fear+shame=hatred

I'm feeling like a bit of a prophet after my last post, where I wrote that Something Must Be Done about all the injustice of the world over which we have no control.

After the events in Charlottesville this past weekend, I really feel like Something Must Be Done about racists and white supremacists, and I'm kind of regretting that last line of that last post, where I said that Something Must Be Done WITHIN ME.  

Rio Grande Gorge, outside Taos NM.  Photo: Amy Bruner

Rio Grande Gorge, outside Taos NM.  Photo: Amy Bruner

As I think about what needs to be done, I've been considering the roots of hatred.

Where does that kind of hatred come from?

To do work within me, I have to dig beneath the constructs of what makes "them" do what "they" did in Charlottesville.  

I have to think about what could potentially drive that kind of hatred inside me.  

Cultural influences aside (and please, I beg you, educate yourself about those), what are the personal components of hatred? 

Hatred, I believe, is a toxic mixture of fear and shame, irrationally projected onto someone "other."

In the case of events in Charlottesville:

I'm full of fear (manufactured by my culture or real in my personal experience) + I have terrible shame (real men, especially supreme white ones, don't feel fear) = I hate black people and Jews; in fact, I want them dead.

This makes no logical sense, it's true, but there's a real reason that fear and shame lead to irrational conclusions and harmful behaviors.

I've said this here about a thousand times already (some of you are chanting, "amygdala, amygdala, amygdala" and getting gold stars on your super-blog-reader charts) but here it is again:  

When our downstairs brain gets overwhelmed by fear or stress, our lids get flipped in our upstairs brain, and the cognitive game is over.

When we're scared and our lids are flipped, we'll do anything to make ourselves feel better, no matter how irrational, no matter how harmful to ourselves and others.

Here's Dr. Dan Siegel with a quick review:

Fear will make us irrational.  

All of us.  

Not just white supremacists.  

All of us.

When we keep living in fear, we become less and less rational and more and more susceptible to soothing ourselves in harmful ways.

Therefore: if I want to be a sane, rational, loving human being, I've got to learn to deal with my fear in healthy ways.

I've got to recognize fear and deal with it, before it has me buying packs of tiki torches in Wal-Mart.

Recognizing fear means that:

  • I cease denying that I have painful emotions because I am a Christian/white/male/whatever
  • I accept that emotions are helpful when I listen and work with them in healthy ways
  • I listen to Dr. Siegel and educate myself about how my brain and body work
  • I pay close attention to my physical body
  • I understand and recognize tension in my physical body
  • I experience how thoughts, images, conversations impact my physical body

Dealing with fear in healthy ways means that:

  • I calm my body, preemtively and often, with techniques like breathing, yoga, exercise
  • I pay attention to what I put into my cognitive brain that may promote fear rather than rational thought
  • I do more yoga, breathing, and exercise
  • I might delete Facebook from my phone if I get really radical with my self-care
  • I stick with sane, rational people as much as possible
  • Yoga.  Breathing.  Exercise.

I have been thinking recently about how breathing and yoga are so incredibly effective in coping with life, and bringing us to a place of sanity.

And I have been thinking about how the Holy Spirit is called wind and breath.  

And it just makes me think, maybe there's something to this whole breathing thing, spiritually speaking?  

Maybe it has something to do with the wind and breath that created us and sustains us, in whom we live and move and have our being?  

Breathe in Love, breathe in community, breathe in Oneness.

Breathe out the fear, breathe out the shame, breathe away the hatred.

"Return to the breath"--this is a thing your yoga instructor will say.

And to me, that's just another way of saying, "Turn back to Love."

When we're scared, when we're lost, when it's all too much, there is ALWAYS a safe place for us to go:  Love.  We just turn back to Love, over and over and over.

And those of us who have tried it have found it to be true: our breath carries us there.

The breath that brought us into existence, the breath of the Spirit that carries us every day, that is the breath that brings us away from fear, away from shame, away from hate and back to Love.

So this is what I know to do within me today: BREATHE.

Of course we will listen and think and seek to understand and change our minds if need be.  

We will post and march and light candles and pray.

We will keep speaking truth to power, we will keep bearing light into the darkness.  

But first, we breathe.

Lots of love in, lots of love out.

We breathe, we breathe, we breathe.

We breathe ourselves back to Love.

