Sunday, October 11, 2020

A Heart Open To Love

 Tribalism and group think scares the bejeebers out of me. I've seen it go south too many times in my small existence on the planet. So much so, that I'm completely okay hanging out at the margins observing, pondering, wondering and wandering. I can see you and celebrate you without having to parrot you or buy the company t-shirt. 

When "all in" means I lose the ability to think for myself and ask questions, I might need to pause and ask myself is this really healthy. 

When "all in" means I'm relegated to silence when I call foul or challenge a decision, I might need to pause and ask myself is this really healthy. 

I'm not advocating questioning everything with skepticism. I'm advocating being in community where you are free to be your most authentic you, where the value of who you are is significant. 

When I'm only as good as my usefulness or my ability to allow my gifts to be consumed, I might need to pause and ask myself, is this really healthy?

Wonder and mystery always keeps my heart open to Love and to believing the best about people.

 How do you feel in your community? Are you alive and energized? Are you always having to be careful about how you'll form what you say? Are you seen and known? After you've invested hours of your time, energy and resources, do you feel there is a valuable return on your investment? 

Too often we go numbly through our lives, not checking in with our heart. 

You don't have to settle for the next rote thing, you can say yes to the next alive thing. 

Where is the place, who are the people that energize you and make you come alive? 

Find that place. 

Discover those people. 

Build friendships. 

Enjoy community, but don't ever sacrifice your own mind to be a part of the tribe. 

When the chants of "We Are Something" overpower the song of "I AM," you might want to pause and ask yourself, is this really healthy?

 Be you.

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Shaping Humanity

 Richard Rohr says, “Rather than fighting the systems directly and in so doing becoming a mirror image of them, St. Francis of Assisi just did things differently. The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.”


How do we live into “something different”?


An organization like systems are made up of people. We can’t demand a system change without addressing the heart of its people. And we also have to let go of an unconscious but faulty supposition: I can force someone to change. 


While I might make enough noise and cause enough ruckus through protests to make them modify their behavior or dial back, on a good day, I only control me. 


To influence the collective, I focus on myself as an individual. How do I become a “”Prime Attractor” to what we as a society really want, what we definitely need, and who we finally are [called to be]?” 


I intentionally mirror the good of our humanity. I become the lived experience of “something different.” I manage me, and I offer others the freedom to manage themselves. Unconditional acceptance is the foundation of every healthy relationship not shifts in power structures or hierarchy.


Do I see you as a human equal to my humanness? Or are you still an inferior that needs to be saved, 3/5 of a human? Do I see you as a superior that I defer to, shape shift for? Or do I realize our inherent dignity, that we both are powerful beings created in the Image of Love?


Do I offer space for you to be seen, heard, valued, and protected? Can you live fully expressed in my presence without fear of harm, judgment or retaliation? 


Bryan Stevenson said in his HBO documentary, True Justice, the north won the civil war, but the south won the narrative. I say, it is in the heart that all wars are won. Starting first, with my own. What story am I telling myself? How am I participating in its narrative on the stage of life? What do I need to edit in the narrative of my perception to live into life more fully, more consciously - more aware of myself and others, without a narrative that keeps me divided and separate?

In the Court of Expectation

 Dear Black America...

Let’s talk. Yes, the media will make a mockery out of Brandt Jean’s forgiveness and use it to perpetuate an old narrative. Yes, there were huge missteps of injustice in the sentencing. But c’mon now, we all knew that was gonna happen. Yes, the judicial hug and bailiff hair smoothing were all a bit of an overreach. Yes, if you were raised Christian, you’re likely to deny your anger (be disconnected with it) and reach first for forgiveness. Yes, if you’re raised Black in America, you’re likely to deny your anger (at least dial it down or dial it back) and placate a white person to “keep the peace” (or, as we black people know, to stay out of jail - because mass incarceration is today’s answer to lynching). Yes, if you’re black and from the South, especially, you know how to act in the presence of white people. Yes, all of these things are 100% true. 


And even as we decolonize and deconstruct the ways in which we’ve been socialized and assimilated into our own whiteness, we can include and transcend. We do not have to let go of every good virtue just because we learned it in white space. Forgiveness is a good virtue. It’s not just a “should” of Christianity that’s been badly explained and wrongly taught. 


Forgiveness is owning your own head space and heart without contention. Forgiveness unchains you from the drama of someone else's madness. The practice of forgiveness is to transcend the ego’s need to be vindicated. And really, that’s what our cries are about today. We want to be vindicated. We don’t want to look through or let go. But that’s us. That’s how we feel, and that’s not to say your feelings aren’t valid. It’s just to say they are yours. We don’t know Brandt Jean’s process. 


We don’t know what is in the heart of another. We don’t know their process or their wrestle. We can only speak to what we would do, what we know to be true for us. We have to allow room for our differences and our place on the journey. We have to - or else we will become oppressors ourselves - forcing others to think like us, act like us, be like us. 


Deep breaths today. Feel all of it. Acknowledge the pain. See it for what it is. Accept that someone chose to offer forgiveness. If the act triggered you, take the role of unattached observer (when you can) and ask yourself why. Dig deeper toward your own shadow, see what’s there. 


Our biggest disillusionment is still heavily entwined around our expectations. We expect white folk to see us, understand us, get us. We expect black folk to all be radicals and respond the way we would to every situation. We expect the system to change without people changing, without us changing. We expect the system to be different when it has always proven to be exactly what it is, not for you. 


