Fire and Shadow

Look. I know you probably wouldn’t gas and burn
your city’s police precinct station.
I know you’re not a fan of the flaming
and looting of private property,
first and most sacred commandment
of our common capitalist religion.
But if cities inside you are not burning,
perhaps you haven’t been paying attention.
If it’s easier to condemn the people
who make their rage into a massive
public art demonstration, setting their symbols
of oppression raging through the streets,
than it is to condemn the smug and public
murder of a man in those same streets,
perhaps you need to get an education.
Perhaps you need to study the whole cloth
of an ethic of respect for human life.
Listen to the rage. It has a reason.


Gratitude List:
1. Snuggling my shadows (I wrote this one last year, and while I forget the context, it feels right for right now).
2. Grades aren’t done, but I can rest for a day or two now.
3. Oh dear. I’m just copying and pasting bits of last year’s list. Call me lazy, but this fits right now, too: Curiosity. When people get curious about each other. Curiosity is a fine engineer, building bridges of gossamer web and light across chasms. But stronger bridges than you can imagine.
4. Living in layers of memory.
5. Even this one, slightly re-tooled from last year: Cool breezes. This means exactly what it says, because our house can get hot as a sauna. But then it means more than that because your poems and your wisdom and your presence in the world are cool breezes to me, my friends.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Jesus often said, ‘It’s very hard here. Have you eaten? Look―you all stick together, go to the beach and have some fish. Share what you have. We’ll talk later.'” ―Anne Lamott


Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap them around
You like a shawl
—Alice Walker


“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” ―Martin Luther King Jr.


“A [person] should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a beautiful picture everyday in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of Beauty which God has implanted in the human soul.” ―Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ―Walt Whitman


“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it.
It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of
‘you’re not alone.’” ―Brene Brown


“Don’t die with your music still inside of you.” —Wayne Dyer


“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” —Colette


“Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals.” —David Whyte


“Soul is not a thing, but a perspective. It’s the slow courtship of an event which turns it into a meaningful experience. It’s the practice of trusting that if one sits silently and long enough with the absence of magic, the miraculous will reveal itself. Nothing is sacred until we make it so with the eloquence of our attention, the poetry of our patience, the parenting warmth of our admiration.” —Toko-Pa Turner


“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – is already in our bloodstream. And we don’t know what it was. We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

Persist

Before I begin the rant, I want to make a point about Vice Presidents, in light of everything I am about to say. The choice of Stacey Abrams or Kamala Harris as a running mate would go a long way toward attracting my vote, if there’s any choice left in this debacle of a primary campaign by the time it reaches Pennsylvania. Elizabeth Warren, too, of course, but the loss of Warren in the race was only the most recent blow in a line of killing the vast diversity of the overwhelming field of candidates. (I’ve never been sure what to do with Gabbard, and I’m not sure she knows herself.) (Also, I know that Sanders, as a Jewish man, still brings a little diversity–it’s not simply two old white men remaining. Just two old men.) (Ugh. And now I sound really ageist. In this context, the default seems to always be old white men, so that’s part of the story.)

I wrote this rant in pieces yesterday between naps as I was resting to fend off the worst edges of a bad cold. That bit was successful, at least, and I am feeling much better today.


Today, I am an enraged middle school girl. I am a third grader stamping her foot at the unfairness. I am a high school girl rolling her eyes at the absolutely stupidity of it, a college girl sighing yet again in defeat. All of these girls in me had their absolutely valid reasons for rage, and I cannot see over my own middle-aged rage to deal with the echoing memories of theirs. Mine. Ours. The layers.

I just have to say it. This has been a triggering experience for me. I find myself flashing back to younger versions of myself, living this fifty-two-year-old experience along with my college self, my high school self, my middle school and elementary school selves. I don’t remember the first time I noticed that a girl could be smart and articulate and shiny and dynamic, but she couldn’t beat out a goofy boy with a sense of entitlement. For anything. She couldn’t be heard above the clamor of an angry boy, no matter how lucid and smart her own ideas.

This is how it’s been my whole life: A brilliant girl tries for something—some honor, some leadership role, some place—and a goofy boy with a sense of kingly entitlement begins to talk about the inevitability of his own winning, and suddenly she has completely disappeared. No matter that she has a plan for EVERYTHING. No matter that she can talk her way around that boy ten times before he has put together a coherent sentence. No matter that she was born for this. And so he wins.

And today the goofy boy and the angry boy win again, beating out the brilliant girl who has been invisibilized and now erased.

I’m just tired.

