Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Little Life

The headlines are splattered in blood, and I am in my home.

I awake, drowsy. I light a candle, I sprinkle the room with blessed water, I say prayers as I run my fingers over smooth holy stones.

I take pills out of bottles swallow them out of hope.

The dog bowls get filled and hungry once homeless mouths feed happily. The cats weave in and out of my legs, down the hall, out the door, and bathe in the sun.

I follow them out and sit. I read a book that feeds my spirit. I shield my eyes and soak in the rays, trying to give myself nourishment from the sun my body desperately lacks. I worship under blue sky and sunlit leaves. My vision blurs.

I run my hands over thick, soft, red chow fur. I make a cup of tea. I load the dishwasher and feel drained, so I lay down again under soft blankets at the cats and dogs arrange themselves about me. I talk with friends on my phone, I make plans for later in the week, knowing that I need community desperately. Then I pull the blanket over my shoulders and nestle my face in the fur of my boy kitty and sleep.

The headlines are splattered in blood, and I am sleeping.

I dream of floating down a purple stream in the night sky, surrounded by stars. I dream about being pregnant. I dream about a million abstract ideas that are fun while I sleep but make little sense when I rise.

The headlines are splattered in blood, and I am dreaming.

I check my phone. Natural disaster, animals in need of rescue, lead ripping apart flesh and bone, interspersed with news of babies and family get togethers and jokes and news of upcoming films.

A world filled with such stark juxtaposition, in digital form, in my hands.

The headlines are splattered in blood, and I am web surfing.

Is this my life now, I wonder. a long tread toward death riddled with survivor's guilt? For not being able to do more?

The blind dog needs her eye medication. The dementia dog needs a massage. The friend needs a shoulder to lean on. The cabbage plant needs water.

"My work is loving the world," said Mary Oliver.

I resolve to love the small sphere I have been given, knowing that caring for myself is just as important, even though in this world of racing, I only stroll.

The headlines are splattered in blood, and my blood flows through me.

So I do the work I can do.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Shipwreck: Part 1

The figurehead of four crosses on the prow of the ship
Has smashed to pieces against the rock
And washed ashore.

Somehow, despite my best intentions,
I have survived.

My hands splintered
my lungs filled
but my eyes wide open.

I crawl onto the shore
gasp and cough
and claw the sand
to get back home.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Deficient Religion

The man who has no use for the Prophets or the Poets
will see no reason to protect the child who leads the lion and the lamb.

Friday, August 28, 2015


You don't know it
but you set off the spark
that ignited the wick in my heart
And now you're trapped and have no way
to put out all the refining flames.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Στεφανος, a dream I had

He will come through you
pale and thin
and holding a single red rose
he'll let the world know
there is so much we can't know or understand or fathom
there is so much pain
but he will always be certain
his mother loves him.

This will be the undoing of the legacy your ancestors handed you

Monday, June 29, 2015

As Far As I Could Get

I went to the woods to run back home.

I went to the stones to so I could lay a weight on my heart that held it in place with comfort rather than crushing it with rules.

I went to the trees to tell me the old, ancient questions
No more easy answers, no more easy answers, my soul pleads.

I went to the moss to feels it's velvet comfort my mother's heart.

I went to the streaming waters to remember the oldest songs, to have them get stuck in my head again
to drown out the modern hymns.

I went to the sunlight so I could see myself as I truly am.

I went to the animals, so that I could have friends who expected me to be kind, compassionate, and loving, but not correct.

When I lost you I went back to the last version of me I could remember
the one who pressed her face deeply into the open bodies of the fragrant flowers
feeling their plush petals against her flesh
and inhaled.
Daring to hope
but not to know.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Black Sheep

The wounded black sheep look into the stain glassed windows, and say,
"Christians are..."
and then tell the testimony of their painful experiences.
It is heart-rending,
and speaks of hate and closed-mindedness,
bullying and abuse,
anti-intellectualism and brainwashing
their tender souls have endured.

The defensive white sheep come out baying,
"Not me, not my church!
You're prejudiced!
You want a license to sin!
You won't listen to the truth!
See, this world just wants to believe what isn't true!
They're beholden to evil!"

Scared, defensive, white sheep,
that's not the way of your Shepherd.

He goes out into the night to save the one, leaving behind the many.
He welcomes the runaway with a feast.
He lets the little ones come to Him freely,
He lets their grubby fingers caress His garment.
He does not blow out smoldering wicks or break bruised reeds.
He dies and rises being misunderstood and unbelieved.

