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.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Taking It In

We were floating on a mountain lake, a few steps off the Pacific Crest Trail. That’s when the dragonfly showed up. For most of her life, this exquisite Being is just an aquatic nymph without wings. She lives just below the surface of the water. She breathes out of the gills in her rectum. Most of human life is also stuck on the surface, pursuing legacy projects and building brands. Our ego games make about as much sense as breathing out of our butts. Like Spirit, the dragonfly hovers over the waters. She is adaptable and flexible. What it takes to transform. She was beckoning us to lighten up like her. To stop taking ourselves so seriously. So we, too, can fly. 

Physical, economic, emotional and spiritual pain continue to proliferate from the collateral damage of a coronavirus pandemic which came for a country totally unprepared. We lack the safety nets of “socialist” countries and “indigenous” societies scripted by a collective mentality that seeks to protect and serve everyone. Over the past five months, we’ve talked to many friends trying to figure out what to do in the wake of losing jobs, mental and physical health, unemployment benefits, home, school, health coverage, childcare, social connection while coping with these (and more) with denial, distraction and/or addiction. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

MRI

Rev. Roz on the spiritual front-lines in Detroit
"Normal is overrated"--Rev. Roslyn Bouier

Rev. Roz zoomed into our digital church service from Detroit a few weeks ago to bear witness to what's been going on in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit where she serves as a community pastor and the executive director of Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry. Joblessness. Illegal home foreclosures. Water shut-offs. Infant mortality. Rev. Roz was describing life before the pandemic. It's only gotten worse, with high rates of Covid-19 and a city leadership lagging (and lying) about restoring running water to long-time, low-income residents. There is a re-connection fee and Rev. Roz has raised more than $25,000 to help her neighbors pay.

The Cry

Black Mustard glowing in SoCal. "A cry is emitted whenever the throat is constricted or insufficient breath remains to form words, or e...