Thursday Prayer

My knees tremble. I am unsure. This is hard.

Press on.

Did you see their fear? Did you see that scene? How? How, my God…

Press on.

Everywhere I turn people are crying, people are hurting, people are enraged.

Press on.

These systems are overwhelming. The process of making the changes we need is daunting.

Press on, you say.

I know we need pushing, but I don’t want to break them.

Press on.

I’m quite sure at some point, I’ll say the wrong thing.

Press on, you say.

But look at the numbers, I hear someone whisper.

Press on.

And I am so tired.

Press on.

Because it’s not about me.

Press on.

And really, it’s not even about us.

Press on.

It’s you.

Press on.

After all this time, and all this work, and all this stuff, I still want to know you.

Press on.

It’s that simple. I want to know you.

Press on.

To follow you.

Press on.

To love you.

Press on.

To love like you.

Press on.

Because you changed me.

Press on.

Because you changed us.

Press on.

Because you changed everything.

Press on.

And love was different.

Press on.

You’re love is different.

Press on.

So, I can. I will. I am pressing on.

Toward that holy goal of following your call.

Wherever it may lead.

Even when it is hard.

Because of you.

Hold us, Lord, as we keep pressing.

Amen.

 

(Reference: Philippians 3:4b-14)

Advertisements

What brings it out.

It was just a stupid teamwork exercise.
I told myself that as I stood on the patchwork meeting room carpet, listening to the instructions. I didn’t have to be in charge here. I’d only just met most of the colleagues in the room, but I already knew I wasn’t the most experienced or smartest or most clever or best leader in this room by far. I knew there would be an assessment at the end of the exercise and I didn’t want to be on the negative side of that assessment in this room. I had so much respect for these folks, I didn’t want to mess up in the stupid teamwork exercise and let them all know I was a loser. Plus, this was an intentionally diverse gathering. I didn’t want to be the white girl who thought she knew better than everyone. So, as we looked down at the tape and paper on the floor and were being told we had to cross the rocket, I told myself to stay back. To be quiet. To wait. To follow.
But then the facilitator said there was a time limit. And then time started. And no one moved. And no one mad a plan. And my nice-white girl anxiety about finishing on time, getting the job done, having my team win, accomplishing the task as asked, kicked in, and before I was aware of it I had pushed passed people to be near the front. I didn’t come up with that first plan, but when someone, anyone started trying something, I jumped into the water with them. And I yelled for others to follow us. I yelled directions at strangers. I didn’t have a plan. I was trying someone else’s, and without any assessment of its workability, I insisted others join us. I later learned that someone else had another plan. And was trying to tell us about it. But I was already at work and didn’t listen. Her plan was better. And so I jumped on board that plan. Abandoning the one I was working on and joined in the new plan. Again, I yelled at everyone to join us and hurry. Once we all got going, And we knew we were going to finish, I kept yelling for everyone to finish faster.
It was less than 5 minutes.
It was a stupid teamwork exercise.
But I’d completely abandoned my plan, my training. I knew I wanted to follow. I knew I wanted to listen. I knew I didn’t want to be a white supremacist jerk. But when time and competition started, I lost all that, and my conditioning kicked in.
I was the white ally who refused to listen to people of color in the heat of the moment. I was the white woman who assumed her instructions would be followed if only she were louder about sharing them. I was the white supremacist who thought success was more important that listening or planning or working together or making sure everyone was okay. Sure, I wanted the team to win, but winning became more important than how we won.
It was a stupid teamwork exercise.
And I knew it going in.
And I knew better going in.
And still, it brought out all my white supremacist instincts. The ones I have confessed and tried to train out of me. The ones I challenge others to confess and try to train out of themselves.
My colleagues were gracious in naming these traits and actions in the post-exercise debrief. I still have felt gross about them for days. But now it’s time to get over my feelings and work on those instincts of mine again and some more. Because those instincts are violent. My white supremacist instincts are violent.
It wasn’t a stupid teamwork exercise.
It was a reminder that the work is constant.
It was a moment of personal darkness and sin, that I now name and confess.
It was a trigger that hurt others.
It was a sign that I have so much more work to do on myself.

