Brave Goose

IMG_4866He sat in the front seat of the rickety golf cart. “This your first time to the Goose?”

I swear, his white beard was past the nipple line.

“Yes,” we tittered. My knuckles were tensing around the seat.

“Well spread your wings and let the Holy Spirit make you fly!” He lifted an arm out of the cart for emphasis. I worried the cart would tip, that we’d splatter on the trodden dirt of the campground.

But that was about all the conversation we had time for in our ride to the check-in booth, my friend Erin and i. She was speaking, i was entourage-ing, and we were both nervously anticipating our first time at the Wild Goose Festival in the mountains of NC.

A lime green wrist band later, we plopped down in two rickety white fold-out chairs at “the River” tent. We learned, from J Yoder and Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, that “safe space” is often used as a tool of white supremacy for white folks to legitimize the right to say whatever they want. Because, you know, it’s “safe” and anything that threatens our safety – even when it’s being called out for violent words – is therefore not acceptable in safe space. So, they sought to create brave spaces, spaces where we could speak boldly, without rules, save one: it’s okay to be uncomfortable. In fact, it is encouraged.

There was no better place to begin my wings-out-of-the-golf-cart day.

Yoder emphasized, particularly as a white person, that dismantling our privilege as white people is not about reaching some clean-cut finish line where we get handed buttons that say, “Congrats! You’re Not Racist!” The desire to have such a clean-cut thing is itself a product of white supremacy: something controllable, something comfortable, and something easily labeled. Rather, the point of white people engaging in anti-racism is to learn to be okay with discomfort. 

I thought about my own struggle with this blog in the past few months.

There hasn’t been much on here, but that’s not because i haven’t been writing. I’ve just been too apprehensive to hit that blue “publish” button. All that i could think to write about – all that i could do when i looked at the cursed cursor blinking on my screen, was why we assume white is so default we create black letters on a white screen and call it normal. The brutal attack on all sides against black people in this country has left me wordless and woe-filled. But i didn’t want to spill my grief here and take up more air space with this cisgendered white woman’s tears. This was partly a genuine desire to assume a posture of listening, of repentance, rather than speech and proclamation. And partly a real and healthy hesitation to put things on the internet when they are still too raw to talk about in person.

If i’m honest, though, it was also out of fear of being wrong.

I wanted a safe space, where my vulnerable words would be protected by our mutual code of comfort. Instead, i needed to be pushed into a brave space. A brave space where i can say both to my white siblings that we are all complicit in what Dylan Roof did by virtue of our silence, and i can say to my siblings of color that, as much as i can know them, your woes are my woes.

There’s a lot more i’m thinking, and processing, from “the Goose” this weekend. And i’m hopeful i’ll be brave enough to write about that here. Tonight, though, as the clock ticks towards twelve and i can’t sleep for fear of cowardice, i’m going to hit publish and try to be okay with not being comfortable with that.

Marriage.

On Tuesday morning i woke up with gravel in my throat. Gone are the days of student health, of moping in my dorm and calling my mom until she convinces me i need a doctor.

At least, that’s what i told myself.

So up, showered, to the doctor i went; the fever clocked and aches measured within half an hour of the urgent care opening. I did good, i thought. I didn’t sleep in, i sent the emails needed to miss class, i didn’t even make my husband come with me to the doctor. Waited in the pharmacy lobby for thirty minutes until that opened, too. Took my meds, in timely shifts, and tried to not complain and do the Adult Thing and get better.

That was Tuesday.

By Friday evening i was convinced the doctors had missed a record case of the flu, my self-pity a puddle of tissues and cough drop wrappers.

Melt-y eyed and miserable, i pled with Jonathan for something other than Netflix to stave off my boredom and anxiety of walls in-closing. There were theatrical puffs on my nebulizer. I was moving from gross-sick to panic-stricken-sick, the kind that starts to wonder if i’ll ever see the light of day again.

Gently, laughingly, he plopped me in the car. Thirty minutes later i had what i really needed: a fat stack of coloring books with a replenished stock of crayons.

And Saturday morning he woke up sneezing.

