothering God who gives identity to the childless – like Deborah, Miriam and the daughters of Zelophehad, as well as to those great Mothers who continued the lines and re-enacted the covenant – like Jehochebed, mother of Moses, Sarah and Hagar, Leah & Rebecca & Bilhah & Zilpah and even Elizabeth and Mary. We see a Mothering God who empowers the midwives in Egypt to refuse their orders and continue life, Mary to conceive and bear a son, and Lydia & Euodia & Syntyche & Junia to blaze trails through the new Church.

A Mothering God has a vision to empower women with or without children – whose identity is grounded in their Belovedness as daughters of a profoundly blessing, empowering, nurturing Mother God. We are given worth and beauty in receiving our inherent image from the one who is continually creating, continually caring, continually nurturing, sustaining, innovating, sowing peace and reaping righteousness. We are grounded in a vision of a Mother God who brings life from emptiness and agony in the way that only women can. We are given a view of the power of grief and tears and their necessity to clear the floor for new things to emerge. We are shown that our “womb” is a profound symbol of the power that we have been given to give “birth” to new things in this world with power, strength, and bearing down. Noah gives us hope that no longer are we alone in our grief of stillbirths – our children of flesh or our children of spirit and ideas – and our failed starts and our failures to thrive.

So, I offer this poem, written from the heart of a grieving womb, for those of you with infertility, lost pregnancies, ended pregnancies, and for those women who have no desire to be pregnant at all. Because you are seen by a Mothering God. You are beloved despite your pro-creation or the production of your wombs. You are Beloved because you are a precious half of the image of God, living, breathing, and a custodian of the creative force in the universe for its beautification and its nurture. Blessed be.

From the Dark Waters of a Mothering God

When the dark waters rose
~~There was no seed in Sarah
No light could penetrate the depths
~~There was no seed in Rebecca
of the womb of blood and saline
~~The seed of Tamar ill-conceived
of the waves of darkness and terror
~~Hagar’s child forsaken, feared, abandoned
The womb of the world that was emptied
~~Bathsheba’s agony, thrice endured
As She swallowed the deadly, bitter truth
~~A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping
Her children are failing to thrive
~~Her children are no more
No heartbeat, no soul, no empathy
~~The innocents dashed against a stone
Leprous and diseased from the inside out, devoid of feeling and health
~~The sons smothered before taking a breath
And those bitter herbs of truth taken
~~Yet Hannah & Elizabeth’s tenacious hope
Detached those lives from her heartbeat
~~And the fierceness of Miriam in worship
Created the perfect storm
~~To part the seas for her people
The rain and thunder as those lives were drowned
~~No mother should outlive Her children
Pushing those lives through the birth canal
~~Blood and tears, sweat and agony
Ejected into outer darkness
~~The grief of Mary at the foot of the cross
And A Mother’s tears of Grief that filled the world
~~the veil was torn in two, to remove the barrier
Transformed into a Rainbow of Promise
~~Lydia, Deborah, Junia empowered
The deepest Sorrow of No Good Choice at all
~~Except Surrender
Turned into a glimmer of hope offered
~~the daughters anointed, burning with Spirit
A branch of peace extended
~~Reunited with Her in the cool of the Garden
An understanding reached
~~Her glory revealed, Beloved, Bride, but no longer simply Birthing
Of Her perfect Image revealed in them, the daughters of God

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Music is for Losers

Posted on 3 Aug 2018 | 0 comments

I remember the moment clearly. I was sitting in a pub on the north side of the Liffey after the world famous Musical Pub Crawl. It was the “open mic” portion where they allow people to share a song. My goto staple at that point was “At Last” but I didn’t want to sing after the slim, pristine blonde diva who had preceded me with her slightly nasally rendition of some pop classic.

The evening had been spent in not only sacred musical listening, but also storytelling. That night, I heard a phrase that would shape me forever.

History books and newspapers are written by the winners. Music and poetry are written by the losers, the downtrodden, the brokenhearted.

