One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Post-Election Anyway

When I was a small child about ten years old, my town had a terrible flood.  We lived on a peninsula between a lake and swamp.  The lake was lowered every year in the fall through a canal lock system, but this year the Highway Authority had taken over responsibility.  Needless to say, the Highway Authority miscalculated how much they needed to lower the lake.  Combined with their error was a nasty blizzard that winter.  As rains came in the spring, I stood at the window watching the waters break over the seawalls and then the sandbags, and make their way up to our lawn.  Eventually, the streets had water several feet deep.  You could see fish swimming across the street, including long-nosed pike. 

We were lucky.  Our house was on a hill.  At some point, my Dad suited me up in waders and told me that we needed to help build up the sandbag walls for our neighbors.  I put on the rubber legs, pulling the straps over my chest with the duty of a soldier.  I had long legs and as I walked out to the canoe awaiting to transport me, I thought I was tall enough to take one more step in the waters before climbing into the boat.

I miscalculated the dip between the drive and the road.

Water filled my waders. I still remember that panic.  I started to scramble.  It felt like I was being tied down with cement blocks.

I remember my Dad's voiced muffled by the rush of blood pulsing in my ears, until at last I could hear him say, "stay calm.  Stand up!"  Sure enough I could stand, water up to my chest.  I had enough room to wriggle free from the waders and climb- albeit drenched like a wild-eyed cat- into the boat.

I've been thinking about the poem penned by Kent Keith, whose first line is "People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway."  I don't know about you friends, but post-election I've been building my own "anyway" list to help remind myself when the water starts to pour over the top of the waders that there is a paradox to this time if we can listen past our panic.

So a few things I've heard:

It will feel as if there is too much to feel, too much to offer compassion for, too many people to protect and love; love and protect them anyway.

If you break silence and speak out or if you are bold or if you do something that shines, even your allies may come for you; shine on anyway.

You will try and fail; try anyway.

Your greatest heroes will disappoint you, especially up close, get close anyway.

You will be confused and unsure of what to do next, do what is next anyway.

You will say the wrong thing and you may look back horrified at something you once did, speak anyway.

There will be kindness and joy in the midst of pain, feel it all anyway you can.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Down to the Ocean to Pray

I took my heart to the ocean last night
To drown it
I whispered 
With salty tears,
“Here, heart
This will be better”
I was ready with stones and a plaid-pleated dress,
Just like I saw when
Nicole Kidman played Virginia Woolf
Remember that?
I took my heart to the ocean last night
Certain this was best as I placed the stones in her pocket
And tethered her hands
But heart shook loose
Kicking with wildness as the stones flew
And the tethers fell to her feet
The plaid-pleats torn
“No,” she said.
You open your wings to daylight
Like wild geese
You rise up and breach the world of air and light
Like whale
You wade in the waters
Like children
You swim
Like the Beloved

Friday, February 10, 2017


Do not hide

Do not numb yourself

Throw fiery hot sauce atop the scrambled eggs
And chiles in the hot cocoa

Find cause to step nude into the hallway

Laugh loudly and often in the eateries of earnestness

Dance and make love
Even as despair wafts through the air
like an invisible deadly

in all the ways
you can

Find no civilized time in the day.

Read King
and Gramsci
as bedtime story

Clothe yourself
in cardinal-red
while feeding the birds
peanut-brittle from the
good tin.

always resisting.

Michael and Robert at the Detention Center

I do not know if 
it was Michael or Robert
but one of the little boys
was still
young enough to be slightly unsteady 
at the edge of the curb 
in that fenced 
exercise area 
with barbed wire 
'round the top.


Not from the anxiety of it all-
Your parents on trial for espionage -
your last visit to the detention center

But something much more benign,
because his little legs
had not yet found the 
neural networks
for stability.

So one of the boys teetered 
as the cameras rolled.

I see them
those little boys

everywhere now

the children who are unsteadied 
in impossible circumstance
they will not understand 
if we do our job
they survive to 
be the subject of the documentary.

"What was it like?"

They will bite their lip,
decades later
as the cameras roll once more;
try to explain 
how they were just
on the beam.

A Blessing of Jelly

Tell them--
maybe in the toast at the end of the night,
Tell them--
That dazzling and dazed couple
that there will be days
of fatigue
and motions without feelings
and bone-achey begging
for sleep.

Tell them that
it won't be as they dream;

That they will take towels with rough edges
to scrub the jelly
from tables
and sofa arms
and the corners
of windows.

Tell them it will be days later
when at last
sitting down
they will tilt their head to see that yes
that line
in the middle of
Tom Hanks' face
on the television
is jelly.
And yes Harry did meet Sally,
but not with jelly on his forehead.

Tell them
there will be a day
when without reason
they will stop in the middle of the room
and in the quiet of the house
with hands readied,
towels dampened,
there is no more
sticky spot to clean.

Tell them--
go to the fridge
take out
 the jar
even the sophisticated raspberry jam will do-

Take butter knife as if lifting the silver menorah
and then
plunge it deep into the jar
coming up for the air of the carpet
the shelf
the sofa
the thin line across Tom Hanks' face

Bring jelly
once more.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tuesday Theology: Hope on Fire

I hope.

