How to Be a Good Friend

magnifying glassI got this blog topic request from a heartbreakingly sweet friend and old housemate: discuss what means to be a good friend. I am so grateful for this question, which is why it took a while to clarify my thoughts here because I don’t want to participate in what is essentially a never-ending slush pile of catchy “top ten” lists or patronizing “expert” talk, some of it fecund but most of it recycled and done up in a distractingly gauche or simplistic way. There’s a lot being said about friendship all the time and I didn’t just want to auto-pilot-ly accept it as true or obvious and then regurgitate it in my own words. You’ll hopefully see why in a minute. Continue reading How to Be a Good Friend

So Now There’s Just “Marriage”

divisionI am horrified. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. While I, as a straight woman in a heterosexual union, spent two Fridays ago embracing several co-workers and exchanging rainbow cupcakes around the office in celebration of the civil-rights victory, many others were writing hideously calloused and rote “laments” about “the erosion of morals,” wringing their hands in fear of losing their own religious freedoms and bemoaning the un-democratic process of the Supreme Court. I can’t even begin to address all the sloppy and self-serving exegesis flying around the Internet but there are a few things I think it’s important to say.

Continue reading So Now There’s Just “Marriage”

Charleston

AMERev. Clementa Pinckney, 41, father and pastor of Emmanuel AME. Rev. Sharona Singleton, 45, mother, track coach, speech therapist. Myra Thompson, 59, wife, Vicar of The Church of the Holy Trinity.  Tywanza Sanders, 26, recent graduate, dreamed to be a barbershop owner. Ethel Lee Lance, 70, grandmother, heart of the community. Cynthia Hurd, 54, faithful library employee, servant of the community. Rev. Daniel L. Simons, Sr., 74, retired pastor of Emmanuel AME. Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49, mother, college enrollment counselor. Susie Jackson, 87, longtime church member, aunt of Tywanza Sanders. Continue reading Charleston

A book and The 30/30 Project

inkFirst, as some of you know, yesterday was the launch date of the second anthology an essay of mine appears in: Only Trollops Shave Above the Knee. (The first was Clash of the Coupleswhere I relay an infinitely small snippet of the infinite fight my husband and I are in about calculus.) This one is a collection of lessons I and 35 others learned from other mothers.

Second, I’ve been selected to participate in a 30-day poetry marathon fundraiser for Tupelo Press. I, along with six other women, will be writing a poem a day – starting today! – to be published on Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Project blog in an “early” batch and a “late” batch daily (so if you don’t see mine in the first batch, check back later – and maybe send me a note of encouragement :D). Continue reading A book and The 30/30 Project

The Honesty Time, Part 5

eating aloneSo with that alone, it might be understandable for me to leave the table called Church.  Especially since I already left the seminary and especially when, in my situation, so many people did not want to hear my story, were directed away from talking to me or didn’t believe me or handle it carefully at all when I did tell the story.  Most of my non-Christian friends think it’s insane not to leave; though, they think the whole thing is an insane charade to being with…and it’s been a rare occasion when I’ve been able to argue against that with them in a way they’ll even listen to largely because I agree with them.

Continue reading The Honesty Time, Part 5

The kingdom of heaven is…difficult to see

kids-arguingWhen the kingdom of heaven is yeast mixed in dough, or the smallest seed already planted, that it’s hard to see is intuitive.  When it’s a landowner or a king, though…well, positions of power trade, in part, on being always seen and known.  With its emphasis on light, you’d think the latter – being center stage – would be more fitting for the kingdom of God.  I mean, if I wanted to be known and hailed as the creator of all things…honestly, I don’t think I would have come to a poor, young couple with no social or political connections as a baby.  Especially not before Facebook.  Yet this God is the creator of all things seen and unseen and the kingdom of God is where this God lives, where this God’s will is done and where this God’s reign is supreme.  If God created both seen and unseen, then there’s clearly a purpose for each. Continue reading The kingdom of heaven is…difficult to see

Ten Foreign and Domestic Policies That Might Be Younger Than You

Foreground: Puget Sound's resident orca whale J pod.  Middle ground: whale watchers.  Background: US Navy destroyer equipped with mid-frequency sonar, which terrifies and confuses many species of whales.  (This picture taken during "peacetime.")
Foreground: Puget Sound’s resident orca whale J pod. Middle ground: whale watchers. Background: US Navy destroyer equipped with mid-frequency sonar, which terrifies and confuses many species of whales. (This picture taken during “peacetime.”)

