Friday, November 29, 2013

The Battlefield of Holy Innocents

“They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still” –
Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound – ”

Emily Dickinson, Poem 613


Today I read a poem and it pained my heart
because it called to mind a friend,
deeply hurt by those who claimed, "Love!"
but a love that had been twisted
into perverse authority.
There are the older generations of Christians who ask:

“Why do the young people flee? Why do they leave?

If we teach them more Scripture,
If we ground them in Orthodoxy
If we saturate them in Prayer
Surely they will not succumb to apostasy.”

So they devise solutions, programs, curriculum.

They search for relevance or tradition.

And these things, these things are not bad, the intent is good,
But Oh, what the they miss! Many leave for doubts of intellect, this is true;

But many leave because of wounds
And many more leave because of doubts and wounds mingled
And no pat answer is fit to save them.
They can quote the theology and history;
It's the perpetual bleeding that plagues them.
They do not leave for lack of information.

But Oh,
It is not Him! It was never Him!

It was everyone who put a spear in the side of the little ones
and watched them trickle water and blood
and questioned why they were groaning;
who tied millstones round their necks
and watched them drown
and asked why they weren't swimming.

These adults, they were our portrait of the Divine,
Because they claimed to speak on His behalf
They said, “God told us to do thus,”
And we believed,
Because we were children,
And children trust the ones they love,
even as they are hurt.

Some of us,
As adults,
Gather our tatters in exchange for a seamless garment
Hope to never commit evil under the excuse of love
Learn to become children again
And try to believe there is One who would never hurt us.

Humanity has fought like the Devil to please the Lord
But in the end Divine Love is devastated,
And the battlefield is littered
with broken children.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

What Keeps My Heart, Part 1: The Episcopal Church

I can walk into your church and know that I am accepted exactly as I am
and that you will speak the same beautiful words from the prayer book that have come to mean so much to me.

So this is why I stay church-bound:
for bread and wine and holy traditions
for Gospel woven into the new yet old words we recite together
for high cathedral ceilings and heartily-sung hymns
for priests in stoles and robes,
And look! Several of them are women!
And there she is blessing his body!
And what else can I say that doesn't smack of trite love story?
That those old flames don't always die out?
And oh
how imperfectly I love
how desperately I need
His Father,
His Mother,
And His Spirit.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


So 26 is when you begin to stop trying to fit someone else's mold and start filling in your own
because this time is oh, so short.

What Broke My Heart, Part 2: The Catholic Church

I love the sacraments
the red and gold
the host carried in the monstrance
and the candles lit
in honor of His presence.

But your deal is an all-in-one package.
"For this beauty, accept these chains
that don't let you question or doubt
that comes from
mouth. "

You were just more of the same.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What Broke My Heart: Prologue (Or, What Bad Churches Do)

You held my hand through my youth
But let it go
And disowned me
When I started questioning you. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

What Broke My Heart: Part 1

As a fatigued woman fueled by adrenaline I tried to give a church that had been beloved to me one more chance as I struggled with my faith. A speaker came, the talk was harmless, but at the end,
at the end someone decided the Q&A was a great time to discuss
how gay sex is the worst that could have happened to this world
and not one spoke a word of dispute.

My wearied bones cried Enough!
And I bolted upright and stormed through the doors
fumbling in my purse for a light and a cigarette
and a release
from all the two dimensional thinking that has always sought to rule this multi-dimensional life.

He’ll set everything right among the nations.
He won’t call attention to what he does
with loud speeches or gaudy parades.
He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt
and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant
but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right

-The Prophet Isaiah, as interpreted by The Message translation

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Church You Fled From I Am Running To

This is a hard place to stand, because on one side voices scream:
"You have forsaken the truth for a diluted Gospel!"

And on the other side they proudly proclaim:
"You have forsaken reality for the Tooth Fairy!"

One man removes himself from the church because it is too liberal for him. Another because it isn't godless enough for him.
I have fled to the "liberal" church,
And I am wrong and I am woman
And won't I see the error of my ways,
and how those evil secularists and those patriarchal wolves are pulling my own wool over my own sheep-eyes?
(For I must be a sheep, to believe and yet not believe in the manner someone else always insists is appropriate?
Sheep I will be then, for He's coming to gather the ones who have been scattered, and I'd rather be The Divine's Child than Dogmatic Sage).

I am standing on the tightrope between
Most Right And Holy Orthodoxy and Craven Apostasy.
I would like them to help me balance
and then we would all hold hands.

