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Stay.Right.Here.

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Life seems to be serving up the same lessons that I seem to either forget or think I will eventually master.  In this week’s servings there was nothing over the top out of the ordinary, but none-the-less the challenges of parenting and adulting and relationshiping drudged up old responses that I thought I had out grew.  Just like an old, familiar space my responses were filled with anxiety and worry and a nagging voice that I-am-just-not-doing-enough and that I-will-never-be-enough.

These are the ghosts of my past who somehow fill my present and urge me to problem solve a future that still has yet to become.  

And so I do the old patterns that I’ve learned do not serve me well and this is that I try to control for the circumstances in which I have no control.  Usually how this looks is I try to out do myself– be better– be perfect– be a perfect mom– present a competent, well-put-together adult self for co-workers, be the best listener to my friends, have the patience of a saint for my children, stave off exhaustion or weariness, appear brave, commit to being a giver and resist being a receiver…

I know this is usually a fruitless, soul draining endeavor for me.  I know that the more I live in my head to be perfect and to present perfection the less I live authentically.  Authentic for me is to be in the moment– open to whatever life offers so that I can learn and grow.  Authentic also means that I am where I am… I’m giving what I have… I’m receiving what I can hold and I’m listening in the here and now.

And I’ve learned in the four decades of my life that the efforts to control exhaust me and wear me thin yet, I found myself doing this by default– just easing into this old pattern without giving it a second thought.  In my 20’s and 30’s this likely would go on for a long time, but thanks-be to the development of skills like mindfulness and self-awareness I was able to eventually notice that this pattern had snuck back up.  I was able to evaluate myself and make some different decisions regarding the anxiety and stress I was bearing and the response I wanted to extend to myself.

When I got down to it I realized that the anxiety I was holding was about an uncertain future that I have very little to no control over.  I mean to get really honest with myself I had to realize that I cannot predict or control what is to come and that scares the shit out of me.

I mean…

I can pour every ounce of parenting energy and wisdom into my children, but what they do with that… how they actualize is not in my control.

I can love with every ounce of love my heart and body can muster and I can’t control the outcome and the return of love or of loss or of illness or of death.  (Loving my mother meant taking care of her body and her health toward the fruit of her returning to complete health– I could not control for how her illness was going to compromise her and ultimately take her)

I can make all the ‘smart’, future forward career investment decisions to ensure a future of bright opportunities and financial security, but I can’t guarantee that these opportunities will be extended toward me.

And this lesson presented to me what it always presents to me– that what I have is right now.  I have today.

A few years ago, I did some crazy stuff.  I left everything behind: a marriage, a career, a community, a belief system– on the notion that leaving the toxic aspects of my life would lead to more health and growth.  I had a certain kind of optimism or hope about that decision.

In terms of my mental and emotional health I can say that I’ve seen the fruits of that decision produce the capacity for me to think and to breathe and to live in peace.  It’s in part, why I can presently be more mindful, but in terms of what the future holds I have no certainties and I think that some days I’m still waiting and watching with bated breath– I’m peering into the future, anxieties rising, lungs full– wanting, longing to control the outcomes.  And then life (sometimes in gentle ways and sometimes in not so gentle ways) brings me right back to where I am and says stay.right.here.  Don’t get ahead of yourself.  You have today.  You have this moment.  Stay right here and listen– don’t lose this moment.  Don’t let it slip away.  Bask in it.  Let the sun shine on your face and breathe, because this is what you have and this is what you can be certain of– this- right- here.

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To: white, straight women who did not vote for Trump and yet remain silent post-election

I know the outcome of this election is not what you expected.  During the campaign you expressed disbelief over the vile, hateful and misogynist comments made by Trump.  These among other reasons were guiding your conviction to vote for another candidate and now that the president-elect is Trump, I—we have yet, to hear from you.

Surely you’ve heard of the terror and fear that so many have been feeling since the election results.  Men and women from marginalized groups all over the United States know what a Trump presidency will mean for themselves and their families.  Immigrant children have been scared that they will have to move out of the country.  LGBTQ people have been beaten, bloodied and verbally harassed.  Black churches have been burned down and defiled.  Muslim Americans have been told by Trump supporters that now that the United States has a ‘real’ president they need to go back to where they belong.  All the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, hate-filled rhetoric by Trump has encouraged acts of hate and discrimination against brown people, black people, Muslim people, immigrants and LGBTQ people.

