Adventures in travel, music, and ministry

Remarkable post, enhanced by audio from Bomani Jones, important links, and video of Rev. Martin Luther King. Thanks, Kellye. Truth.

The Boeskool

A few days ago, the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter was told they couldn’t use the space at the Nashville Public Library to hold their meetings anymore. The reasoning behind this decision was because someone complained when they found out that the meeting was only open to “People of Color.” My initial reaction when I heard about this story was one basically this: “Wait a second… You mean that the Black Lives Matter folks are DISCRIMINATING against white people?!? That’s NOT okay.” Because I care about black lives. I’m one of the “enlightened” ones. I consider myself an “ally.” I want to help. And now you’re having a meeting and you’re telling me I’M NOT INVITED?? Just because I’m white? That’s not FAIR. And  I started cycling through the Martin Luther King, Jr., quotes that I have in my head… Like a dip shit… Thinking to myself, “What…

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The story of the world, the story of my heart, is captivated by warsan shire’s poem “what they did yesterday afternoon.” A few lines:

dear god

i come from two countries

one is thirsty

the other is on fire

both need water.

warsan shire was born in Kenya to Somali parents and was raised in London. You might already know that her poetry infuses Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Further into her poem above she spoke the truth when she asked of the world

where does it hurt?

 

it answered

everywhere

everywhere

everywhere.

She wrote these words two years ago but they apply today, this week, in this nation, in this world.

Violence has taken over so many places. This week’s headlines just in the U.S. include Baton Rouge; Falcon Heights, MN; Dallas; College Station (shots fired at a mosque). Add them to Orlando, Baghdad, Bangladesh, Medina, Ankara, Istanbul, and more, and more, and more.

This week Black men were suspected, accused, shot down; police officers targeted, Muslims fired upon. My heart hurts in so many ways. My mind doesn’t know how to make sense of it, except:

Except that we as a nation are so polarized that people at the far edges of many polarities are taking aim at The Other.

I am The Other. Each of us is The Other.

Until we can find a way to hear each Other

above the noise

above the rhetoric

above the line of fire.

The right to bear arms (well-regulated?) does not carry the right to kill wantonly.

Still.

Who is surprised when guns and innocence,

rage and impotence ignite and explode?

Civil Rights burst forth when violence was televised.

Today’s festering wounds erupt on ever-present, ever-vigilant videos.

We cannot unsee.

Who is surprised when fear and fury fire at will?

Wake up! We are The Other to those we would vilify in return.

Stay woke!

Until Black and Blue Lives Matter

Until Muslim and Jewish and Christian Lives Matter

Until Immigrant and Native Lives Matter

Until.The.Other.Lives.Matter

I am The Other.

i come from two countries

one is thirsty

the other is on fire

both need water

dear god, help us carry water to this hurting world

Prayerful Questions

praying-hands

I wrote this before the horrid news from Orlando. Mass shooting, chaos, emergency responders, blood donors, prayer vigils. Love is Love, I say, but sometimes it is hard to hold on to that.

For the following, I offer credit to Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, In God’s Presence: Theological Reflections on Prayer (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1996)

What is the purpose of prayer?

How could God pay attention to such insignificant creatures?

Are we just talking to ourselves, our inner wise spirit?

How do we know prayer is communication with God?

How do we know that it’s God?

Questions take us deeper into faith

. . . away from belief in our beliefs

. . . to believe in a God who is more than our beliefs can say.

It is possible for a good prayer not to address anyone by name. After yoga classes with Jogi Bhagat, he closes with prayers and we repeat each line after him.

May all be happy.

May all be healthy.

May there be no distress on earth.

May there be peace everywhere.

May all our actions lead us to make this happen.

May it be so.

Our bodies, our lives

So much sorrow, anger, trauma, and pain has been filling a closed Facebook group of over 500 women ministers. Earlier this week a ministerial colleague posted about her rage after the rapist at Stanford was convicted of three felonies and was sentenced to merely 6 months–so as not to disrupt his life further.

The floodgates were opened by survivors of sexual assault. Within 24 hours, well over 130 women shared personal stories of rape and violation from as early as 3 years of age well into mature adulthood.

