I want to say to Susan, "Your grandchild is with Jesus. And all the babies, too. And all the women who died from botched abortions because they weren't legal and safe. And all the fathers who couldn't get it together to be present. And all the children who ignored their parents. And all the parents who hurt their children. Everyone gets to be in the Kindgom of Heaven. The last, first; the first, last."
When I tell you that I am a Gnostic Baptist, it's not a lasting label. I haven't been anything long enough to safely (and sagely) say, "THIS I BELIEVE," with any sort of lasting conviction.
Mustard seeds are small, stubborn, and selfish -- which are also words one could use to describe me, as long as you also whisper "petty" under your breath, too. In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, we're told that faith as small as this can, if tended, if noticed and cared for, can provide shelter. My mother, saying, "Have a beautiful life," when that isn't the story I have ever told myself, or others, about my mother's love for me, was a shattering and obliterating piece of love and forgiveness -- given and asked for -- when I wasn't sure I deserved it at all.
There are two kinds of suffering in the world: useful suffering, which is impermanent, and performative suffering, which helps no one.
Who were the homestead wives? Who were the gold rush brides? Does anybody know? Do their works survive their yellow fever lives in the pages they wrote? The land was free, yet it cost their lives. -- "Gold Rush Brides," 10,000 Maniacs A lovely woman whom I don't remember meeting emails me periodically to check… Continue reading Suffering, Part 1: Margaret
Dear children, you must try to say Something when you are in need. Don’t confuse hunger with greed; And don’t wait until you are dead.
One worries one starts too late in the evening to return home before dark; but maybe one isn't supposed to return home, and maybe one shouldn't mind the night.
My mom is 73 this year, pocked with Alzheimer's, haunted by ghosts and it can be tough to suss out from her description how many are phantoms of the mind, how many are figments of her imagination, and how many, if any, are visitors from some past Other Side. If they have a message for her, it must be frustrating. She won't remember it. "Well, your brother Michael's dead," she explained to my brother. This was after she and I had talked on the phone. I'm going to tell a story about her, and it's a Gentlemen's Agreement story where we're going to agree, thee and me, that I am telling you the truth.
A few weeks ago, at the Meeting House in Bethesda, Zach was breathing too loudly while he was sitting in quiet contemplation for the still small voice of God. A woman in front of us, panicked but also terrible, kept turning around. Zach's eyes were closed, because, again, as I said, he was sitting in quiet contemplation for the still small voice of God that comes from within. His breathing shouldn't have been a prob-- I'm getting ahead of myself.
Belief is a slippery thing to write about -- it can feel instructional, when you're really just trying to work things out; or self-congratulatory, when you are actually trying to interrogate what it is you believe. Putting your belief(s) in writing can also feel final: It's in words because now it's true.