Yes, over the past two years it has been painful to endure rhetoric that has been filled with hate.  It’s been re-traumatizing as it has reopened old wounds and memories of verbal and physical abuse within our shared history.

Now those words have been followed by hate crimes and violence against disenfranchised communities—leaving us to worry about our daily safety when navigating public spaces or even when we sit in our places of worship.

As if that is not enough, we realize that our basic human and constitutional rights are threatened with a Trump administration.  What protection or legal right will we have if our marriages and relationships are deemed invalid; if we are forced out of our country because of what we believe or what we look like; if we as immigrants find no safe haven here in the U.S.; if we lose our jobs or our housing because of who we are; if we are assaulted or harassed sexually or physically in the workplace?

We have no assurances of safety, dignity or protection in the present or the future.  The outcome of this election stripped all of that away.  We are filled with unspeakable terror and pain.

You know this because we’ve had conversations regarding these realities and still you choose silence in the wake of incredible devastation, terror, grief and uncertainty.

It’s hard to make sense of your silence and I draw from past conversations and inaction and I am dissatisfied with the conclusions I come to in the wake of your silence and withdrawal.

I try to see it from your perspective— as a white woman there are also risks to your safety, which is overwhelming and troubling.

I know this patriarchal & misogynist society views your life void of value and seeks to silence you, too.

Yet, when I ask you about this reality you say, “it sucks and you hate it, but it’s just part of life”.  When you’re pressed about that you say:

I’m not very political or

My life is too busy to fight it or

I can’t deal with conflict—it’s just too stressful or

I have kids that keep me busy or

I have a job and too many responsibilities to be bothered with politics

As a brown, queer woman and mother of a trans child, I tell you I have all those things too… a job, kids, responsibilities—a busy, full life, but I do not have the privilege to disengage the results of this election or oppression because it’s my very life, family and community who face a future that is uncertain and there is no time for inaction.

You say that you love me and that you want to be a safe place for my venting, but you refuse to show up for me/for us—to use your civil liberties and constitutionally protected freedoms to demand those same rights for all people in the United States.

I can’t help but feel unloved.

You are secure in your civil liberties and constitutional rights and are comfortable with this status quo—even if it is a false sense of safety.

I can’t help but feel envious of your privilege to prioritize yourself in such a way because you have little fear that your life or your family will be threatened or be forced to change significantly.

You are the norm.

I tell you how this is bound to affect my gender non-conforming son’s existence and you say:

That’s too bad, but I don’t believe in that.  I believe in my right as a woman to consent and to make decisions about my body, but I don’t believe that this applies to others’ rights to express or identify who he or she is outside of our social gender structure and traditions.

I ask you to reconsider because we need all people and all voices to stand up for our rights and you say you need to pray about it or go to church and get the green light from your pastor or your priest.

I can’t help but feel tired, frustrated and neglected because I know that when you came to me and told me that you were raped by an acquaintance:

I was the one who told you that I believed you when no one else would and we went together to the hospital.  I stayed with you through the rape kit and the criminal report. When you were questioned about your clothing and your choices I was the one who stood up for you to those who would shame and blame you.

When you told me that your family friend had molested you as a child and you were filled with shame:

I told you that what happened to you was wrong and horrific and that you were beautiful and beloved and wronged in the most ugly way.

When you told me that you’d been beaten by your partner:

I told you that in no way did you bear any fault and that I’d help you find safety.  I went to the court with you to file a no-contact order and stayed with you throughout the process.

I have used my voice, my resources, my passion and my energies to stand in the gap for your rights… to call for justice when you were violated and abused.  I have zero regret about this—I would do this time and time again, but what I want to know is will you show up for me?  Will you show up for us—those that do not look like you, act like you, relate to you?

When it comes to oppression, discrimination and violence showing up has been a one sided experience.  You seem to overlook the sense of urgency and fear that I feel—even though I show up for you, for your kids, for your troubles… your fears… your concerns without question or hesitation.