When I was told about this online conversation I read it all at once and finally commented about my own experiences. I was numb, but my eyes kept “leaking.” I didn’t feel like going to yoga but did anyway, and I wept silently through most of it (with one break just to blow my nose). For the closing Shavasan meditation I had trouble lying still and felt more tears leak out.

I needed time to process. Solitude, a walk, prayers, a comfortable bath, music. My personal story of abuse took place decades ago, when I was just a little girl, but I can remember the horror. I am one of hundreds of colleagues and millions of women all over the world who have been used for someone else’s heinous agenda. Every day, every night, every second.

Sexual violence is only one expression of trauma. Is there anyone in the world who has not been traumatized by something? Abuse, alcohol, neglect, misuse of power, and economic brutality join a long list of ways humans can hurt each other. On top of that are the ways survivors are ignored, disbelieved, and even blamed for the crimes of others.

Sharing stories of violence is not easy. Many of us spend countless hours in therapy to do just that. Could we create safe places to share deep emotions? Could we offer rituals of healing and wholeness? Our bodies, our lives, our hearts.

In Memoriam

 

Dirge without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Whether or not our loved ones died in active service, we memorialize them with lilies and laurel and roses, but we do not bury the loving memories. On this day, we as a nation remember those who gave their lives in military battle. Every war calls on journalists, authors, pundits and poets to make sense of some portion of it. In order to further my understanding, I recently saw the movie Eye in the Sky, with Helen Mirren. It is a disturbing yet enlightening story of drone warfare. Is there a way toward peace in the world?

Despite the terrible reality of war and despite the certainty of death for all of us, I can only suggest how to rise above it–with love. One by one the light in the eyes of loved ones glimmers in my own. Someday the light in my eyes will dim and others’ eyes will gleam. Against absolute darkness, love and light shine most brightly of all. And though we are seldom resigned to death, we can still smell the fragrant roses.

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Ripples

Tapestry Singers, the Austin Women’s Chorus, will appear for our Spring Concert this beautiful Sunday afternoon at 4PM.  One of our songs, “A Pebble in the Water,” reminds us how words and deeds impact others just as surely as a stone dropped into a pond.  James W. Foley wrote the lines, set to music by Victor C. Johnson.

The first verse reminds us of ripples that spread across a pond after a single pebble lands in the water. Isn’t it a pretty sight? We can see circles of ripples that radiate along the surface all the way to the edge. As the pebble drops, unseen ripples push through deeper water until–ever so slightly–the stone alters the earth below.

ripples-640872_960_720

Second and third verses turn our attention to words we say. An unkind word may soon be forgotten by the speaker even when it is hurtful to someone else. James Foley, who died in 1939, couldn’t know about social media and the unkind words that ripple, roil, and take on lives of their own. They can quickly bring out the most distasteful of human interactions.

By contrast, one kind word may produce ripples of comfort, generosity, or even inspiration. A kind deed such as letting a car merge in front of us has the effect of influencing others to show that same courtesy.

Simple kindness is a bit of heaven on earth. Let’s keep it circling on and on!

Unknowing

prepare to dive

 

I am diving into a three-year course of study through Formation in Direction, FIND. First assignments have us plunging into both eastern and western Christian spirituality, and into personality types (beginning with our own).

The Cloud of Unknowing, written by an anonymous Christian mystic in 14th century England, captures the state of my progress.

Unknowing whatever I thought I knew about God, the unknowable.

Unknowing whatever logic gets in the way of silence.

Unknowing where FIND will take me.

Anonymous begins this book by telling the reader not to read it aloud or copy it or quote from it. Its lessons about contemplative prayer belong to one reader at a time. Until I have read the 75 short chapters and actually followed their instructions, I cannot know the whole of it, nor can I explain it fully by sharing it in part.

How delightful! This unknowing!

As I travel this unknowable path toward an unknowable God, I will come here to this blog from time to time to drop pebbles of uncertain origin. They might help me find my way home. The stones on my desk are inscribed with individual words:

Spirit

Courage

Balance

Walk

Always Say a Prayer

For now I shall claim them as my touchstones and solid companions to help me find my way home. Let the Unknowing begin!

Peter Fall Ranger

Consultant | Yogi | Author | Pilgrim

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"...I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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