forgiveness

Un-American Dream

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You know some mornings you just don’t even know what to say. You try to get up and be in a good mood. Have a positive attitude. You get on the computer and it takes about 1 minute to lose faith in the world again. Then you remember you are part of that world.

Watched that clip from Trump’s speech yesterday riffing off a crowd goer who “joked” about shooting migrants. Low. Watched his followers have a good ol’ laugh about it behind him. What fun. Knowing so many people who still will walk around unfazed and supportive of him. Depressing.

I was going to write about letting go and letting God support you today. Would love to do that.

You know there are very few people in my life I can actually talk to about what a shitstorm this nation has shown itself to be. Trump supporters either want to laugh it off or shake their heads as if it’s such a shame we can’t all just get along while quietly helping the bad guys win. And while I believe there are no real bad guys I also believe that there is bad behavior. Maybe we should hold a national forum and discuss what we all think “American” actually means because whatever that definition is seems to have been lost in my way of thinking.

Maybe I am just misguided but to me I always thought that America meant more than this country. America to me meant the world. The people who would help the world. The people who would embrace all people. Lift people up. Save people in trouble and defend those who were weaker. I know that’s naive I guess. I know there are always two sides to every story and I know the American story isn’t always clean, cut and dry. What country could claim such a thing?

So this part of the country’s history will be just that. A story. A part that will pass away and we’ll hopefully learn and grow from this. I like to think America will be greater in the long run. I like to think that America will actually remember who we are as a nation or rather who we always wanted to be as a nation.

It’s easy for me to say this is a story that will pass. I’m not a minority. I’m not an immigrant. I’m not LGBT. I’m not poor. I have a family. I have so many things that so many others don’t. Saying this story will pass sounds like a brush off. Should I walk around angry and resentful all the time or just let go and let God? That “let go and let God” attitude is the same one employed by the Trump folks who believe they are on the side of what is right.

So tired of sides. Let’s build more walls though. We need more of those for sure. If we could just label everything good and bad and then divide things up surely at some point we could separate everything and everyone one until finally we could have some peace and safety all alone while all those bad, dark things scratch at the door looking for love.

This is getting too dark. It’s where this is all headed though isn’t it? If you don’t look further down the path each of these “necessary” steps the country is taking eventually puts us in a box. No where to go. At least people will stand for that national anthem though. I understand why some people get so upset about that. It’s their whole life. The reason they did the things they did. I don’t fault them for it. What makes me angry is to see the manipulation of these people using that flag.

Maybe tomorrow will be a brighter day. I still have hope.

Thanks Obama. I mean that. ❤

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The Love of Jean Vanier

Since his last birthday I had the feeling that the sad news of Jean Vanier’s passing wasn’t far behind. Didn’t think it would be today. As coincidence would have it I was listening to that infamous sermon “You are beloved” by Henri Nouwen this morning on the drive to work. As I am sure you know Henri was deeply influenced and impacted by the work that Jean Vanier began at L’arche and lived and worked there for many years.

What can I say that you don’t already know? Jean Vanier was an important voice. He spoke endlessly about becoming more human. He not only spoke it but he lived it his entire life. I am so very grateful for the many words he left behind as a reminder and a path to follow.

His view of humanity is just so important. He always spoke of patience, kindness, compassion, gentleness and forgiveness. I don’t often read this but I feel like Jean Vanier was particularly important as a voice for men. I say this as a man constantly trying to evolve in a direction that is more human. A majority of the men in the world aren’t taught to see the world as Jean Vanier saw the world. A majority of the men in the world would never dare speak or live the way Jean Vanier did for fear of appearing weak or foolish. That’s part of why this world is in the mess it’s in right now. If more of us men could learn to be brave without guns and without force and without a need to control the world would transform.

Just to express an idea like that causes me some fear. I recall conversations with old friends or family or co-workers where an exact opposite world of what it means to be a man is taught and celebrated. We are taught to laugh at weakness or softness. Growing up in Texas that male group think was always to ridicule the weak ones or feel sorry for them. Strength and power and dominance and even cruelty was celebrated and patterned.  From how we spoke about sports to hunting to kids in your class at school. I understand now that that way of life stems from fear and weakness itself and I hold no grudges.

You spend a lifetime undoing and trying to rewire that thinking because you just aren’t even aware of what you are doing. When you begin that transformational journey it’s funny how hard it is to find a male role model to lead the way. Jean Vanier was an exceptional exception in my experience.  I hope his light continues to shine for new generations. I hope to grow and follow in his path as best as I can even if I’m just out of the gate and he’s already crossing the finish line.

Whatever Your Tomb Is, You Are Risen

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“Here’s a message you probably won’t hear at church this morning–YOU ARE RISEN, now get the hell out! That’s right, you are risen–not just Jesus, but everyone, all of us, risen indeed. That’s the Gospel, period.

So I say unto you, whatever your tomb is, you are risen, now get the hell out!

Maybe for you it’s fear. Maybe it’s insecurity. Maybe it’s procrastination.

Whatever your tomb is, you are risen. For Christ’s sake, it’s time to leave.

Push away the stone. See beyond your window. Awaken to the universe.

The fire of a thousand suns blazes within you. The bravery of an ever expanding cosmos quakes within you. The beauty of God Herself radiates from you. Just the smile on your face sends the demons trembling in hell.

No more time for weak knees or timid reservation. No more time for rehearsed excuses or bowing to your naysayers.

Whatever your tomb is, you are risen, now get the hell out!

Be your badass gay self. Be your unstoppable transgender truth.

Love the empath within you. Adore the misfit that is you. Embrace the brokenness that haunts you. No more shrinking back, no more conforming to a bigoted world.