I’m learning that real, authentic relationships are reciprocal and are paved on paths that go both ways.  It is times like these we all have to put ourselves on the line.

I am not going to lie to you… I am angry that you choose to not hear me.  I am angry that you choose the convenience of silence.  I am hurt that you feel no urgency when you see this pain.

As a brown woman I appeal to you:

Please do not exploit our generosity and our burning conviction in human rights for all people.  Do not use our necessity to speak and to assemble to support yourself and your interests at your convenience and then when it doesn’t directly impact you disappear.  Please do not call yourself ally or friend in private, but when called upon in public circles and public policies look the other way.  Please do not try to comfort me by saying, “I don’t judge you”, because even if you were outwardly bigoted toward us your judgement holds no power and we don’t need your moral pardon.  Please recognize that being a ‘safe person’ and indicating so with your safety pins may require you to actually stand up to bullies on the bus or at the movie theater or at church or at the mall.  Thus far, being a safe person has not count the cost when hearing a friend or family member brag about their candidate winning and how they finally have their country back.  For years, you’ve claimed that you believe that racism and sexism are inexcusable, but remain silent when you’ve heard your family member or friend use a homophobic joke or racial slur.  But enough is enough—we can’t afford your silence—it is causing additional pain.  Your silence is creating barriers and broken bridges and we do not have the energy to mend them.  Please consider the radical nature of love… love is never inaction… love is not based on convenience… love is not negotiated… love is not just spoken in private—no, rather, radical, transformational love is lived out in public.  So if you say that you love me—love us—consider coming out from the shadows and stand with us—speak.

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Heart with Orlando


You know I really don’t have important or profound things to say… Just a heavy heart and my reflections. 

There is so much wrong with the shootings. The targeting of the LGBTQ community… The fact that gun violence has become so commonplace in our society… The conversation on guns and violence in the US… The problem with religious rhetoric that spews hate… The intersections of racism, homophobia and islamaphobia… 

I think of the victims in the club and what they may have been feeling and experiencing… Terror, fear, isolation and now in the aftermath the loss of a safe space. Safe space in the LGBTQIA community is something that is built and established because society isn’t safe, church isn’t always safe and family can be dangerous.  As some others have said these safe spaces are sacred places because they give the LGBTQ community a place of belonging, acceptance and family. 

The shooting victims are the primary focus of compassion and love AND for those of us in the queer community we feel this hits close to home even if we were not at the club in Orlando, because it is a message of hate that targets our rights to exist, live and love. 

I came out later in life. I think in many ways I pass for straight because I’m queer bisexual and I am older. I don’t go out at night. My last relationship was with a woman and I’ve since dated men and women. I understand that I have some privilege with the level of passing I’m afforded. But I decided not to pass today because I do stand in solidarity with those in Orlando, as a member of this community. Although I haven’t been targeted with extreme acts of violence due to passing I have experienced hate and fear for what I represent and who I am. 

I’ve had religion used as a tool to shame and guilt and remind me I’m unacceptable. I’ve had some family outright say hurtful and rejecting things. I’ve lost a lot of friend and family relationships. But I feel so fortunate because I had a safe space of women who understood, accepted and loved me in some very dark times. We created a haven of safety for queer women.  

Orlando is a reminder that the world holds so much hate and fear simply because of who we are. 

Orlando is also a reminder that the queer community is one huge family that stands alongside each other and will not be held down by hate because we are marked by love.

Last night, vigils were held all over the U.S. to stand with our family in Orlando. I wasn’t able to go, because like I said I’m old and have kids at home, but my spirit was with them, my heart was with all of them here in Seattle and in Orlando. 

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Mother’s Day & Father’s Day Grief

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Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be tough holidays for people.  It is tough for a variety of reasons: the death of a parent or the loss of a child… These losses make a day like Mother’s day incredibly difficult with complex emotions and reactions.  This mother’s day was particularly hard for me because my mom just died.  And it makes sense why Mother’s day would be hard for how it serves as a reminder of loss we’ve experienced.  Society hasn’t gotten a very good grasp on allowing space for grief, but loss because of death is something that is more widely understood and accepted.

