#Ferguson take one

Sometimes I don’t know what to say – how to convey the depth, the rage, the grief, the silence, the questions, the solidarity-while-I-know-I-am-still-different-ness. Sometimes I feel like I have to tone it down, or translate, or wait, or lift up other voices, or process thoughtfully, or confess, or something – before I can speak or comment or exhort. If I participate in the conversations I want to challenge, to build up, to advocate, to come alongside the grief, the pain, the anger, the misunderstanding. Between different experiences, different shades of skin, and different assumptions there is delicate ground to dance on; when to encourage, when to challenge, when to listen, when to speak up.

Then I check in with those I know and love, and I lament. There I am heard, and I hear, and then I remember – we need each other. We are all learning. There is no quick easy fix, no explanations that clear up all the pain. There is the struggle, the journey – there is community, and connection – there is growth and reconciling – there is confession, grief – and there is hope.

The reality is that this long darkness of racism, violence, and dehumanizing the other – the fear, ignorance, greed, divided communities and world views – these sins did not arrive as a result of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, a week ago; these sins did not visit our country or our churches overnight. This struggle, the pain, these divisions – they have been festering and infecting wounds for a long, long, long time.
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Poem: On Her Way

“She wasn’t where she had been.
She wasn’t where she was going…but she was on her way.

And on her way she enjoyed food that wasn’t fast, friendships that held, hearts glowing, hearts breaking, smiles that caught tears, paths trudged and alleys skipped.

And on her way she no longer looked for the answers, but held close the two things she knew for sure.
One, if a day carried strength in the morning, peace in the evening, and a little joy in between, it was a good one…
and two, you can live completely without complete understanding.”

~ Jodi Hills

Ready and Thankful

I have not written on my blog for quite some time; over a year in fact. In the past I have often had starts and stops when it comes to writing, times of inspiration and dry spells, times when the words flow and the inspiration is easy, and other seasons where it seems dry and I have to dig deep. But this past year has been – significant. Different. Longer. Shorter. Harder. Better.

I had a child. Moved our family of four across the country. Said good-bye to a church family and some of my deepest friends in the world. Left the city that shaped my call to ministry and justice and academia. Started a full-time pastoral position. Saw my eldest start kindergarten. Presided over a memorial service for several homeless people in my new city. Baptized my niece. Started to fall in love with a new city. Taught a seminary class. Enjoyed summer on the north west coast. Celebrated new births and mourned lives passing. Met 750-or-so people in my new church where I hit the ground running by listening, leading, organizing, following, teaching, learning, pastoring, preaching, and loving these new people who I am now knit together with. I am starting my seventh month of ministry in this new season and I think, finally, the dust is settling and I am feeling ready. Ready to write. Ready to build more deeply. To reflect more deeply. Ready for more.

Not writing this past year has been a metaphor for the truth that I have not had enough space to process, to reflect, to write, to think, to engage, to integrate. Only a few times did the need to write interrupt the fullness of everyday life. I wrote to my baby boy just days before he came into this world. I wrote for his baptism. I wrote some family history. And I wrote good byes and thank you’s and promise to see you soon. For me writing is always integrating, it’s putting pieces together, it’s seeing in a new way, it’s prioritizing. For me to not write in this public space, or much in my own private space, is a sign that I need integration, I need to see anew. And I need to begin somewhere.

So I begin here. I begin by remembering much of what has happened in this last season. Recently I found myself with some time on a plane ride to write out all that our family juggled well (and sometimes not so well) with the changes and transitions this past year or so. I remembered all that we came through, all we were surprised by and grieved over and let go of, and then all that we embraced and rejoiced over and grew into and were able to rest in. We have been provided for in such significant ways. Loved and cared for and remembered. Seen new life and taken daring leaps. Brought alive through worship and tethered deep by relationship. Centered to the core by prayer and community and trust.

There is so much good here to remember, write about, and integrate. So I start by remembering. I start with gratitude. With thankfulness and amazement and praise for being led through, I look back and say, thank you. I pause within the always-moving pace of life and acknowledge. I put back the pieces again, noticing the fingerprints of God throughout. And I remember that even in the messiness of life, maybe especially there, I get to meet God and follow and learn alongside others. I am ready. And I am so very thankful.