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Something Must Be Done

I don't know if it seems this way to y'all, but it seems to me like this is just a time in history when Something Must Be Done.

Aside from all the fire and fury that apparently is all God's will, we've all got our situations where we're trapped, stuck, at the mercy of someone or something.  

Right now, I'm in a Facebook group that's trying to work for justice and mercy in a particular situation.  No matter how nicely we say it, no matter how much evidence there is for reality, no matter how many victims speak, the situation just doesn't seem open to change.

This is not the first time in my life I've encountered this in a Christian institution, and I doubt it will be my last.  

I've had to ask myself, why bother?  I don't think things are going to turn out the way I want, so why am I in this?

Secret police building, still in use, Yangon, Myanmar.  Photo: me and my cell phone.  Don't turn me in.

Secret police building, still in use, Yangon, Myanmar.  Photo: me and my cell phone.  Don't turn me in.

What I've realized is this: many times, speaking truth to power does not result in justice or mercy.

Any minority group in America can tell you this.  

However, many of us white cisgender straight people, raised in wealth and privilege in church, we've been taught that if you just do the right thing, if you just do God's will as defined by us, you'll get the outcome you're hoping for, and it will happen today or at least this week.

Proof of this is that everything goes mostly fine for us most of the time; we must have the formula down and be doing it right, so we pat ourselves on the back and keep preaching.

The life of Jesus should give us real pause when it comes to thinking like this, but instead that whole story has been turned into a victory march for prosperity gospels that sneak in everywhere.

The truth is: we have no control, and that's okay, because LOVE DOES NOT CONTROL.

Love just makes an offer. 

Love offers the truth, and companionship to deal with pain that the truth so often brings.

Once someone has seized and leveraged power, it's often true that nothing works to remove that person from power.  

But we keep speaking the truth anyway.  

Even if power won't listen, we keep speaking the truth.

We keep working for justice and mercy wherever we find ourselves. 

We keep resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. 

We keep providing a safe place for victims. 

We keep creating appropriate boundaries in our own personal lives so that we can offer help and empathy to the victims.

When we experience seasons like this--unjust, painful, difficult seasons even within the realm of our privilege and plenty--our experience should open us to the reality of suffering in the world, and make us

more compassionate,

more open,

more inclusive

of the suffering that others have endured all along without our noticing.

(Today is the third anniversary of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  Did you notice?)

In the end, whatever wrongs other people commit, whatever outcomes we cannot control, whatever happens in the world, we can still be the people who go into the world with our arms and hearts open wide.

In seasons like this, when we feel so strongly that Something Must Be Done, ultimately Something Must Be Done WITHIN US.

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the summer of art

One of the things you're supposed to do in The Artist's Way is take yourself on an Artist's Date every week.  Just you, yourself, and art.  I've absolutely loved doing this, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you.  

The Dallas Arboretum

Early in the summer, the Dallas Arboretum hosted Zimsculpt, an exhibit of sculptures, all by artists from Zimbabwe.  It was beautiful and fascinating.  I hope they bring it back again in years to come.

The Dallas Museum of Art

One of my favorite things about the DMA is the amazing way they curate the individual galleries within the museum.   Epigraph, Damascus by Julie Mehretu, hanging next to Untitled by Christopher Wool: "No more home."  Stunning. 

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The Crow Collection of Asian Art

I loved this exhibit, Landscape Relativities: The Collaborative Works of Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney.  Cherney is a photographer who lives in China; Chang is a classically-trained painter who lives in New York.  Cherney takes photos, and sends them to Chang who creates a fantasy landscape the includes and expands on the photos.  Collaboration is the all the awesome, in my book.

The Amon Carter Museum (Fort Worth)

You may remember how I flipped out over Gabriel Dawe's Plexus no. 34 when I saw it in June.  It's leaving the museum September 2, and I'm pretty much in mourning.   I feel like this should be part of the permanent collection at the Amon Carter.  

The Japanese Garden, Fort Worth Botanic Garden

The Japanese Garden in Forth Worth is an entire living art-landscape that you get to walk into and enjoy from endlessly beautiful aspects.  There's not a single flower in the whole place.  Just green green green of all shapes, sizes, and textures.  (And a lot of slightly scary carp.)  

So, folks, I was having a wonderful, artful summer, full of normal, usual artful experiences: sculpture, photography, painting, gardens.  All the good stuff.

And then we went to Santa Fe, where there's a new art-sheriff in town, and its name is MeowWolf.