No, you didn’t get the childhood you deserved. No, you didn’t get the apology owed to you. No, you didn’t get the life that you wish you would.

Yes, people have misunderstood you. Yes, people haven’t accepted you. Yes, people have hurt you.

Will those be the verses that embalm you?

I say unto you, whatever your tomb is, you are risen, now get your ass out!

The world can’t change without you. The world will never be the same if you’d just be you. Tombs are made for dead people, stop carrying yours around with you.

You are risen, now get the hell out!

Will the song inside of you never get sung?

Will the divinity that is you never be owned?

Will the salvation of another never come in your refusal to fully be you?

This is Jesus speaking, is this microphone on? Whatever Easter is to you, this is what Easter is to Me…

YOU ARE RISEN, now get the hell out!

Grace is brave. Be brave.”

– Chris Kratzer, author of Leatherbound Terrorism

Telling A Good Story

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Let me start by making it clear that I do not intend this post as a condemnation or a judgement of anyone or anything. They are words meant for me and if they speak to you then let it be.  This is a musing and an observation born of the pain I sometimes see and feel. This is a call for peace.

What are we showing our children we went yell at them?  I would argue that we are showing them fear. What are we teaching our children when we yell at them? I would argue you we are teaching them fear. Our children are always listening and learning.  If I’ve learned anything with my 5 year old it is that he is always paying attention even when it seems like he’s not.  I see his manners and actions are both a version of his own and reflections of what he learns.

I believe that when we communicate out of anger and frustration we are teaching fear. We might see instant “results” from this but it always comes back to you. This goes for both children and adult communication.  To me this is always a form of child abuse.  At the end of the day we are ALL children. Don’t Christians argue that we are God’s children? Why then do we communicate with children differently than we do with adults?  In many cases we don’t. We yell. We scream. We grit our teeth and send people to prison. To the grave. We show fear. We go to war.  We drop bombs.  We publicly lynch and literally lynch. We teach fear in so many ways to both children and adults and we WONDER what could be wrong with this world. What a mystery.

Every day I see people I have loved and admired sharing things on social media about mocking people and condemning people. I am guilty of it myself sometimes. “Look at the way they wear their clothes!” or simply laughing about how their father was cruel. Insert picture of a wooden spoon and laugh about how you were hit with it.  Insert random guy on the street with baggy jeans and talk about how offensive it is. So many people of the this generation join in and laugh because that makes it feel alright. “I’m not alone. Other kids had their Daddy or Mommy hit them and they’re laughing. I guess they did love me all along.” The one that gets me the most are the ones about “What’s wrong with these kids today?” and they show images of a paddle or a belt. Yeah if we just hit our kids a little more then maybe we’d all get in line? What madness. Our abused parents create abused children and it goes on and on.

The United States is currently run by an abused child. He mirrors the feelings of so many abused child-adults across the nation and the world. On a daily basis he reacts in the ways he was taught as a child. Cruelty. Verbal abuse. Lying. Cheating. Denial. Neglect. Abandonment. To him this is love. To so many this is love because this is what they were taught as a child in one way or another.  Either through direct lesson or observation.

We look at our “enemies” in foreign nations as if they just popped up out of thin air. Monsters out to destroy our way of life that must be destroyed.  Our “enemies” our abused children. They were abused through fear by parents who were abused by their parents, etc etc.  Not because it is done with evil intent but usually out of sheer lack of understanding what is actually going on.  If you want to walk all the way back to the God we can but that’s a long walk and wouldn’t change a thing and just get distracted.

My point is that if we ACTUALLY want the world to change we have to start changing it ourselves.  That means changing our old childhood programming.  That means rewiring.  That means acting and responding differently. We have to forgive ourselves and everyone for the mistakes that have been made and ask for the forgiveness of our children and of strangers.  That’s teaching. That’s breaking the cycle. That’s a path to peace.

A friend of mine wrote this in his blog the other day:

“Tell your children the stories. Make the recipes. Play catch. Hike. Fish. Go to the library. Take long rides down the country lanes. You know what you love to do with them.

Do it. With them.

And, as you go, tell them the stories. Sing the songs. Laugh. Cry. But, let them know they’re part of a story. Let them know they’re part of The Story.”

Whether we like it or not we are always telling our children, and everyone in our lives, they are part of the story in one way or another.  What story are you telling?

God For Us

** Listen to this as you read these words. Music moves.

“We wait in vain at the foot of the Cross for a word of vengeance, reprisal. Yet he responds with forgiveness. Oh the tenderness of our Great High Priest. Jesus says, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Simply put, we must be able to accept forgiveness.

We are sometimes superficially religious, self-concerned, callous, violence loving, cowardly when it comes to speaking out truth in love.

At the Cross, Jesus is saying “World I believe in you. You belong to the Father.” God for us. This is the greatest message of all.”

– Jeff Blake, The Seven Last Words of Christ

Coming Home

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“In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.

Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love.”

– Henri Nouwen

A New Time

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I have waged this war
against myself for many years.
It was terrible, but now I am disarmed.
I am no longer frightened of anything because love banishes fear.
I am disarmed of the need to be right
And to justify myself by disqualifying others.
I am no longer on the defensive holding onto my riches.
I just want to welcome and to share.
I don’t hold onto my ideas and projects.
If someone shows me something better — No, I shouldn’t say better, but good — I accept them without any regrets I no longer seek to compare.
What is good, true and real is always for me the best.
That is why I have no fear.
When we are disarmed and dispossessed of self,
If we open our hearts to the God man who makes all things new then he takes away past hurts
And reveals a new time where everything is possible.

– Patriarch Athenooras of Constantinople