And I realized how true it was. That the songs that stick with us, and that have changed the world – they’ve been written by those who have suffered and who would never be considered “Great” or “Winners.” The Irish took centuries of oppression and turned it into some of the most powerful music the world has ever known. Rock & Roll, the Blues, Jazz… birthed out of African-American post-slave, mid-segregation racial tension and oppression and appropriated by white folks.

Then I realized that the music that I grew up immersed in, resonating with… was all the brokenhearted crying out:

Tracy Chapman

Indigo Girls

Tori Amos

U2

REM

It struck me today that all these musicians of my youth were predecessors to the activists that are gaining steam in the last decade. Tracy Chapman was speaking of the pain and reality of police violence and redlining against people of color in the 80s and 90s. The Indigo Girls were speaking about the struggles of LGBTQ identity – and gendering, and the challenges of intersectionality – well before it hit the Supreme Court. Tori Amos exposed misogyny and rape culture in one of the most poignant and painful ballads the 20th century heard. U2 – social justice, fighting governmental institutions. REM – paradigm shifts, ecological issues, and shifting boundaries.

It made me realize that our culture needs more poets, songwriters, more of the arts, because they tell the stories of those who cannot buy news outlets. We need journalists and historians.

But we need the fraught, anxious energy of Enneagram 4s who are so desperate to uncover and reveal understanding that they expose their very souls in the process. It needs the vehicle and medium of music and art and poetry to help people understand that things don’t always line up in neat, little orderly procession, and that sometimes, life itself is a Shitty First Draft. But we keep at it, and we allow the music to move us in and through it.

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HELP WANTED: A Village (or a Church?)

Posted on 1 Mar 2018 | 0 comments

Those of you who know me personally, you know I’m a huge advocate of the Church. Especially the Big, Wide, Spacious, Generous, all over the place, hot mess Church. I’ve spent my life in some form of ministry and have even done reconciliation work on personal and broader levels in helping people, churches, faiths, and organizations reconcile.

I believe in it. I think it’s amazing… when it’s done right. When it’s the “Household of God” like it’s supposed to be. And in Jewish tradition, that concept of household isn’t necessarily Mom, Dad, kids. It’s broader, more welcoming, and spacious, and it lingers. It lingers over meals, it snoops in your daily life. It comes crashing in the door after Shabbat lunch to talk about philosophy over a snifter of whiskey. It holds hands with you and sings with you in a group of 10 on the year anniversary of your loved one.

And Church… we have completely blown this one. I say this from love, from wanting to see this beautiful institution breathing life and love and hope into our world. We are watching a generation flee from our doors, and finding ourselves unable to figure out how to get them back. And we haven’t stopped to think about what could possibly be keeping them away.

Our family has left three church communities in the last 5 years: 1) we moved out of state, 2) it was a plant that wasn’t the right fit, 3) a community that failed to connect. In each circumstance, we tried to leave with grace, meeting with the leadership to convey our love and appreciation and desire to connect. We let people know what was going on, and there were no hard feelings. And yet, from those 3 communities, we have heard from only 8-10 people in the last 5 years. Of those? 1 was a roommate, 4 were pastoral staff, and 2 were friends long before (like a decade’s worth). After years of involvement with these people, despite attempts to connect after leaving, zero re-connection. Is it any wonder that people are leaving the church and not coming back? Especially if they are wondering if their presence ever really mattered or made a difference in the first place?

So here are three thoughts… Just three for now, because really – TL;DR.

