Bread

Last week, I felt like giving up. But, I didn’t. And now I am resolving not to.

We have been celebrating the joys of having full marriage equality in many areas of our lives. In some ways, it seems surreal. But, in the midst of all that joy, I have been incredibly disheartened.

I have seen friends, family, and strangers say some pretty rotten things about people like me & my wife. I have seen people say some very excluding things. I have seen people put objects and the chance to tell someone, “you are wrong, and I am right” above the feelings of others. I have seen people touting tough love as if Jesus Christ said “thou shalt be forceful in telling others how wrong they are” rather than “do not judge…”

I’ve felt like screaming when I’ve seen pictures of a duck hunting celebrity paired with a quote about “lifestyles” and loving people. So much so, I made my own response complete with a sunglasses wearing Jesus.

jesus meme

All tongue-in-cheek humor aside, I’ve felt pretty miserable.

I’ve really been affected by words that were said directly to me by a family member, as well as the words said on social media by other family members. I hate that I have been cut so deeply, but then I think again – why wouldn’t I?

Last week, near the end, I kept coming back to the same thought and the same image.

My family on my dad’s side does this really awesome bird call thing. I looked it up and found out it’s called an ocarina. A hand ocarina.

When they put their hands together and blow air, it makes a beautiful quail-like bird call. Then, they can manipulate the sound by moving their hands. My grandfather taught them how, because some could not whistle. It was a way for them to call out if they were lost in the woods.

No matter how much I tried, and still try today, I can’t do it.

As a kid, I wanted nothing more than to be able to do it. No matter who tried to teach me, I couldn’t. As a musical person and a person who loves nature, it was incredibly hard for me to not be able to imitate this sound, so I would do my best with singing the tones.

It wasn’t the same.

The last time I remember being shown how was when my wife and I were at my grandfather’s before his health deteriorated quickly. He, my aunt, my dad, all able to do it in the room.

I couldn’t do it. Neither could my wife.

We are different from my other family.

Our wedding was bare bones. Hardly anyone related to me came or even sent a card. I remember going to elaborate weddings for my cousins.

Family doesn’t think anything of saying things which might cause us to feel excluded.

“Family” thought it was okay to tell me that I chose to be gay and split our family because I didn’t want to be lonely. That we are a house of sin and lies and that our daughter’s soul is in trouble because we are gay.

I’m in the woods of hate, spite, and prejudice, and I can’t make the sound to let everyone know that I need help. And I don’t know if they would care anyway.

Because of this and continual posts on social media, articles, etc, I want to distance myself so far from the church that there is no resemblance.

“Love the sinner. Hate the sin.” is not in the Bible.

Christ always had the harshest words for the religious people and he embraced the marginalized.

Christ.

I do still believe.

My dear dear friend, Mary Ellen, makes amazing sourdough bread. She gave me some starter last week.

Yesterday, I fed the starter, and I watched it activate and come to life in a jar on my counter.

In the afternoon as I made the dough, I thought of Mary Ellen, and I thought of her making the bread “with Christ’s love for ALL.”

As I punched down the dough, separated it, and formed it last night, I thought of “This is my body – broken for you.”

God, how the body is so broken.

My body. The church body.

Broken.

I saw Mary Ellen today, and she spoke words to me that I couldn’t believe – exactly what I needed someone to tell me – that my redemption and the redeeming love of Jesus does not hinge upon the views and actions of others. That the work Christ has done and is doing in me is real and valuable and will continue and will continue to affect others.

I sure hope so.

As I baked the bread this morning before work, I thought of more.

“The Kingdom of God is like yeast…”

The miracle of the feeding five thousand.

The parable about a child asking for bread, and why a good parent would never give a stone.

And finally:

“I am the bread of life.”

bread

And I choose today to believe that.

“Give us this day, our daily bread.”

Love,

C.

ashes turn grey

Churches are burning. I sat down with a pen and a scrap piece of paper. This is what came out.

ashes turn grey

ashes turn grey

and coals as black

as black can

be

remain.

charred remnants

of holy worship

and cries for

justice

and peace.

where songs were

sung there by

brown, black, mohagany

beautiful

people.

people unseen

unheard

unwanted

but by

God.