 

August 9, 2017

Look, I don’t have the right words. But here’s my truth.
I was late to the work.
I didn’t know enough about systematic racism or my own privilege until it tore this community apart and killed another one of our own right in front of my face. I can’t un-see those images of Michael Brown laying in the street all those hours. I can’t un-see the images of his mother crying. It took too many lives lost, too many videos shared, too many images and stories seared into my heart to get me off my couch. Too many. Too long.
I was still brand new to STL on Aug. 9, 2014. I didn’t know what to do. But I knew I couldn’t keep watching and doing nothing. So I got up and went out and asked some questions. I listened and I learned. I made a lot of mistakes. I did some reading. I did some marching. I did a whole lot of emails. I followed organizers and experts. I made new relationships. I discovered “new” sources. I found my little lane in this work and I try to keep at it.
I wish it didn’t take that. I wish it didn’t take Mike Brown’s life. I wish his family didn’t have to suffer for so many of us to learn. I wish we didn’t keep seeing pictures and videos and images and tragedies. Now. Still.
I pray for Mike Brown’s family and friends today. I pray for activists and organizers. I pray for people who hit the streets and said NO MORE and did not back down. I pray for people who helped me learn, especially when I didn’t deserve that help. I pray for us. I pray for God to change our hearts and inspire new works of justice and love in us. I pray for hope.Oh, how I wish and I pray.
But I also know that wishing and praying isn’t enough. So, I also commit. I commit to keep doing a little bit of the work, to keep talking about it, to keep reading and learning, to keep showing up, to keep calling myself out, to keep calling us out, and to keep trying…

Maundy Thursday

A reflection for Maundy Thursday ecumenical neighborhood worship.
(Read: John 13:1-17, 31b-35)  
Have love for one another.

If you have love for one another.

They will know.

That you are with me.

That you are a part of me.

Because I’m going on. To do something new. Oh, I’ll still love you to the end, but it’s going to look different for a bit.

All these days. All this time. I’ve been loving you.

In the beginning as a source of life, as a presence in trouble, as the good that could not be overcome.

In a time, made of flesh and bone, of blood and tears, of life like yours, made to dwell and with you abide, to walk in glory, glory in sandals, in a manager, in town, down the road, on the sea, into the city, in the homes of the dirty, at tables with the improper, on the path of justice, filled with healing and truth, to share with you and with them and with all those folks who you’ve been taught to reject.

My love looked different.
Because it was different.
And soon it will be different, still.

So go ahead.
Talk with folks you’re supposed to ignore. Eat with those who you’re supposed to despise. Break the rules which were designed to protect you from the things you were taught to fear. Stand in love. Work for justice. Promote a new peace. Forgive and love some more. Let me help you. And heal you. And then go out again. Tell them our story. Help and heal others. Yes. Really. Go.

And if you make mistakes, oh, you will make mistakes, but look, I know.

I mean, I washed Judas’ feet tonight, right?
And I washed yours, too.
It’s OKAY.
I love you still.
And I’ll love you to the end. I will fill you. I will feed you. I will see you. I will listen for you. I will help you. I will heal you. I will journey with you.
I will love you.
I will love you.
I will love you.

I will love you to the end.
So don’t be afraid.
Go.
Try.
Do.
Love. And love. And love.
Go ahead, now…

There is just so much.

Friends, there is much.
And I am praying.
(Working at the bits I can…)
And praying.
Because there is so much.
And I choose to love.
To love hard.
To love wide.
To love fierce.
And with near reckless abandon.
To love with awkward conversations and probably too many words.
To love with that song my mama taught me to sing.
To love with ears open to listen for your truth.
To love with a pocket full of Cheetos and a tank full of gas.
To love with my claws out and my boots laced and ready.
And with all my elected officials’ phone numbers on speed dial.
To love with a heart that has been completely smashed, but also kinda mended.
To love in the middle of the story of that week when all went wrong and wrong and wrong.
And to love in knowing that it was eventually made right.
So I’m gonna work and listen and learn and try to keep choosing to love. And love. And love.
There is much.
But I keep kinda thinking…love is that much more.

Getting Up Today

So, I read the news each morning on my phone, under the covers, before I even think about getting out of bed. That makes mornings like this one, reading about the massacre in Aleppo and another frightening appointment to the “administration” being built in our names, well, it makes it so on these mornings I can’t imagine any good will come from me leaving the safety and joy of my bed cocoon.

I really need to start getting out of bed before checking my phone.

Because today, just so I could will myself to sit up, I had to remind myself, out loud, that I worship a God who shows up in unexpected places and who does not give up on us. I had to remind myself that I live in a community where people go out and literally put their bodies on the line for justice for their neighbors. I had to remind myself that I live with a kid, who while fully living into her total teenagernes, also still bakes cookies as presents for the teachers at her city public school.

