Wednesday, July 8, 2015

This Barista's Manifesto

3 years of asking people the same questions over and over again: "What size would you like?  Would you like room for cream?  For here or to go?  How are you doing today?"  The last question is my favorite and possibly the most breezed through question of that whole list.  The answer to how our day is going is the most scripted answer; it often takes more forethought to think about how much cream I want in my coffee.  But that last question with the rare honest answer is why I have spent numerous hours standing on my feet in a black T-shirt emblazed with a cafe* logo.  *Cafe's actual name withheld to protect them from I don't know what...

My identity of barista is one I hold as a badge of honor.  The urge to blurt out I'm a barista when I'm at other coffee shops is quite often too difficult to rise above of.  That identity is shifting this next year; I'm looking forward to becoming a regular customer much like those who frequent my coffee shop.  They come for the same drink every day around the same time, bury their heads in their laptops or a book (or scurry off to work like crazy and return after an hour for a refill), and gradually we learn how to be caring acquaintances to each other.

As I step out of my role as a espresso tamper, milk steamer, and prone to hot water burns lady, I think it's time for me to collect some of my wisdom and musings as a barista.

This Barista's Manifesto.
1.  A minimum wage, customer service job NEEDS to be mandated.  For everyone. No exceptions.
2. I have a very strong feeling that customers find no greater satisfaction than when their baristas remember their drink order.
3. I spend half of my work day doing just that.
4. Dear Customer: I know that this espresso drink is your treatsie for this day.  I honor that and seriously take that into account when I am preparing it.  That latte/macchiato/chai/americano with 4 shots might take just a little longer for me to make, but it's only because I add this special dash of "giving a shit" about your drink (aka LOVE).
5. Customers genuinely asking how my day is going is what makes the crazy hectic days bearable.
6. Customers asking me how my day is going but interrupting my answer with an order.....err that's another thing entirely.
7. Please, please, PLEASE no phone calls while you are ordering at the register.
8. Macchiatos look like this:

9.  If you want that caramel sugary-ness pictured above, I am more than happy to prepare that--but it's just not a macchiato.
10.   Yea, those 5 AM alarms to work at 6 AM are really rough.  But it feels like an odd treasure to stroll around this gorgeous town that is still sleeping to a cafe where I can aide others in their wake-up schedules.  That delicious sunrise and crisp morning breeze (or fog, it is the Bay Area after all...) makes the early waking worth it.
11.  Thank you for the tip. I am so grateful for it.  You might be surprised how many people do not tip (or if you never tip your baristas, you'll be surprised by the sector of people that tip amazingly!).
12.  I can rattle off any regular's drink but I only know a few by their actual name.  So many of you customers have little nicknames "Soy chai guy," "Very smiley guy," and "The guy who made out with my coworker."
13. I have barista hands aka I can touch ridiculously hot things. It's kind of like a super power. :)
14. The concept of DREAM TEAM is vital and necessary. DREAM TEAM= a group or couple of individuals who work really well together (code for co-workers who make you laugh AND get the tasks done).
15.  You will always run into the cafe's customers.  My favorite memory of a customer encounter outside of work?
-A dance club in the SOMA district of San Francisco at 1am.
16. Chocolate syrup can, and will, get situated in the oddest of places on your body.  You might not find said smear of syrup until many hours after having left the coffee shop.
17. I adore this sticky, messy, creative job, and being a tiny part of each customer's day.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Stay in the Call for Active Peace

 Mark 4: 35-41

One that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”

And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.

Other boats were with him.

A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up and said to him,

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?”

Today is the day of the Summer Solstice---the longest day of the year. This week I'm noticing how long these days have been, with a bright sun welcoming the day around 5:30 am and the steady stream of activities that summer brings.

But these days also feel long in a different sense—these are days of heavy emotions and anxieties as we as encounter the issues that are occurring here in this community and within our wider context of the United States. I understand that Holy Trinity is moving in transition to saying goodbye to Pastor Christian as he pursues a valuable calling; this community is given the opportunity to examine its mission and goals in order to embark on new leadership.

