Joyfully Subversive - the collection
From 2010, when I had my own moto in Bujumbura, Burundi - Daniella Hayo was my exquisite Charge D'Affairs.
One of our favorite moto games is shopping downtown.
Certain types of shopping, I never do, because the prices triple when I show my face. So Dani does my purchasing for me. This allows us to act out a wonderful charade on the local stage.
It is odd for me to be on the moto - that we have well established. But the conundrum that is Dani, is not as well plumbed.
The moto boys are pretty sure that I am not a commercial enterprise. But sometimes they wonder, they have seen different people on my pillion. The back seat is the seat of the purchaser, the usual power position. But white is power up, and old is power up, and we subvert both those paradigms when Dani is behind me. It confuses them.
We compound this when we shop. I ride up to the moto stand, and discharge Dani then pull into line with the rest of the boys. She hands me her helmet and says in nice Kirundi “Please wait, I won’t be long.” I say “Oui, Mademoiselle” They are confounded. They try and quiz me, but I have no Kirundi, Well, I can say “Sindabizi Ikirundi” which ironically means “I can’t speak Kirundi.” Their puzzlers are puzzed.
I twiddle my thumbs and watch traffic just like they do. When Dani comes back with her packages, I say “Iko Wapi?” Where to? In Kiswahili. She replies “Home, please” in her nice French and I say “OK” in universal, And I grin at the boys, and off we go.
“Who IS that GIRL????
“How does she rate a lady Mazungu driver??”
“Maybe she is the daughter of the president?”
“Don’t be stupid! There would be guns!”
And the boys have something to think about all afternoon.
The Pillage of Walmart
So There I was...
Looking at the news. Late in the day after the Feast of Gratitude. There was a video clip of a two women being interviewed by a Local TV reporter clearly at the low end of the Totem Pole. It was this poor man’s job to get a story out of how their shopping had gone. I almost clicked off, and then the camera caught an unusually good angle; the woman’s chin up and out, a laugh rolling out of her mouth, and flash of her eye that meant victory. The look was one that in earlier times or other places would be called blood satiation. She had triumphed and was bringing home the trophies, scalps and booty. She had planned and executed an invasion. The God’s and Goddesses of war had smiled upon her. She was the hero to whom the crowds yell “Die Now! Die Now!” for nothing more noble could be achieved.
She had shopped well.
Oh, my sister. How we have fallen. This is our victory. The pillage of Wal-Mart. The plunder of Target. The sack of Sachs.
Clearly, no one has ever told you who you really are. What you were created to do. Let me try and give you a glimpse. See if it does not sound an echo within your soul.
Our most ancient stories tell us the truth of who we are and what we can do. In every culture, the stories exist. Scheherezade knew these stories. Boudica told these stories to her daughters. These stories tell of heroic women; Judith and Xena. This archetypal woman has come down to our day and turns up as a blonde in Sunnydale. But she is here and she will not go away. You know these stories, you have just forgotten their meaning, and failed at their application.
The oldest story I know is of a garden. Firstmother was seduced by a lie. A fear-based lie. A myth of scarcity. She was told that her creator was holding out on her. She bought the falsehood that she must acquire, by deceit or force, what she was not given. She realizes her mistake very quickly, but the adhesive gum of the price-sticker of that lie stuck to her soul and was passed down.
But not before her creator gave her one more thing.
He spoke to her seducer and said this.
“You who were made for glory, you who has never had a predator, you have now made an enemy, and her name is woman, and you should be afraid, very afraid for although you will cut her, in the end, she will crush your head.”
Not Firstfather. Not the second Adam who came to plant the new garden. No, SHE was tasked with vermin eradication. She shall have the final victory. Doubt me? Get thee to a Roman church; find the pretty Lady, the one of the serene face, the upturned eyes. Look at her feet, and see what is crushed under them.
Since that day two forces have been competing for your soul, my sister. One, a foul lie from Hell, which says that you are not complete, that you are not good enough, that you must have more, be more. The other force is deeper and more powerful, but often buried, unawakened. It says that you are more powerful than you could ever know – right now. That force knows that evil itself, fears YOU. You were meant to crush poverty. To thwart abuse. To free captives as well as to bind wounds. You were meant to have clear sight, wisdom and power.