Long, exhausting week, complete with interviews and an emergency medical procedure (I’m fine) so I don’t have much.  Thought, though, that I’d share this fun little thing I did (more of these to come, probably, if they don’t get accepted elsewhere).  This was prompted by reading Joshua Horowitz’s War on the Whales in which the US Navy rewrites the laws so they can continue their war games without regard to marine mammal life (true story!) and what various people – cetacean researchers, environmentalists, lawyers, activists, etc., tried – valiantly – to do about it.  It ended up being a perspective stretcher, specifically on this idea of progress, how great it’s bred in us, culturally speaking, to think we are as a world leader, etc.  Anyway, just some stuff to think about if you have some down time over the weekend. Continue reading Ten Foreign and Domestic Policies That Might Be Younger Than You

A Note about Grace

heavyheartMy heart is heavy lately.  Cold clings to the air now, my fingers feel brittle as I type.  Friends are experiencing excruciating family loss, marital turmoil, relational division.  Life circumstances change and, even in the midst of blessings like marriage, children, new jobs, it’s still change: the attending shifts in relationship are difficult.  Others go back on their word; those who once pursued friendship with us purposely cut us off or – what may be worse – simply let the relationship die a slow death due to nutrient deprivation, moving on to “more suitable” friendship “matches.”  Still other loved ones simply do not have the time we might desire they give us.  We are pummeled with warnings of deadly plagues, unprecedented threats and murky ways forward; the fear seems too much to break free from.  People in positions of leadership in our churches, schools and governments make excuses, shirk responsibility and fail to submit to standards of accountability.  Come.  Lord.  Jesus. Continue reading A Note about Grace

“Walking in Daniel’s Shoes” by Tom Mauser

Daniel's ShoesTo round out my reading of the Columbine massacre a bit, I wrote to Mr. Mauser in July requesting a copy of his book, which he self-published so he could have the freedom to tell his story his way.  He signed a copy and shipped it to me from his home; I finished reading his 358-page story that was published in 2012 (13 years after the Columbine shootings) in about a week, it was so engaging.  Tom says himself at the end of his book that he’s blunt – or at least has become so since losing his son – and I find his tone refreshing.  I so appreciate his questions like, “Can we allow people to grieve without having their actions and motives questioned?” (73), though I am troubled and saddened by his need to ask.  Not only was Columbine rife with controversy for years after the murders, but his gun-control advocacy has garnered him everything from hate mail to death threats.  Regardless of where you stand on the gun-control debate, surely name calling (especially the father of a murder victim) and vicious treatment is not acceptable.  His story, among other things, details how he handled that with aplomb and courage.   Continue reading “Walking in Daniel’s Shoes” by Tom Mauser

Jealousy

Speaking of sin, a few nights ago I was kept up by a roiling case of jealousy the likes of green eyewhich I had not seen since high school.  This is not to claim that I’m free from all jealousy – oh, no.  I quietly craft my low-grade, ever-present brand of envy while hoping that the shiny veneer of happiness, self-esteem and well-adjusted-ness I attempt to apply regularly is not easily punctured by that prettier girl’s smile, this friend’s promotion, that friend’s bouquet of roses from “the best boyfriend ever,” whathisnamefromhighschool’s award, this friend’s status update about their dogs playing in the sprinkler getting 15 comments and 20 “likes” while the ones you post about reconciliation, unity and justice go unliked and ignored while another’s deep thoughts on those very topics get reposted by a mutual friend…the list could go on.  And it does, thanks to social media. Continue reading Jealousy