With loss in mind, Mother’s & Father’s Days also can be hard for losses that take a different shape.

  • For some, this day is confusing because the relationship that one had with their mother or father or both does not fit the picture or the hallmark card that society has so conveniently packaged for us.
  • For some, it’s the memory of abuse and neglect that make the holiday hard.  Emotionally neglectful mother or a verbally abusive father… How does one celebrate when there is still so much trauma from the past?
  • For others, it’s emotionally and verbally abusive parents in the present.  People in these situations feel the obligation to send a card or flowers or go out to brunch, but don’t know how to reconcile that with their personal need to heal apart from the controlling or dismissive parent.
  • For others, Mother’s and Father’s day is fraught with anxiety and shame due to the rejection they’ve received from their parents because of their identity, life choices or personal decisions.  Folks talk about how they desire to honor their parents, but don’t know how given the demands their parents put on their lives to change to fit the parent’s ideals and values.  The relationship with the parent feels the farthest thing from loving.

The thing is we never talk about these realities.  We rarely get to acknowledge the fact that our relationships with our parents can be deeply confusing and painful.  Societally we don’t allow for an honest discourse around these family dynamics and on top of it we have this one day out of the year that we are sort of expected to pretend that everything is perfect.

I’ve heard people say, “It’s your duty to honor your parents.  The Bible says to honor your mother and father” in response to friends or siblings sharing about their painful relationships in the family.  Other responses include.

  • What happened to you happened so long ago… Why can’t you just let go of it?
  • You’ll regret not making the effort if something happens to your dad.
  • Ahhhh you know your mom didn’t mean it.

It’s so easy to dismiss these hurts and pile on obligation and shame on the individual hurting in these circumstances.  We don’t recognize the harm that is done in these comments.

How  one must navigate these hurts is complicated and varies AND the first step is to acknowledge that this hurt is real and to recognize that all loss goes through a process of grief.  Every grieving cycle is different, but the complex emotions that come in grief takes place with all kinds of losses.

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Maya, thank you

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I join the chorus in remembering and commemorating, our dear sister of soul, Maya Angelou.

A few years back I had the great fortune of hearing Maya read.  It was (I believe) to be her last reading tour– She was approximately 83 years old.  The experience was like no other.  It wasn’t really a reading it was a speaking, as words just seemed to fall from her mouth onto our expectant ears.  Here we were child-like perched at her feet– bright eyed and waiting with hopeful anticipation.  And boy did she deliver.

She made her way to the podium…

silence filled the room…

And then she spoke.

Her voice– like a bell rang so clear, so precise, so resonant– lodging into the fibers of our beings immediately.

Her voice– commanding.  It could have just been her and I there in that room for all I knew because her voice had the poise and ability to evoke that kind of intimacy.  And I felt loved.

She spoke that evening of the suffering and the tragedies, the longings and the hopes, the breaths bated and loves thwarted.

She spoke of broken childhood, the rising of a woman and the aching of her aging bones.

Her memory was clear and differentiated.  She held no ties to societies definitions of femininity or beauty.  She stood tall and on her own terms.  She gave the rest of the sense that we, too, could join in that resolution.

She welcomed us into the joys of conceiving and birthing our deepest dreams and yearnings.  She taught us that the sweat, pain and groans of birthing give way to authentic selves.  She called us to never lose hope and reminded us that self-preservation is a lie.

That evening she told us of the process of losing her sight– paying all dignity and honor to the gifts that her eyes gave her over the years and with grace releasing her eyes from the need to strain or maintain.

I know I was one of hundreds that night and yet, I felt like she knew me.  That is what Maya has been doing all these years teaching all of us that we are known, as she exposes her story and the rich tradition of giving voice to tragedy, fear, triumph and courage.

She’s led all of us on this feminine tradition of telling.  There is no need for secrets or hiding here… come as you are naked and open.  Maya along with many other female voices (Adrienne Rich, bell hooks, Eve Ensler, Gloria Steinem) have been modeling for us this woman tradition of rising up and taking our place and we will ache in her absence.