But sister, you have bought the lie. You have bought it wholesale, retail and on sale. You have stocked your cupboards with it and put it away for the winter. You have breast-fed and spoon fed it to your babies. Your soul has root cellars full of it.
You have let your enemy bind your feet, so that you cannot stand your ground. You have let your enemy steal your right to read, so that your may not look upon the truth. You have let your enemy impoverish you through mistaken wars you have enabled with your cooking pot and laundry pail. You have died bearing daughters who do not know who they are.
Yet in your deepest dreams the battle songs of Miriam and Deborah still sing.
“Horses and chariots are no match for my God”
There was nothing wrong with that feeling you felt on Friday night, my dear. You were hardwired to crave it, seek it, fight for it and revel in it. But oh, my sister, my mother, my daughter, you have settled for a pale echo of the truth.
Give it a thought now, before we settle into the cookies and the glass balls and the laughter of children. Any maybe on this New Year, you might want to sing a new song, and laugh a new laugh, and look your true enemy in the eye and let him see that you see him, clearly. Let him see that flash in your eye. Scare the Hell out of him, I tell you it will.
“Get the claymore out of the thatch where you hid it Molly.”
Vini… Vidi… Vi – effin – Ci
Over the Top
I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you who have read, commented, and shared these posts.
I have been learning to articulate important ideas in ways that echo truth and touch emotion. Your help in the process has been critical. May God bless us every one.
from Oct 2006
So There I was...
Sitting at a lunch table with a group of insightful, visionary, powerful, spiritual women. We were talking about what it would take for our corner of the Body of Christ to embrace an application of our professed testimony of equality. Specifically, what it would take for the spiritual sea to change enough to make gender identity and sexual orientation non-obstacles to membership and ministry.
“What if we just opened that door and walked through it and let them watch? – Maybe they’d follow.” I proposed.
“Yeah, when Hell freezes over!” said one of my sisters.
That phrase haunted me for a while after that. It rattled around in my heart like a marble in a glass milk bottle. Then the bottle broke, and it was spilt milk all over, but I had a jagged glass epiphany.
That is our job.
That is precisely our job.
We are supposed to be freezing Hell.
Turning the thermostat of evil down till the devil is wearing thermal underwear.
Hell requires conflagration.
Badness expends huge energy.
Evil itches, and requires lots of scratching, which leads to angry inflammation.
But the truth is, Hellfire can be quenched.
The best way to chill inequality is to not participate in it,
not cooperate with it, not ignore it.
Racism is not by any means conquered in our world. But in our country in the last century it has been moderated by courageous people refusing to accept that it is the norm. Racism lives, but Jim Crow is history. People, a few people at first, just refused to be segregated, black people and white people. They just stopped participating. They had a chilling effect on evil.
We were created to be effective.
Each one of us individually and all of us together.
Individually we can douse and stomp on fires of evil that spark up around us.
As a people of God we can be the cool soft rain that puts the forest fire to bed.
Hell loves a mob; especially a trauma crazed mob, an unthinking angry mob.
Hell especially loves an armed mob; guns are nice, but machetes will do. But it is amazing what a few people or even one person can do to a mob.
Hell was having a picnic in My Lai, Vietnam when Hugh Thompson, Lawrence Colburn and Glenn Andreotta landed their helicopter between their comrades and their comrade’s innocent prey. They stopped the carnage.
The devil considered those guys to be party crashers.
They were called traitors when they got home.
Eventually they were decorated as heroes.
What we don’t know is how many similar atrocities, in that war, and in the wars since then, including the travesty of a conflict we are engaged in now, have been stopped short by one person saying “Hey, that’s not what were here for” or “Don’t even think about it.” They don’t get written up as heroes for preventing evil. Loyalty and humilty keeps them from talking about it, but It happens all the time.
The devil doesn’t want you to know that he gets thwarted a thousand times for every time he succeeds in getting drunk on mayhem.
And don’t think that it is only warriors who block disaster.
I have seen a pig-tailed eight-year-old walk into a knot of bullies and take a scared six-year old by the hand and walk him out with a “Shame on you – I’m telling” look at the tormentors.
The truth is that evil is the sissie.
