One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blueberry Legacy

I rush toward the short shrubs
Like puppies in a pen,
Wanting to snuggle the branches.

“What are these?”
A bittersweet excitement ensues as he says only,
“The future.”

I hold the hunter green un-budded branch.

“I need to cross pollinate.
Create a new plant,
Then plant the children of these

He motions across the rows of bushes.

“How long?”
The immediacy of the sweet, tart burst of a blueberry, the way the soft skin brushes the side of the tongue rolls across the mind.
“Ten years to really produce.”

My eyes fall down to the red clay earth,
as the intimacy and importance of this small shrub strikes me:
An 82-year old man planting shrubs whose fruit is ten years off.

He coughs to disrupt the shear tenderness of legacy gathered about us.

I am relieved to not have to find the words to say:
“Thank you for the blessing of berries.
Thank you
For the generosity of this gift.”

A gift beyond articulation.

The 82-year old engineer turned blueberry farmer hands me the offering bucket
And we walk on in the sanctuary of shrubs
Quietly dreaming of the pie that will be baked
A decade from now.

This must be how hope feels,
The fruit of the ancestors’ dreaming

In the hands of the grandchildren.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Quilt-makers

It poured tonight
Big thunder and wild fractured lighting

I thought

Because I can’t take one more vomit-worthy perfect cloudless sky
And beautiful birdsong at daybreak
And dogs that sit with wagged tail
And children that giggle in high pitch
And lawnmowers delivering sweet-smelling grasses.

As if

We won’t read about us one day with equal dismay and disaster shock-
fail to explain to our children-
If they make it to that day-

How we could think that tears chose tragedy
Or systems autocorrected
Or that beloved did not come from the hard night of broken?
How we could believe in our bones that
White babies of a dove lily mother
Would not die from this disease too?

Once, when thousands died from disease
So many were silent
So many dead swallowed up in that silence
They brought a quilt-
Reminded us of our grandmothers
And chicken soup
And herringbone stitches that could mend even AIDS

Maybe once more the quilt could come
But this time we
Build blanket forts
Out of the memories of the bereaved
Stay together in those tents of mourning
Feeling the heat rise with our bodies
Sweat running down our necks, tears down across our shirt
Knowing it’s okay to cry together
To belong at last
To each other

Thursday, June 30, 2016

What If?

What if
You could name your heart’s pulse maker
Put it there on page
Like a brilliant strategic plan
Except one that gets used not put on the shelf
What if you could name what matters most
Everything single darn thing
That made you come alive
Fully really alive
I mean like electric
Not cheap doritos or numbing sitcom
“Okay I am breathing”
But like
“Whoa! Aaaaaaamaaaaaaazing! Yes!”
I am here for a reason
And this right here
Is it.
What if you lived for those things
And life became one big beautiful magic world
Where those things were the home bases
You rounding those corners as fast as you could
Knowing the sweetness of the slide,
Not caring about the dirt on your pants or the rug burn
You on this hobbit quest
Like a hawk
And let’s be honest,
A bit badass (if one could say that).
What if
“no” was easy to say to what didn’t serve that purpose
And the heart was not hooked into being liked or pleasing to others
Because it was that simple
If only for a blink in the universe
You really got your twinkle on.
I mean

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Failing Human

I don't know how 
to make sense of the stunning white butterfly with slate speckles landing on the azure delphinium 
a flash of heaven here in the piedmont
while the truth of 41 dead in Istanbul 
239 injured 

sinks in,
me wondering if there are 239 of anything in this small garden,
some beauty against that terror.

I don't know how 
to make sense of Georgia
who purred and danced round my legs as I buried the hen who ruled the coop.

I don't know how 
to make sense of the beautiful and broken
so often delivered together
but that is this day
"and many more yet" my heart whispers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Being Human

I went to a vigil on Monday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As the vigil began, very quietly... a Muslim family arrived with their two young children. The mother held a child about the age of 4 while the father held an infant. Several people looked back in the crowd watching the woman who wore a hijab. I thought, "I wonder what it takes to show up here with your young children at a LGBTQ bar after the Orlando murders?" 
And then, several people in the crowd parted and motioned for the family to step into the gathering rather than be held at the edges. Everyone went back to standing together. The Muslim family was now a part of the thousand who gathered. 
I thought, "what must it take to welcome that family into this crowd?" 

Tears welled up. 
Being human.
That's what it takes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Liberation v. The U.S. Supreme Court: The Larger Angle of Liberation

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which debates a Texas law that essentially puts reproductive clinics out of business.  In North Carolina, where I live, there have been similar legislative tactics.History matters in these times.  And the personal history (or her story) of those speaking matters.

So some history...