I was so lucky to participate in that evening.  I’ll never forget it nor her.

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a good friday reflection

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As a child every time I received a new gift I would keep it in its packaging for a long time.  It didn’t matter what it was or how long I had coveted and hoped to get the tiny toy or treasure that was within the package– the same ritual applied– hold on to the gift in its original package for weeks and weeks at a time.

Even now I find myself holding on to this strange practice– keeping ‘new’ items in their original state until at some point I am able to absorb the idea of its newness and perhaps move to the more practical place of receiving the usefulness of the item.

I can trace back the necessity of this practice in my story.  I can identify the need that I had to preserve, for as long as I could, the feeling of newness and new opportunity– to suspend this shiny, new-like trait for -as-long-as humanly-possible, because what was just beyond & below this new toy or thing was the feeling of hope.

Somehow this little thing represented to me the idea of the impervious– the state in which something or someone cannot be damaged, harmed, affected or changed. 

And so as a small person, you can well imagine that the feeling where all things are new, held in their newness, suspended in time, bright and fresh and shiny served to preserve an ideal of hope.  However, the hope goes beyond the state of that thing being new– in it’s original state, but it served my story the idea that through the newness of this gift I, in my small-like body, could return to a state of newness.  This ritual led to a feeling of being new again.  Thus, my story was not held in the current state but returned to its original place– a new being, new baby– untouched, unharmed, unaffected, unchanged– new, perfect. 

It was a pre-flawed condition to which I desired to return.

I imagine that much of this desire was hidden to me.  I was just a child, but now as I reflect on it and see how this pattern persists to this day I realize how deeply embedded there is a need for something new, alive and fresh.

I wonder about the people of Jesus’ day– the people who needed the hope of Jesus on such a fundamental level.  These were the men and women who were marked broken, used-up, no-goods, flawed– the throw aways.  The story of the bleeding woman was one of isolation.  To endure a bleeding condition, especially if you were a female, meant that you were to live in isolation– apart from community and society.  Jesus did not just heal this woman but he stopped to see her– to acknowledge her existence and to elevate her in the eyes of community.  This is a restoration work that is wholly actualized. 

There is no means in which we could quantify the depth of what that healing meant to the bleeding woman, or the woman at the well, or the blind man at the pool, because to be healed was to be restored physically, socially, communally, spiritually.  It was hope of a new life and a new start– one that could not be realized had it not been for the life of Jesus.

And so on that first Good Friday I wonder what it must have meant to these people– the throw aways of society– to see and to recognize the beautiful man who had days earlier asked each one, broken, to draw near now accused and beaten. 

On that first Good Friday the rest of the story hadn’t taken place.  The people of Jesus’ day were left with strange and confusing words of what was to come given to them by Jesus, but these descriptions had little meaning because there was no context– the story had not been made complete and so disciples were left to rely on prophesy and faith.  We know something about human faith– that where there is human faith then there is human doubt, because as humans we often are unable to rely on mystery we fight for tangibility and what can be felt. 

 

And so on that Good Friday it must have been a complete darkness.

 

Good Friday is that place of ‘what is’.  When we look at the world through the lens of Good Friday what we see is a dark, broken world– a world in a state of confusion and disbelief where ‘what is to be’ feels far and impossible.

I can imagine the necessity of a ritual to package that hope once felt with Jesus and now is lost.  Perhaps some of them developed a system to maintain the memory of their time with Jesus– those moments where hope came in the gift of new life.  Maybe they needed that to cling to in order to endure the darkness that was impenetrable on that Good Friday. 

or maybe they found comfort in Jesus’ words, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”.  This a grief turned to joy.

For a person who likes to keep things shiny and new for as long as possible there is a certain discomfort in sitting in Good Friday.  I know the ending and I can jump ahead if I choose, but then the process is broken and incomplete.  How could I gain the depths of this joy if I don’t feel the desperate places of grief?  The sweetness of joy is magnified through the journey of grief.  Today on this Good Friday it is an acknowledgement of what is– a world broken– my own soul, broken.  In reality my preservation is only a suspension of time– it is not in reality a return to Eden. 