1) We need Connection and Commitment valued more than Convenience

Living the real Jesus life is flipping hard. And I’m not just talking about thinking the right thoughts or believing impossible things. I’m talking about real-life commands like “love your enemy” or selling what you have to give to a brother in need, or giving up things that feel good or make you happy if they’re causing a brother or sister to “stumble.” I’m talking about all the “one anothers” or the fact that almost ALL of the “you” thoughts or commands in the New Testament are actually “Y’all” statements. And most of the time, when the writer is getting passionate, you can just hear the “all y’all best be…” coming out of the text. And over and over and over again, we are told to do life together. To be a village, to connect, to reach out. We are asked to not be passive receivers of God’s grace, mercy, and empowering love, but to reach out, to initiate. Love isn’t about being loved – although that’s part of it, it’s also about doing the hard thing and trying to talk to people who you know don’t like you. It’s about trying to commit to other people in your neighborhood, in your Church who are different and act like the crazy Auntie with the purple hair (yeah, that’s me, let’s not pretend).

Right now our Church has a convenience problem. Once people disappear, it’s out of sight, out of mind. I leave, and I say “please stay connected, after all we are neighbors, friends, spiritual family…” And I hear echoes and chirps for months. Imagine how someone who left in fear and loneliness and shame might respond if no one bothers to check up on them. Does it make them feel like they are a critical part of a community, or does it perhaps leave them feeling like they never should have been there in the first place? It’s one thing to be a place of belonging when we are present, but how much do we allow people to belong and be loved when they aren’t showing up on the Sunday? How do we show them that we’re not just connected or committed when it’s convenient, but that we actually want to invest in them in a meaningful way with them regardless? Yes, it’s more convenient to hang out with people who are like us. It’s more convenient to connect with people on a Sunday, and to commit to people who we see on a regular basis. But who ever said that gospel love was EASY? Or Convenient? All I see in there is that it’s supposed to flip our worlds on our heads. It’s supposed to change us and challenge us. I can remember a mentor pointing out someone in Dublin who drove me crazy, and she said, “Katie, this is God teaching you how to love the unlovable, and I want you to learn to love this person.” I was challenged, and I hated it. BUT, that person has come to be one of the most valuable people in my corner. They have become a trusted friend and a beloved cheerleader. We must begin to connect and commit to the people who aren’t convenient.

That being said…

2) We need Boundaries without being Brutal or Burnt Out

Do we need to be best friends with everyone? Oh gosh no. Please, please, please, learn healthy boundaries. Please set structures in place to safeguard your key relationships: your partner, your children, your 3, and your 12. Please set structures of self-care in place to ensure that you are becoming the best and most YOU you that you can be. Boundaries aren’t just desirable, they’re critical. But if the Church has a problem, it’s with healthy boundaries.

Heaven help us, we either set these ludicrous expectations (like the Pence rule) that are legalism, judgmental and fear-based, leaving us feeling disempowered, disqualified, or displaced, or we fly the other way and over compensate, burning ourselves and our families out. I’ve seen both. I’ve seen people who are gobsmacked that I’m having coffee with a beloved brother in a public place because they’re afraid of what people will say – even if both our spouses are happy and delighted to see us pursue a meaningful relationship component that they could never – and don’t want to – fill. I’ve seen people (and been one) who just gave until our family suffered, my health suffered, and my heart suffered.

Neither of these is desirable.

Often, when we lack boundaries for too long, when we try to implement them, it’s like clubbing one another over the head. We get so caught up in fear and control that we wind up creating a religion or legalistic structure that feels Brutal. They don’t feel like natural “stop” signs, but rather like someone strung up a rope between two trees, and you got flung off the back of your motorcycle when you were just running right along.

But we don’t want to burn out. So spend time as a community learning about and modeling healthy boundaries. Take a Sabbath and model it for your congregation, and don’t answer the phone. Let them WAIT until the next day. Turn off the email and phone. But don’t beat congregants up if you’re trying to make the switch. Boundaries are about what you are comfortable with and you making decisions for your own health, not about trying to control or change other people.

Examples:

Boundary says – I’m taking my Sabbath on Mondays. I will reply to you on Tuesday or when I return to the office.

Brutal says – “Stop calling me on Mondays, stop attempting to get my attention, because it’s too distracting. I don’t feel like you’re listening to me that I’m saying you have to behave in a certain way.”

