Re(storation)(birth)(generation)

Take one faithful step at a time…
she said to me…
and pray… I’ll be praying with you…

That lavender to purple moment leads me to an open field
where God encourages me to walk maybe run.
But definitely be free to dream…
at least let go…
there are still limitations in myself
expectations
so right now I can only look and imagine myself in that field…
I can only stand on the periphery
wondering if it is the green pastures beside the still waters
… is it love?
…is it the mentorship I could never find?
My spirit will take one.
My body the other.
But it doesn’t matter
… that I can pray again or actually that my prayers can consist of
anything but untrusting angry cries at God…

that I can see that field is merciful in itself…

oh for grace to trust him… trust her… trust God… oh for grace to trust…

Hippy’s not enough…

So the word “Hippie”/Hippy… has been floating around my world a little too much lately. And while I celebrate all that I am, I am a little unsure about that particular title. Yes I am theoretically a pure bread hippy. I was raised by a very poltically conscious mother. I went to Oberlin. I went to Union Seminary. I left the Baptists for the UCC. I love my Birkenstocks! My hair is natural. I like long flowery dresses and skirts. I use the word “vibe” and “energy” to describe spaces and communities. I use the words “space” and “community” a lot. I sometimes like to walk barefoot in grass. I’ve gone hiking a few times. I think sitting next to water and looking at the sky are great spiritual practices. I’ve lived in Park Slope. I live in Ann Arbor.

But there are a few specific things about claiming this term that does not sit well with me.

1) My ancestors and other black people. For me my hippie-dom is a representation and celebration of my freedom. And isn’t that what the ancestors were fighting for? The freedom of our people? Sometimes the reactions I get make me wonder. I often think about how Maya Angelou said “I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” I sometimes think “yeah Maya so am I…” but other times I wonder if I’m actually the nightmare. Black folks too often act as if physical and legal freedom is the only thing we can hope to get in this world. Emotional, spiritual and social freedom is only for white people. I way too often get punished by black people for being too free…

2)White folk. I sometimes think that if the above list of schools and accomplishments and places of residence and blah blah… were pinned to the chest of a 30 year old white woman named Kate… we’d have a whole ‘nother story. Kate would be ordained a hippy and I guess a minister if she wanted to be and that would be it. She would be married to some progressive man who would have taken her last name. And no one would question why she didn’t just settle for the the dude in front of the Popeye’s on 125th. And Kate would have little cute kids who would wear cute political tee-shirts and go to drumming circles every week. And those kids will never have to chose between being “progressive” and being “white”. Kate would would not constantly be questioned about her loyalty to her denomination (even if she had come from the Baptist church). No one would EVER tell the administrator of the church to not collect offering on the Sunday she supply preached, lest Kate take the offering. Kate would never have been asked 3000 times “how did YOU get into Oberlin?” And even if she were on scholarship… no one would ever point-blank ask her questions about how she afforded her college education.

So the point is as much as freedom has led me to all of the hippy spaces and hippy conclusions… there is a white supremacist (yeah I said it) legacy that keeps me from fully engaging and experiencing true “hippy-dom”.

(Yeah I spelled hippy 2 different ways I don’t know which is right… just leave me alone!)

Leaving 2008 Behind: A New Year Reflection

As I sit avoiding work, I reflect on the year that has passed. I am having a hard time remembering all that’s happened this year. A lot of it was really good:

I started the UCC ordination process and found respect and validation of my call
I sang with my choir at Jazz at Lincoln Center
I went to California for the first time
I had a really nice birthday party and basked in the diversity of my friends
I started my first full time job (w/benefits!)
I moved to a very nice apt in Brooklyn
I found some more allies and “brothers in ministry” (aka Pips) in my CPE co-workers
Barack (Freakin’) Obama!

In my mind I know that I am blessed and that I have been blessed in 2008. Yet there is so much old negativity that my heart can’t take anymore. I don’t want to/can’t carry it into 2009. My New Year’s ritual will be just to cry and cry until all of that ugliness and loneliness of old is washed out. I wish I could go to a Pentecostal church and just shout and scream the New Year in.

I want to enter 2009 with a renewed “joy of salvation” and ‘joy of call’. I no longer want to be resentful and untrusting of God because of all of the pain I’ve faced in my life. I want to move forward in my process. I want to feel my call and not feel like I am lying when I say I am a minister.