MeowWolf is a group of artists who collaborated on some art installation projects, then took over an old bowling alley and turned it into The House of Eternal Return.  

They call it "an immersive art installation experience."  

I call it The Cathdral of Creativity on Crack.  

After standing in a pretty serious line (because word has gotten out, y'all), you enter the exhibit, which looks like the front porch of an old farmhouse.  There's some kind of mystery attached to the house, and practically everything in the house is a portal to different parts of the "multiverse" where you can continue to follow the story line.  

Walk through the closets, climb through the fireplace, shimmy through the dryer, crouch through the refrigerator, and find yourself in a fantasy world.

True confession:  I didn't even try to follow the storyline, because I was too busy being visually overwhelmed in the best possible way.

Here we are, playing the musical dinosaur bones:

Here's a selfie we took after we climbed inside an ice machine:

Here we are, exploring a flourescent forest:

Playing a laser-light "harp" by passing my fingers through the light beams:

While we were in Santa Fe, my assignment from The Artist's Way was to write some creative mantras for myself.  

One of the mantras I wrote that week was, "Nothing confines my creative spirit."

And then we went to The House of Eternal Return, where a whole bunch of people with completely unconfined creative spirits went and lost their collective minds, all in one spot.  

It was glorious.

And it just made me wonder:

How am I holding myself back, creatively?

When I hold myself back, creatively, what glorious wonder remains unleashed?

What are we all missing out on, because I hold myself back?

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four dogs, a fence, and a baby

I have no idea if there's anything profound in this story I'm about to tell you, but if you've been following the fence project over the past few weeks, you have to hear this, profound or not.

Remember when I said, "this fence is only marginally doing what it was built to do?"  Yeah.  I have to tell you about that.

This past Friday night, our daughter and granddaughter came and slept over at our house while their guy was out of town.  Saturday before they trekked back north, I said, "We need to take some pictures with the baby and the fence!"  

Everybody agreed that this would be fun, so out we went, along with the four dogs.  We have two, daughter has two.  Four altogether:  three fairly doofy poodle mixes, and one extremely intense mini dachsund with a Napoleon complex.  

Just a bunch of people and dogs, trying to take a picture.

Our granddaughter, Michelle, at age 9 months, is an expert at selfies.  We call them Michellefies.

Normally she looks at the screen and has a thousand fascinating expressions.  (I'll have mercy and spare you the evidence for this seeming exaggeration.)  This time, though, she just kept looking at the ground, because the dogs were racing around being crazy, and our Napoleon/dachsund friend, Peanut, was vociferously yapping at the fence.

Just as we took this photo, there was a creaking, cracking noise.  The yapping increased, and when we looked down, there was the neighbor's dog, with his nose through a broken board in the fence, clearly intending to come over and have Peanut for dinner.  

Of course, Peanut just regards this as another potential conquest, so he's all, "Come and take it, buddy," and Libby's saying, "Don't let that dog in here!  Peanut will kill him!"

This is now Andy and I ended up holding a broken fence board in place in the middle of a dog drama.  Like UN peacekeepers or something.  

And how we ended up with this truly attractive and clearly professional repair job.

Like I said, I'm not sure there's anything profound about this.  

Just, I'm glad I went ahead and had fun with this fence before the dogs totally destroy its paper-flimsy self.

Paint all the fences!

Have all the fun!

Take all the pictures with the cutest, sweetest baby in the world!

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what the hell, Julia

Every Saturday, I read the next chapter of The Artist's Way and do the week's exercises.  Last Saturday, as I was reading merrily along, these words struck my brain like blunt force trauma:  "Reading deprivation."

As in, don't read for a whole week.

Seriously, that was the assignment:  don't read for a whole week.

What the hell, Julia?

She said things like, "For most blocked creatives, reading is an addiction.  We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook up something of our own."

And she said  this:  "Sooner or later, if you are not reading, you will run out of work and be forced to play."

Well.

I will freely admit to a reading addiction.

But what happened for me when I stopped reading for a week was not play.  

What happened for me when I stopped reading for a week was anxiety.

This whole reading deprivation thing happened to happen on a week when apparently all my clients were on vacation or something, leaving my calendar with big chunks of white space.  

And no reading allowed.

