“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”
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.
This 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”
Catches me in the front row
Voices bounce around like fireflies
Lighting up a note, now here, now there
And right in front of God and everyone
Your fireflies squeeze fire from my eyes
Continue reading “The Music of Fireflies”
Yoga class, late sun in the window, glowing onto my face. I’m at work, of all places, in a bright conference room with chairs pushed to the walls. The instructor’s voice is quieting now. Lying back in Savasana pose, a screen of sunlight across my lower eyelashes is more blinding than enlightening. Squinting, I see the Sycamore trunk outside is dappled with patches of color like an oil painter’s melancholy palette.
It’s an ending, he is saying, every new beginning is. Yoga is the balance of opposites, and there is no moment like this one. As this practice ends, the rest of the evening begins, he says, and think about how you will live it.
To me, it’s bigger than an evening. I’ve been told I have just three months Continue reading “After It Ends”
“Let me first say that I am biased now and always will be,” Rob said, after I finally found the guts to call him. It seemed safe to confide in him since he lived so far away.
I called hoping Rob would know how I felt – since he had also spent time in a close-knit Christian community that didn’t – on paper – approve of his daughter’s sexual orientation. I was still in the early stages then, not yet talking locally about it but needing to know I wasn’t alone.
He did know how I felt, and talked me through it. Continue reading “Unbundling My Bias”
MLK Jr. Day has become a special day for me over the past decade. It was at an MLK celebration over ten years ago that I became painfully aware that the seeds of racism were still buried and growing in the soil of my soul… and my own unawareness of it was hard to accept. It wasn’t just that I was ignorant; for the first time I saw what a luxury it was to be ignorant. Being able to ignore race matters is what you might call a privilege.
As I became more aware of the real and subtle presence of racism today – in this country and also in my heart – it led me to learn more. After all, that was my real offense, wasn’t it, thinking it was all fine because it was all fine in my white world?
The obvious next step was to Continue reading “The Already and the Not Yet of MLK”