Burn out says – I want to take a Sabbath on Monday, but people keep calling me, and I don’t want to say no, because they need me. And I don’t know what to do, because I can’t remember the last time I had a day off.

***

Boundary says – I’m not comfortable having this conversation right now, but I do want to honor your need to be heard. Can we table this and reschedule the conversation for a time and place that we both can agree on?

Brutal says – I’m walking away, because I’m frustrated, and I’m going to ignore you until I feel better, then dump all my emotional response on you then. Or, I’m going to keep pushing this conversation forward until you engage with me the way I want you to.

Burn out says – I’m going to acquiesce to your desires because I don’t have the energy to fight this, but I’m going to replay this conversation over and over and over in my head filled with regret because I didn’t speak my own truth.

Ok? Making sense? Boundaries without being Brutal or Burnt Out

3) We need Compassion and Accountability without Condemnation and Accusation

Let me state this clearly from the very beginning. *You MUST earn the right to be heard.* Before you can speak one single word into another person’s life that will have any impact whatsoever, you must earn the right to speak into their lives. The Church has jumped into this model of point the finger, accuse, and condemn, and never really ask whether people want their opinion in the first place. And it totally pushes people away, people who otherwise would love the Accountability.

Storytime: In Ireland, I had a friend who was an atheist. A beloved friend, that I would sit and talk with for hours about life, love, the universe. He was wonderful, and didn’t mind that I was a Christian. We adored each other, and I had Compassion for him, for the struggles he went through, for the grief he suffered, for the changes in his life and career. He was one of my closest friends, and we talked about literally everything. One day he wants relationship advice. He is dating a few different girls and beginning to engage more physically with them. We talked about the ethics of monogamy vs the ethics of polyamory and how to honor all his partners with dignity and respect. We talked about how he could be more loving and compassionate towards them, rather than treating them like objects for his pleasure and satisfaction. I never once brought up the Bible, despite the fact that much of my advice came straight from the text. I never told him to stop dating, stop having sex, or anything else that was grounded in my own faith’s biblical mores, because he didn’t hold my same faith. It wouldn’t have mattered to him.

Later, after we had moved on from that conversation, he paused and asked why I hadn’t tried to talk religion or what my faith says about sex and relationships and whatever. And I said, “well, you don’t believe in that, so why would I? I wanted to offer compassion and accountability from a place where we could stand together.” And he asked me to continue to hold him accountable to the things we had talked about and to call him out when he wasn’t. Every thing I challenged him to do was biblical. Do you think that I would have had the same invitation had I started out with “you can’t have sex!”?

People in this era – especially our Xennials, Millennials, and emerging generations are desperate to be mentored and have accountability. I cannot tell you how much they want it and crave it and are desperate for it.

But it has to be earned. You have to show that you have compassion and that you have no agenda in your love of them before they will trust you enough to invite you into those sacred spaces to talk about them. Because they need to know that compassion and care come before your judgment and accusation.

Let’s remember… it is kindness that leads to teshuvah – to turning away from the darkness and into the glorious Light of Life.

So, Church… what do you think you can do today to be a better village?

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Why #metoo can’t be forgotten…

Posted on 22 Feb 2018 | 0 comments

*trigger warning: descriptions of sexual assault

The last few days, watching the students from Parkland has done something inside of me. It’s revitalized a 14 year old me that was fierce, furious, and fantastic. I want to stand with them, and will march with them, and will delight when I see them move mountains. Because they will, and somehow, #neveragain will actually move the mountain of gun culture in this country. I see it, I know it, I believe it.

And even as I stand with #neveragain, and rejoice with these teenagers, I’m struck by the fact that YET AGAIN, it was a young white male. YET AGAIN, it was something where the people in authority failed to see a problem before it got “really bad.” I mean, what is “really bad” if not shooting up a school and killing 17 people?

And that’s where my cry for #metoo to be remembered comes from. Because I can remember being 14 years old, and coming to an administration and begging for help with a young, troubled male, and being silenced and shamed.