Even in the discomfort I can’t think of a gift I have needed more– that though I can’t return to Eden the brokenness the world endures is not the end of the story.  On Good Friday we identify with a Jesus who loved and that is the story– in its entirety.   

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Day 19 of 30-day challenge: Tough Love

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Frankie growled at us today in class.  During bow pulling pose she told us that if we fell out of the pose we shouldn’t just stand there unless we were dying, but that we needed to jump back in and try again.  After the pose she followed up by saying, “I say this because I love you…  I grrrr cause it’s passion– I love you and I want you to fight to get the best out of yourselves”.

Tough love.

Tough love is when we care in a way that doesn’t allow the other to self-sabatoge– to stand in her own way or to wall oneself off from her potential.

And it was exactly what I needed.  However, it got me thinking a bit…  How often do we care for ourselves with tough love?

How easy it is to get stuck in ineffective patterns and stay complacent?  Sometimes when I get in a comfortable zone I just kinda want to camp out there, but what I really need in those moments is a push, a nudge to go deeper– to not stay put.

I know this is a balancing act– one I haven’t mastered, but one I must learn.

Mental posture for today: Learning to love myself

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A fully integrated being

In the therapeutic world we talk about what it means to be a fully integrated person.  What we mean by this is working towards a reality where an individual fully accepts every aspect of their being and lives in a way that honors every part.  It is acknowledging the emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of our existence and then not denying space for all the intricacies of human concreteness.

Now the challenge is that the human condition presents us with this thing we call: pain.  Typically we learn quickly that when pain is presented there is one of two ways to respond: fight or flight.  The problem with both these responses is it doesn’t allow us to ‘live into’ our humanity instead it encourages us to distance ourselves from others and essentially from ourselves.  It does not help us to elevate the dignity of the human condition that includes all its contradictory paradigms and parts– the love & the hate, the good & the bad, the fears & the courage, the joy & sorrow and the celebratory & grieving.  If we are honest enough with ourselves the reality is that these things more often than not inhabit us simultaneously and we are consistently weaving around all of these states of being.

Now coming out of this space and time in the Christian calendar we call Holy week my head has been swimming with reflections on Christ’s life.  And I realized that we can look to Christ and see that this integration model is embodied in his life.

When Jesus took his place in time and history we see that the deified put on humanity.  Jesus entered humanity completely recognizing and allowing all the complexities of the human experience to be explored and elevated.  He embraced all aspects of human existence from the emotional (doubt, fear), spiritual (temptation in desert) and physical (torture)– even as Christ was presented with pain he moved towards humanity and not away or against.

Only one thing can explain such actions– love.

The final moments of Christ signifies ultimate pain met.  The extent of Jesus’ physical pain is unimaginable to most of us and yet, even in that place Christ acknowledges the emotional pain of separateness he feels in the abandonment of God all the while maintaining focus on the mission at hand and his ministry to those around him (the two thieves).  Christ is an open source to every aspect of human sorrow and suffering and he embraces and embodies this in all fabrics of his existence.

It takes tremendous courage to live in such a way.  I struggle with that challenge every single day.  I know I do not have the strength in myself to face my own humanity with such dignity and grace, but I believe that there is potential and choice.

All this to say, I am humbled by such love and example.  I stand renewed in hope.

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Got-to-stay-fo-cused.

This past weekend I was invited to join some pastors while they engaged street ministry downtown in Pioneer square with the homeless of our city.  This is something they regularly engage and both have a tremendous presence and relationships established with friends who live outside.  I felt grateful that I was invited along, as I recognize that entering into folks’ places on the street is sacred space.    It is not something to be taken lightly and it struck me again as I was outside on Saturday night how easily it is for us to take for granted the privilege of walls— physical boundaries and barriers that keep us safe and create structure around how we want to live, who we want to see and when we want to sleep.  This is precisely why the places of the streets are sacred spaces because although not clearly marked or visibly constructed I am walking into people’s homes and it takes a tremendous amount of trust and openness to allow me into those places.  The fact of the matter is, there is so little security or safety one has in these places– anyone can walk in and violate at any given time and so when doing something of this magnitude and importance we must recognize the holy ground we are treading and the depth one has opening their space and ultimately their hearts to further engagement.