I hope that when the world breaks your heart open
You will remember the moon
This moon
Brilliant and slivered shining across one earth.

I hope that when the world disappoints you
And you are fractured with the tiniest of paper cuts across your soul
You will remember my words
Echoing across any ocean
Any mountain
Even time itself

These words
You are pure love to me
Etched upon my heart

I hope that when you are ashamed and fear that the worst they’ve said is
All together true
And written in bright lights
You will remember how the flame endured
And a people passed it on

And how it lives now in you.

Monday Meditation: The Fog Hits

Fog was thick tonight
So thick that you wondered if you should just stop
But then stopping might mean getting hit.

This is what it is was like.

I finally understood.

History books are clear,
They knew all along,
And we smile centuries later with the contentment of time security.

But this is thick fog
With the occasional house light,
or the blaring oncoming fog lights,
language masking the futility.

This is a sudden bicyclist-

The sudden bicyclist who appeared in the street out of nowhere!

And brakes hitting just quickly enough

The cursing relief of having trusted my gut
to slow down
to look out
to navigate the road by gut.

This is the sigh of relief
More fog
And the moments to see little feet in their bed
to hold the dog
and realize
that "right" is in the fog,
in the promise to return home
to little feet
to furry bodies
to an integrity of soul;

Knowing they will nod one day
With approval
Imagining themselves to be each of us
or nodding with disapproval, smiling with security wondering...
Always wondering...
how did it happen

And the survivors whose sight was taken
Will try to teach once more

The fog is always thick
Your eyes are insufficient

You must drive


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sing It Out Sunday: Born This Way

A little tribute to Gaga and a reminder that compassion starts close to home.  Sometimes we need reminders in the resistance to stop, affirm the beauty and search for it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday Sabbath: Figure Out Your Tool

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was shared with me in seminary.  A professor who observed my tendency to get 100% fired up about anything and go all Hebrew Prophet, gently pulled me aside one day.  He said, "if all you have is a hammer, then everything is going to look like a nail."  I stood there for a minute until it hit me.  The spiritual practice of adding to the tool box, and discerning when to use the tools is still a work in progress for me.  Many of us could tell stories from our youth into early adulthood about learning how to utilize different skills or styles to different situations.  So what about you now?  Does everything look like a nail in this resistance movement? Might be time for a new tool...

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Fusion: Know a Good Lawyer about the one about civil rights...

It is not always terribly sexy, but a lawyer with decent knowledge of constitutional law and serious persistence may just save a whole lot of our lives soon.  I learned the value of a lawyer when I was in North Carolina and thrown in jail for attempting to speak to my representative.  I learned once more the value of a lawyer when one called me to ask if I would be part of a suit to gain marriage equality rights, an argument that ended up working.  I was reminded last week as a judge issued a stay against yet another executive order of the value of a good lawyer- or two.  All the jokes we might tell placed aside, we are gonna need a few good lawyers in the days ahead.  So for this Friday Fusion, I am giving a shout out to the ACLU.  Well done, good and faithful servants.  Let's hope we all keep you fueled for the years ahead!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday Theology: Running Without Fear

I come from a family of runners.  My father and uncle have both run marathons, including the Boston Marathon.  I started running with my Dad when I was still in elementary school.  I remember the day I caught up to him in high school, and he earned the nickname “snail man.”

I remember the day when after years of running, I was in college and a man at my church told me that I really should be careful about running.  He gave me all the statistics of women being assaulted and started with passion to describe how easy it would be for someone to scoop me into a van.  I remember feeling in my body the hook into a fear that had long been present. 

When you are a woman you learn these things: never run alone, never run at night, never run in unknown places, never run in desolate places, keep a phone with you, run with friends, bring mace.  You know the rules. 

That day, in the crowded hall outside a sanctuary of all places, I also learned the sensation of harm called help like a hook to the gut.

I remember in September when a white moderate explained to me, with her hand on my shoulder, that I should not worry.  Trump would never go after my rights.  Didn’t I see the picture with the rainbow flag?  I am sure she believed that, and I knew that hook that was in me, was in her too.

I’ve come to learn that sensation- especially unintentional harm called help- that gut pull.

Over the years, I stopped running.  The fear was too present in my body.  I don’t blame the man in my church.  It was not just one person.  And I gave the fear power.

I decided this past year, after the election, to start running again.  Every time I’ve run outside, I’ve felt that fear in my body.

Until today.

I ran today in Atlanta.  A beautiful sunny day had turned into a slightly cloudy day. My hosts gave me instruction to a nearby park.   There were trails throughout the park and runners all around.  I looked forward to an uphill trail that edged around a corner—I could not see the other side.

The fear started.

Normally, I would turn around.

This time, I saw a blue bird fly clear across the path and heard the voices of women walking the trail coming over the hill.  Somehow between their voices and my own voice, I felt it was safe.  And I went for it.  Sprinted up the hill and round the bend.  The trail ended!  I stood there considering the options; took one defiant step outside the trail.

I ran back, down a hill as the softest rain started and I didn’t mind crying right there in the middle of the park with the teenagers awkwardly smiling at me and the toddlers on swings squealing.  Sometimes courage feels like joy.

I ran today.

Without fear, I ran today.

One more day in the resistance.