Sunday, October 13, 2013

LGBTQ History Month...and church?

 I am proud to be part of a faith community that celebrates LGBTQ History Month (October!), whose website is - and we really mean it, who sings songs with these lyrics, "Our God is not a woman, our God is not a man; Our God is both and neither", with a pastor who preaches that our freedom and liberation comes from saying a holy YES to who we are- whatever gender identity, sexual orientation, race, etc. we are., who not only lift up in prayer but ACT on the issues that affect us as Philadelphians - the school funding crisis, the minimum wage, etc.  I never thought I would be able to go back to church. But I can - and I don't have to check my values, or my critical thinking, at the door. Instead, I receive a great deal of inspiration, insight, nurturing, and love. And THAT is a blessing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

the red X

"No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it.  The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company.  All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need.  The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are." - Barbara Brown Taylor

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

it's been a year...

Friday was the one year anniversary of the day I left my full time job to embark on this journey of less paid work and more parenting time.  

What I learned/rediscovered over the past year:

1.)  It's really hard to slow down.  I realized that I'm a lot like this guy.  

2.)  I love, love, love teaching on the college level.

3.)  I'm a bit of an extrovert and adjunct work is lonely and isolating. And underpaid.

4.)  My kid is a really fun and inspired co-conspirator for: art projects, building forts, dance parties, and anything involving nature/outdoors (sand castles, check. collecting/drawing/observing plants, bugs and animals, check. hiking and camping, check.). 

5.) It really does keep getting better.

6.) The names of all the Disney princesses. The names of all the anti-princess princess books.

7.) That brave doesn't mean pushing your fear so far away you can't feel it anymore.  Brave is one 4 year old girl so determined to get to the top of the climbing toy that she does what needs to be done while weeping the whole way (she made it).

8.) That happiness doesn't mean ease. That sacrifice can be rewarding. That hard work doesn't just happen when we're getting paid for it.

9.) When my kid asks, "Is tomorrow a home day or a school day?" and I reply, "home day" and she squeals, and jumps up and down, my heart melts a little.

10.) Brave is also living the questions.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

the basement files

as most of you know, my mom died in february of 2008.
i cleared out her house, and then sold it.  in the meantime, i bought my first home.
which meant i had an empty basement to fill: with all of my mom's belongings.

it's been a busy five years since mom died - i bought a house, moved in with M and A, was pregnant, had a baby, and now have been a mom for 4 years.

so i'm still sorting through mom's belongings. actually, mom's papers. the belongings are mostly sorted. i am finding all kinds of interesting/upsetting/inspiring/intriguing/disturbing things in the mix. my mom saved all of the cards and letters friends and family sent her over the years. i found a birthday card with this saying that i really liked:

I do not wish
you joy without
a sorrow
nor endless day
without the healing dark
nor brilliant
sun without
the restful shadow,
nor tides that never turn
your back.
I wish you
and strength,
and faith,
and wisdom,
gold enough
to help some
needy one,
I wish you
but also
and god's
sweet peace
every day
is done.
Dorothy Nell McDonald

things i notice when i put my phone down, no. 2

  • the amazing 34 trolley driver who does spoken word about what's next to us, above us, around us, etc. and makes an entire trolley full of hardened SEPTA riders start talking to each other and laughing

Thursday, April 11, 2013

things i noticed when i put my phone down, no.1

so i decided to take a little hiatus from checking facebook and gmail while on SEPTA.
day one, here's what i noticed:

  • this woman wearing a brilliant head scarf that i can only describe as like a stained glass window
  • how men typically take up space on SEPTA by sitting with their legs wide open. women, on the other hand, sit in the outside seat with an open seat near the window for a little more personal space
  • the other people who were NOT reading, sleeping, checking their phones, or talking with a friend. i feel like we're in a secret society or something...
  • how hard it is to just be
  • how beautiful ray lamontagne songs are 
i'll keep you posted on this experiment...

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I’ve been thinking a lot about loss lately, for a few reasons – it is the season between the day my mom died and her birthday – about a month and a half apart - in which I am perpetually confused about if I should be grieving, remembering, or celebrating her life – or some combination of the three. And then I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s amazing new book Flight Behavior. This was a book about so many things, but one of the themes that really stuck with me was loss – loss of habitat, of species, of naiveté, of innocence, of comfort, of kin, of home. And it’s also Lent. Which is a season of remembering – what we’ve lost, what we are yet to become, who we really are.

In Flight Behavior, the main character, a mom of two kids, makes her young son repeat after her, “It won’t ever go back how it was.” And doesn’t that just sum up loss? No matter what happens, I won’t ever live again in a world where my mom is here physically with me, where she can give me a hug or I can call her for advice. And this child’s life will radically change (his mother had just told him some big news, which I won’t share here – no spoilers! Read the book!). And what I have experienced, and seen happen to others, is that in these situations we typically rush to try to make it better: “It’ll be Ok.” “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.” “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” “She’s in a better place.” “She’s not in pain anymore.” These are some of my (least) favorites that have been said to me and to others.

 This is why the character in Flight Behavior is so incredible. Instead of trying to make it “better”, she just tells the truth. In another part of the book, when she is gazing on the butterflies that have inhabited the land near her home – due to climate change – she says, “The hardest work of all was to resist taking comfort.” What she means, I think, is that although something may be beautiful – or appealing – that we would be better off to walk through the wilderness of the truth. That the butterflies are there because their normal habitat was destroyed due to climate change. That they may or may not survive. That the only way out is through. That we must struggle, and grieve, and be angry, and act, in order to grow into the person we are yet to become and are meant to be.

 It’s incredibly hard work, this seeing the world with clear eyes and the grieving that inevitably comes, but I think it’s also where we (collectively) find our strength. It’s where we learn who we really are. Hard work can also be gratifying. It’s where we figure out what “home” is. If home is not a place, or a person (these things change or leave us) – what can we find inside ourselves or in our community or family that is our definition of home? How can we build a world where we all feel at home, where there are more of these spaces or moments – physical, emotional, spiritual - where we CAN see clearly, grieve, yell, and scheme together?