Dear Black America, our expectations are killing us. Unforgiveness will not save us. If we mirror back the indifference we’ve always received, we will perpetuate indifference. If we mirror violent responses we will perpetuate and even excuse violence. How can we begin to move to a non dual place as a race of people that sees the injustice for what it is, speaks truth to power and uphold virtues that move the trajectory of common good further down its path? Am I asking you to bear the burden of this alone? It is true that we’ve always shouldered the heavy weight, and I am not suggesting that at all. What I’m asking today is that as a person, we open our hands, free ourselves from the demands of our own injured expectations and mirror want we want to see in our own lives and in the world at large.


Peace be with you



*This blog was written in 2019 after Brandt Jean’s murder trial in Dallas, TX.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

SFDs

 According to Brene Brown, an SFD is the story you tell yourself before you rumble through it enough to get to the edit. Like Hemingway says, write drunk. Edit sober. 


Tend first to your suffering. Your emotions hold wisdom. What are they trying to teach you? In stillness, pause and ask your heart, "What is the fear? Where is the breach of trust? In what way has fear changed me? What's the echo of fear resonating in my heart chamber at this very moment?”


If you can handle the answer without beating yourself up, you'll see it for what it is, a sh*tty first draft, and you'll remember that fear is an illusion. The panic, the torture, the torment, the anxiety you feel are all incongruent with Love. Therefore your thoughts at the moment can't be aligned with Love, so pause. Breathe and allow love to speak. In the pause, listen for how to direct your energies most effectively for a self-edit of your stormy first draft, which is inner change. 


When the truth of your being communes with Love, there you'll find the reckoning. Grace and truth are realized in Jesus. Just follow it through. Don't stop at the SFD. And stop bringing out the lash to crucify yourself every time you have an SFD. We all do it, but the alchemy happens when we acknowledge those voices, the fear, the emotions, the pain and wrestle through the story they are attempting to weave. 


Feel all of that intensity and then pause, listen to Love's voice, receive Love's truth and say yes to it. Give your heart room to take it all in. Learn how to tango through the web of the SFD into the resonance of love that breeds confidence for your heart. There's the resting place. Sometimes rest takes a little bit of hard work. That's the joy of both/and. No dualism or extremes there. Just remember to be kind and patient with yourself in this space. As Jen Hatmaker said, "We don't need to hustle through our story."

Monday, September 28, 2020

A Prayer of Creativity

 Father God, you are the Master Artist. 

With strokes of love, you painted the world and all therein. 

Everything came into being through Jesus and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 

Together, the Trinity danced upon the deep and created the world. 

May we look upon ourselves with kindness and respect for your creative genius. 

May we look upon humanity with awe and reverence as we admire your artistry. 

May we endeavor to pick up our paintbrushes and join you on the canvas of life to paint harmony where there is tension, unity where there is discord, peace where there is turmoil, love where there is fear. 

May each stroke connect our hearts to You and to one another. 

Amen.

Tools Perform. People Commune.

 God has always loved...the Son, you, me, the world, creation. The whole of our existence is based on relationship. And yet, somehow along the way, consciously or unconsciously, we began to exalt consumption and transaction above relationship. This is so evident in our obsession with God "using" someone and our willingness to be "used" by God. God, who delights in you, has no desire to use you. 

God, who is wholly relational, submits in love and defers to us. He delights in participating in our lives with us. He loves it when our eyes are opened to the truth of union that He is not a far off God on a far away throne, that He is in us, with us, alongside us and the joy of living relationally with Him is that we get to receive from Him and He gets to receive from us. And the more we are convinced of His love, the more of ourselves we freely give and entrust to Him. It's a dance, not a transaction. 

We are His people, His dearly loved ones not His tools. This wrong belief is why we so easily and freely use people for their giftings and calling. We attempt to drain every bit of life from them in the name of ...something. This is a false image of God and it causes us to devalue people. His respect, love, honor, value and delight for you as His own is too great for you to reduce yourself or to allow yourself to be reduced to a tool. You can't have a relationship with a tool. 

Tools perform. People commune.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Honor Your Path

 Even the idea of deconstruction is seeing faith from a scarcity mindset. The energy it takes to sustained continued resistance feeds that which we wish to avoid. If I dig my feet in the ground and push my hands out to resist, I end up stagnant while life keeps hurling at a constant pace toward me.


When I alter my perspective and begin and end with abundance, I can honor the Divine Image in myself and in others and allow my faith to evolve while admitting I’ve been slimed by gobs of paint ill fitting of a masterpiece (bad theology, wrong interpretations, un-Christlike behavior, crazy worship songs based on ungodly beliefs and painful lived experiences, unloving/unhealthy spiritual practices, church leaders with character defects, etc.). 


And with that acknowledgment and open hands, I can surrender to the alchemical process, which transforms that which is no longer working or necessary allowing me to receive that which is,  the truth of my essence that has always been true. 


Underneath the pile of wronged experiences and bad teaching lies a masterpiece worthy of restoration, you. You, created in the Divine Image. You, the essence of Love and Light that has always been the very good of all creation. You, whose being resonates with Truth. 


You are a masterpiece. Recognize the ways in which systems, cultural norms, labels, the opinions of others, and the hells of life have heaped gobs of paint on you. You can detach from that which is not healthy or good by simply opening yours hands in surrender, opening your hands to receive. You don’t have to begin transformation from the mindset of scarcity - “I lack something; something was withheld from me; I was lied to” or any other negative.


Honor the trajectory of your lived experienced. You’re here now. Deep breath, it’s just another opportunity to grow. Be kind and generous to yourself. It’s okay to evolve.