Let me paint a picture for you. At 14, I attended one of the wealthiest private schools in Los Angeles. I was not popular, but everyone knew me as the “good” kid. Despite hanging out with a couple wild ones, everyone knew I didn’t party, didn’t date, didn’t really push any boundaries. I had a job, I studied hard, and I went to church – like 4 times a week. I had the record in my class for community service hours. The clothing I wore? If it was rebellious at all, it was in the grunge way. Typical outfit was jeans, t-shirt – well, collared shirt because we had a dress code – but my collared shirts were always flannel shirts, because well, it was the early 90s. I mean, who didn’t? I didn’t wear skimpy clothes because I was super self-conscious and girls in my class and at the school were always calling me shamu or fat (I wasn’t, by the way, but according to LA eating disorder standards, I was). I was a simple girl, who tried to love people, did “Meet me at the pole,” and was in theater, pep band, and the literary magazine editing staff. I didn’t drink, do drugs, date, or even get involved with folks like that. I had crushes, like any 14 year old girl would, but I was terrified to act on them. And at that time, it was only one person that I was crushing on – hi Aidan! – and he didn’t even go to my school. Like, seriously, people. You cannot fabricate a more innocent, “good” girl.

I’m sitting in computer class one day, the teacher is helping someone else, and I ask for help. She says, “I’ll be there in a second.” One of the guys in my class – Evan (because as Anne Lamott says, if he wanted anonymity, he should have behaved better) – offers to help. He walks over, and as I’m trying to understand the coding we are doing, puts his hand on my thigh. I am not involved with this guy, and I don’t even know him well. I push it away, so he puts it back on my thigh and moves it up my leg until he is groping me. I push him away and ask to go to the bathroom. The rest of the day is a fog until I’m lying in my bed at midnight, and can’t sleep and am shaking with terror and feel sick to my stomach and dirty and disgusting.
So I crawl into my mom’s bed and tell her what happened.
And she does *EVERYTHING RIGHT.*

She calls the administration, calls a meeting, threatens police action.

So we get a meeting.

And in the meeting, I have to face not just Evan but his parents. And Mr. Basmajian (again, who if he wanted anonymity should have behaved better), the Dean. Who asks me what I was wearing. And who asks me what I did to entice him. And I have to retell the whole thing in front of Evan, who sits there with a smug look on his face, and his Dad has a smug “boys will be boys” look on his face. And then Mr. Basmajian adds the “boys will be boys” line. And I shrank in that chair. And I got smaller and smaller.

Because I did *EVERYTHING RIGHT.* I *did* go to the authorities. And I was shamed and re-traumatized and re-victimized.

And then I had to leave the room, trusting that they’d do something. And they wouldn’t even let me change classes to a different elective schedule until we threatened legal action against the school.

Here’s a young man – now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Evan was a serial rapist or anything. He was a young man BEHAVING VERY BADLY. He obviously hadn’t been taught important things like “don’t grope women who don’t want to be groped.” And when he did, he was laughed off and told it was ok, because sometimes women just react…

Can I tell you that writing this story has made me shake in fear, cry a little bit, and go through 3 separate EMDR treatments (for PTSD) just to get through it and even be able to talk about it? TWENTY FIVE YEARS LATER. Happily married, with a daughter, and having survived rape, domestic violence, and horrific things. This event is the one that scars me and that I never spoke about aloud – because it’s so much a part of our culture.

We write off the bad behavior of our white men, because “it’s just how they are.” Well, let me tell you. I know some pretty amazing men. Men who would *never* consider doing anything like that. They would *never* consider getting guns and using them to sort out their emotional distress. So I’m done with people saying “boys will be boys,” or that the kind of language and “pussy-grabbing” talk coming from the highest echelons of our government is just “locker room talk.” I’m calling bullshit.