Normally I'd be excited about more free time, and I wouldn't even want to read in every minute of my white space, but because I wasn't allowed to read, it just made me upset to have white space in my schedule on exactly the wrong week for white space.

As "Sally and I" said in The Cat In The Hat, "We did not like it, not one little bit."

I had to have a plan for those big chunks of white space, it's gotten just too hot for fence painting, and I just didn't know what else to do, so I went to the Dollar Store and bought two bags of rocks, and painted rainbows on rocks.

But I did not like painting rocks.  

So what, painted rocks.  

I was happily painting my fence until you said I couldn't read.  Now I'm mad.  

What the hell, Julia.

I cleaned out the laundry room, and repainted the shelving which was seriously nasty.  It needed doing, but it wasn't fun.  My arm hurt from holding the paint brush funny inside the shelves.  There were no dots.  It was just plain yellow.  What the hell, Julia.

In the process of cleaning out the laundry room, I found some old throw rugs and I used those to soften up the little covered patio outside the guest room.  I found some old fabric and tacked it up on the patio fence.  I went to IKEA and bought 3 purple lanterns to hang on the patio.  I wasn't happy about any of it, though, because I couldn't read, and what the hell, Julia.

I wrote some extra angry pages in my morning pages that basically said, "What the hell, Julia."

I knew that my upset was all about fear.  I knew it, and I couldn't stop it.  It's so deep and visceral, it has nothing to do with rational thought, my fear of doing things wrong, my fear of making mistakes, my belief that reading is necessary to stop the fear.  

Here's what reading is to me:  reading is SAFETY.

Reading is a safe activity: you're very unlikely to be punished for sitting silently and reading.  If you make mistakes, no one knows, and you can't be punished if nobody knows.  

"It's not safe to take too many risks, Julia," I wrote.  "Do you get it now?"

I kept not reading, because it is safe now, even if my brain still doesn't get it, deep down.  I just kept waiting it out, breathing.  Accepting the fear, riding it out.  Painting dots on rocks.  Cleaning out closets.  I found some old needlepoint Christmas ornaments that I should probably finish.  I went to the store to buy yarn, and while I was there, I found canvas panels on sale.  I bought a pack of them, just because you never know.

On Friday, I wrote: "It's Friday and I still haven't had this huge burst of play like I think I was supposed to.  It's been more like a hard slog uphill.  Even when I've done artsy things, there's been a sense of duty underlying it, not play.  But.  I've been forced to occupy and furnish physical spaces in my home that are otherwise ignored. Maybe that's the lesson of this week: living into all the neglected spaces of my life."

I wrote out my mantras at the end of my pages on Saturday:

Creation is holy.

I am enough.

Nothing confines my creative spirit.

I looked at the stack of canvases next to my desk.  The Sharpies corralled in their tin cans. My question of the week: "What the hell, Julia?"

And finally, I felt able to play.

Enter sadness, with his rainboots in blue
Since I can remember I've been runnin' from you
But this time you sat your ass down with no intent to move
You ain't no Blue Healer

VERSE II
Well the longer that you sit here lookin' into my eyes
The shock of your arrival, it begins to subside
And as I drop my defenses you start to crack a smile
Are you a Blue Healer?

CHORUS I
Well I've been proud and
Lookin' in a mirror that's clouded
With smoke keeping me shrouded
Believing I'm fine
But you wipe clean
All of these illusions that ain't me
Now you've got me lookin' and I hate me
Where is my spine?

VERSE III
Peace, you told me, I'm only here to reveal
Where you've been stuck and where you're going if you're lookin' to heal
But you've gotta drop these vain addictions and hang on to what's real
You Healer

BRIDGE
I want to welcome every shadow
Instead of taking every one to battle
I'm climbing back up into the saddle
(2x)

CHORUS II
And now I stand tall
Used to think my sorrow was a brick wall
Made me want to curl up in a tight ball
Self-pity dealer
But there's a gate here
You can only find it if you wait here
Now I'm walkin' through it with my gaze clear
Me and the Blue Healer



Read more: Birdtalker - Blue Healer Lyrics | MetroLyrics 
 

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fence painting

Haven't been writing this week; I've been painting my fence, just to let my inner child play.

This all started because of a conversation between my youngest child, who's an expert at inner-child awareness and play, and myself, whose inner child still wants to make sure everything is perfect before any play is allowed.  (Which means, it would happen never, because perfection cannot be achieved.)

