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26 September 2012

Rolling and Sealing the Scroll

It is Yom Kippur, 10 Tishri 5773. It is the end of the Days of Awe, the High Holy Days that begin the Jewish New Year. An end and a beginning circle each other like vellum leaves sewn into a rolled scroll. And on this holy day of days this blog comes to an end.
Last night at Kol Nidrei services the Rabbi told the story of an illiterate man who only knew ten of the twenty-two Hebrew letters who was extolled in midrash for his prayers. When asked his secret he said that he prayed:
Master of the Universe take these ten letters and combine them in to the prayers that please you best.
And he repeated his ten letters over and over again.
I pray that God will take the words that I have offered on this blog use them in better ways than they have been written.
And now on to a new scroll...

21 July 2012

Reading Between the Lines

I have such a hard time
reading between the lines.
I do my best to say what I mean
and do what I say.
I need others to do the same.
But needing anything from anyone
is a clear path to disappointment.
I don't know how to be in relationship
when I can't trust.
And I want to trust.
You say one thing and do another.
I know you are not alone in this.
Broken promises are nothing new.
And now I wonder at your motive.
Jealosy? Envy? Sabotage?
Or just human frailty.

30 June 2012

A Bloody Flux

A timely repost as many prepare to preach on the woman with the vaginal hemorrhage.

The life is bleeding out of me again
the pain doubles me over
snatches my breath
and I clutch and clasp my abdomen.
I am not comforted.

My body shakes from the unrelenting waves of pain
I can't even curl up into a fetal position.

Hormonal imbalances
fibroid tumors
bloody fluxes
issues of blood

The life is bleeding out of me again.

The woman in the gospel on suffered for twelve years.
I have been bleeding for thirty years.
Her living Christ had a body, an accessible body
clothed in garments of prayer for her to touch, grasp, cling to.

My resurrected Christ is long gone from this earth
leaving no talisman behind
no certain healing touch
if I can just press my way
only the vagaries and unpredictabilities of modern medicine and prayer.

Unanticipated respite
days, weeks, years - five this last time
moments of grace until they are washed away
in another bloody flux.

25 June 2012

Living in the Moment

For the moment, I am able to live in the moment. I don't know how long it will last.

22 June 2012

What Sustains Me

Today's Blog brought to you by RevGalBlogPals, the circle of women clergy and seminarian bloggers (and some of their pals) who got me to blog in the first place and are my regular conversation partners.

  1. What brings you light in the dark places? 
  2. How do you connect/reconnect with God, and where do you find him/her holding you?
  3. Is there a prayer/poem/piece of liturgy that speaks life/sustains you?
  4. Is there a piece of music that lifts your heart?
  5. Is there a place you run to (even in your imagination?
Light in the Dark

A single flame, a single candle is all I need to see light radiating into, through and beyond the darkness. My favorite Advent hymn:

There's A Light in the Darkness (Over At The Frankenstein Place)

In the velvet darkness of the blackest night
Burning bright, there's a guiding star
No matter what or who you are.
There's a light over at the Frankenstein Place
There's a light burning in the fireplace
There's a light, light in the darkness of everybody's life.
The darkness must go down the river of nights dreaming
Flow morphia slow, let the sun and light come streaming
Into my life, into my life.
There's a light over at the Frankenstein Place
There's a light burning in the fireplace
There's a light, light in the darkness of everybody's life.
Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack

Reconnecting with God

Prayer, freeform, sighing, longing, hoping, no words necessary. And more recently burning, smelling and watching ascend, incense.

Holy Words
I have two prayer mantras:
אל נא רפא נא לא

"Hear Holy One, hear and heal (her)."
- My translation of Num 12:13, the prayer for Prophet Miriam's healing.

And, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner."

Sacred Songs
I love classical gospel music. A trinity of "storm" songs has accompanied  me in the last year:
James Cleveland Peace Be Still
My Soul is Anchored in the Lord

Sacred Space, Prayer Place

Prayer-walking in a favorite place. A couple of miles listening to gospel music. My prayer places vary depending on what continent I'm on. Here are a couple of my favorites. 
I am always restored by proximity to the water. And when it fills the horizon I am closet to God.