Our spiritual adversary and all his minions are cowards of the first order. Hell can be frozen by the kindness of a child, the courage of a man, the voice of a boy, the persistence of an old woman.
All we have to do is wake up, speak up and step right in.
The Road to Goma
So There I was
Breaking one of my cardinal rules of living in an alien environment. I was ignoring the advice of the local friend charged with my health and safety. Muzungu Ujinga - stupid white person!
I was getting ready to head out from Kigali to Goma. It is a long ride on the very best of days. Those days don’t come around very often. My friend was clear that I should be on the 10:30 bus, and that at the latest. It was the last bus that had a good chance of getting me to the border crossing before dark. I was going to have to negotiate that crossing without help, and in need of a visa. It might take time. No one wanted me to cross into the Congo after dark.
Before leaving there was a task that I needed to perform. I had been charged with the duty of interviewing six secondary students at the George Fox Secondary School. They were orphans and at risk of losing their place at school for the inability to pay their fees. I was going to bring their stories back to a group in the US who had scholarships on their mind. It felt important.
My friend picked me up and wanted to purchase my bus ticket before seeing the students. He did not want to risk a sold out bus and a late departure. We got to the bus office. He tried to buy me a ticket. Bad news. There was no 10:30 bus today, just a 9:30 and an 11:30. It was five minutes until nine. My friend stated his intention to buy me a ticket on the 9:30 bus. He was clear about this. He assured me that the students would wait. I knew my return trip would be even tighter and on the weekend, the odds of finding the students at school were not good. I asked him to buy me a ticket on the 11:30 bus. He told me this would not do - he wanted me to get on the 9:30 bus right then and there. I asked him to pray with me for a moment. In those moments of silence I felt a bond and a call to those young people that would not let me go. I could not abandon them. I thanked my friend for his care of me. I assured him that I understood the risk I was taking. I told him that I felt clearly led to go see the students. I asked him to buy me the 11:30 ticket. He politely asked me to buy it myself, as he wanted no responsibility for my choice. This is as clear as an African can be that you are being foolish beyond belief. I bought my own ticket for the 11:30. Then he took me to see the students.
It was a heartbreaking hour. I heard stories that will never leave me. We all wept. I had nothing to promise them except that I would tell their stories. Any possible help was many months away, and it might be too late for some of them. Walking away crushed my heart.
We arrived back at the bus station at 11:25. They were doing repairs on the bus. Duct tape being applied to headlights. I snagged the seat in the center front next to the driver. I am a famous puker, and seeing forward and having air is a good idea. The bus was a Toyota 10 seater, they sold 17 tickets - plus luggage. It was good to be packed in tight because there were no seat belts, as was evidenced by the spider shaped crack in the windscreen directly where my head would hit in a sudden deceleration. Seasoned African travelers like the center of the bus. The air is bad, but the person at the center often survives the crash cushioned by the bodies of their comrades. We left with a locally on-time departure of noon straight up.
Kigali sits in a bowl, a city on many hills surrounded by mountains. Every road out of the city goes up. Every road is serpentine. Serpents would puke on those roads. Our bus driver was in a mood to make time. Cutting curves and not stopping for vegetables or people. Until we were about half way up - then there was a large group of people by the roadside and on it. I do not know what caught his attention, but he slowed and then called something to the passengers and then stopped. Way too far into the roadway for my happiness. So we all got out. Driver trotted up to the people who I could now see were distressed and pointing over the precipice. Driver looked over the edge and screamed. I never like it when African men scream. It is never good.
It turns out that over the edge was the 9:30 bus. Our company’s bus. Yes, that bus.
Some men had climbed down. There was not a soul to bring up alive. Bodies would be eventually hauled up, the bus would be left. Phone calls were made to headquarters. People prayed. About an hour later our driver decided that we needed to try and go on. We boarded our bus in a somber mood. He goosed it up the hill. He started swearing almost immediately. I looked at him. He pointed to the gauges. I watched as the engine heat gauge swung up and over the “H.” He alerted the passenger to our situation. This bus was not going to make it to the Congo today. Many groans tempered a bit by our status of being alive, and our awareness of how lucky we were in that. That status was challenged right off. He turned the bus, put it in neutral and switched off the engine. We coasted silent and swift as death itself down that mountain. We passed the bus plunge scene, and the roadside viewers looked at us with gaping mouths as we flew past. They must have though our driver has gone insane with grief and was planning to take us to follow the lost bus. Our tires screeched at every turn. The smell of burning brake pads filled the cabin. The people of the bus were too shocked to pray. Finally we reached the flats and over the river bridge and coasted to a stop. Then people thanked whatever God they worshiped.