Then my spiritual director told me (again) that I would probably really appreciate this book she's recommended at least once or twice before, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

One of the exercises in The Artist's Way was to make a list of 20 things I like to do, and then perhaps do one.  One of the things on my list was "I like to paint," immediately followed by, "I can't paint." 

I realized that I have all these rules in my head about what's okay and not okay to do:

  • It needs to be useful.
  • It needs to be "holy."
  • Other people need to think it's good.
  • Blah blah blah blah blah--you know how the inner critics talk.

Which meant it was time to ignore all the rules, and paint.

When I started thinking about what to paint, my backyard fence came to mind.  The fence is about 10 years old, and it's on its last legs.  

Here's what the means, practically speaking.

One morning a couple of months back, I was doing my morning treadmill routine in my bedroom when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye.  I glanced over, and a big black dog was sitting in my bedroom, staring at me.

Background info: my dogs are little fluffy white poodly mixes.  

After my initial yelp, I hopped off the treadmill and shooed the (fortunately friendly) big black dog out into the back yard, where it became apparent that he had simply shoved aside part of the fence, and then availed himself of the dog door in the garage for his visit to my home and eventually my bedroom.

So. Clearly, this fence is only  marginally doing what it was made to do; its end is nigh; therefore, if I paint it, and it's bad, it won't matter.  

When Andy was in college, he was captain of the cross country team.  Our college was small, our cross country team was small, and at one meet he said to the team, "Guys, we're gonna get smoked."  After that, they called him Captain O, for Captain Optimistic.

This is pretty much how I felt about my painterly endeavors: it's not going to be awesome, but hey.  I'm going to show up and do what I want to do anyway.

So I began with a rainbow mandala that turned into a flower.

Painting this rainbow mandala sunflower made me so happy that I didn't want to stop.  So then I created a Starry Night homage with a swirly mandala moon, because Starry Night, y'all.  

And also because of my favorite part of Dr. Who: "He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty."  #lifegoals

Then, over in the corner, a Love-vine and its branches wanted to grow out of the house.

And then there needed to be a heart-winged, rainbow-haloed angel sort of creature, rising from the waves.

I don't know what's coming next.  

There's no plan here; it's just me and some paint and some round sponge brushes, dotting out whatever comes to mind.  

I'm amazed at how happy this makes me feel, and how much inner space dotting paint on a fence seems to create in my soul.

A little bit of paint, a whole lot of happy.  

The soul knows what it needs.  I just have to listen.

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bits and pieces

As unfundamentalist parents, we never use our power over our children to control or coerce them. Instead, we place our power under our children, to lift them up. We place our power beside our children, to shelter and shade them.

Instead of limiting my children to walk in the paths I’ve followed, I hope that my power under and beside them enables them to go farther and higher than I can even imagine.

But those are just my hopes and dreams; my kids have the right to determine their own paths, and I’m committed to accepting and supporting them, no matter what, and doing my own emotional work along the way.

Kay Bruner

"Comforting," Zachariah Njobo, at the Dallas Arboretum Zimsculpt exhibition

"Comforting," Zachariah Njobo, at the Dallas Arboretum Zimsculpt exhibition

Yup, you read that right: I just quoted myself here, to tease a post on another blog!  

This week, I'm guest-posting for my friend Cindy Wang Brandt at her Patheos blog, Unfundamentalist Parenting.  I wrote about 5 Things Therapy Training Taught Me About Parenting.  

Hop on over there and see what therapy-things like unconditional positive regard, self-determination, and power differentials have to do with parenting.

I also write a monthly column at A Life Overseas.  What I write here at my blog are my own personal meanderings.  It's kind of a read-at-you-own-risk deal here. At A Life Overseas, I work hard to be logical and helpful and well-resourced, so every once in a while you might want to go over there, to check out my more professional alter ego.  

Last month my column was about shame, and I thought it was a pretty darn good one.  I invite you to click over there, read it, and see what you think!

Another ongoing project is animations for my YouTube channel, and I've created a couple of new ones lately.  

I get this question over and over: "My faith has shifted, but my family is still really conservative, and they pressure me to conform to their values.  What can I do about this?"  

I'd written and spoken this answer so many times that I finally decided to make an animation.  Easier and more fun for everybody.  (Too bad actually dealing with this isn't just as fun and easy...)