Because when we excuse that kind of behavior, we are creating a culture that allows good kids to die at the hands of a young, troubled man who probably should have had some serious consequences in his life leading to help and healing of whatever troubled him. I’m guessing that Evan probably just did what he thought was normal. I’m sure he had his own family issues in which his parents weren’t around or were going through some sort of serious stuff. I have compassion, sure. In all honesty, he probably doesn’t even remember doing it. I get it, it was a blip, because that sort of stuff is common in our culture, and was even more so back in the early nineties.

But man, that was truly messed up. And it shouldn’t be common. Because while Evan probably doesn’t even remember it, I’m traumatized by it and having to heal and rebuild 25 years of life that were scarred by that event. I’m having to live with the regrets of the relationships I sabotaged after that event because of the worthlessness and shame that I felt. I’m having to live with the fear and the emotional distance from others because I’m afraid if they know what was done to me, they’ll blame me, too.

Do you get it? #neveragain is intrinsically tied to this culture that allows men and boys to behave badly, shrugging it off as “normal” when in actuality, it should never be normal. Cancer is common, is normal, but is an aberration. Gun violence is common, is normal, but is an aberration from the Design.

I think the challenge is that we miss out on the goodness of the Gift of this world if we let “Common” and “Normal” dictate our behavior or our legislation. We need to stand with these incredible youngsters in #neveragain, even as we do address the very deep and searing truths of #metoo.

We cannot forget #metoo. We simply cannot.

Because I will not let my daughter’s generation be 1 in 4. I will not let her generation be 1 in 10. I will fight, tooth & nail, to call bullshit and stand for her right to live a life free from the trauma that I – and literally every single woman I know – have experienced. I will fight to give her everything I was denied and that was stolen from me in that office 25 years ago.

#metoo #Iamthe1in4

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Letting Go

Posted on 29 Sep 2017 | 0 comments

10 years ago, I stood with a friend from Dublin, Ireland in a church in Belfast, Ireland. Now for many of you, that comment may seem innocuous enough, without knowing the history of the “Troubles” in Ireland. Leave it to the British Isles to take a religious conflict with violence, terrorism, dehumanization, and significant destruction of community, and simply call it “Troubles.” But there we were. I had come to support a friend deliver a message – I honestly can’t remember what it was, but she asked me to listen for any words from God that might come. So I listened.

A young man stepped forth, and I saw sand slipping through his hands. The tighter he grasped, the faster the sand poured out. And when he simply let go and opened his hands, the sand stayed. Asking further what that might mean, the answer was simple – the tighter you try to grasp and control, the more life will slip through your fingers. When you simply let go, you will realize that not only are you holding sand, but that you stand on the shore of infinite grains of sand – at your fingertips, but also under your feet to allow you to stretch your hands to the sky in surrender and delight.

 

The last year has been one of complete and total surrender – of control, the lies I had to believe in order to survive. For decades, I simply pushed everything as far down inside me as I could, because it was the only coping mechanism I had to live in the world that had been given to me. In the midst of this, I began to realize that I was getting frustrated because I kept getting handed shitty choices – and yes, I made incredible decisions, even with those horrible, shitty choices. But the reality was that I continued allowing others to set the choices for me, and then trying to control the outcome. As a deeply spiritual person, I was falling into the martyrdom/self-sacrifice paradigm, thinking that if I just controlled it enough – if I just nailed myself up on that cross with Jesus…
That somehow it would all be ok.

And honestly, it never was. It was F.I.N.E – freaking out, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. But it was never OK.

Because the sand of my reality kept slipping through my fingers.

Until now.

Because I simply…

Let.

Go.

I opened my eyes to the infinite spread of sand beneath my feet, and the arms of the Diving opening, spreading, and longing to catch me when I fell – but also willing to lift me up to fly.

I’ve been loving this song, and letting it wash over me, especially when I forget – which is often. May you be graced today with the release of open hands to receive the Goodness, open hearts to allow perfect love to cast out fear, and open eyes to see the expanse of opportunity in your midst.

