Clean Out the Gunk

One night, of all things, I cleaned out a stopped up bathroom sink. I hadn’t deliberately put gunk in there–except that it is mostly “my” sink. Maybe I was at least partly responsible for it. In any case, it was up to me to clean it out since I wanted it to flow freely. Toothpaste, mouthwash, dirty hands, occasional hair, and who knows what else built up on the sides of the sink stopper. It wasn’t hard to clean–it just needed the right tool.

Many of my friends and I were not happy about the presidential election and now the inauguration is upon us. Maybe I was at least partly responsible for the state of this country’s political and social divides. As Barbara Kingsolver pointed out several weeks ago, each of us can do something within our sphere of influence–write, teach, call, sing, march, smile–that will make a difference in the free flow of human dignity and individual worth. All our efforts are needed; support for one another is much better than finding fault.

Whatever we do, big or small, will determine our future. Don’t stand by and let the gunk build up! Find the right tool for you and let’s keep working together for a brighter tomorrow.

Blessings for 2017!

Kristen Cervantes is a Student Pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waco, TX, while she continues her studies at Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth. We have weekly conversations that help us both grow in ministry.

When Kris responded to presidential election results, she posted these wise words:

I will not despair. Or rather, I will not only despair.

At times like this I really do wish I believed in a God who is an active agent in the world. But as I think of the gut-wrenching sobs I have heard, felt, held in my body and held in the circle of my arms, in my friends’ bodies, I don’t have that solace.

I have solace in the beauty and wonder of the world we share. I have solace in the deep emotion that means deep commitment to the continued work of building the beloved community for all, regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, ability, and all the other boxes we try to fit ourselves and others into. I have solace in the help and strength and brokenness and beauty and potential in every human body and mind and soul.

My church says it wants to ‘create a more just and loving world.’ I take solace in the knowledge that we do not stand, move, and struggle alone in this painful and difficult act of creation.

I will not despair.

The New Year is upon us! May you find your way out of despair and into community.

One day post election

Some electives post election:

My focus today will be on music, art, nature, and community. Beyond difference lies beauty. One moment, one person, one love at a time might begin to heal divisions. May we reach out to one another as best we can.

Blessings and grace to each of you, dear friends.

I Don’t Know A Damn Thing About Black Lives

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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Carry Water

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.