Paying For It

Earlier this year I caught a few episodes of Showtime's Gigolos, a reality show about male prostitutes in Las Vegas. I was fascinated and repelled, and couldn't look away. I was really interested in the women who paid for sex. The women I saw on the first episode all seemed damaged to me. They had been cheated on, abandoned and had low self-esteem. Later on there were women who seemed to be in charge of their own sexuality in a positive way: they were busy working women who traveled and chose to pay for sex rather than have relationships with demands they didn't want.
I tried to imagine a circumstance in which I would pay for sex and couldn't. And then I thought about the various forms of emotional and relational currency exchanged in a relationship and realized that there is more payment that we might be comfortable acknowledging in many if not most relationships.
And I thought about my masseur, whom I'll call Rob. I have thought that there is some irony in that I pay him to touch my (naked) body. Surely I should/could be paid for access to my body. But I'm not and don't want to be a sex-worker. Now while there is something therapeutic about massage - I get deep tissue sports massage, usually after I've been to the gym - there is also a great deal of pleasure. And that pleasure is physical, sensual. Am I paying for it? Yes. But what is it? Is it sex?
What is sex? Sex, especially good sex is so much more than genital contact and/or penetration. Is what makes sex sex the intent to provide orgasm? If so, then I'm not paying for it after all. But what about when I haven't worked out? What is I just want to be touched? Am I paying for it after all?

20 June 2012

To Live is to Age

Why did it take me so long to figure this out. Every day that I'm alive, I age. And not just in the wisdom-acquiring way. And it's not even about my external body-image. I'm deeply content with my appearance. I am troubles by all of the little - and not so little - aches, pains, dysfunctions, ailments and some serious stuff. I'm on more medication the I imagined was possible for someone founder than 80 without a terminal illness. One one levee, I'm grateful for the advances of modern medicine, especially pharmacology. On another, I'd like to go more elegantly into my dotage.

29 May 2012

This Little Light of Mine

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...
I don't think I ever got that song. And I didn't know that I didn't get it. Until a Pentecost baptism. A little girl holding her little candle high - lit from the Paschal candle - her hair still wet from her baptism. Her candle was a little light compared to Paschal candle. But she held it up and out with so much pride. She let it shine. And it took my breath away.

21 May 2012

I Might Be Crazy

I have taken on a monstrous preaching schedule for the next two months: At least one sermon every Sunday, often two and saying Masses too. Now I know that full-time clergy do this all the time. But I have a full time job. And I am grading papers and writing my book and normally would preach mo more that a couple times a week. But I felt honor-bound to help a colleague fill his pulpit with a continuing presence during his sabbatical since the diocese helped me during mine.
I preached today - joyfully off-lectionary at a Baptist church and will have next Sunday off and then off to the races. I have charted out the texts and have figured out what I'm preaching for the month of June. I'm hoping to be able to produce a full-length manuscript each week, although when I was a congregational pastor I quickly slid into preaching from notes. But I am not the pastor this time. There is someone else responsible for pastor care and the administration of the church.
So I might be crazy but I think it is important for me to stretch myself in my vocation.
I so I will draw deep from the well of my ancestors.
...Listening for the rumble and praying to bring the thunder...

09 May 2012

I Believe!

I believe!
Help thou my unbelief.
I believe!
Yet I doubt.
I believe!
Most some of the time.
I believe!
I hope.
I believe!
I am trying.
I believe!
I confess.
I believe!
I wait.
I believe!
I watch.
I believe!

21 April 2012

Season of Hope

It is the season of new life - springing from the womb of the goddess Ishtar (I prefer her as Isis) and from the empty Easter tomb. and my heart is blossoming with hope for new and renewed life. I can feel the Breath of the spirit of God on the nape of my neck and the curl of my ear. And I think I hear...
Speak Sovereign One, your woman-servant is listening.
What will Shavuoth, Pentecost bring? What fire?
What new/old/strange words? What new configurations of community? What resistance? What journeys? What next?