This week the foundation of my soul is tugging to hold my reaction to the fatal shooting of nine black people at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This act of terror is one that each of us reacts to in our own ways, whether that is to ball our fists up in anger, cry out for justice, sob for the senselessness of these beautiful lives that were shattered, wallow in the intricate ways racism and aggression are acted out in this country, or feel numb to it all. The emotions, or lack of feeling anything, are pieces of how we as humans encounter traumatic situations. Today we come to the Gospel seeking comfort and hoping for answers about what we can do in this aftermath of grief.

Today we are the disciples in this story of Mark—Jesus brings them to the edge of the water and calls out to go across the water to the other side. Here we are a people called to go out of the familiar and comfortable and into the unknown. Now is the day of salvation, now is the time for action.

While on their journey, a raging wind storm beats the waves of the sea and dangerously rocks the boat that holds these people and Jesus. The disciples are filled with fear for their livelihood—they call out to Jesus in desperation to change the situation. Today we as a community of faith are in that shaking boat in a tumultuous wind storm.

Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote to the Lutheran church this week, saying:

It has been a long season of disquiet in our country. From Ferguson to Baltimore, simmering racial tensions have boiled over into violence. But this … the fatal shooting of nine African Americans in a church is a stark, raw manifestation of the sin that is racism. The church was desecrated. The people of that congregation were desecrated. The aspiration voiced in the Pledge of Allegiance that we are “one nation under God” was desecrated.

Mother Emanuel AME’s pastor, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, was a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, as was the Reverend Daniel Simmons, the associate pastor at Mother Emanuel. The suspected shooter is a member of an ELCA congregation. All of a sudden and for all of us, this is an intensely personal tragedy. One of our own is alleged to have shot and killed two who adopted us as their own.”

In her letter, Bishop Eaton proclaims of the systemic racist systems that are at play in the acts of aggression towards black people while honing in that this is not just an issue that is far away from who we are as people of faith. A young white man who grew up in a Lutheran ELCA church shot and killed people these week citing that he wanted to spark a civil war in this country. This evil and hatred is part of our story—this brings the grief and the panic of this event right into our hearts.

This week we find ourselves living in this storm just as the disciples in Mark were as they crossed over the water. In the Gospel we hear today, the disciples wake Jesus up to help. Jesus' words for the disciples and for the storm are: PEACE! BE STILL!

As we soak in this overwhelmingly loud call of PEACE! BE STILL! I wonder who Jesus is addressing.

When Jesus speaks to the sea, the Greek word that is used is bathos. This word is used to represent chaos in other places within the Gospel of Mark. So when Jesus calls out, he speaks to the chaos when he says: BE STILL!

When I hear this story I don't see chaos in just the violent waves and the rushing wind; I also see chaos within the panic of the disciples. These people fear for their lives; they call out to Jesus by speculating that he does not care that they are going to die in this storm.

Jesus addresses this panic by calling for peace. Jesus then asks these people why they are afraid and still have no faith? Why are these people anxiously stewing on this storm and blaming Jesus for not caring?

In this Gospel we hear Jesus' cry for PEACE! And to be still. But what does that mean for us as people that are reacting to the gut wrenching news that one of our children has murdered 9 other children of God out of racial hatred?

Among the many reactions that shake our bodies, one of the most common pitfalls is to distract ourselves from the pain. The distraction could look like anger and taking out the helplessness by yelling or punching at walls. Hiding from this grief can look like numbing out by focusing on work or pretending that what happened on Wednesday night at Mother Emanuel doesn't affect us. The distraction can look like guilt or festering only in how we are helpless to do anything good or helpful in this situation. Distraction can look like throwing ourselves into helping others and not paying attention to the emotions going on within our own bodies.

I know that my own heart has been filled with panic about what I can do as a leader of the Lutheran church who is also a white woman who is steeped within my own racial bias. I feel helpless, I feel lost, and I am so terrified that I might say the wrong thing that will anger someone. I am sad that because of my privilege as a white person I am able to remain distracted by my fear and panic instead of dealing with the racism that is embedded in who I am.

