Easter

Mark Wildhood took this on Good Friday, 2017

Risen Lord,

The reality of your resurrection does not seem as relevant as rising rent and cost of living. The power of your eternal life does not blot out the fear of poverty, homelessness; for those who have consistently painful and isolated lives, the only thing scarier than dying is not dying. Your promise of purpose and not letting anything go to waste is both so hard to wait for and terrifying to believe in at all. That you are truer than hunger, anxiety, loneliness – oh, I want to know you better than I know my experience!

I listened to a sermon yesterday on how your resurrection means we are not alone. But I can’t count on both hands anymore the people who have not followed up, who have made promises and broken them (the exception is when someone keeps their word). I reach out, like our culture demands that people who are already suffering do if they want any help, and my efforts largely come back void. None of the empty tombs scattered around my life feel like precursors to resurrection; it feels more like I don’t even have evidence for why I grieve and should therefore be expected to be farther along, use my “resources,” carry on as if nothing is wrong.

I know the names of my roadblocks, the rocks that cry out to you – one of them is my heart. Am I useful? Do I matter? Will I go to hell if I do what I love? Am I loved? Will I survive? These heartweights persist, Brother, Father, Friend. Would you turn these vipers into fish? I cannot find an easter in any of my thoughts, no rise above my queasy fear.

How long, O Lord, those three days must have felt to those who loved you in your first flesh. What were they like for you? Did you know of your indestructibility? What would I do if I knew I would rise again? How far would I risk going if I knew I could always find Easter again?

If I Can’t Work, Maybe My Theology Degree Can

Photo of a collection plate in a church.
Photo of a collection plate in a church.

We hear about the power of story everywhere. I’ve already mentioned one of my issues with that, but I’ve got a few more. The first is simply that hearing stories about a lucky break – which nearly every writer who’s been invited to speak before other writers and give advice on how to succeed in that isolating, rejection-packed, dehumanizing world has – are not helpful. Sure, there’s definitely jealousy there, but I want to hear stories from people who didn’t get a lucky break, who didn’t get discovered, who didn’t have contacts either at all or who were willing to help them, who found success without the chance encounter or surprise discovery by an editor or recruiter. I can’t replicate someone else’s luck and, since I don’t seem to have much of my own, I need to learn how to succeed in the world without it. Or is that not possible and that’s why there aren’t stories out there like that? (My invitation to share stories of hardship was a serious one.) Continue reading If I Can’t Work, Maybe My Theology Degree Can

Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?

typewriter-keysWe hear a lot about how narratives are powerful, that if you want to move someone, tell them a story, that we are creatures of story. As a writer, I’d like to eat all that up. But our culture is rapidly composting story into gossip and substance into insincerity. Journalists claim to “go where the story takes them;” what if that story is of a dangerous hate-spitting buffoon who doesn’t even really want to be president but gets himself elected anyway? Is there no moral obligation to do more than repeat ad nauseum atrocious and odious things he does and says, thereby normalizing them and desensitizing the public to them? Continue reading Can We Please Talk About How We’re Talking About Stuff?

Vulnerability, An Invitation: Stories of Hardship

sledgehammerglass“Putin’s team,” Gary Shteyngart writes in a recent New Yorker article, “has discovered that racism, misogyny and anti-Semitism bind people closer than any other experiences.” We have to change this. It feels impossible: “People want to rise from their knees. Even people who weren’t kneeling in the first place,” Schtenygart writes. Can Americans, who have been bathed in rugged individualism since the inception of our country learn how to be there for each other as so many of our writers, activists and empaths are pleading we do so? We simply have to. Shteyngart continues: “My parents and grandparents never fully recovered from the strains of living in an authoritarian society. Daily compromise ground them down, even after they came to America. They left Russia, but Russia never left them. How do you read through a newspaper composed solely of lies? How do you walk into a store while being Jewish? How do you tell the truth to your children? How do you even know what the truth is?”

Continue reading Vulnerability, An Invitation: Stories of Hardship

Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era

foot-stompThe only response I have to America’s election results last Tuesday is this. Those who are against everything Trump stands for can show it by looking out for all who this election has just made much more vulnerable. On some level, who that is is obvious; these are people whom Trump has specifically targeted – pretty much everyone but straight, cis, wealthy, white men (which, no, is not “just as sexist and racist” as Trump. If I see only white men doing something, it’s not sexist and racist for me to call out white men; it’s speaking the truth. Also, reverse racism is not a thing and reverse sexism is not a thing. It’s the epitome of privilege to demand that the term sexism or racism be applied equally without fighting for actual equality among all). But, really, if we truly mean it when we say “we have to look out for each other,” we need to start paying attention to those who are silenced, endangered or invisibilized when: Continue reading Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era

Vulnerability, stop one: to breed or not to breed

angry-babyIt’s been a few months since I’ve written anything here; my last post attempted to wrestle with the loss of a friend, not through death but through abandonment, the second “lifelong” best friend to tell me I’m not good enough. I’m angry, I’m tired of being set up and I want to rant. But the refusal to be vulnerable, to admit our fears (outsourcing them as blame or shame instead) and to strive to remain connected and responsible to each other is, among other things, exactly why this country is so close to electing an extremely dangerous man as our president.

So I’m doing a new thing with this blog, which I’ve retitled Burning By Heart. Vulnerability is hard; anger is hard; fear is hard; change is hard. My hope is to explore the connection between vulnerability and fear, to strive to heal my own anger and to invite those who are willing – who think listening, carefully forming opinions and learning is more important than asserting the right to think whatever you want – into the kinds of conversations we seem unable as a broader culture to have but really need to. I’m going to start with a raw topic for me and, since I’m not claiming to be perfect, I’m unable to talk about this without getting at least a little mad. Continue reading Vulnerability, stop one: to breed or not to breed