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Posts Tagged ‘faith’

spine

Some people have spiritual journeys. Like the woman at the pool today. She gave me a copy of her book, the one she’s self-published about her awakening. Praise and bible verses sing their glory from the pages. She told me Satan still tempts her sometimes.

I’m going to have to read this because we’re neighbors. We need each other more than I need the security of my convictions. I’ll learn about her journey. No matter how indirect its impact on my life, a person’s story is a big deal. Reading a slice of it is a small task.

Lately, my journey has strayed far from the spiritual. I’ve gone on a physical detour, as if I’ve stumbled upon some hidden hatch and tripped into my own body. I wander through this wondrous machine, in awe of what I’m witnessing. Connections! Understanding! Everyone needs to hear about this transformation — You! Yes, you! — because it could be this good for you too! Really! This one simple set of practices could give you back life you didn’t even know you’d lost!

Because who doesn’t love hearing yet another opinion about how to improve oneself?

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BlackLivesUU

We believe that hundreds of UU churches signaling to their own members and to the larger community that “our faith takes racism seriously, especially within our own walls” will push our faith toward the beloved community we all seek.

Black Lives of UU

On Sunday, my Unitarian Universalist congregation participated in the first #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn. This began as a call to action by Black Lives of UU for congregations around the country the dedicate one day of services to teaching about racism and white supremacy. Our worship team took the charge seriously, shifting not only the content of the service but the very structure of how we gather together. A new seating arrangement brought everyone face-to-face. Without the familiar printed order of service to guide us, we watched videos of anti-racist leaders like Tricia Rose, and worshiped in the company of art and music by people of color. Most notably, our pastors made unflinching use of the term “white supremacy.”

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Her endeavor was misguided and wrong and maybe plain crazy, akin to someone waking up one day and deciding he’s going to scale Kilamanjaro because he can’t stop imagining the view from the top, the picture so arresting and beautiful that it too soon delivers him to a precarious ledge, where he can no longer turn back. And while it’s easy to say this is a situation to be avoided, isn’t this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?

Chang Rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea

The spirit buckles your knees even as you grip the rung of disbelief.


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chagall dreams

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

– Naomi Shihab Nye, “Gate A-4

Someone vandalizes a church and a Jewish community center in Northern Virginia. They paint swastikas on buildings and dark words over a sign supporting Muslims. This happens on the first night of Passover, at the start of the Christian holy week. The story is here.

Then the police track down a suspect. Dylan Mahone is a 20-year-old man who has found his way into white supremacist and neo-Nazi circles. A student at the community college. A neighbor who lives just blocks from the house my former partner shares with his two kids. A young man whose Facebook page drips with racism and hate and noxious fantasies of violence.

White. Christian. Educated. Male.

One of ours. One of us.

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unity papalini

The minister of my Unitarian congregation invited me to share the story of why I joined our church. The Sunday I’m scheduled to speak happens to coincide with a moment of extraordinary upheaval in the national Unitarian Universalist Association. A senior-level hiring decision unearthed patterns of white supremacy and bias that many people of my faith believed didn’t exist, not here, not among us. We see yet again that privileges, blinders, and oppressive structures exist everywhere — even within people of goodwill who speak of inclusion and equity. Even those of us whose deepest value is radical love.

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Diana with Dog

Each time I think I’ve made contact
sleep ducks away. I stumble
back to night,
dazed. Bedstand, light
Rise Up Singing, 1992 edition
my name a blue wave
from an eager hand
across an arena packed
with years. The water
stained pages crack open
to Men, a section all its own:
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
and Hard Lovin’ Loser
and the one I tucked against me as His
pocketful of mumbles
such are promises. I sing
as I would for my restless son, sway
like the heavy bag
matching its pace, this rhythm I know
by heart. When I left
my home and my family
I was no more than a boy, now
I lay wide the unwrapped
knuckle, throat
bare as palms
I swing
to meet the solid
object I thought
on loan from some
other, and fall
through to a core
so supple and familiar
it is certainly my own and
it will certainly
burst. Momentum
splits a seam, tears
off the skin,
and as with all things
through
is the only way
out. Where I land, stars
spill across sky
in this clearing
stands a boxer and a fighter
by her trade
and she carries the reminders
of every glove that laid her down
or cut her til she cries out
all the anger and the shame
I am leaving I am leaving
and the fighter
rises
up
here, singing
her own name
 

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piano keys

The piano may join us
in this corner we call the dining nook
where our family that is two
keeps a bucket
filled with markers and pens
next to the salt
shaker. When we move again
the table and sofa
remaking our one room
into the many we covet
this becomes the sitting
place and the piano
will be doing that already.
It can stay. A song now
glitches on a hand-me-down
laptop. These machines age
in dog years. The choice
is between upgrading or losing
one lyric after another
to the exponential rise
of force X point O.

Option C is none here,
the above too poor an excuse
for music. It is hardly a maker, 1s and Os
whipping in packs along circuitry
delivering a canned calliope, midway
carousel operating
by remote.

I also want to be new
as if mounting the horse with fresh
paint might offer a ride somewhere
other than where I started
as if I am the lucky one. You are young
enough to believe capacitive touch
means building with light. Still at the table,
you are angry that screens are not invited here
and I lift my wrists in an extended rest, too few
fingers for the chord
my angers weave.

The piano may make us
play the old music
as if for the first time. One note
yours. One note, mine.

All together now.

Soon we will trade these keys for those,
string the hammered
steel tight across wooden belly and let heavy
dampered echoes reach
between us, press down,
tumbling our separate weights
into a sound only four hands
can make. Like us, the instrument
will have to share
this room of a dozen uses. It will join us
at our sharp corners.

You empty your glass. The wall here
is the color of leaves, or maybe one leaf
of blank sheet music. We each draw
a marker from the bucket. The first lines
decide everything.

 

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