It's up to Him to find black sheep in the wilderness.
Trust that He will.
When He hears their stories of pain,
His Tender Heart breaks open for them
and the blood flows out towards them,
pouring over the roots of the trees
pooling around the meadow flowers
and baptizing their small, dark hooves.

Tidy white sheep, as much as your heart can be like His,
do not fear to take to heart the words of those
with whom you disagree.

Losing Faith When Others Hurt You

Sophia's Back by the nakedpastor
There seems to be a trend of devaluing doubt that arises from the psychological and emotional aspects of faith, in particular hurts one experiences as part of a religious community. But if faith involves the whole person, then doubts can and do arise from more than the mere intellect. But we tend to interpret those types of doubts as less worthy reasons to leave one's faith. When someone is hurt by the actions of others there are quips of "That wasn't real Christianity," or, "This just proves that we all fall short and need Jesus." (Interestingly, when people from another religion behave poorly Christians often use that as "proof" that that religion is invalid, but when it happens within their own ranks it just reinforces beliefs about human depravity).

I guess what I'm trying to get at is, if I say part of why I lost my faith is because of the actions of others that hurt/angered/saddened/betrayed me, that's seen as an invalid reason, since it doesn't deal with the truth claims of the religion. But it doesn't feel invalid, it feels very natural and necessary. The painful or abusive actions of others wound and cause people not to want to be part of a group, and while that doesn't disprove the claims of the religion itself, it does cast a dark light on it. If the actions of others didn't influence our ability to find or lose faith, then there'd be no point in our faith communities. Religion is not an entirely intellectual exercise, thank God, but it seems that the only legitimate reasons to lose religion are intellectual only. I can convert because I felt a warm stirring in my soul, but if my soul feels arid and parched and wounded, that's not a reason to leave.

That's not to say people won't give you grief for your intellectual doubts; they most certainly will, particularly anti-intellectuals who say you think too much and should just pray. I've met my share of those. But it seems like as an ex-Christian, ex-evangelical, ex-fundie, whatever part of the spectrum you're on, in order to be taken seriously you have to be coolheaded and unaffected, otherwise some Christians just say you're hurt and have a chip on your shoulder. It's like a bait and switch. You can come to the Christian faith because of the emotions it produced in you (a sense of peace, belonging, rest, hope, acceptance) but you can't leave it because your emotions are not trustworthy (your heart is deceitful above all things, after all). It's also assumed that your woundedness makes you unfit to critique a religious movement or doctrine. In reality, it gives people insight: insight religious leaders are usually uncomfortable with because it upends the status quo.

It's like the religion-it's traditions, doctrines, holy books, leaders-has a knife in your back. And with each word or action they twist it more and more. The reality of the knife doesn't prove or disprove the claims of the religion, but damn it's extremely difficult to keep holding your back against the blade. The pain causes you to doubt why you're part of this group in the first place. I think Christians need to own the fact that their own behavior can be the gust of wind that blows out smoldering wicks and finally snaps the bruised reed in half. People can't be expected to stay in the midst of that.

We like to talk about faith as something that should exist in a vacuum and shouldn't be impacted by the behavior of others, but we also say our faith communities are important in the development of someone's spiritual journey. We can't have it both ways. We can't put the hurting and wounded through the bait and switch of,"You need us to have faith, but we aren't to blame when we hurt you so much that you want walk away from it." 

Part of what got me thinking about all of this was that in the past I've heard friends say they aren't angry ex-Christians, or ex-fundamentalists, or ex-evangelicals. That's a valid place to be and I'm a little jealous, honestly. But I can't help but be angry. I have intellectual doubts, but I'm also furious at the pain and damage I've experienced. And  the pain inflicted on dear friends. Emotion plays a valid role in the development of someone's spiritual journey. We can't expect people to endure abuse and trauma and then demand they not blame their abusers and traumatizers. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Leaving the Fold

I want to tear my flesh in half
Crack my breastplate apart
rip my still beating heart out
lay it on your holy altar.

"Here," and it would splatter on the marble and splash
the golden chalices with a human's blood.
"Take and eat."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

Former Fathers

You were only proud of me
when I was your parrot.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lost at Sea, Part III: The Divine Masculine

You prop yourself against the wall of the sea cave
your long legs bent against your chest
your long arms resting on them.

You look at me with angular features
those deep set brown eyes
and a warm smile

I smile back, but,
"I don't want to talk to you."

You give a single nod.
You understand.

We sit apart, together.

We listen to the ocean as it echos around the rock walls.

We see the waves smash against the cliffs and the sand.