I can live forward through this. I can “get on board.” Goddess knows, I am experienced at that part of the story. Still, I just get tired of hearing people talk about the inevitability of her disappearance from the story. And when the goofball wins, he gets the brilliant girl to assist him. Or the angry boy gets the nice girl to help him. Because they need her in order to truly succeed. But then everyone says, “Look! She’s got something anyway, doesn’t she? She should be happy now. Satisfied now. Everybody wins.” And she ends up doing his work for him or putting out the fires he starts. And he gets the credit. And the next time a girl is running against a boy, everyone says, “Now don’t be too hasty. She really can’t compete. If we want to keep the bullies at bay, we need a good strong boy to take the reins.”

I will vote for whichever of these boys takes the nomination, but I will do it with the rage of a middle school girl who has repeatedly seen her brilliant girlfriends completely marginalized and ignored for goofy and angry boys who have controlled the process for her whole life. I will be happy if she gets to be a good strong vice or cabinet something. Absolutely. But I will know, with the heart of my 12-year-old self, that she was always the best choice: Elizabeth, Kamala, Amy.


Gratitude List:
1. Feeling better. That first nap–three hours of serious sleep–felt like the most rejuvenating part of the day. Even the tossy-turny nature of last night’s sleep hasn’t thrown me back to the exhausted state of earlier in the week, and I feel like I can fight off this cold.
2. Friday. End of the week. Faculty Hymn Sing before school (every Friday–how lucky am I?), the International Women’s Day chapel planned by students. It should be a pleasant day.
3. Daffodils
4. The crocus are blooming, too, and in some strange and wonderful places, way out of the beds. Crocus always remind me to let myself leak outside the boundaries.
5. Nimbleness. How my child just leapt onto the bench to straighten the curtains. I think that one of my physical goals for the next part of this year will be to develop greater nimbleness. I think I have become more sedentary rather than less, and it is affecting my nimbleness.

May we walk in Beauty!

Re-Entering the Old Rage

I had all sorts of ideas about items for today’s list, but here in the foggy-brained morning, they’ve fled. It’s nice to know that I have been actively feeling gratitude, even if I can’t remember the exact moments.

Gratitude List:
1. At first, it felt like “Oh no! This again?!” when an internal itch came back. I thought I had resolved that, packed it up, and put it to rest, for Pete’s sake. But Pete or someone else had other ideas, and I’ve reopened the case on it. When conflicts and obsessions and simmering rages that I thought I had finished with come roaring back to life, it means they’re not really done yet. They’ve got more work to do in the psyche. So instead of panicking and getting back into the frenzied cycle, I can tell myself that time and distance enable me to be more circumspect now, to find the deeper themes and meanings, and to turn myself even more directly toward grace, to spiral more toward my center. So, I will be grateful for the next level of messages and learning that come.
2. LeVar Burton’s podcast. Short stories! Read by one of my favorite voices of all time.
3. Aging. Changing. Entering the doorway of the Crone’s Hut. It’s time to take up the threads of the fairy tales again.
4. Oak trees. Really, these are the people you need to be noticing right now, how they hold their leaves and spin them into leather of rich colors. Not the shiny brights like the maples, but equally sumptuous and eye-catching, if you look.
5. Morning quiet. Always, the morning quiet. My brain is alone for a little while every day in this morning quiet.

May we walk in Beauty!

Mist, Moon, Mist

Poem from a year or so ago:
Prayers and Rage
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.


And another, more thematically whimsical:
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.


Gratitude List:
1. Finding my way again to deep breath.
2. Chilly autumn rain. Yes, really. The melancholy of a rainy fall day can be satisfying even for sanguine personalities.
3. While I have never been a big fan of the cold season, I love wearing layers and leggings, and that season has returned, and so I feel much more comfortable in clothing.
4. This full-spectrum lamp that Jon bought to help boost us through the coming winter. Light-bathing.
5. The distinctly autumn sounds of the calls of geese and jays and crows. I feel my animal self more distinctly in these days, pulling between the longing to migrate and the longing to hunker down and burrow in.

Much love. Blessings on your Day!

Needing Gratitude

I think this is going to sound vague and smug and self-serving. I think my writing here and on social media is so often heart-on-my-sleeve, but this is more raw, more personal, more sulky, and yes, more vague, too. It’s a thing I want to talk about without talking about it. Do you ever have those experiences?

I’m dealing with some resentment and rage right now. I’m used to experiencing outrage on behalf of others. It sometimes feels like it’s become one of my defaults in recent years. Less frequently do I feel outrage on behalf of myself, and I don’t know exactly where to feel it, but here it is. It’s been plopped right into my lap. I think I have become really good at being reasonable about other people’s attitudes and behaviors toward me, so when I feel deeply and personally attacked about something that really matters to me, I have to take hours to process, to sort out what is mine, and what is truly cause for outrage. It’s a slow burn, rather than a quick blaze.