Wouldn't that be something?

[For "or" can be the most satanic of words.]

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: it is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the LORD. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the LORD.
-The Prophet Jeremiah


God entered the world through a woman of low repute
two thousand years ago,
and passed through her flesh, her heart, her soul.
Tell me
Why wouldn't He continue to do so?

"So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them."
-The Book of Genesis 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Divisive Woman (or, Honest Conversations with a Church Greeter)

You don't know who I am
But you insist on how much you and God love me
And how you've missed seeing my face in a pew.
Just as long as you don't know what I think about
and I don't talk about

women's rights
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
the lives of puppies, butterflies, rocks, and trees
("Some things, say the wise ones who know everything,
are not living. I say, you live your life your way and leave me alone.")
election ballots stained with sinful choices
hot meals at vegan cafes with safe friends
not giving a shit whether the Bible is infallible or inerrant
or the so-called end of Western civilization.
But caring about real people with untidy lives that don't fit in the constructs of your narrow mind.
Hindu prayer beads and the word "ahimsa" on my lips
Deep stretches with deep breaths while meditating on the life of Jesus
Pipes emanating with the fragrance of vanilla tobacco
Beer, wine, and liquor
Being drunk on fifty proof grace.
Colorful words that punch up my vocabulary.

the real curse isn't whether I say shit or fuck or damn.

Being cursed is being told you are loved
And then told to shut up.

If that kingdom goes up in flames from one spark that flies from my mouth
Then hand me the kindling.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Billy the Kitten (Or, Why I Do What I Do)

When my sister and I were young teens, we found a fluffy gray and white kitten in the woods behind our home. I insisted we name her Billy (I was very into androgynous names at the time). Our grandmother, who we lived with, absolutely detested animals, but especially cats. So we snuck her into the basement. I had cat allergies at the time and was trying to hide my sniffles with Claritin. We would do daily trips to the PetSmart just up the road in order to smuggle two cans of cat food into the house. 

For two glorious weeks, we had a kitten. And then she found her way upstairs when we weren't home, and my grandmother had an absolute meltdown. We insisted she must have snuck in, and tried hiding the cat in another part of the house. She found the cat again. The jig was up. We said we could keep her outside and take care of her, but she demanded that the cat be dumped at the county shelter.

We loaded into my dad's blue Chevorlet with Billy in our arms, sobbing uncontrollably. When we arrived at the county shelter my Dad took Billy from us and went into the shelter by himself. He tried to console us with the fact that she's a kitten, she probably would find a home. I had an intuition at the time that that was an unlikely possibility. I recently looked up the live release rates of that county shelter in Ohio, and they're the same as here in the Midlands, so I know that, more than likely, she met an early death. I hope otherwise, but reality is what it is.

Billy is why I rescue animals in need whenever they come across my path. Billy is why, when I found a pit bull on the street with a very high prey drive who kept diving for my cats, I couldn't surrender him to the municipal shelter and have him lose his life. So he stayed in a spare room and was securely by my side whenever I leashed him up to take him for walks. Then dear angel friends of mine stepped up to foster him, and I owe them so much for that.

I know that the average person thinks it's crazy when I say I have 6 cats and 1 dog (I've even met animal people who thought the number of cats I have is excessive). I know that my husband didn't know this was coming when we got married, and neither did I. As an ex-evangelical, I had compassion for animals but always thought unearthing my passion to care for them would mean I had misaligned priorities, since only human people have souls, and shouldn't I try to save those first? (I don't believe that nonsense any more). But it unleashed itself when I adopted Schnapps, and it has blossomed and been stretched and challenged and tested. And my husband has accepted this part of me, and I am so grateful.

No matter if I'm paid for it, I will always be an advocate and a rescuer. It's in my blood. And I know so many people who feel the same way. People who will give their last dollar to save an animal's life and provide it with quality care. And they won't get recognition for it, but their impact is felt in ripples around the world. Everything is inter-connected, after all. Who knows what lives you touch when you save an animal, and it is adopted into a happy home, and that animal has an impact on those people in ways you could never have imagined. My animals have saved my life times over. Who knows how many times the animals we save, save the lives of others?

I could go on for hours. But I have to go serve my cats Fancy Feast on my grandmother's china.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Star

And normally I look with anticipation towards the New Year,
new beginnings,
fresh starts and bright, clean pages.

But 2014 marks the first full year that the earth will fly around it's star
Without ours.