31 March 2012

Outrage Is Not Enough

The outrage is real. It transcends race and class. And it is not enough.
Outrage over the stolen life of one precious child is not enough.
Protests are important, meaningful and necessary. And they are not enough.
Deep conversations and thoughtful analysis are mandatory and essential. And they are not enough.
All of it is important and none of it is enough.
Individual awakenings here and there - if they are occurring and I am not certain that they are - are not enough to change systems, structures, institutions, society and its policies. None of it is enough.
And there are far too many who don't want to change a thing, do a thing, not a single thing, differently. The status quo, is all right with them, justified:
He was suspended from school, he had marijuana, he fought, he wore a hoodie, he was there - in a gated community, he was black. Outrage is not enough.

26 March 2012


I am simply exhausted. I realize I have no idea how to carry my sabbatical into my working life. The refreshment I gain from my Lenten sabbath practice fades like morning mist. Even with the prospect of a full night's sleep ahead of me, I am exhausted by the thought of what lies ahead tomorrow and the next day.

18 March 2012

Black People Are Dangerous

We are so dangerous that simply stating you are in fear of us grants you license to kill us, even if we're unarmed, even when we're children, even when the police have told you to stay in your car and you disobey them, chase us down and shoot and kill us, you will not be arrested. George Zimmerman's murder of Trayvon Martin was not the first time a black person was killed by a white person whose defense was I was afraid of her/him/them because they are black.

16 March 2012


Trusting God.
Listening for God.
Listening to God.
Trusting others.
Listening with me.
Listening for me.
Listening to me.
Fear and trembling.
Speak Majesty, your servant is listening.

06 March 2012

Black and Beautiful and Sunburned

"Can you tan?"
"Do you burn?"
Assumptions about the normatively and inherent value of whiteness - "fair" being light and attractive - are imposed on me as a black woman every day, living in a white supremacist society. I am regularly asked to give an account of my presumptively alternate biology, imagined to be fundamentally different from the interrogator's own normative experience of being human.

"Can you tan?"
"Do you burn?"
I am expected to answer when questioned. To explain myself and my race. Public access to my body is unquestioned.
And deeply entangled with the notion of otherness is the notion of beauty. 
How can something, let alone someone, be black and beautiful?
So never mind that Song of Solomon 1:5 has a simple conjunction, black am I and beautiful, (and emphasizes her blackness by opening with it), a myriad of bible translators continuing into modernity persist with "I am black/dark but beautiful/comely/lovely." Blackness and beauty cannot occupy the same space in the imaginations so they cannot occupy the same space in their translations, no matter what the text actually says.
Some say, they "get" that, but (negate that "getting" with their next comment) doesn't verse 6 say that she is sunburned, therefore, she can't be black - that's what the notes in my study bible say...
As though being black and sunburned were impossible, as impossible as being black and beautiful.
If the text had not said that the woman was as black as the tents of Qedar - as black as the black goats' hair tents woven from the famed goats of Qedar renowned for their beautiful black coats in antiquity, but instead was as white as a lily and that the sun had "gazed" on her, white (and other readers) would have no problem imagining that her lily-white complexion was damaged by the sun, along with all of the class implications associated with laboring outdoors. 
But the antithetical constructions of blackness and beauty, blackness and normatively, even blackness and sunburn mean that far too many readers cannot hear that the woman in the text ruined her beautiful black Qedari completion with a sunburn, in spite of what the text says.
Yes, I am black! and radiant - 
O city women watching me - 
As black as Kedar's goat hair tents 
Or Solomon's fine tapestries. 

Will you disrobe me with your stares? 
The eyes of many morning suns 
Have pierced my skin, and now I shine 
Black as the light before the dawn.
 Rabbi Marcia Falk, 
The Song of Songs: Love Lyrics from the Bible

Whiteness and assumptions about whiteness permeate nearly all things in our society like an anti-light obscuring non-Eurocentric realities.

03 March 2012

Having a Holy Lent: Reboot

I have failed at Lent again.
I am failing.
I am/not a failure.
Starting over.
What will make me whole, holier?
That is what I shall do.
Having a holy Lent.
Starting over.