I don’t want to feed the fire by giving it air. Perhaps it will become the source of poetry and story, and I can give it a voice that way. Meanwhile, I think I need to re-start my Gratitude Practice, get back to essentials, take care of my own house so I don’t set fire to the houses of others.

Gratitude List:
1. A voice. Whether it’s a whisper, a shout, an echo, a web of sound, a single word, an avalanche of analysis: Give voice to your voice. Do not let anyone take it away from you. Boost the voices of others. Amplify the signal.
2. The ones who stand in the gap, who speak out for justice for those who are oppressed, who fight for the survival of the planet, who put people above greed and money.
3. The turning. Like the turning of the season to autumn, the world is turning. Like the transition from labor to birth, the world is groaning. From the fire comes new life. May we stand in solidarity with those who are midwifing the new thing into being.
4. Three cats in the house.
5. Cool weather and warm clothes. This is a not a metaphor. This is a metaphor.

May we walk in Power.

Mercy Now: There is a Place for You

“There is still a place for you at our table, if you will choose to join us,” the young man said.
“Yes,” people chorused, “even now, there is a place for you.”
–Starhawk, The Fifth Sacred Thing

At the end of The Fifth Sacred Thing, when the military forces are over-running their city, Maya and the others decide on this strategy: They approach the soldiers and tell them they have set a place for them at the community table. They know that some of them, in the moment of invitation, will be shot and killed. They know the situation is dire. But they decide to appeal to the humanity of their enemies.

Can I say to the fiercely adamant Trump supporter on my Facebook threads: “There is a place for you at our table of welcome, if you choose to join us?”

Can I say it to the racists who are spouting venom and hatred?

Can I say it to the fear-mongers who scapegoat immigrants and Muslims and Latinx?

Could I say it to Mr. Smucker, my local representative, who consistently votes against everything I stand for, and for everything I stand against?

Could I say it to a denier of the climate Crisis? To a Monsanto exec?

Could I say it to Mitch McConnell? To Mr. Trump?

It’s an invitation that requires some self-reflection: “. . .if you choose to join us.” It doesn’t condone the soldier’s violence. It begs a different relationship, a sideways step across the line. It offers a way out for the individual trapped in a cycle of violent words and actions.

I am unsettled and twitchy these last few days about my own position in this story, my own lack of empathy and welcome. I’ve been working really hard at keeping the conversation to a high level. Still, in conversation this weekend, I said something to the effect that this administration has drawn the racist and homophobic cockroaches into the light. A dear and wise friend firmly and kindly called me on it. Just days after I wrote something calling out the president for calling people animals, I was calling people cockroaches. In my defense, I was being metaphorical. I didn’t intend to dehumanize, I tell myself. But what did I intend? Why use such metaphors? We tend to stomp on cockroaches. There’s a verbal violence for you. I can’t defend such language.

My friend encouraged us to look at people’s needs, to ask what needs are not being met when a person chooses, either verbally or physically, to harm another. This is the beginning of empathy.

In The Fifth Sacred Thing, the community was willing to risk their lives for the truth of this question. Am I willing to risk letting go of some of my protective rage so I , too, can invite people to the table? What will we be asked to risk if we offer this invitation? It’s not about destroying healthy boundaries. The community was actively standing up to the soldiers. Still, they chose to offer their enemies a choice, a way out.

My personal rhetoric in these difficult times has had a strong edge of boundary to it. I believe that to fight the evil (yes, evil) that is harming children and families and communities, we must declaim the truth. When a president uses a constant barrage of lies in order to confuse and demoralize the populace, truth-telling is a necessary and powerful act.

I wonder if there are ways that I can hold firmly to the truth-telling, and still set the tables in the rooms of my words in ways that invite my rivals to sit and eat and be nourished. Can I speak against the lies in ways that invite those who believe them to tell their stories and share their pain? And perhaps become transformed rather than entrenched?

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives,” said Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, who joined the realm of the ancestors this week. She told the truth, directly and fiercely. And she also knew the power of words to heal, the power of narrative to create a bridge to a more just future: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

And further: “Is there no context for our lives? No song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? You are an adult. The old one, the wise one. Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly–once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul. You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: how to see without pictures. Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.” ―Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993

I don’t know if I can do it with grace and brilliance, with fierceness and tenderness. But I can try, as Morrison requests. Language has magic to it. As a teacher of language and a writer, I take that seriously. Let’s apprentice ourselves to the powerful human magic that language offers us, to create spaces within our words where our rivals may find a space to rest and consider, where we may all be transformed, and the future may be created with love.