You’ve brought me to the end of myself
And this has been the longest road
Just when my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song

I’m letting go, I’m letting go
I’m letting go, falling into You

I confess I still get scared sometimes
But perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies that screamed inside go silent
The moment you begin

You remind me of things forgotten
You unwind me until I’m totally undone
With Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
Now You’ve won me

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I Believe In Us

Posted on 2 Jun 2017 | 0 comments

I believe in us.
I mean that. The last 9 months have felt like a train wreck for a number of those in my circles. People have felt threatened – have experienced personal violence and attacks because of the current political climate. We’ve watched the violence and hatred increase, and it seems like all of the most disgusting and vile things in our country are coming to the light like an infestation of cockroaches. I have never been more astonished by what I’ve seen in the political arena than I have been since November.
And yet…
I believe in us.
I don’t think it’s about Making America Great Again – because we already are pretty great. And I definitely don’t think it should be America First – because we have so much, and are already at the top, and Jesus tells us that the first should be last and the last should be first. I think those are inherently flawed and self-centered ideologies that are bringing to light the base selfishness and individualism of our culture.
And yet…
I believe in us.
In high school, I studied the Vietnam Era extensively – I was fascinated by the turmoil of our nation, heart-wrecked by the senseless violence and the death of a generation in a war that seemingly had no point… and which in all compelling senses of the word, we lost. I remember sitting in class, and feeling my heart transform to pacifism as we watched the collateral damage in a post-Iraq War setting. And I read more than I imagined possible on the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, and the women’s rights movement. I began to understand that our country makes incredible leaps forward and then hits the snap-back of progress too quickly, because our people are good, but selfish – it’s built into our rugged individualism and the belief that we pulled ourselves up by our own boot straps. I remember being astonished at the violence that our people were capable of as I read about the brutality of white supremacists, and read Takaki’s A Different Mirror to learn about the history of those on the underside of the spotlight of our textbooks. But I saw the movement forward out of those troubled times. Even in the tail end of the Cold War, I saw the wall come down and hope begin to shine in the eyes of people that their children wouldn’t be under threat of nuclear extinction anymore. We are facing that threat once again in our world – not least from our own administration.
And yet…
I believe in us.
In grad school, I studied WW2 in what seemed like the year of the Sho’ah. I was immersed in the literature of Christians and ideologues who rationalized away the rampant anti-Semitism that provided a fertile playground for Hitler to rise and the Third Reich to thrive. I learned about the way that fascists multiply like mushrooms in the dark, fetid environment of fear and antipathy. And I dwelt in the realm of peace-building and hope, even as I was stoned in Palestine, and struck by the violence and despair on my visit to Israel. I read up on the McCarthy era, and the tribunals, and then the rise of the Religious Right and its peculiar orientation towards racism and more fear. And I have read about the worst in humanity. And honestly, as any historian will tell you, we are replicating that dank, dark, fetid environment of antipathy and fear that provide fertile ground for fascism and violence.
And yet…
I believe in us.
We’re looking at a very real ecological apocalypse, just as it seemed we were in the 80s and 90s with horrific pollution and air quality that left thousands battling respiratory conditions and illness. And now we are removing those very ecological protections and withdrawing ourselves from a world-wide endeavor to protect this beautiful planet that we live on.
And yet…
I believe in us.
I was driving the other day with my daughter, and the song “This Land is Your Land” came on my radio station. I was struck by the greatness of this song, as hippie-dippie as some of you may find it. Because from sea to shining sea, we belong to each other. We survived the McCarthy Era. We decided enough was enough. We survived the Vietnam Era and made policy changes to protect our people. We changed our ways and began a process of nuclear disarmament. We moved forward. We moved towards each other.
I look around me at a generation of young people (yes, those continually cursed and shamed Millennials) who are literally glistening with hope and desire for authenticity and community. Who are building bridges when others built fences. I am looking at people in the older generation who are changing their ways, owning their own racism and bigotry and trying to be better. I am watching a movement of millions of people willing to fight for a Brand New Congress or the Move To Amend. I am watching people refuse to allow fear and hatred to win – and even give their lives, saying “Tell everyone on this train that I love them.”
I believe in us.
I am watching God do a new thing as the infestation is brought to light so that the Good in the earth can rise up and bring the Tikkun Olam that is so desperately needed.
I don’t think our government is heading in necessarily a healthy or helpful direction – and I know many of you in the UK feel the same way. But fundamentally, at the core, I see the good in you. And I can see the good in the people who think that they are protecting themselves and their loved ones – even as they place their faith in the Kingdom of Fear rather than the Kingdom of Heaven and Shalom.
But I believe in us.
We have found our way in the darkness before, and there are beautiful people trying to lead us out, who are trying to move us back towards faith and hope and love.
There are those who have a compass of hope and light and love who are guiding us forward – if we can only find them and listen to them with humility and hope.
I believe in us.
Friends, as dodgy as it feels, and as much as you might feel inclined to hate those “on the other side” or hold them in contempt, remember that this fuels the wrong spirit. We will never move out of the darkness until we acknowledge the darkness that we each carry and commit to bringing it into the light to be restored with life and love.
Not only do I believe in us…
In our capacity to build, to bloom, to nurture, to restore, to bring life back to these broken cities and lives, in our ability to thrive in community and create a different world for our children.
But I believe in you.
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From Easter, 2016