I honestly cannot tell you why I did not find or borrow a phone and call my Kigali friend and bail. But I didn’t. I bought cokes and sambusa with the people of my bus and we waited for the bus company to send us another bus. I am sure that we commandeered the 12:30 bus. But soon (an hour or so) we had another bus and a fresh driver. And again we ascended. It was about 2:30 pm.
As were starting the climb, I spoke in a loud voice and stated that I was going to lead the bus in prayer, apologizing for my English. I prayed loud and long. I prayed for the bus, I prayed for every part of the bus, I prayed for our new driver and for our old driver. I thanked God for our lives and I prayed for the souls of the departed. I prayed for our courage and for the road ahead of us. When I finished, a voice in the back said loudly “In the name of Jesus - I agree with you!” It was the first English I had heard all day. I invited the man named Daniel to come and sit more forward so that we could talk. The people of the bus rearranged themselves for my entertainment. Daniel had lived in Boston for two years, and he told me the story of Mary Dyer. He was very pleased to see that female Quaker preachers were still risking their necks for the Lord.
He had thought we had all been killed. Not quite, Daniel, not quite.
I guess some days is just pleases God to have everyone on their knees.
Number 7 - Fresh Roads
So There I was...
Looking for Fresh Road.
I have to get pretty far from home to get any fresh road these days.
When I got my first motorcycle, one of the things I did was go down to the State Department of Transportation and buy the big map of the county that I live in. It was several feet to a side and showed every road and alley within about 30 miles of my house. I started marking off each road as I covered it. Soon I had to purchase the maps for the five counties around my county. At that point my map took up a whole wall of my house and I had fresh road in every direction of me. After ten years and two bikes, it became harder to find fresh road in the State of Oregon; and Oregon is about 300 miles tall by 500 miles wide.
So around the turn of the century I was offered a preaching gig in Idaho and decided to take the opportunity to knock off some out-of-the-way roads in very far northeastern corner of Oregon.
Perhaps you do not fully understand why fresh road is so important. There is nothing that prevents the miracle in your back yard. There is nothing that even slows down sister Serendipity from meeting you at the corner grocery store if she is looking for you. The kingdom is Heaven is within you and can erupt at any time. However, the major inhibitor of that eruption is your own soul sleepiness. It is way too easy to get stuck on spiritual cruise control. Common intimacy encourages entropy.
The best way I know to break out of this is to find fresh road. I do it quite literally. Riding a road where I do not know what is around the next corner requires a level of awareness that makes me feel very lively. I have to pay attention. I cannot daydream.
I know people who can find fresh road in a laboratory that they walk into every day for years. I know people who find fresh road on a blank piece of paper, or on the well-known strings of their favorite guitar.
Still, I like the wind. The unpredictability of the weather. So I was up in the country of Chief Joseph. His precious blue lake is still there. The Appaloosa descendents of his favorite ride live and eat this year’s grass. His Spirit and the Spirit of his people flow down off those mountains towards the Snake River.
I reached the edge of the Snake after a long descent down the backside of the Wallowa Mountains on an unpaved road. I had been counting on a bridge over a dam on the map. The dam was there but it was no bridge. So like Joseph, I turned north towards Canada and several hundred miles out of my way. Unlike Joseph, my steed could not eat grass. At least there was no cavalry at my back. My limits were the limits of a gas tank, not how far you could push the elders carrying the babies on their backs. I wasn’t worried, because although the ranch houses were few and far between at that point, I knew that the ranch people kept a fill of gas cans and kindness, and the worst I could face was a walk or a wait. I talked to God and to Joseph and to the Appies in the fields.
And just after I had switched my fuel valve over to ‘reserve’ meaning that I had less than a quart left of petrol, I saw a boy. About twelve. Walking.