As an epilogue, I offer you this song by Mary Gauthier, “Mercy Now.” Click the link, sit back, and listen.

Thorn in My Side

Today’s Poetic Asides Prompt is to write a poem that is a dedication, or a poem with a dedication.

Thorn in My Side
to my Gadfly

Here’s the thing:
The outrage dissipates so much more quickly now.
There’s the kick in the gut when I see your name
there on the email, and I think, “Here we go again,”
and then a moment of panic, another of anger,
and then, this time. . .

I sat there just watching what was happening
inside my head, expecting the roaring in the ears,
the tunneling of vision, the white light blinking
in the back of my brain. And there was nothing, really.
And then, what I didn’t expect: gratitude.
Quiet, twinkling gratitude, and steady purpose.

That shocked me. I’m so used to the exhausting fury,
the worry and self-righteous indignation.
But this time I may have begun to pass the test,
to rest a moment in my breathing, then focus on my center,
to enter–finally–a space where I can see myself,
and you, and shift the focus of the attack.

The thing is:
You have been a better teacher
than you could ever imagine,
and likely more than you intend,
and I have been a less than willing student,
too eager to defend my ego
in the face of your attacks.

You’ve taught me to be curious
about the fury that you send my way,
to stay within my heart-space,
even to offer grace in the midst of your rage.
I have found safety that you cannot touch,
your cages will catch me no longer.
I’m stronger now, and I can hold the net
you toss my way, and turn it
to a golden thread.

Prayers and Rage

Okay, so I am getting more nervous about the coming winter by the moment here, as I watch the busy tribe of squirrels on the bank behind the house. They are eating and gathering at a furious pace. If they have inside information, we’re in for a tough one.

And this is one healthy, glowing gang of critters: Their fur is sleek, and their bodies are filled out and muscular. They look like they’ve been lifting little weights. One of them, gorging on berries six feet up in a bush, began to slip downward. She didn’t even pause in her eating, but grabbed a branch beside her, somersaulted downward, landed on her feet with the berry branch still in her mouth, and continued eating. Little parkour ninja folk. And I know that squirrels are already that way, but these are just. . .more so.

I don’t know if I have ever noticed just how russet-colored is the feathery fur on their breasts until a moment ago when one stood to greet an approaching comrade, and his breast shone chestnut-red in the morning sun. And that’s another thing. You know how squirrels stand to look around and greet each other, hands on hearts? I’ve always thought it made them look sort of timid and cute in a timorous “oh-my-heart” sort of way. These folks, whenever someone else approaches, stand like little warriors, feet apart, spines straight, eyes alert, hands on their chests in a greeting of solidarity.

These people are readying themselves for a hard winter ahead. May the walnuts and berries be plenty. May you grow ever healthier and sleeker, small ones, as you do the work to prepare your colony for what is to come.


Gratitude List:
1. Squirrels
2. There was a roseate spoonbill down on the Flats last week. They say it’s gone, but I think I’ll drive down there and just look around. I am grateful to know such a being was here.
3. Oak leaves
4. Clouds
5. All the people doing the good work. Let’s not let ourselves get too discouraged. So much wrongness has seeped out of the cracks recently, and for those of us who want to believe in the beauty and marvel and goodness of everyone, it has been particularly painful. A friend of mine reminded me this morning that often there are still noble elements that reside within the souls of those who are living openly by greed and power-mongering and death-dealing, and we need to find ways to hold conversations that enkindle those sparks of Goodness. I’ll keep searching for that nobility while remembering that there are so many out there who continue to work and live from the depths of their Divine Spark. Like you.

May we walk in Beauty!


Friday’s Doorway:
“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” -―Rumi
*****
“The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves
into the rhythms of the human heart.
The earth is not outside us; it is within:
the clay from where the tree of the body grows.”
―John O’Donohue
*****
“There were far worse strategies in life than to try to make each aspect of one’s existence a minor work of art.”
―Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline
*****
A Gift
by Denise Levertov

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.
*****
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Just go ahead and live positively; go to the side and do it differently. Don’t waste time with oppositional energy.” ―Richard Rohr, writing about the thinking of Dom Helder Camara
*****
“The heart of faith is the call to love one another. . .” ―Avis Crowe
*****
“A child looking at ruins grows younger but cold
and wants to wake to a new name
I have been younger in October
than in all the months of spring
walnut and may leaves the color
of shoulders at the end of summer
a month that has been to the mountain
and become light there
the long grass lies pointing uphill
even in death for a reason
that none of us knows
and the wren laughs in the early shade now
come again shining glance in your good time
naked air late morning
my love is for lightness
of touch foot feather
the day is yet one more yellow leaf
and without turning I kiss the light
by an old well on the last of the month
gathering wild rose hips in the sun.”
—W. S. Merwin, The Love of October
*****
“I’m not funny. What I am is brave.”
—Lucille Ball
*****
“My soul is sore when I learn how our people are tortured, when I learn how the rights of those created in the image of God are violated.” —Óscar Romero

Rage and Rain and Rest

I copped out a little on the Lenten unloading today. I was tired and cranky, so I pulled out several pieces of jewelry. I know I have too much jewelry, and it’s not particularly painful or brave to give away jewelry.

