Sunday, October 3, 2021

Little Things

“The nation as it is currently constituted has never dealt with a yesterday or tomorrow where we were radically honest, generous, and tender with each other.”—Kiese Laymon

Over the past couple of months, our ministry of migration got slowed to a halt. The delta variant laid Tom up after catching it on a flight from Central Oregon to Orange County in mid-August. It was a rough five days, followed by a few weeks of fatigue. Tom was fully vaccinated in mid-May. In the last month of summer, these breakthrough cases seemed to sprout up everywhere. To add insult to injury, a few days into September, Lindsay was stung by a bee and her leg was swelled up for more than a week. She kept it elevated, Benedryled and on a rigorous icing schedule. 

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Other America

"Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation."--Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Back in 1967, in the wake of anti-racist uprisings in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and Newark, when Black folk (and a few allies) were mad-as-hell for good reason, the President of the US commissioned a congressional investigation. He wanted to know what happened, why it happened and what could be done to prevent it from happening again.

The ten white men and one white woman who wrote up the 426-page report dug to the roots of the so-called riots: lack of economic opportunity, failed social service programs, police brutality, white racism and the super-white perspective of the media. The report stated clearly:

White society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.

White people wrote this! The Kerner Commission prescribed billions of tax dollars to be made available immediately—a massive government investment in jobs, education and housing for those Dr. King called “The Other America.”

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Cry

Black Mustard glowing in SoCal.
"A cry is emitted whenever the throat is constricted or insufficient breath remains to form words, or else the anguish is so great that the words of the story are temporarily forgotten. The cry is nonetheless a sound, a residue of voice. It is the desperate desire to have a voice. And because soul denotes the inseparability of self from others, the world, and the Infinite, it bemoans not only the imminent demise of self, but that of the other, the world, and the Eternal. It is, in brief, an expression of existential grief, the anguished sigh of lost love.

It becomes crucial, then, that depression not be anesthetized or extinguished. Rather, we should listen to it. If it has been silenced by those who declare it a “disorder,” we are compelled to assist it in reclaiming its voice. And what if even the cry has ceased, or the sigh is no longer discernible? Might there be a form of depression, especially in societies demanding cheerfulness and compliant productivity, that no longer exhibits the expected mood?"Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn in “Blessed are Those Who Mourn: Depression as Political Resistance

We honor our friend and elder Bruce Rogers-Vaughn who is retiring from Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville this month. He wrote an amazing book a few years ago called Caring for Souls in a Neoliberal Age. In it, he writes about being a psychotherapist for the past thirty+ years and bearing witness to major differences in the way clients are navigating the world now compared to the 1990's. One aspect is a deep-seated depression that so many of us are experiencing. Family, economic, social, political and religious systems are more disorganized, dysfunctional and destructive than ever. And our souls are paying a heavy price for it. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

A Ministry of Migration

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread. 
William Stafford, "The Way It Is" 

We have come to that place, yet again, where two roads diverge. After discerning with wise elders and kindreds, we have decided to shutter our home base in Central Oregon and, at least for a time, shelve the idea of a "home base" altogether. More and more, home base for us (and for our particular vocation) feels less like a place and more like a posture that pivots between the pain of solidarity and the promise of possibility. Not so much a hub, but a network. We keep hearing the call to light the hearth of home in our hearts and with kindreds scattered across the continent. To re-place a permanent address with an unfolding pilgrimage, scattered with multiple home bases. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Healing the Wound

“In the Trump years, white supremacy showed up in more overt ways. This can be a good thing. Like my momma says, you cannot heal the wound until you know how deep it is.”
—Monica Lewis-Patrick, Executive Director of We The People of Detroit 

When Trump was elected in November 2016, we had just packed up our Toyota Corolla and moved after two years living in Southwest Detroit. Since then, we’ve witnessed a rise in counterfeit forms of news and blasphemous brands of Christianity. We’ve struggled to keep up with the magnitude of lies that millions of white people consumed straight off of Trump’s twitter feed. The Trump years might be in the rearview mirror, but we are driving on an unpaved road around a bend, not knowing what we are going to roll up on next. We fully expect for Trump’s mob to gain steam as cries of “socialism” flood social media. We know that more violence and misinformation will be manifested. We will remain vigilant.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Lined Up

“You can’t fix what you can’t see, it’s the soul that needs a surgery. “—Beyonce 

On the 1st day of Fall, we facilitated a lectio divina circle around a backyard fire in Central Oregon. It was just five of us, socially distanced and sharing our hearts. On the 50th day of Fall, the city of Detroit charter commission voted to recommend a clean and affordable water plan. We were in Lawrence, Kansas and we got a call from Monica Lewis-Patrick asking us to get on the four-hour Zoom call to bear witness to the brutality of water shutoffs during public comment. For the seven weeks wedged between those two scenes, we followed the scent of Spirit to swing state Michigan for election season. There were more backyard fires and more Zoom calls. There was so much more too!

Friday, October 9, 2020

Back on the Road

Lawrence, KS

“Social change happens from the ground up and from the inside out.”—Charity Hicks

On Monday night, we rolled into Michigan, traditional land of Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Ottawa and Huron peoples--where the FBI just charged a white militia group plotting to kidnap the governor. We drove here (2500 miles) to soak up this beloved swing state for a month-long stint in the lead-up to the election. For the past year, we've been paying attention. Specifically, we've been tracking the massive voter suppression orchestrated by Republicans. In some states, voter rolls have been purged. In other states, polling places have been eliminated. Some conservative organizations are recruiting "poll watchers" to show up on election day to intimidate voters. Now, in a pandemic, their focus is on mail-in ballots and a defunded postal service. This is all soaked in the script of a lying, deceiving president who, on many occasions, has refused to assure a peaceful transfer of power.

Little Things

“The nation as it is currently constituted has never dealt with a yesterday or tomorrow where we were radically honest, generous, and tender...