“Hi Lady” blonde hair, freckles, big tooth smile, Huck Finn.
“Son, I need some gasoline and I need it pretty soon.
How much trouble am I in?”
“Well, I wouldn’t know about trouble, but if you take that next gravel road up there, you can cut through to the road that goes to the place where my dad drinks his coffee and Mrs. Wright, she has a pump in the back – you might have to ask.”
“Thanks. Really, I mean it. Do you need a ride son?”
“No, m’am, my Ma would switch my butt if I got caught takin’ a ride with no helmet. Ma’s pretty strict about the helmets. I don’t have far to go.”
“Sorry I don’t have a spare, son. You take care.”
“Bye Lady – oh, and the pie’s really good – have the peach if she has any left.”
The peach pie was fabulous. The shortcut got me there in less than ten miles. Mrs. Wright did indeed have a small reserve of gasoline. I described the boy to Mrs. Wright and the ranchers taking their coffee. I was hoping to speak a good word about him and his manners to someone who knew him. Maybe leave him a small reward – though I doubted any adult would convey a reward to a boy for just being neighborly – they would expect such.
Mrs. Wright and all the ranchers were of one mind that there was no such boy of that description or even of that age, living on any ranch within 40 miles of that diner. They said they knew by name, every child within that distance. I believed them.
I did another hundred miles of fresh road that day. Wide awake.
Raye... I was waiting for you.
So There I was...
At the airport. Waiting. I was early. I had planned that. Then I became earlier as my expected person was delayed once, twice and then three times.
I ended up with eight hours of wait time.
I was able to see the blessing in it pretty quickly since it was 102 degrees outside and the airport had refrigerated air. I had the ability to purchase a good meal and a good book, and I like the airport.
It is a great place to people watch. Every type of person on every type of business passes through. The extremely elderly and newborn babes are assisted on their way. Business, commercial and personal, is pursued with determination. The entire repertoire of human drama gets replayed every hour or so, re-cast with every arriving plane.
As a bit of an empath, I have a distinct seating preference.
I stay away from the screening and departure area if I have a choice. People there are sad, leaving or being left. They are anxious and in a hurry. They are frustrated and sometimes angry at all the security nonsense.
I like waiting in the arrivals lounge. The anxiety is the good kind. It builds and builds as people wait, watching the clock and the corridor until it bursts in an explosion of joy when they see the much-anticipated one.
“MOMMY!!!!” screamed the three year old who escaped dad and got neatly around the guard and into his mother’s arms, and everybody, including the security guard, smiled.
Grandmas, babies, soldiers home from war.
Nothing stronger than the wave of relief coming off the weary young mother traveling with three under five, when she sees her parents waiting to help –
“Made it, made it, worth it already!”
The dramas are the same regardless of ethnicity or class. It’s all pretty intoxicating.
I spent a lot of time watching one young man. Twentyish, cool in a 70’s sort of way; self-possessed, long curly hair, a neat beard, dark shades. He was wearing baggy jeans, but a clean shirt – probably his best shirt. It had buttons.
He paced, checking the time on his cell phone, checking the arrivals board way too often. He was wise enough to have discovered an important life secret - Always bring flowers to the airport. The flowers were purple daisies – dyed – poor man’s flowers, which made him more endearing.
He held the flowers like a man holds flowers. Blooms down, drooping, casual, light grip, like he was carrying a bat up to the plate. He doesn’t care about the stupid flowers.
He cares a lot about the girl.
I wait with him, wondering what she will look like. Wondering if she loves him as much as he loves her. Hoping she hasn’t missed her connection. Would she have preferred the one red rose? Hope, belief, doubt, swirling around him like a cyclone.
The wait is getting to him. He presses one hand on his heart, and blows out a deep shuddering stress-filled breath. He adjusts himself – hold on, tiger. Then his phone rings and ends his agony. She is on the ground and couldn’t walk the length of the concourse without calling him. He grins, and charges the gate just like the three year old.
She’s pretty – very pretty – and runs to meet him.
Hugs, hugs, rocking hugs, and he kisses her on the forehead.
Then he remembers the flowers. Of course she likes them.
Waiting is so holy. Anticipation is so holy. Joy is so holy.
We Quakers say that we practice “waiting worship”.