02 March 2012

Prayers for Syria

My heart is breaking and I feel so powerless.
People are dying, violent painful deaths,
watching their children die suddenly
or starve slowly.
O God! Help! Save! Deliver!
Change the hearts, mind and behavior
of the violent and the vicious.
Spur those who have influence into action.
Blanket the world with your peace.
Please God. Soon.

26 February 2012

Happy With a Side of Sadness

I am happy for you. And you. And you. All of you.
And, sometimes I am sad for me.
All at the same time.

18 February 2012

Requiring Transvaginal Ultrasound Exams

The war against women has reached new lows. Men are deciding our medical and reproductive fates in all-male enclaves prohibiting our voices while inviting religious extremists to the table. I identify these men as religious extremists because they are insisting on imposing their religious views denying women access to health care on those of us who do not share their beliefs.

Some have mandated that women be vaginally penetrated before they can obtain a still-legal abortion. This requirement, for unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound examinations is medical rape, forcing medical technicians to punish women for choosing abortions with the humiliating, invasive and sometimes excruciatingly painful procedure.
The men who design and market this equipment seem to count on the ability of women's vaginas to expand to accept objects of any shape. Some are wider at the point of insertion than at the base, with squared tops. There is no reason the transducer could not be designed to be tampon-shaped. They seem to be designed to inflict pain, at a time when women are anxious and have great difficulty relaxing their abdominal muscles. It takes more than a little lube to put a square peg in a round hole.
The relationship between design and production of medical equipment and legislation mandating its deployment in the bodies of unwilling women crosses the fictional line of Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale."
It is beyond absurd that the same Islamophobic politicians who see Talibani sharia law under ever rock and leaf are racing to impose a heretical christo-talibani sharia law on the citizens of the United States of America.
Voting democratic is not nearly enough to combat this threat. We need to claim the inherent dignity and value of women as human persons in every space at every time. I am a black woman and I am created in the image of God. You cannot see me without seeing Her. And if you do not see Her when you see me then you are a blasphemer and a heretic.

15 February 2012


I'm not overwhelmed. I'm just whelmed. I have so much on my plate that I can not manage another thing. I can do what I have to do, but not anything else. My plate is full, right to the rim. Like a camel bearing a full load. A single straw, leaf or feather will be too much. No mas!

09 February 2012

Crashing into Reality

I have been a part of this community for more than seven years and it and I are still alien to each in some respects. I really hate chapel here. There is no life in the worship most of the time - and if there is life, it is so alien that I cannot recognize it as such. Regular, if not frequent, attendance at these tortuous services is the price I pay, (one of them), for getting to do what I love in this same place.

08 February 2012

Sabbatical Fruit

I had no idea how much my sabbatical gave to me until I started talking with listening to my spiritual director:

06 February 2012

FIrst Day of School

Tomorrow is my first day of school in a really long time. I'm exited about it as I have been about every semester as a student and a teacher. I also have a small degree of performance anxiety. How did being on sabbatical affect my teaching? How should sabbatical have affected my teaching? The pressure of peer evaluation is largely past. But I confess, I want my students to love me. And my teaching.

31 January 2012

It Is Finished!

My sabbatical that is. No doubt my return to the classroom, meetings with colleagues and my regular parish will equip me with fodder for a regular return to this blog.

20 January 2012

New Year, New Life

This is the first year in many years that I've done anything like resolutions. I find myself having returned to my city, my job, my home, my church, my spaces and places for a new beginning. My sabbatical year was a year of Jubilee. And now the clock has reset. In many ways, I am beginning again - yet not quite starting over. My resolution, intention, kavanah, is to renew my vocation and relationships in and to this place and these people and, cultivate new ones along the way.

12 January 2012

Epiphany Shadows

The light of Epiphany 
penetrates the world
illuminating salvation 
and casting its own shadows.
The shadows of Epiphany
show us as we are
in need of deliverance 
from our very selves.
Light and shadow
pour over our planet
finding cracks and crevices

01 January 2012

A New Year

I look back with gratitude over the year that has passed. It has been one of the best of my life. I look to the new year with anticipation. I don't know how it/I will top the past one. But I do not believe that the best God and life have for me is in my past. So there is something wonderful waiting for me. I will need to remind myself of this when the wonder of the coming year is not particularly obvious.