Pick Yourself up and do better

Photo from the LGBTQ Christian Network

I posted this on my Facebook page last year. Reading it again this morning, it feels like something I want to put out there again. It’s dated, with its references to the 2020 election, but 2024 is looming, and the same forces are pushing for attention again. I know it’s kind of intense, but so is the soul-rejection so many people experience because of terrible theology:

I know I post this and sentiments like it quite often. I have received third-hand feedback that some well-meaning Christian folks get deeply offended by some of the things that I post. You must know that it is because I follow the way of Jesus that I post these things, because I was raised to believe in his essential messages of Love and Welcome for ALL.

Speaking to the well-meaning Christians who might be thinking of voting for the president because of a pro-life stance alone, I say to you that to welcome everyone to the table is a deeply pro-life stance. To exclude and shame any member of the human community is anti-life, is death-dealing. The number of LGBTQ+ people who die or nearly die by suicide each year is staggering, and it is, in many (most?) cases, a DIRECT result of religious people who marginalize and exclude and shame LGBTQ+ folks, a direct result of a theology that labels people sinners because of who they are. I need you to hear this. I need you to understand theological consequences.

Insisting that LGBTQ+ people are sinful by nature is anti-life. If you want a deeper conversation about the very few Biblical passages that your church refers to in order to shame and exclude (yes, “love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin” is shameful and exclusionary) God’s own children, I can find you articles and dialogue with you. I only ask that you come to the table willing to listen.

{Note: If you feel hurt that you may be part of a group that has driven people to suicide, please try to imagine the hurt and despair of those who’ve been cast out and excluded. Pick yourself up and do better. If deep down you agree that this is a death-dealing theology, but it feels really risky to to to speak up in support of LGBTQ+ folks, imagine the intense feelings of risk felt by someone who comes out of the closet. Pick yourself up and do better. I’ve got your back.}

Gratitude List:
1. Last Weekend: swans, storytelling, deepening friendships, swallows, fox, windy beaches, delicious shared food. What DOES the fox say?
2. Tenderness and connection amidst shared grief. I’m not grateful for this terrible grief (one of the young ones in our school/church/family circles has died), but grateful for the way the circles flow together and interconnect.
3. The foresight of my school’s administration: We reached a threshold of active cases and students quarantining because of exposures, and so we went virtual for the week. I feel like the administration cares about my health and the health of my family and my students and their families.
4. This little break. I can assign reading and analysis tasks for the week, do some Zooms, and catch up on grading. Yesterday was a crash day for me. I think the aggregate burden of work overwhelm and grief and not enough time for the introverted self and light insomnia all came to a head for me, but I had the freedom to take a long and deep nap, and I came out the other side refreshed and ready to attack the tasks ahead of me.
5. The kitchen floor. It’s been a LONG time since we sanded and stained, and Jon did that this week, and I am obsessed with it. Pine takes a real beating, but it cleans up so beautifully.

May we do justice, love, mercy, and walk humbly in Beauty! So much love to you.

“Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.The warming of the planet is a symptom of a greater problem: the developed world’s indifference to the destruction of the planet as they pursue short-term economic gains. This has resulted in a “throwaway culture” in which unwanted items and unwanted people, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the poor, are discarded as waste.” –Pope Francis
Praise, my dear one.
Let us disappear into praising.
Nothing belongs to us.
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
“Listen: Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” –Mary Oliver
“This might be the most difficult task for us in postmodern life: not to look away from what is actually happening. To put down the iPod and the e-mail and the phone. To look long enough so that we can look through it—like a window.” –Marie Howe, poet

Listening in Dreams

One of the ways I try to remember my dreams is, when I wake up in the night after a dream, I note the main points in my head before I fall back to sleep, and then in the morning, I gran those little phrases, like pieces of paper swirling in a wind, and try to tack them down in writing first thing in the morning. There were several of these last night, but the clearest, most compelling dream was right as I was waking up.

I am at some sort of church service/picnic (I do not recognize the people there from waking life). I know that at 3:30, as things are winding down, I am to meet with one of the women about some sort of planning, but I forget, and by the time my child is getting antsy and begging me to go, it’s 3:58. Another woman approaches me. Apparently, she had written me an email (and I hadn’t seen it) that she wanted to meet with me at 4:00 to talk about her child.

We sit down to talk. She pulls out papers, color photocopies of photographs and notes she’s been taking. Her teen child is coming out as trans, and she wants to talk to me about it. She is open and accepting of the child, at least on the surface, but she is agitated. She worries about what her conservative Mennonite family will think. She worries about how the relatives in Argentina will respond. She keeps tearing the papers. At one point she gets up to go ask someone else a question, and I gather up the pieces of paper, wondering how they could be so shredded–I hadn’t seen her tearing these.

This one seems–perhaps deceptively–straightforward. I teach at a private Christian school. I have very intentionally made it part of my role to be ready to listen to parents of LGBTQ+ kids, to hear their questions and worries, to try to walk them through their own anxieties and stereotypes, to help them find their way to expressing their deep unconditional love for their children in the midst of their own confusion. Perhaps the dream points to deeper agitation, maybe for myself as well as the parents. The torn pieces of paper stand out to me, as well as the frustration of not being able to finish a sentence, not being able to help the mom relax enough to settle into an understandable narrative.

There’s also my own anxiety about keeping appointments. I missed the one I had planned, and almost missed this one because I hadn’t checked my email. Ugh. I hate the way meetings and appointments disrupt the flow of a day. That’s been one of the side blessings of this pandemic time–fewer meetings.

Honoring collective work and community responsibility, ujima, with my friends who are celebrating Kwanzaa.
I love that ujima comes after kujichagulia, self-determination. When we each get our own house in order, our own mojo going, then we can work together to build and strengthen our communities. Here in these days of stillness as the earth is poised to swirl back into the Long Day, what a wonderful idea to contemplate: How can I carry my own energies into community-building in the New Year?
And of course, Kwanzaa is an African American holiday, so the question for me becomes: How can I use the privilege I was born with to support and strengthen the community-building work of BIPOC?

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ―Anaïs Nin

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.
It seems that we Christians have been worshiping Jesus’ journey instead of doing his journey. The worshiping feels very religious; the latter just feels human and ordinary. We are not human beings on a journey toward Spirit, we are already spiritual beings on a journey toward becoming fully human, which for some reason seems harder precisely because it is so ordinary.” ―Richard Rohr

“Language is very powerful. Language does not just describe reality. Language creates the reality it describes.” ―Desmond Tutu

“We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness. True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources. In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.” —Wendell Berry