Jesus calls us out of the many distractions that create panic or anxiety within us and says BE STILL. This is not a call to remain silent; I am deeply convicted that we are called to be still with the uncomfortable pain that unsettles our souls. It is so difficult to hold on to the raw emotions of heartache and the fear that tightens our stomachs. Jesus calls us into PEACE—that peace is not a call to do nothing but a call to cling to the present. There is a difference between being still in silence, which is passive, or being still in the active call for peace.

9 families have lost their beloveds. A historically black church that is famous for fighting for the right of freedom from slavery and Jim Crow laws was attacked. This week the sacredness of a church was torn apart. That is not peace, that is not love, that is not what we as a people of faith stand for. Jesus cries out to us privileged peoples and says: STAY WITH THAT WOUND.

Be present with the pain and hold it as a call to be transformed. Be still in this moment that tells each of us that the racism that is embedded in our culture is a part of each of our souls. Do not let yourself be distracted and stay long enough in the present to be utterly changed to work for peace. Be still enough to ask yourself: What is my role in this?

Jesus does not abandon the disciples in the storm; we are not abandoned in our panic and fear of what to do next. God holds each of us no matter what our reaction to this is; we are filled with grace even in the distractions we have that cloud our vision of who God is. We are freed by Christ to live into the whole entire purpose of us and the disciples being in the rocking boat in the waves that threaten to crush us. We freed by God's love to live our purpose go across this sea of chaos and unto the other side.

This act of terror that has happened in our broad community of the Lutheran church, all Christians, and the entire United States represents an evil demand that calls for us divide ourselves. The sea of chaos that is both outside and inside of us is telling us to create sides. But we are given a different call by Jesus. Jesus cries out to us and says PEACE!

Within that peace, we are given courage, though even if it is shaky and insecure courage, to use our voices as people of privilege that proclaim love that builds bridges. Jesus calls us out to work for justice in this world; actively creating peace in this world is messy and hard—it involves plenty of mistakes and disagreements and hurt feelings.

We as a people of faith are called out to have the bravery to disagree or say, “No, I will not participate in stereotyping a group of people or laughing at that racist joke.” Jesus call us to be brave enough to say, “I'm sorry that I made that racist comment; I hear you and I see you.” We are given the urge to have these conversations with our children and families.

Being still in the rawness of being real with people means staying in the uncomfortable places. I believe that I NEED to use my voice as a white woman and join in the voices that demand a different life for black bodies. My privilege gives me the ability to be distracted from this violence but my call from God gives me the motivation to build bridges across the chaos.

The love of Christ pierces through the fear and says that we are heading across this to the other side. As we heard in Second Corinthians today, “now is the day of salvation.” Now is the day of crossing over to the place of love. In this pain and hatred there is so much pressure to divide us. And yet the grace of Jesus gives us another way: how can we continue to bind ourselves together?

Christ's overarching love stops me in my tracks as I hear the words of forgiveness that the families of the victims of Dylan Roof's shooting spoke on Friday afternoon.

Speaking of her 26 year old son Tywanza Sanders, Felicia Sanders said to Dylan Roof: “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifullest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts. I will never be the same. Tywanza was my hero. But as they say in the Bible study, we enjoyed you, but may God have mercy on your soul.”

The daughter of 70 year old Ethel Lance said, “I forgive you. You took something very precious from me, but I forgive you. It hurts me. You hurt a lot of people, but may God forgive you.”

Over and over again as these families spoke to Roof, they uttered the words: I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you. May God forgive you. We forgive you. We forgive you. We forgive you. We forgive you. We forgive you.

Let us be a witness of the abiding love that flows out of these people. How can we be still to open ourselves up to witness God's love in this forgiveness and embrace it?

The chaos of that windstorm and the chaos of our own panic does not disappear for us---
How then are we called into action to proclaim God's love in order to continue connecting the fragmented pieces of the world?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"We Wish to See Jesus"

I preached at Bethlehem Lutheran in Los Alamos, NM this past Sunday; I am constantly bewildered by the love and care that radiates from this community!
John 12:20-33

Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "We wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Jesus answered them,
"The hour has come for the Son of Humanity to be glorified.
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--' Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
Father, glorify your name."