In the same manner, I was struck by a strangeness.  Here we are on a Saturday night– a very busy Saturday night in pioneer square.  On every block there were 3-5 bars, restaurants and clubs open and folks were freely moving about from one loud, bustling location to another.  People were dressed to the nines and were clearly focused on having a good time with their friends, as they were chattering and waiting to be let into any given club.  While in the very same location, on the very same street blocks and corners there was another group of people marked by a reality of struggle and survival– those that were without houses and other basic human rights and resources.  All the while, people were brushing up against each other, moving about in the same proximity to each other but it was as if these two realities never really intersected.  There was absolutely no awareness of the stark contrastness of the night and it was there where the gap was perpetuated.  The privileged did not have to acknowledge, be aware, or interact in any way with those that we as a society would deem unacceptable.

Why should this matter?  It matters because it is a dehumanizing reality.  This invisibility is a tremendous weight for any person to bear.  This is precisely the message the prophet Amos was speaking to– a marketplace where no one takes notice to the contrast and divisions of the privileged and the marginalized– will we look, will we see?  Will we take notice that there are brothers and sisters in our human family who do not enjoy the same privileges?

Now we all have different ways of avoiding or averting our attentions to the needs of others.  I have to be honest I’ve been disturbed the past few weeks to certain Christian folks’ responses and statements to the state of the world and natural disasters.  One notion or one theme that has been continually shared through out is a tallying of every natural disaster as evidence to the end of the world and thus, the coming of Christ.  Comments like, “Jesus is coming.  I’m ready.  Are you?”

Why is this disturbing you ask?  Afterall, I am a Christian do I lack faith in believing in the second coming of Christ.  I very much believe in the coming of Christ, but I must speak openly and honestly about the reality that I cannot speak to the timeline of God.  None of us can.  We can only cling to faith and the hope of God’s promise.

The danger in the tallying and these predictive sentiments is that it gives us a back door to dealing honestly and with integrity the issues and needs we have at hand.  If my focus is primarily on trying to figure out based on worldly events the timeline of God’s actions then why should I worry or concern myself with caring for the homeless of our communities?   Why should I extend care and compassion to the people of Haiti?  Why deal with the re-building process of Haiti or Chile?  Why worry about working towards a path of equality and access to all people?

No matter the state of the world– we have been given the responsibility to care and to act.  Let us not forget that but remain focused on Christ’s words when he said, “your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven”.  That ‘coming’ is in part made tangible through our hands.  Our hands can’t work as they should if they are not focused on the call to be light and salt to every context and at every point of time and history.  Let us not emotionally, mentally and spiritually exit the task– our world at hand– prematurely.

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SIX!

Today is Isabelle’s 6th birthday!  As each year comes up I feel the stunned feeling and reality of just how quickly life is moving. 

As I reflect on the past six years I am reminded (again)  just how special Isabelle is and how blessed we are to be her parents.  Prior to getting pregnant with Isabelle I wasn’t sure if we would have kids.  We were weighing the options and I felt particularly pulled towards career and work.  I remember that big conversation in Vancouver, BC– AND then two weeks later looking at a little EPT stick with a big pink plus sign which indicated that I was with child.  At that time I really had no idea what we were in for and how it would completely transform my life– our lives.  I remember my anxiety and fears and doubts in myself.  Yet, even in those 9 months of carrying her in my womb I felt the transformation of her presence take root. 

Isabelle has an infectious love and curiosity for people and life.  It has been that warmth and desire that in many ways have encouraged and allowed for my own desires to remain open– that with time, as one gets older it’s easy to let life warp and discourage you and where the line seems so thin between holding onto hope or letting it go.

Her presence in my life has reminded me that God really does have a plan— that in some bizarre, mysterious way God works things out for good.    AND then I find myself surprised by what He can do, but also what I can do, too when I trust. 

I celebrate Isabelle this 6th birthday.  I recognize her unique beauty and grace and I’m grateful, so grateful that God saw it right and good to allow me the gift of being her ma ma.

Happy Birthday, sweet Izzy!