Many years ago, I accompanied a friend to a clinic to get the morning after pill.  Several years later, I joined another friend at a different reproductive clinic to get an abortion.  When trying to have a child, I was grateful to have a clinic that offered care and treatment for LGBTQ families.  When I had a miscarriage, I was grateful to have a knowledgeable doctor walk me through what was happening to my body.  I was also grateful to have friends who didn't expect a particular emotional response.  And I was even more grateful to have that doctor present when I became pregnant again and it was possible that I was carrying multiple fertilized eggs (more than 3).  Again, it was a compassionate knowledgeable doctor who explained to me the process of selective reduction and the potential impact of carrying more than triplets to term.

What I think about most when I reflect on my own reproductive history and that of my close friends are the ways in which culture, economics, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender mapped to our overall reproductive justice.  It would be impossible for me to tell my story without mentioning particular privileges that afforded me more justice as well as experiences of marginalization that changed my experience significantly.

Alongside the power map of reproductive justice, for me, is the healing or harmful role community can play.  As a Unitarian Universalist, I had a theology that helped me grapple with the complexity of life.  See the 2015 UUA Statement of Conscience for an articulate snapshot of Unitarian Universalist reproductive theology.  I also had a community of friends and colleagues who know how to apply their theology to the complexity of living.  Not once has anyone in my faith community placed the written word or the legal requirements as having higher value than my pain or my love.  

Yet, I am often wearied by the arguments for reproductive rights that place a high value on choice and individual rights without any recognition of the complexity of reproductive justice.  Let me be clear, I have had a largely positive reproductive history.  And part of that --no most of that-- is because of the vast amount of privilege I was born with in this world.

No matter the outcome of the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, I would hope that we could begin to widen the lens of liberation as it relates to reproductive justice.  The lens of choice and individual rights is insufficient in a world where we are caught in a network of mutuality.  Reproductive justice is about more than individual legal rights or a personal choice just as liberation does not exist in a silo.  We are called to the complexity of reproductive justice in the multifaceted nature of oppression.  It is more than a gender binary right and it certainly connects to racism and heterosexism.  It demands that we listen to the margins and in the words of the 2015 UUA Statement of Conscience,

With open minds, helping hands, and loving hearts, we work toward reproductive justice, and commit to replacing insecurity with safety, fear with acceptance, judgment with love, and shame with compassion.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Not Wanting It Bad Enough

It has been 5 months since the North Carolina legislature approved HB 318 which prohibited state agencies from issuing a work waivers to childless adults needing food stamps or SNAP.  The law was named the "Protect North Carolina Workers Act."  Immediately following its passage (and before) food banks, crisis assistance agencies and officials from North Carolina's poorest counties were issuing warnings about the hazardous effects of this law.  Already strapped food banks were worried they wouldn't be able to meet the new demand placed on them when previously eligible recipients of food stamps would no longer be able to receive them.

And now we are clearly seeing the impact of the law as food banks issue pleas for additional donations.  Even in Rowan County, one of the 77 counties in North Carolina with the hardest impact from HB 318, Rowan Helping Ministries issued requests to increase food donations from local faith communities.  My congregation holds a monthly food drive at both our gatherings located in Charlotte and Salisbury, North Carolina.  We gather up food donations as folks come into our Sunday service on the 1st Sunday of each month.  I am sure our donations do matter, but I also know that they are completely insufficient in the face of generational poverty.

The truth is that despite our best reasoned logical understandings of generational poverty in this country, there is still a pervasive personalizing of poverty.  Issuing work requirements to receive SNAP rests, in part, upon the assumption that there is work to be had.  Not to mention the assumption then that some people on SNAP aren't seeking work.  If poor people only wanted to work badly enough, then we would have less poverty.  If poor people only wanted a better life, then we wouldn't have to spend our tax dollars on them.  If we only practice tough love, then they will at last pull themselves up out of poverty.

Thousands of studies have disproven the personalization of poverty.  Most recently a study found that Charlotte, North Carolina ranks 50 out of the top 50 largest cities in economic mobility (and 97 out of the top 100).  Put simply, if you are born poor in Charlotte, NC you are likely to die poor.  It does not matter how hard you work, how badly you want it.  The odds are stacked against you.  And of course the parallel to this is that if you are born rich in Charlotte, NC you are likely to die rich.

Charlotte created an Opportunity Task Force in order to create concrete recommendations to transform the lack of economic mobility in Charlotte.

In order for real change to come, I think I am going to have to grapple with the reality that my middle class over-privileged life is going to have to change if I really want to see justice to roll down like waters.  That is not very comfortable at all.  I believe there is enough in our country and in our world.  I believe in abundance.  I also believe that the abundance of beloved community cannot be realized with radical disparity and disconnection, which is our world today.

In this month of desire, I wonder if I wanted it bad enough, how could my life lead to more justice?