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Madonnas in the Alley

One of the most enchanting aspects of our wander around Central Europe was the profusion of religious art. In allies, tucked under windowsills, nooks on the most mundane of buildings.

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Just outside of Loreto, Prague

I love the reverence for Mary, and for maternal divine images. One of my favorite reliefs was of Saint Francis cradling a Christ child in a small Bavarian village.

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My absolute favorite was in the graveyard attached to Nonnberg Abbey, the famous nunnery of Maria von Trapp (both in real life and the film).

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Juxtaposed to the remnants of communism in the Czech Republic, it seemed a small miracle these relics of medieval and Renaissance art remained. I thought it had to be at least part for history, for culture, for their simple beauty.

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Committing + Confirmation: On Finding a Church Home

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We’ve committed. Hell, we had our first confirmation class this morning. After years of waffling, of hurling insults of elitism and masculine language, of denying the abiding current of the liturgy – a current that sustains and challenges – Jonathan … Continue reading

God as a Child

Me + Becca at our First Communion.

We moved eight times before my seventh birthday. Chapel Hill was the pin on the map my mother pressed into concrete, telling my father Switzerland and Singapore were perfectly commute-able for him, but her children had friends, and so did … Continue reading

Postcard from Prague

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In October, Jonathan and i did what we love to do most of all: took off for a new place to meet each other all over again. My brother Thom was studying in Prague for the semester and it was … Continue reading

Viscera Interview

Halloween 2009, when Rebecca and i went as the sun and the moon!

Halloween 2009, when Rebecca and i went as the sun and the moon!

I first met Rebecca Ripperton when i was told she was my twin.

Not really my biological twin, of course, but my twin for the course of the community production of Twelfth Night we’d been cast in as sophomores in high school, she as Sebastian and i as Viola. Later, she would be my own Beatrice when i directed Much Ado About Nothing. Our friendship blossomed from that shared love of theatre and Shakespeare.

Now, Rebecca has launched a wonderfully creative new project: Viscera Stories, a journalistic venture meant to provide insight into people’s innermost selves. As she describes it,

“We, as human beings, are too varied and seemingly-complex to merit anything less ambiguous and powerful. It seems as though it is in our very nature is to be obsessed with stories, and to understand and define ourselves through the telling of tales; it is a way to uncover our innermost selves, our viscera, to the world.”

Ever a lover of a good story, when she asked me to be one of the subjects interviewed i was more than honored and delighted. Her questions were sometimes painful to answer, not because she was intrusive but because they were such thoughtful questions that really sought the heart of my own story.

Below is a snippet from my interview, and you can read the whole piece here. Rebecca is doing some truly earnest, poignant work on Viscera and i cannot wait to see how it grows!

Viscera: In you journey toward faith, what have been some of the hardest pills for you to swallow about God, Christianity, or human existence?
LMD: That everybody hurts.I wish I could say what has bothered me most has been the rampant sexism, racism, and homophobia in the church – which, obviously, bothers me on the molecular level – but I think the more I walk with people who I’m tempted to first write off as hypocrites the more I learn that God loves them, too. And being a feminist pastor means I dance that line of holding people accountable and care for their whole, imperfect selves.

My husband taught me this the most, really; I was ranting against the misogyny of an old white guy in our church, and it was Jonathan who said “Yeah, but when he’s dying of cancer in a hospital, someone has to go and pray with him as he readies himself to meet God. Even racist Christians need pastors to do their funerals.” And I was like, “shit, that’s what radical love looks like.” Leading a Jesus life seems to me to be the pursuit of the impossible.

Be sure to check out the whole interview here and look into the rest of Rebecca’s amazing work!


How to Have a Feminist Christian Wedding

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To the first: if you self-identify as that beautifully paradoxical and frustratingly poignant mix of feminist and Christian, AND now you’re planning a wedding, bless you.  And please know that, contrary to the title, this post is not a one-size-for-all guide. … Continue reading

Mother Wisdom: A Sermon for Epiphany

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Texts: Matthew 2:1 – 12 & Book of Wisdom 10: 15-21 Our texts this morning are drawn from two sources: one I imagine is familiar to you all: the Gospel of Matthew. The other, however, is a little less known – … Continue reading