Then a voice came from heaven,
"I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again."
The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said,
"An angel has spoken to him."

Jesus answered,
"This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.
Now is the judgment of this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

A saying I have been hearing lately is “Don't judge your insides by the looks of other people's outsides!” This advice seems increasingly relevant in a world in which we can see so much of the activities of other people. We scroll through Facebook on our laptops, cell phones, and iPads and witness other people sharing pictures of their trip to Europe, people with big smiles while hugging relatives or friends, breathtaking hiking views, or even the brunch spot a person tried last Saturday. We do all of this peering into the daily lives of others while sitting alone with our technology screens.
We can do this comparing ourselves to the outsides of others while at coffee hour at worship, hearing about the accomplishments of the people around us all the while holding the anxieties and insecurities that linger within our souls. It is stunning to celebrate the joys of witnessing the people around us shine with the gifts that God has given them; it is another thing entirely to hold ourselves to impossible standards of happiness and fulfillment when we compare our worries of not being good enough to the smoothed out edges of the person next to us. The redeeming piece of this is that people look shiny, admirable, and normal until you get to know them well enough to see their unique peculiarities; we are all complex creatures full of worries, gifts, grief, yearning, and people we deeply care for. While it's easy to look at others to see the shiny, happy outsides, I find it much more interesting to open myself up to show my insides, or the unique parts, so that I can connect with other people's insides.
This past fall I took a course called Transforming Christian Theology. My professor began our first class together by showing us our class mascot, which was a Jesus live action figure. This was the deluxe Jesus, wearing a white robe and sandals, comes complete with bread and wine to share, glow in the dark hands to signify the miracles Jesus performs, and a whipping lash for chasing unwanted people out of the temple. This action figure for me signifies the shiny, outside parts of Jesus that crowds of people flock to in order to see what Jesus is capable of.
In the text we are delving into today, we hear about Greek people that desire to see Jesus. As people were preparing for the festival of the Passover, there was a buzz about who Jesus is and amazement surrounding the recent raising of Lazarus from the dead. The Jewish Pharisees are astonished and fearful about the potential of this leader Jesus. People have heard of the teachings and miracles of Jesus and naturally want to see him. As hearers of this story, we can understand the yearning to experience the awe of being near a person who is making a difference in this world. When you feel love radiating from the caring heart of someone or are wowed by the intelligence of a person, it's natural to want to see more of who they are. We want to see Jesus; we long to hear the teachings and witness the miracles. We yearn to be with the Light of the World.
When Jesus hears the request of the Greeks to see him, he shows us that experiencing the person of Jesus is much more complicated than the charismatic exterior. In this text we are given a gift of being able to see a glimmer of the not-so-shiny inside thoughts of Jesus. When we say that we wish to see Jesus, laden within that hope is the assumption that if we experience the person of Jesus, we will be changed. Jesus hears the longing of the people while also knowing that his death was near. How will people be changed if the embodied presence of God is not walking around and proclaiming for our ears to hear and eyes to see?
We do not know if the Greeks ever meet Jesus face-to-face; instead we are given parallels to how we can live our lives in this world as embodied creatures. We long to see Jesus; in this text we are shown a piece of his insides. We see a person who is struggling with his human longings of this world. I imagine a Jesus that replies by saying: “You wish to see me? You know, I wish I could continue to see myself here too, but that is not the path that is meant to be.” Jesus pushes away the fascination and awe that people place upon him as the Blessed One but exposes the gritty, terrifying task of being crucified for the purpose of turning the world upside down. Jesus does not proudly say what lies in store for him but instead shares how troubled his soul is; he wonders about asking to be spared from the hour of being killed. A Jesus that questions and agonizes over the immense call towards death is a human that I certainly understand. The insides of Jesus are the parts that make this a Gospel that permeates across boundaries and cultures—we can stand beside a Savior that is scared, troubled, and lonely because at some points in our lives we have been that person. That sense of being troubled is exactly the feeling that Jesus wants to connect with us in.
Jesus strongly exclaims the role that we all have in this world; we have come here to be human bodies that will transform into something much bigger than we can imagine. When Jesus speaks of how a grain of wheat falls to the ground to die in order to blossom into bountiful wheat, we see the beginnings of the bodily pain and death that is quickly approaching. This inevitable chain of events towards crucifixion serves an immense purpose; the body of Jesus dies and the raising up of the body of Christ is a transformation of what was destroyed. Jesus embraces the call of death not without worries or fear but because of the promise of radical change.
In the death of this grain of wheat and in the death of Jesus, a new community of Christ is born. This is a space that encompasses much more than we can creatively imagine; this body of Christ is what makes our souls tingle. On this earth, we wish to see Jesus; we are shown a Christ that is much more complex that the disciples or we are able to comprehend. We are given a Savior that lived embodied as an Arabic, Jewish, and Aramaic-speaking man that is transformed as Christ to be the wisdom of the world that speaks through women and men of many cultures and languages. When Jesus speaks to us in this text, he is echoing the proclamation of the prophet Isaiah who says: “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
We are given a glimmer of the explosive imagination that Christ creates in our world. When Jesus proclaims that those who love their life will lose it, I believe it is vital to make a distinction between what it means to be an active embodied being in this world and clinging to the assumptions of what our lives should be like. In a world that highly values narrow definitions of success, it is difficult to avoid slipping into viewing ourselves only for what our outsides look like. It's easy to create solutions for how to pad ourselves in security from the pain and uncertainty that comes with being a beautifully flawed human. Jesus is calling us to peer into ourselves; we are called to begin to critically examine the deep yearnings and questions we have.
When we engage deeply in the call that Christ has for us, there will be pieces of us that will fall away into the earth as we learn how to bear fruit together as people of faith. What dreams linger within you, bursting to be lived out? Jesus does not decide to die for the sake of all people but he heeds a burning call from God that was already inside of him. Each of us brings gifts and particular interests that equip us to be servants of Christ; what pieces inside of you are being called forward to create change? How will this community fall into the earth and be transformed by engaging with our hope of new life? We are called to step out together as brave, vulnerable people that proclaim our worries, our yearnings, and our creative vision for how we live as Christ in this world.

