Tied into a Single Garment of Destiny with MLK

Pause to think for a moment: you’re boarding a public bus to head downtown for some errands, maybe to the department store before a Saturday lunch at a barstool diner. In front of you, an older gentlemen steps onto the bus, pays, and turns walks past the only empty seat in the front, all the way to the back where he will stand for the ride, because where he sits depends not on his age or order of boarding, but on the color of his skin. You follow him onto the bus and then, because your skin is white, rest yourself in that front seat.

White people in the front, Black people in the back.

And when you get off that bus, heading toward Woolworths, you stop for a drink at a water fountain. There’s a water fountain clearly designated for you, which you enjoy before a quick stop at the “Whites only” bathroom.

All of this happens out in the open, right there in the 1950s, in front of God and everybody. Continue reading “Tied into a Single Garment of Destiny with MLK”

Editing your history

Today is the release of my first print publication.  Actual ink on paper, if you can imagine that.  In early October I answered a call for submissions to Our Human Family’s first print magazine, and was accepted with a work about what it’s like to finally see, and then challenge, the invisible circles that contain our childhood.  If you’ve read any part of weekendswell, Continue reading “Editing your history”

All You Can Ever Know

“When we rode home together that afternoon, side by side in the backseat of his mother’s blue sedan, I was silent and so was he, pretending nothing had happened between us that day.  But inside of me, something still and deep, something precious, had broken.”

Within the first chapter of Nicole Chung’s book, All You Can Ever Know, she’s heard her first racist slur.  A schoolmate pulls “his eyes into slits”, sing-song chanting at her before they hop in the carpool together, like nothing happened.  It’s only the 2nd grade, but the parents who adopted her at birth had insisted on being colorblind, which means this is her first introduction to race.

It’s taken me months to figure out why this book was so impacting — why I carried her story around in my heart as one of my own.  Its influence on me didn’t entirely make sense, aside from the writer’s axiom that the more specific and personal the work, the more universal it is.  But there is something more here, something I may not entirely want to talk about. Continue reading “All You Can Ever Know”

The Connecting River

As she drives from Atlanta, away from a city church in the city lights, the darkness frames a distant memory: stars.  Not just the dippers, but “stars between stars, a virtual curtain of stardust upon which the larger constellations were hung.” She’s following these stars to a one-room white clapboard church where she will become its first female rector.  She’s also driving away from a certain striving – which it turns out, will follow her anywhere.

LeavingChurchThis beautiful book by Barbara Brown Taylor (BBT) offers a rare transparency from a person inside the clerical robes.  The countryside speaks to her faith. Its pages are full of spiritual honesty and earthy appreciation, as if Henri Nouwen were lost on a nature walk with Mary Oliver. Continue reading “The Connecting River”