"I am playing with myself,
I am playing with the world's soul,
I am the dialogue between myself and el espiritu del mundo.
I change myself, I change the world."

Gloria AnzaldĂșa

29 February, 2016

I'm in the Right Place

Yesterday I went to church and I saw this in the parking lot. I can think up several different stories for this, but I love it.

Other things happened.

I saw my friend Lenna sitting across the isle, and went to join her. We chatted for awhile, and then I saw that my former pastor Lib McGregor Simmons was sitting in front of me. That was a nice surprise.

Here she is (on the right) with my current pastor Kelly Allen

Then, sometime during the sermon, which was about letting go of control as a Sabbath practice, Kelly was talking about letting go of control of your children.
Oh yeah, and there's more.
Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my Mother's death.  Talk about letting go of control--or having control wrestled from your clutching hands -- And I looked in front of me and there was Lib. Lib was my pastor at the time of Mama's death. In fact, she came to see us and pray with me in the hospital about a half an hour before Mama died. And she counseled me through the crippling grief.

I remember showing up at her home one day. She answered the door, and I collapsed in ugly sobs. It was probably her day off. I do not know if I would have survived without Lib. And without some of the other people at church, like my friend Shirley, who died a few years later. That is not hyperbole. 

One of the readings for the day would have pissed Mama off. 
"Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them." I can hear her now. "Have you ever noticed how hard the life of a bird is? And God loves us like that? Not enough!"

I got a kick out of hearing her whisper that in my ear during the reading. And I was affirmed that I was in the right place. With my friend Lenna, who never knew Mom. With other people who remember her well. With Lib. With Kelly. 
Two weeks ago I entered the narthex at church, and a woman I've known for years said, "Hello Mary." I'm in the right place. 

01 November, 2015

We are Born and Born Again

I have a wisdom tooth inside my crowded face
I have a friend who is a born-again
Found his savior's grace
I was born before my father
And my children before me
We are born and born again
Like waves of the sea
That's the way it's always been
That's how I want it to be 
Paul Simon

I have always loved this song--it's one of my favorites. It combines my love of the romantic era and the concept of the wisdom of children that is lost with age, "I was born before my father and my children before me," with the truth of my own experience, "We are born and born again." This morning--this all souls day--I am hearing this song again. 

This morning I clicked on one of those silly Facebook things. It looks at your profile pics over the last few years and picks the most representative profile pictures to show your change over the years. The picture for 2014 was one of my favorite baby pictures.

I jokingly said to my friends, what? Was I born again in 2014?

Almost immediately I realized, of course I was. I was pretty sick the last few years--mostly, it turns out, because of my diet. In November of 2014, when we could no longer control my blood sugar with the pills I had been taking, I started cutting foods out of my diet and testing my blood sugar frequently. Finally, I realized I had to give up anything that contained sugar or wheat, along with a number of starchy things. And so, I consider my "sugar sobriety" to have begun December 1, 2014. I was born again in 2014.

One of the changes I've made in my life is a re-commitment to building a community of spiritual family. I've made changes in the way I pursue my life as an alcoholic in long term recovery. I am trying to become more "in the middle" of the group I regularly attend. This is hard for me. I tend to distrust people.

I've also gone back to my church family. Thankfully, they have been accepting of the fact that I leave and return on a regular basis. I am, I suppose, the prodigal daughter.

So, after the Facebook epiphany this morning, I get dressed and go to church, where the sermon was on rebirth and resurrection. And here's the thing: the resurrection is now, says my pastor. The resurrection is now. We can walk away from death, from addiction, from isolation--we can be unbound.  And we are born and born again like waves of the sea.


10 December, 2014

happy birthday, Miss Dickinson. and thank you.

When I was an undergraduate, I read an essay by Adrienne Rich about Emily Dickinson. "Vesuvius at Home," the title taken from an ED poem, shattered the image of the shy, strange little woman sitting in her bedroom and hiding away from the world.

And I began to read Dickinson. Then I began to study Dickinson. Her syntax, her precise and startling use of words, her understanding of the human mind, of my mind, were sustenance to me.

And still, I think that there is no one who touches my heart as much as Dickinson.

On this day, the day after the congress released its report on torture, a day when racism and violence and lawlessness seem ever present, a day when I think that perhaps my country has lost its soul, I remember that Dickinson wrote the bulk of her poetry during the years of the civil war; another time when America was paying the price for its original sin.  It seems appropriate to share the best poem about grief I've ever read:

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

J 372

Poem copied from Poetryfoundation.org