Today I did manage to get up and out of bed. And I got out of bed knowing the world is a hot, dangerous mess. Worried about problems that seem too big to begin to address. But remembering there are flashes and flickers of hope, justice, and joy all around. I got up in the confidence that smart passionate people I know and love and trust are working on projects and programs and issues to help one another. I got up because if they’re going to get to work, I’m gonna have their back. I got up because I need my kid to see me get up and face this hate and ugliness and evil and to fight with joy and passion and laughter and hard, slow methodical work. I got up because I know we will keep getting up. I got up because Mary got up, and Elizabeth, too. Because the Woman at the Well got up. And so did Hagar. She got back up a lot. I got up because mamas in Aleppo had to get up today, too. I got up because mamas in my neighborhood got up too. And I got up because I believe Jesus keeps getting up. I got up because I hope that God is birthing a new love into this world all over again this Christmas. I swear, in my better moments I can feel that happening. (I need to remember that feeling on my worser moments.) I got up because of all the new understandings and passions God has given me over the past couple of years. I got up because I believe we are being giving new and newer understandings of what that born-brand-new-again Jesus love means. I got up because I am counting on a God to give me strength and hope and courage and commitment and faith to keep getting up.

I got up. With God. To get to work. Despite what the news on my phone says. Because of what the news on my phone says. And I got to work.

(Well, I got a huge hot chocolate and a pumpkin muffin first, because, you need strength for this work, duh. But then, you know, after that, I got at the work.)

God help us keep getting up and getting at it.

Amen.

 

NaBloPoMo, Oh No!

Okay, so that whole writing a thing every day just didn’t work for me.

Also, the election totally and completely messed me up.

For a good long while.

But I am getting back at it. Slowly.

But still, a little feel like Lego, my sister’s dog.

FullSizeRender (9).jpg

More soon. Maybe….

Madam Secretary

I sent this letter to Hillary Clinton tonight. 

I can’t wait for tomorrow.

 

Madam Secretary,
It started about a week ago. Well, it’s been happening in bits and spurts all year, but it started happening all the time about a week ago.

The crying.

Every time I read an article. Or watched your closing week videos. Or saw your special, local fleur de lis signs throughout my neighborhood. Or read the stories on #pantsuitnation. I held it in when my kid told me she voted for you in school today, so casually, like it was no big thing and I should have assumed it all along, and don’t be all emotional about it anyway, gosh! And tonight, as I planned out what I would wear to go to the polls tomorrow, where I would go to watch the returns, and how I’d manage to get a hold of my internationally jet-setting, 78-yr-old, early-voting mom once the returns come in…

I’m crying. All the time. And I’m not ashamed. Because these are bad-ass tears of joy. For a barrier broken. For ceiling shattered. For our first woman president. And I’ll be crying all the way to the polls. Big, bad-ass tears of joy.

When I was a little girl, I told my dad I was going to be the first woman president. It was 1980-something, and my dad told me I’d never be the first woman president. Because surely a woman would be president before I grew up.

As a teenager, my mother told me, and I can only assume my four sisters too, “Honey, you can be absolutely anything you want to be. You’re just going to have to work harder at it because you’re a girl.”

When I was 18, I cast my very first vote for a presidential candidate for your husband, and at the time, I told my friends, “I wish I could vote for Hillary instead.”

Twenty years later, on the eve of the day when I will get to vote for you for the third time, even though I live in a state that will not turn your way, I will take my kid with me, so she can see me check that box and be a part of electing the first woman president. So she can be a part of electing the first woman president.

Big, bad ass tears of joy.

This election cycle has been brutal. And for a while now, I’ve just been praying for it to end. But now, it’s the night before the day, THE DAY WHEN WE ELECT THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and I almost don’t want it to end. Almost.

I hope, in the middle of all of this, all the hype and the press, the events and the polls, those horrible debates, the rallies and meetings, and the fundraisers, oh my word the fundraisers, I hope that here and there, in tiny moments and ways, in the middle of all of this, you’ve been able to make space to hear all of us little girls and grown women, shouting THANK YOU! And I hope you’ve been able to sneak in just a few big, bad-ass tears of joy of your own.

Go get ’em, Hillary.
We are with you.
I am with you. With my bad-ass tears of joy. And my pantsuit, too.

With gratitude,
Erin

NaBloPoMo: Day 3

Today, because more than 500 of my colleagues were standing with the many, many water protectors who have been standing for justice and life along the Missouri River, I decided to be bold like them make my own stand for justice.

So, at dinner, I sat my kid down and tried to explain to her what’s happening with Standing Rock and #NoDAPL.

Now, we’ve moved a lot over the years. And she lived two different lives before she came to live with me. So I had no idea what she had been taught about our country’s history and the violence toward and oppression of native peoples.

Usually when I start to talk about these things, she rolls her eyes and grunts and makes some rather forceful suggestions that we maybe, might could change the conversation topic. (At least, that’s how I interpret, “Oh, shut up!”)

But today she listened. She heard the whole (well, actually very short version of the whole) story. Of hurting and stealing and taking over and shoving out and killing and making promises and breaking them and doing that over and over again and treaty lines and water access and holy grounds and spiritual space and discrimination and law breaking and sovereign nation violation and greed and hurt and injustice.

And she listened.

And for me, today, for us, that was a huge step toward justice. Because it happens that way too.

So we keep on…