We sit, silent, waiting, expecting the present Christ to arrive.
Our meetings are sacred arrivals lounges, or they should be.
I wonder how often we experience the level and quality of anticipation and joy that you see at the airport.
Maybe we should bring flowers.
As a narrative theologian, I mine my own history for some of my best lessons.
I had a really stellar childhood. And some of the best parts were the hard parts. I treasure it all.
So There I was...
Walking the green mile.
OK, it wasn’t a mile, it just seemed like it. But the long hall down the empty corridor was a sort of turquoise green. I wasn’t actually condemned to death, though for a second grader I might as well have been. Dead little girl walking, and worse, I had to do it every Tuesday afternoon for all of second grade.
The call came at 2 p.m. every Tuesday, just before all the other kids went to recess. My teacher, Miss Cartier tried to be as subtle as possible, sidling up to my desk and whispering, “Peggy, its time.” But it didn’t matter because all the kids knew where I was going. They snickered behind their hands, and giggled as I got up from my seat and left the room. I was nervous and often managed to kick something or bump into something on the way out. Kids would stick their foot out and try to trip me if the teacher took her eyes off me. Miss Cartier didn’t let them get away with any words, but it didn’t matter, because there was after school, and before school, and other recesses to get the taunts in. I was labeled for the rest of grade school.
I was walking down to what the kids at school called the “retard room.” Even in 1964 nobody was allowed to call it that in from of teachers or staff, it was officially the classroom for the “handicapped” children. But on the playground that is what they called it, and they called me a “retard.”
I actually got to know the kids in that classroom. Some of them spent their whole days there. Some kids assigned to that class spent part of their days in a regular classroom. It was a pretty progressive school district. Some of them had physical difficulties, some had developmental difficulties, and some of them didn’t seem all that different from the kids in the regular classes.
I was pigeon-toed. Really seriously pigeon-toed. I tripped over my own feet all the time. I scuffed my Mary Jane's all to death. They tried making me wear those special stiff high shoes, but they didn’t help. So I got sent to Miss Belknapp the physical rehab teacher.
Here’s what the other kids didn’t know. The long walk down the green hall was hell, but heaven was just on the other side of the door to Miss Belknapp’s room. The room was full of giant toys and gymnastics equipment. She wore sneakers and shorts while all the other teachers were in heels and dresses. She was kinda loud, and funny, and she was pretty masculine for a lady. She called me “Girly.” I didn’t know anybody else like her. But she liked me. I think she liked all her kids. When I walked in the door she welcomed me, like a beloved lost lamb. As if she were surprised to see me. As if I was the best part of her day. She was the best part of my week.
She taught me how to walk. How to turn my hips so that my toes would go straight. How to tuck in my tiny little butt so that my hips would open out. We practiced many walks, we walked like ducks, we walked like cowboys. She would have me put my hands behind my back as if they were tied and I would pretend to walk the plank – with plenty of pirate talk to go with it. We laughed a lot. Wednesday mornings during second grade I was always a little sore. I remember one day in the spring when she was pretty pleased with me and she said, “Well, we could quit now, Girly, but as long as we’ve taught you to walk straight, we might as well teach you how to walk pretty.” I did not object. Then I spent a few weeks walking like Miss America with a crown on my head. If they would have let me stay with Miss Belknapp for the three R’s I would have stayed. Miss Belknapp was my secret treasure.
There is a stanza in the Serenity prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr that goes
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
As the pathway to peace.
I learned the truth of that every Tuesday in second grade. After the mocking there was grace. After the loneliness there was kind attention. After the pain came fun. I could have let the humiliation ruin the joy, but I didn’t. And in my memory the grace is huge and lively and the persecution is ghostly and pale.
Perspective is a choice.
So there I was ten years later, 1974, in the grocery on an errand for my mother. I whizzed around a corner in my three-inch platform sandals and mini skirt. I heard a loud voice from the back of the store yell, “Stop right there! – is that you Peggy? Peggy Senger? I executed a perfect pivot turn and faced Miss Belknapp, now a retired teacher. I grinned. She whistled a loud wolf whistle as all the patrons of the store turned and looked. “Look at that walk! Look at that pretty, humdinger of a walk! Give me a bit more, Girly!” So I gave her my best strut and then a hug, and we laughed. And she said “Well, Girly, when you walk that plank they are gonna remember the last thing they see! Go get ‘em.”