Monday, March 16, 2015

TEAM AMERICA: World Police (American Exceptionalism Oppresses Black Bodies)

TEAM AMERICA: World Police.  I f'ing love this movie.  I first saw it in high school and it continues to be one of my favorite movies.  Why, per say, would a feminist who has never shot a gun adore this movie?

I appreciate this movie because Trey Parker and Matt Stone are able to hilariously articulate American exceptionalism.  This term is defined by viewing the United States as qualitatively different and/or above other nations.  The first scene of this movie includes the Lourve and Eiffel Tower being destroyed by just a few Americans in flashy oufits and massive weaponry.  It's comical to me that the members of Team America high-five after tearing down the beloved architecture of Paris (blowing up many civilians along with a few terrorists) in the name of freedom for all.  The ridiculous, exaggerated actions of this team of gun-toting freedom fighters exposes an assumption that is common in American patriotism: the people of the United States understand best what freedom for all people looks like.

William T. Cavanaugh, in his book Migrations of the Holy, argues against the concept of a nation-state as a promoter and protector of the common good (Kindle 103).  Cavanaugh speaks of the danger that is inherent to lifting up a nation-state as the natural way of organizing society.  Within the US there is a common thread that our nation has been founded on the call for all people to have freedom.

Cavanaugh argues that the idea of a state being developed for the common food is not supported historically; Cavanaugh references Joseph Strayer who explains that the movement toward a nation-state developed in the fourteenth century with the members of the royal courts acquiring power by having people assemble and pay taxes in order to be represented in the courts of law.  In order to be represented in a court case, people would have to pay taxes and if you were unable to pay (ie anyone who didn't own property probably couldn't), you would not be represented by the royal court.  That sounds quite complicated to me; luckily the conclusion is a bit easier to grasp: the rise of the state does not emerge of a search for the common good but rather for dominant groups to benefit.