I find rage to be exhausting. It’s a seemingly constant barrage of tragedies born of our lack of political will to stand up to the NRA and fight for the lives of our nation’s children. If you want to be pro-life in this day, #breaktheNRA. Don’t vote for any politician who gets political money from the NRA.

Gratitude List:
1. As always, the music chapels at school are a lift and a treasure. students show tremendous courage and vulnerability to go on stage and perform. And they’re incredibly gifted.
2. The helpers. Mr. Rogers says to look for the helpers.
3. Rain and rest. Sleep-inducing rain on the roof.
4. It’s almost Friday
5. Cats. Whenever a human is sick, the cats seem to feel it their bounden duty to sit upon the sick one until she feels better. Cats are natural Reiki masters. I am not sick, really, but I caught that cold, and cat therapy has helped.

May we walk in Beauty.

Ranting

I have been ranting for the last couple of days. Here’s the gist:
Quote by Nancy Shulman:
“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away. You know who weren’t nice people? Resisters.”
***
Dallas Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress said: “Apart from the vocabulary attributed to him, President Trump is right on target in his sentiment.”

To the contrary: The word “shithole” is nothing compared to the vulgarity of the sentiment he expressed.

I have been quietly not openly calling myself a Christian for years now, because I do not like the look of Christianity in this country. I now openly walk away from the name. I continue to be a Follower of Jesus, in an Anabaptist and Universalist sort of way, with an emphasis on the feminine nature of the Great Mystery, and a belief that the Great Mystery is within everything and everyone. But I can no longer categorize myself as a Christian. I do not belong in any way, shape, or form to the same group as this man. No, we clearly are not following the same Jesus. Yes, this is judgemental. Yes, it is not being accepting of differences. There are differences I will not accept. Racism and xenophobia have absolutely no role in the realm of Jesus. If that is Christian, I am not that. I will have no part of that. Rather than trying to claim the term as something that embraces me as well, I walk away from it.

I will not check myself in as a Christian on polls and forms. If you ask my religion, I will no longer tell you that I am “a Christian, just not one of those.” Public Christianity in the United States is nothing I recognize as having anything to do with Jesus.

There are many people I know who continue to claim and reclaim the word, and I do not judge them. I, however, feel that at this point in time, I need to make a clear distinction between what I believe and what seems to be the path of U.S. Christianity.
***
This is no shock. We knew he was racist. Still, putting it into the public discourse so baldly demands that public figures, especially ones who follow Jesus, repudiate the language. One can say that this is not surprising, that he’s been doing this all along. That is true. But this is a level of unstatesmanlike public discourse that needs to be addressed right now. Robert Jeffries certainly did. His counterparts need to speak up. Now.
***
I believe in the path of Love, but this is one of the biggest challenges to that, even more than Dick Cheney. It was easier when it was abstract, but having an actual person to work it out with is really hard. I should probably take a FB break and read more Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron and Richard Rohr. Still, I feel a need to be part of the conversation. Somehow, I think these things need to happen in tandem: the inner work and the outer work.

Let’s keep talking about how to manage this. If not to Love, if not even to stop hating, at least to manage it all, to not be drowned, ourselves, in the hatred.

This I can say: I love You. I love my family, my students, my colleagues, my Beloved Friends, the sun and the earth and the animals. The moon. Those who are downtrodden and beaten and excluded. And because of that Love, I must fight the Wrong that these men are unleashing.

I have a sense that my hatred will not be an effective tool in that, though I have not managed to quell it. My anger can go either way, to push me to toward effective Work, or to enmire me in the bogs.

I cast a line from me to you, a line of Love for all that we love in common.
***
“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them.” –Elie Wiesel
***
I have been neglecting the grounding work of my gratitude lists during a couple of days when I desperately needed the grounding.


Gratitude List:
1. The fine musicians and singers at my school. They are really given the opportunity to learn and to shine.
2. A long weekend
3. Bright souls, all around
4. A warm hat and slippers
5. Being surrounded by stories

May we walk in Beauty!