This next animation also came from answering a question on Facebook.  I had posted an article about how common behaviors like "forgetting" and "joking" can be abusive, and somebody asked, "But how can you tell?"  

There you go, friends, bits and pieces of my work from all over!  Enjoy!

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metamorphosis

Is this what it's like for butterflies, fresh out of the cocoon, sitting and slowly flapping, drying their wings?

Monarch butterflies, Forth Worth Botanic Garden, photo: Andy Bruner

Monarch butterflies, Forth Worth Botanic Garden, photo: Andy Bruner

They used to crawl slowly over the earth,

down a tree trunk,

across a leaf,

through the grass,

step by laborious step.

Of course, they turn into very beautiful butterflies after the whole mitochondrial soup thing, but how terribly disorienting to FLY--

when all you've ever done before is crawl.

Do they ever get lost?

Flying over the places they used to crawl?

Is there a homing beacon that leads them to food, water, safety, community, their place for procreation, or else all butterflies would end?

Monarch butterfly, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, photo: Andy Bruner

Monarch butterfly, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, photo: Andy Bruner

Sometimes I think it would all be so much easier if I could just operate by instinct, each new phase of life coming without trauma surprise confusion, just the next natural thing that happens in the natural world.  (If you're not growing and changing, you're dead, after all.)

I sometimes stand outside the locked doors of the past, wishing I had the power to get back in.

Does the butterfly feel this way about the cocoon?  Wanting back in, but not having the power to get there?

But it's not about power, really.  

It's about metamorphosis.

The change that transforms you into a beautiful, unrecognizable self.

Once that change has come, you can't go back.  You can't unmake yourself.

The cocoon is broken, for one thing, and you're no longer a caterpillar, for another.  

It's beautiful, being a butterfly now.

And.

It's terrifying,

being a butterfly now.

You can't go back.

You can't go back.

So.

Accept it. 

Dry your wings, dry your tears.

Bow to the natural wisdom of growth and newness of life.

Metamorphose.

Let the change come, as change must.

And then fly, as butterflies were made to do.

Monarch Butterfly, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, photo: Andy Bruner

Monarch Butterfly, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, photo: Andy Bruner

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lament

My spiritual director wanted me to work on lament this month.  She sent me these wonderfully detailed directions, even.  

I don't want to be that client who won't try anything new, so I gave it a shot.  

I'm not sure it was supposed to turn out like this, but I have Sharpies, and I'm not afraid to use them.

I adapted the basic outline and used a new Sharpie color for each stage of the lament:

Address God (pink)

Make your complaint (purple)

Affirm trust (blue)

Express deepest desires (green)

Receive assurance (yellow)

Express gratitude (orange)

And finally, because I needed to use my red Sharpie to complete the rainbow, and I wanted something to hold it all together, I wrote out my favorite benediction.

As often happens, when I journal, I end up seeing things when I'm done that I don't know are happening when I'm writing.

I look at this now, and I see the great Love at the center of everything, and the darkness that threatens to overcome it:  fear and anger and control and oppression and abandonment, all the things that leave us alone, alone, alone.

And then the comfort and the presence and the assurance, and finally the ability to look outside of our own lament, to see that the rest of the world's lament is so much like our own, and then to consider how we might move from our own pain into the pain of the world, with courage and strength and support and help.

Lament, I think, should connect us.  

Connect us to the reality of our own pain, yes.  But beyond that, connect us to one another, to the lament in each other.

Dear God, Great Love that holds the universe together, give us eyes to see the beauty in one another, ears to the hear the music of our souls, hands to receive the infinite mercy of your Love and to extend it to one another.

Do not leave us alone.

It's Juneteenth today.

On June 19, 1865, union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas, carrying news of the end of the Civil War and of freedom for enslaved Texans.

Of course, those people had actually been free for two and half years already, with President Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

With the Philando Castile verdict this last week, it's a bit hard to feel triumphant about Juneteenth.  It's a pretty lamenty kind of time right now.

How much are we, as a nation, still trapped in that dark circle of power, fear, anger, control, oppression and alone alone alone?

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."  Nelson Mandela

Go into the world in peace.

Have courage.

Hold onto what is good.

Return no one evil for evil.

Strengthen the faint-hearted.

Support the weak.

Help the suffering.

Honor all persons.

Honor all creation.

Love and serve the Lord,

rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And may the love of God, the light of Christ,

and the power and communion of that Spirit be with you all.

Amen.

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