Out of the movement from local communities towards a larger group, or a state, emerges a need for a big group of people to adhere to and be loyal to the state or nation that they are a part of.  This is why nationalism and patriotism are so important to keep a state alive.  Cavanaugh argues that the state, society, and religion are fused together so that people believe that their loyalty to their country is what holds weight in their relationships, job, and even their relationship with God.  The biggest issue I have with nationalism is that when we are loyal to one group of people we are automatically making an Other.  Whoever is outside of the nation-state is not a part of our belief system and therefore is not considered within the freedom for all.

For me it is easy to understand that the nation-state does not work towards the common good precisely because in it's beginnings the United States did not give freedom to all people.  Kelly Brown Douglas argues in Sexuality and the Black Church that black bodies are a pawn of white culture.  She explains the movement from European thought in the eighteenth century that espouses the inferiority of Black-skinned people develops into an intellectual ideology of White supremacy within the nineteenth century in which "American scholars explain blackness as a sign of degeneracy" (15).  How can we say that the United States nation is founded on the concept of freedom for all when Black-skinned people were seen as inferior and were institutionalized into slavery?
 I think that Cavanaugh's points about how the United States emerges out of a myth that it is working for the common good is done by creating a state that lifts up white culture while dehumanizing black bodies.  It is a lot easier to bond together as a nation against an Other; within the roots of America white supremacy connects the represented, tax-paying, white classes by capitalizing on the "unnatural," "savage" black-skinned people.

Douglas explains the ways that white culture in the United States destroys black bodies by controlling the sexuality of black people.  Black women are characterized as either Jezebels who have no control over their sexuality and act as temptresses (36) or Mammies who are viewed as asexual maternal figures who are obedient and never act out of line (41).  Black women slaves were in forced labor and therefore unable to fit into Western concepts of the delicate lady.  Black men were stereotyped as Violent Bucks who were sexually aggressive and needed to be controlled (45).  I believe that these stereotypes that Douglas explicates are foundations of white culture in the United States are are still present in some form today.

These are some tough and bitter thoughts to swallow as a member of the United States.  How can I as a white female who has benefited from a nation that swells with pride in true understanding of freedom, all the while oppressing black bodies in slavery, with Jim Crow laws, and a criminal justice system that grossly over represents black people?  I think the first step is be aware of the dangers of being unable to step back from our nation-state and critically examine it.

As a Christian leader, I find it so difficult to critically look at the ways that the United States nation has oppressed people;  I have a narrative in my head that screams "YOU CAN'T BE AMERICAN IF YOU DON'T LOVE AMERICA!" Perhaps it is the puppets from Team America shouting this in my head, reminding me how strongly people in the United States connect their worth with being American.  Yet it is vital for me as a Christian leader to expose the ways that nationalism is working within Christian churches to make it impossible for a Christian to critique what the United States government does.

Cavanaugh states that his "basic argument is that when a direct, unmediated relationship is posited between America and a transcendent reality, either God or freedom, there is a danger that the state will be divinized" (Kindle 1054).  If we say that America means freedom, there is absolutely a link between America and God.  But here's the issue: America does not mean freedom for some people.  For Black-skinned people, America has meant being dehumanized by slavery, stereotyped as sexually aggressive and uncontrollable, and being excessively jailed and pushed into poverty.  Douglas speaks to the ways that the Black church has found ways to encounter God as a source of freedom over and against what white supremacy of American culture has handed to them.

How do we as Christian people step away from the nationalism of the United States and begin to critically change the ways we see what it means to have freedom for all?  How can we separate out patriotism and the love of God?  Cavanaugh and Douglas expose the ways that the United States, white culture, and religion have fused into a myth that freedom for all is found here in America.  TEAM AMERICA: World Police is able to point to their arguments in ridiculous and exaggerated ways while still exposing the the same concept: America does not mean freedom for all.  We need to take one step back and engage with the oppression that US nationalism causes the Other.

Monday, February 16, 2015


 The more I learn about ministry, the less it is that leaders are called to be able to lift up people but rather unfold themselves so that others can see them in a real light so that others can be called to work towards their own self-enlightenment.