My father died in 2008. I really was expecting him to live longer. But he didn’t. And along with other things, I want to leave his legacy in 2008. I want to no longer feel his abandonment. I want to no longer feel his criticism. I want to no longer need his validation. And more importantly, I want to say to myself, “It’s not ok that you were abandoned, criticized and devalued” and mean it. And maybe this will push out the people in my life who treat me the way that my father treated me.

2009 will be the year that my circle will be filled with those who are present, loving and validating. I also want to be present, loving and validating of myself and others. I want to feel joy as much as I feel pain. I want to sing “I Won’t Complain” in a non-sarcastic way. 2009 will be there year that I make room for myself and the partner, who I don’t know but my heart breaks for…

I wish you all whatever your heart breaks for, whatever you ALWAYS pray for, for love, blessings and peace in 2009…

Mad Preacher

Tell ’em why u thankful!

Not a traditional thanksgiving…

I’ve spent the day in Brooklyn, on call as a hospital chaplain. I’ve responded to 1 page from an emotionally disturbed patient who needed some spiritual reassurance. It’s weird to say but this is a relief. In this field you get to the point where you are actually happy (thankful) when people are still alive and “just” having an emotional emergency. “This (I say in my superman voice) I can handle”… I don’t know how I feel about this.

But with a now quiet pager I sit back on my wonderful hand-me-down couch, and reflect on my life and what I am thankful for.

“Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done”

Oh that’s the Baptist jam right there! Let’s see if it’s true:

5. Love Songs I’m a hopeless romantic. I had to fast from these demonic things because they were depressing me. But now I’m back:

The earth that is the space between,
I’d banish it from under me to get to you.
Your unexpected love provides my solitary’s suicide…oh I wish I knew
-Sara Bareilles

4. Mommy/Mama/Ma My mother and my “mothers” (female elders and ancestors) are the consistency in my life. My mother is the one who didn’t leave physically. “Momma”, my maternal great grandmother is the one who didn’t leave spiritually. Mama Edith, my paternal grandmother has been with me in both worlds, saving us with her small but significant monetary blessings during the holidays; and blessing me with peace-filled spiritual foresight as I face the last few conversations with my father. And “Grandma”, my maternal grandmother, who has blessed me with her fighting spirit.

3. Friends I love my friends, from those I’ve know from middle school to those I met in the trenches of CPE. I love the weird diverse mixture of backgrounds and culture. I love that maybe 75%-80% of them are total psychic/clarvoyant/”witchy spiritual diva(o)s. I love that I can think to myself “my I’m feeling a little sad” and like 10 people will call,tm,im, carrier pigeon… “I was just thinking about you. Is everything ok?”

2. Purple “You really like purple!” (Said in my Goofy voice) Yes, I know! I don’t know why. But my eyes are attracted to that glorious mixture of blue and red.

1. Jesus From Matthew 7:3-4

3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Christians are Crazy: Mad Preacher’s Defense of Joel Osteen

You know Joel Osteen gets so much flack from so many people… liberal to conservative… ministers to lay people… the religious and the nonreligious… They all find in common that they can’t stand Joel Osteen. “He doesn’t preach he gives self help.” “He’s more of a good motivational speaker than a minister.” 

That he is… but does that make him less of a minister? Does that make his ministry worthless. Maybe… but considering the fact that most Christians I know are a bunch of lunatics, why is Joel Osteen such a bad idea? What is so distressing about a little church-based self-help. Christians need all the help we can get. Let’s not get so arrogant to think that everything is about “fixing” the “other”… “taming” the “heathen”… “liberalizing” the “conservative”…blah blah blah… while in the mean time we’re over eating… drinking… abusing all kinds of substances including money and sex… being mean and nasty to those in the church “in the name of Jesus”. But nooooooo…. we don’t need self help. Joel Osteen is just a fool!

I know my angry liberal Christian card will be revoked but I have to say it…. I LIKE JOEL OSTEEN… I know come and get me. The Mad Preacher and Joel Osteen are oxymorons… But they aren’t! I think we could help each other. When I get finished ranting and raving. I need some smiley white guy to tell me that I have “favor in the Lord”. All the crap and resistance I face in my ministry… I need Joel to tell me “Don’t go getting discouraged.” I need that. I am not saying that he doesn’t need a little prophetic rage. When I become a televangelist he can watch me. We’ll learn from each other. 😉

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