Posted on 6 May 2016 | 0 comments

Today is Easter. It feels a bit arbitrarily dated this year, and I almost feel as if I didn’t catch up. I’ve been so caught up in Jewish rhythms this year that my own liturgical rhythms have been a bit more muted. I’m still wrapped up in Purim and deliverance and courage and honor – and so my reflection on Resurrection feels so different this year. We went to church, and it was so uplifting and fun. My  “mom” up here in Canada is a pastor of a dynamic little congregation, and like many other evenings with this family, we have had intense and wonderfully thoughtful and deep conversations about faith and culture and ideas over amazing food and wine. We’ve been trying to figure out an age-appropriate way to talk about Easter with Amanda – but the whole ugly, violent death scenario is hard to reconcile. And you can’t get away from it with this holiday – I still have memories of being 3 or so and crying because they killed a nice man. But it’s a reality, because there can be no empty without a tomb.
I think about the diversity of people that I connect with here in this space. And I don’t want to have a preachy, turn or burny message on this special day in my tradition, but I want each of you to know the depth of love that my faith has given me for each of you – that there is something truly supernatural and miraculous to me about the *grace* that God has given me to love such a wealth of different people with such different backgrounds, faiths, opinions, perspectives, ethnicities, political views, and doctrine with the abandon and compassion that I feel when I think about you. There’s a passage in my sacred texts that I feel encompasses this – and if that same power that raised Christ from the dead is living in you, will He not give life also to you? That power of the resurrection – the power that brings things thought dead back to life – that’s the power in me. That’s the fire that fuels my love for each of you, believing in your dreams, believing in your goodness, believing in the best of each of you – knowing that whatever dies in undue time can, indeed, be brought back to life.
I want to live not just a resurrected life, but a resurrecting life, empowered and empowering each of you – no matter your beliefs or differences – to breathe life back into your dreams and dreams back into your life. To take broken and hurting places and pour as much life and love into them as I can, to bring restoration. To me, the empty tomb is a reminder to GO, to DO, to be present to each of you in a way that brings you life.
I may not always live up to this, but I pray that every year, I get a little bit better, and get a little bit closer to hitting my mark.
In general, this holiday, I am trying to hold sacred space for the resurrecting, life-giving power that I’ve been entrusted with, so that in living life with each one of you, I can impart some sacredness, some mystery, some light, life, and love.
I wish you a Blessed day, and may you find resurrection power flowing through your spirit in the coming season.

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