We watch the shore receive and lose that kiss again and again.

Longing by the nakedpastor

Do I Believe?

I do

in the way that 
I reach for the string tied to a balloon
before it disappears into the endless blue
and I won't be able to grasp it any more.

And will I be able to clutch it in my tired,
wounded hands
before it flies away forever?

Do I even want to?
I don't know. 

Release by the nakedpastor

Saturday, April 18, 2015

False god

"God loves you
Well, not you
But the version of you
He has to imagine
is good enough to love."

Oh friend with jaw dropped
at news of my apostasy
the phenomenal thing isn't my disbelief.
It's that you cannot fathom
why I would want nothing to do with
that god.

by the nakedpastor

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lost At Sea, Part II: Flicker

I cannot tell you if it's over.

I can tell you that I am sitting in a cave,
half of it carved from the white marble of the moon
and half of it scooped from the sea.
And as it turns in the inky sky and the waves ebb at my feet,
I curl into a ball under soft, warm blankets of starshine and I lament.

I hurt, I hurt, I hurt
is the litany my soul cannot stop repeating.
I have used all the other words
and now there is nothing left
to speak to the darkness.

And how remarkable
that Her strong, soft voice
doesn't answer back with a cure.
She doesn't tell me I'm too emotional
to understand the patterns of the waves.
She doesn't tell me that if I wasn't hurting I would see the trail
because She knows the only paths worth parting the seas for
are those anyone, even the hurting
especially the hurting
can travel.
She doesn't tell me that I'm too sensitive,
that my trial of being flung into the sea
has nothing to teach me about understanding
when it happens to those around me.
Because She knows the wounded warrior
has eyes the unmarred soldier can never glimpse,
unless they vow to let their swords rust and crumble into the sea.

No. Instead,
She cradles me in the sea-light and whispers back to my soul
I know.

"And I'm learning
So I'm leaving
And even though I'm grieving

I'm trying to find a reason
Let loss reveal it." 
-Florence Welch

Monday, April 13, 2015

Lost At Sea, Part I: Overture

I was on an island shore. There he stood, miles away, on the stormy seas, just outside a ship.

"I refuse to walk out to him," I said to the sky.

"Do it anyway," said a voice.

I walked over the grey waves pummeling rocks and spraying water into my face and I stood a short distance from him. We screamed over the roar of the waves.

"Come over to me!" he said.

"I can't. I won't!" I was scared to be lured into his siren song yet again, only to be irreparably harmed.

"Come over."

I walked over. My last act of obedience. I decided to say my piece. The waves near us grew quiet. I grabbed his hands in mine and looked in his eyes.

"I can't do this anymore." I began to sink beneath the water. "I don't believe in this anymore," and my body submerged under the water as I let go of his hands.

Was I drowning? Swimming? Down in the distance I saw a warm light. Instead of breaking the surface I decided to dive further in to examine it.

There was a woman who made the grey water around her turn blue, who was cloaked in cerulean and verdant greens, who was warmth and light. She had long auburn hair filled with beads and shells, and an open warm face with a welcoming smile.

I went down to her and entered her home, a dry cavern escape from the waters.

"I've lost so much," I said, as I entered the doorway and felt the warmth of candelight envelope me.


"I had to keep asking questions. I had to keep digging. I had to listen to my intuitions and my mind and my heart when it warned me there was danger, because years of not listening to myself had led to my worst wounds. I've lost so much."

I spoke and I spoke and I spoke and I don't remember all that I said. And I couldn't tell you all that she said. But it felt like home, and what it feels like to be a beloved daughter.

It felt like being able to call someone mother after years of never being able to do so. (If you have not known this pain, it is difficult to fathom the joy).

"God is Mother," she said, and for the first time in my life I was embraced by my Mother.

She looked deep into my eyes and smiled and I felt her pride in me. Someone proud of me not for having the right answers but for being my curious, deep, questioning self.

"Go," she whispered in my ear. "You're ready."

And I floated to the surface, where there was more of her same warm light, where the storm was over, where I knew I belonged as myself.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Goddess forgive me for
ever following a man who
never could admit he's wrong
tempting his proteges with claims of authority
rearing his children with gilded paternalism
yearning to devour us into himself. 

"Sometimes all that we believe
Turns out to be just a scam.
Just trying to get my world
Get it undamned."
-Over the Rhine

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Goodness of God Is Worth More Than the Inerrancy of Scripture

"The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scripture is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible. 
To this some will reply ‘Ah, but we are fallen and don’t recognise good when we see it.’ But God Himself does not say we are as fallen as that. He constantly, in scripture, appeals to our conscience: ‘Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? [Luke 12:57] — ‘What fault hath my people found in me? [Jer 2:5]. And so on.”