(Presence of Angels, Diana Dunlap)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Posture of Gratitude.

I haven't been able to bring myself to post in the last few months and I can definitely not give you an answer why.  It's not that I don't have thoughts or very strong opinions.  There have been protests in my Berkeley home and rising emotions about the inherent racism in the US.  I have preached at a variety of congregations in the past months which has given me more than enough room to proclaim and share.  I have thoroughly loved my course work this year which included classes about feminist viewpoints in pastoral care, sexuality and pastoral care, queer theology, and race and ethnicity in the New Testament.  All of this has led to great discoveries, misadventures, and all around profound moments.  And yet, here my blog lays dormant.  I've been racking my brain about why, and I think I've finally come to somewhat of an answer.

My life is fucking fantastic right now.  I really savor the privilege to live by myself and create my own space.  I have prioritized my health above all else which includes my mental and emotional health; I am learning how to adore myself which means taking care of my needs.  Sometimes that means reading a book instead of going to a group gathering.  Sometimes that means dancing around my kitchen while preparing a meal.  Each day it gets easier and easier to hold true to my desire to be mindful about my eating habits and focus on the emotions that are behind my hunger.  That is a fucking miracle.  I have a loving family that lives close and a boyfriend that I can only adequately describe as Mr. Awesome.  I feel a wave of calm settle into my soul when I step into a leadership position in a ministry; it feels delicious to be in my skin.

The weird thing is that I don't feel like I should be sharing that gratitude and joy.  It's almost as if I feel like I'm only supposed to share the burdens or the anxieties that pop up throughout my day.  Those are still there; I have issues that lurk within my midst but when I step back and examine where I am right now, wow! What a fantastic life I have worked hard to live into.

One of my most treasured friends visited me this past week and she kept pointing out all the ways that I have transformed.  Her friendship continually shows me what it means to truly see someone and hope for the best out of others.  I am reminded of all the recovery that is held within my posture and I know what my recovery is in direct relation to the people who support me.

Each day I take on a posture of gratitude; the one that whispers of the people who send me love throughout my day, whether I know or not.

Today I am grateful for parishioners in churches that overwhelmingly support me in my call to be a leader in ministry.  One of my Teaching Parish (mini-internship) parishioners sent me out into the world with a light yellow scarf that she told me can remind me that I am a ray of sunshine here.  Last week a parishioner from herchurch (my current church in SF) gifted me a communion bread plate (the fancy word is paten) for me to share the love of God through my ministry.  I lift these up as the reminders that I am not only me but I am the thousands of people that help me become who I am each day.

Who helps you develop a posture of gratitude? What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

That Shade.

I love travel---there is no feeling like going to a place you have never been before and yet finding pieces of me in the scenery and life in an unfamiliar place.

I've been back in the United States for two months now and yet.....that blue of the Mediterranean Sea continues to soak in my soul.  One of the three lovely ladies I traveled with asked us what we could call that shade of blue that the deep water is; none of us could come up with a proper word (though one of them did try just the word blue and we giggled about that).

One of my favorite parts of being on the island Santorini was walking through the stone and marble walkways of Oia.  There is a central square that provides a great space to look out at the cliffs and into that deep shade of blue.  I found myself pausing every time I was in this square, trying to capture this moment as long as I could.  My eyes could not stop pouring over that blue; I felt like I was at the edge of the universe.

Coming home, my heart ached to be back in that place of infinite deep blue and views of the wide open water (dotted with other islands and a volcano, of course).  I want to share with you, reader, a poem that my Greece-sick heart wrote a week or so after arriving back in Berkeley.

That Shade
You are the blue
I am blue.
You are deep, cobalt current
Pure and dark,
the concept of your mystery
is a given.

You are the blue
as I am the blue.
I am the bubbly, leaping turquoise
lapping eagerly unto the sand,
pulled back into your consistent
layers of the Truth.

Together, we hold the pieces of blue.
You are constant unchanging,
I am the fickle and decaying.
Yet you hold unto me in that
deep, cobalt blue
You are my anchor and author
You are my blue.