God – help.

terrorism erupts

in flames

in shots

in flags

in hearts.

firebombs

from the 60s

the segregationists

are coming

i see

their remnants

in the coals

in the ashes

in the pain

in the

hell and damnation

they cause

and continue

to purpose.

my voice

my mind

my heart

seem small

in the shadows

of the

surging

churning

raging

hatred and blissful

ignorance.

numbness.

apathy.

resolute.

pen and paper

are all i can

bring myself to

words will not come.

how can we wake

wake ourselves up?

then what?

and churches burn

and ashes turn grey.

and brown, black, mohagany

remain.

resolute

to overcome

the terror.

not only God help them.

We.

how did we get here?

what must we do?

Rachel and the Mirror

Rachel Dolezal.

Pardon the stereotypical counselor question, but

“How does that make you feel?”

And perhaps more importantly, what do you think the way you feel says about you?

I’m going to share some reflections and some challenges today. I haven’t said a word outside of in-person conversations about this situation, and to be honest, a lot of what I will type today will be my own processing and sharing some thoughts I have yet to share with anyone.

When I first heard about her, I thought “what in the world?”
When I saw her parents, I thought, “why in the world?”
When I saw her, I thought, “I wonder.”

As a feminist/interpersonal/humanistic therapist, I have a great deal of empathy for Rachel. I see her as a person who is unconditionally worthy of my respect and positive regard. I see her emotions as valid, and I see her as someone who has a story. Her story.

I obviously don’t know Rachel.

I don’t know her motives, her personality, her psychosocial history, her middle name, or her favorite color.

I make no attempt to pretend I do.

But what I do know is what she has said, and what others have said who do know her.
And I have been most weighed down by the barrage of what people who have never met her have had to say about her.

I don’t know if there are other people who feel that they were born the wrong race. I don’t know if other people so strongly reject their own culture and heritage that they take on another. I don’t know how much family dynamics or emotional problems have resulted in what we see.

However, the more I sit back and listen, the more I think I see something that isn’t there – but is. Like an apparition staring us down from the corner of the room.

Rachel held up a mirror to ourselves, and we attacked her.

Whether our response has been that she can’t feel this way, she isn’t like Caitlyn, or she lied, we stopped short and refused to see her, and see us.

Regardless of if she has been deceitful. (And I genuinely do not believe she intended to be deceptive.)

Rachel broke a more.

Rachel, a woman, has lived for years as someone we don’t believe she is – because there is no evidence, only evidence to the contrary in our eyes.

She went from one category to another, and we have made damn sure that she should know she belongs in the former.

We have called her names, made horrible comparisons, diagnosed her with Axis I and Axis II disorders, and chomped at the bit at every new juicy detail.

But I still come back to…

She is Rachel.
She is worthy of my unconditional positive regard.
She is a person. She has a story. Am I hearing her? Or am I hearing her parents?

Or am I hearing the media?
Or am I hearing the sounds of racism, sexism, other-ism in America?

What is it about Rachel that ignites such a passionate outcry?
Look deeper.
No, that answer won’t do.
Look even deeper.

What emotion do you feel?
Does it remind you of anything?
When was the first time you felt that way?

When did you first realize you were different?
What was that like for you?

Rachel holds a mirror up.
I think it’s kind of like the second gate in The NeverEnding Story. Atreyu had to face the scariest image of all – himself. Only when he looked, it was Bastian, reading.

When we look into the mirror that Rachel Dolezal has forced us to, I wonder who we see.

How much hatred we must have, or wait – maybe it isn’t hatred – what if it is fear? Rejection? Discomfort?

What would it cost us to love that person we see in that mirror and change the things we need to?
What would it cost us to do something about the real issues of race in this country, rather than picking apart a woman for whom race may matter more than any of us dreamt?
What would it cost us to stop pointing fingers and start working?
What would it cost us to listen to what Rachel has said, and to love her, and to just leave it at that?

I know, we would have to focus on ourselves again.
That damn self.

I think we would rather stare at our screens, watch it all unfold, and munch on our popcorn.

But aren’t we better that that?
Or at least, can’t we be?

Love,
C.

journal