-CS Lewis

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Matter Over Mind

If I don't feel my pulse beating in time with the universe
and the breath entering and escaping my lungs
if all I know is the roaring howl of a
distracted, fragmented, anxious, fragile mind
then I fall through the hole
and no one can find me in the blackness.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Goddess: A Love Letter

"I want you to be disappointed and heartbroken
as the idols come crashing down from the shelf
and shatter on the ground into millions of pieces
their shrapnel ripping your heart apart with betrayal.

I don't want this because I'm vindictive
I take no pleasure in any pain
but because it's the only way you'll get that this love
is the stripping away of everything non-essential
so you can know
there was never anything
"Love Sprinkler," Cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Leaving Christianity Playlist

Sometimes I lose my faith. This is the soundtrack when that happens:

Hozier-"Take Me to Church"

"Every Sunday's getting more bleak
Fresh poison each week."

Wicked-"No Good Deed"

"One question haunts and hurts
Too much,
Too much to mention
Was I really seeking good?
Or just seeking attention?"

Sarah McLachlan-"Dear God"

"The hurt I see helps to compound
That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost
Is just somebody's unholy hoax."

Mutemath-"Odd Soul"

"I once was a son
Now I'm on my own"

Within Temptation-"The Truth Beneath the Rose"

"Pray for me cause I have lost my faith in holy wars
Is paradise denied to me cause I can't take no more?"

Within Temptation-"All I Need"

"Don't tear me down for all I need
Make my heart a better place
Give me something I can believe
Don't tear me down
You've opened the door now, don't let it close"

Calvin Harris, Florence Welch-"Sweet Nothing"

"It isn't easy for me to let it go

Cause I've swallowed every single word
And every whisper, every sigh
Eats away this heart of mine
And there is a hollow in me now
So I put my faith in something unknown
I'm living on such sweet nothing
But I'm tired of hope with nothing to hold"

Jennifer Knapp-"Inside"

"Do this and don't do that
Which you think you can't take back
Well, who in the hell
Do you think you are?"

Janelle Monae-"Cold War"

"So you think I'm alone
But being alone is the only way to be
When you step outside
You spend life fighting for your sanity."

Jewel-"Goodbye Alice in Wonderland"

"Yes a heart can hallucinate

If it's completely starved for love
It can even turn monsters
Into angels from above."

U2-"Stand Up Comedy"

"I can stand up for hope, faith, love
While I'm getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady."

Idina Menzel-"Let it Go"

"And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through." 

Foxes-"Holding Onto Heaven"

"Can't take it cause you think nobody sees what you're doing to me
I'm telling you guilt is in your eyes
I hate what you've done
What you've made me become
Don't sleep
Face the night."

Panic! At the Disco-"This is the Gospel"

"And truth be told I never was yours." 


"It's like the room just cleared of smoke
I didn't even want the heart you broke
It's yours to keep
You just might need one."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Not Allowed In

You were so preoccupied with what you thought you had to keep out
you didn't see all the beauty you weren't letting in.

Human beings put fences
where God plants sprawling, flower-filled meadows.

You were too afraid to err on the side of inclusion
because you didn't want to offend the sensibilities of the self-declared orthodox.
So we received lip service
and they received power to draw the lines in the sand.

Here we are,
on the other side
cut out, excluded
but told, "You're welcome here,
and I understand your concerns
just understand that these people are wounded
and they need this place to be conservative
because the risks of being too conservative are less than of being liberal
and we can't rock that boat."

Never mind that people like me had been wounded by the arrows you were helping them forge.

In our quiet talks you
pitted their hurt, their stories,
against mine
as more worth protecting, more worth believing.

In enabling them, you lost me.

It's not that their hurts weren't real
it's just that you didn't want to publicly affirm
that mine were too.

"It's not enough to tell me that you care
When we both know your words are empty air." 

-Florence Welch

"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."
-Anne Lamott

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Stuart Harlan Cone

Yours is the name I want to speak to this dark night of one-thousand regrets
In hopes that with it's utterance you would break forth incarnate
made from the milky threads of distant galaxies and the dust of millions of stars,

Forming into the one person
whose loss has left us with an
empty, black sky.

I speak your name with reverence and trepidation
like holy words from an ancient prayer
but you do not appear.

And yet this longing won't go away.
The agony hope won't go away.