So I did.
Coming In at Number Ten
The most visited posts of all are
Revenge and Fashion advice for the lesbian professional,
The latter is the most commented ever and the comments are rich!
Number ten on my personal hit parade is the most controversial post I ever wrote.
Of all the heretical things I have ever said, this plain truth, ruffled the most feathers.
And I do enjoy me a little ruffling.
From May 2008
Santa Fe Madonna
So there I was ...
walking down a back street in Santa Fe. The sidewalk was minimal, the adobe wall on my right hand was solid, my left hand could have touched any passing car. It was a one-lane sidewalk.
I heard the slow rumbling approach behind me. Then I heard the young men in the car. They were speaking Spanish, but their intent required no interpretation. They leaned out the open windows. I took a deep breath, blew it out and ignored them. They matched my pace, rolling along directly behind me, providing color commentary.
Then I noticed the old Hispanic man walking towards me. He looked at me, he took in the boys. He could see what they could not – I was visibly pregnant – and it just popped his top.
He jumped off the curb in front of the car. He stood there screaming at the boys, in Spanish of course. He waved his arms wildly in my direction. The only word I caught, multiple times, was “Madonna.” I turned. The boys got the message. The old man continued to yell and pound his fist on their hood. The chastised put it in reverse, backing away from the avenger.
I slipped around the corner, unnoticed.
And that, was in fact, the problem. Nobody on that street had seen ME. The ones in the car saw the biological usefulness of my backside. The one in front of me saw the biological usefulness of my womb. All had opinions about my status as a woman. Their opinions were in severe conflict.
None of them saw the young woman who was neither flattered nor frightened by the unasked for attention. No one saw the young woman who needed no protection or vengeance. What I thought, or felt, or wished for, mattered not at all to them. Presumptions were made, but no one spoke to me at all. No one asked what I wanted.
But hear me now.
I am not my biology.
I enjoy all the things that my body can do.
But I am not my body.
I treasure my body, giving it respect without worship. It is my friend and my servant.
But it is temporary and I am not.
My gender is temporary.
I, created in the image of God, cannot be truly defined by gender.
When my blood and sinews, hormones and neurotransmitters are all rot,
I will remain.
Some of what walked that street will remain.
But those blind men on that street that day would not recognize me,
they never saw me.
One Hundred K
Seven years and one month ago I started this blog.
This is the 627th post.
Y'all have supplied over 1500 comments. Thanks.
The sitemeter I have had on since the beginning says that sometime in the next ten days this blog will roll over the 100,000 visits mark. Page views rolled over that a long time ago.
To celebrate I think I will take the time to choose and rank 10 of my own favorite posts.
If you have one you wish to nominate, I would certainly like to hear from you.
To mark the occasion, I give you a NPR Snap clip called
"The Last Mile"
Narayanan Krishnan Hero of the FAITH
You have seen this man. His name is Narayanan Krishnan.
He was brought to the public attention in 2010 by CNN.
"Food is one part - Love is the other part"
His personal work has become an organization.
The website is Here
This man is, of course, a Hindu, and of the Orthodox Brahmin variety. And he "dropped his nets" to follow Love.
This man, and the many thousands like him whose work and love is untold, are precisely why I am a Christian Universalist. How you name love is irrelevant. That you obey Love is the only thing that counts.
Hero of the Faith
Wikipedia Frank Ocean
So for those of you who are too busy to stay up with Pop Culture, or those of you who take pride in being oblivious to Pop Culture (srsly? - a whole nuther sermon) I will clue you into something you might have otherwise missed.
The world of Hip-hop can be severely Machismo. And Violent. There are exceptions, but pride of rank is a BIG deal. So Chris Brown (notorious for all sorts of stuff including domestic violence) starts a beef in the parking lot of the recording company that he shares with Rising star Frank Ocean. It turns into a full blown brawl by both entourages. They destroy the Lobby of the Record Company. All witnesses say Brown started it, and they expected revenge or law suits at the very least.
Frank Ocean issues the above statement.
It's really rather stunning, even if it is just a moment.