by Ryan Cagle
Can I come out and say it? Sometimes resurrection takes too damn long.
In my current season of life, I can not help but identify with Martha, the sister of Lazarus. You know the one who ran to meet Jesus when he decided it would be a good idea to show up four days after the death of his friend? The Martha who confronts Jesus on the outskirts of the city to ask him “where the hell have you been?” and to remind him (on the off chance he may have forgotten) he was the Messiah. Lazarus would still be alive if he had come when they sent for him. Her brother would still be alive if he had come when they sent for him.
Easter is long gone and Lent even further in the past. We are weeks past Golgotha, the cross, and the death of God. We have passed from there to the empty tomb, to the resurrection, to the hope of new life on the other side of Good Friday. But If I am being honest, It feels like I keep showing up to an occupied tomb.
The stone still in place.
The guards still keeping their post.
No angelic messengers waiting to speak the good news of the risen Christ.
by Hannah Shanks
Hi. Is this on?
I’m gonna say a thing.
It’s a theology thing.
It’s a theology and women’s bodies thing.
It’s both a public and intensely personal thing.
Christians believe in the Incarnation – that is, God, in an abundant act of love for humankind, took on a body like ours to walk among us. To be nurtured, live, teach, suffer and die among us. And (I believe) did so to prove that we NEVER stop belonging to God, and to demonstrated how much God longs to be with us. In fact, this human is known in scripture as Immanuel, “God-with-Us.”
by Hye Sung
We meet in silence. Sometimes we have a reading to draw us in, and we often pray and speak what the Spirit provokes, but the ground of our worship is silence. The silence makes space for God’s presence within us and among us.
For me, the silence is confrontational. The first twenty to thirty minutes, and sometimes longer, feels like I am wrestling God. The immediate pleasantness of silence wears off within five minutes, and anxiety usually begins to roll up my chest, into my throat. I struggle to sink into myself, and hush myself before God. I start thinking about work, what I forgot to do today, and I have to counsel myself back into the silence. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, I have to bring each of these thoughts before God, and God lets me reason it out to the best of my ability, before I ultimately don’t care. It becomes easy to let these thoughts fall off when I just want to be with God.
by Jarell Wilson
I am a pastor.
It’s a label I try and run from. When asked in bars or on planes what I did, I would respond, “I’m a community organizer” or something like that anything to avoid a label that carries so much gravitas and so much baggage. But looking at my life and reflecting on what I believe I’m called to do, only “pastor” adequately reflects who I am. Even in my law school applications, all I could do was preach to the admissions committees.
On December 23rd, 2018 I was checked into a hospital for people struggling with mental health issues. I didn’t go voluntarily at all, I went to the emergency room escorted by my pastor and a concerned lay person. I thought I would be a quick stop, the doctors and nurses would realize I’m fine, keep me for a few hours and then let me leave, but instead they transferred me from the emergency room to another hospital where I stayed for six days.
by Enrique Cintrón
I have a love-hate relationship with silence.
I enjoy the peace that comes with it, the stillness that settles into my bones when I sit quietly somewhere. I love the calm of early morning, broken momentarily by a passing car, but only for a moment. I am most productive when I go to the library on campus and sit in the “quiet zone,” which is peaceful until students conduct full-on conversations in whispers and I contemplate shushing them (further ruining the silence).
Yet I also hate silence for one major reason — it often makes me feel alone. When I’m at home by myself, I often have to have music playing or the TV on just for background noise — partially because I’m uncomfortable being alone, partially because I’m superstitious and afraid of ghosts. But I digress.
On a more serious note, when I’m depressed, I need sensory stimulation because otherwise my mind will fill the silence with all kinds of negative thoughts. My mind will dredge up all kinds of pain and uncomfortable things for me to relive. That’s when silence hurts the most.
One place where silence doesn’t make feel alone, where silence is healing, is church.
by Rachel Virginia Hester
Rage against the personality tool.
When I originally wrote that line, they were the title of a poem. A long, messy and cheesy, but frustrated poem.
I want an easy way to explain why
I want to spill my guts
and gather them all at the same time
Maybe, leave each of my friends with
little pieces of my intestines
like a nice souvenir,
so they know the feeling’s real
I’ve used tools such Myer-Briggs, astrology and the Enneagram over the past couple of years to try to understand myself and why I am the way I am: the shyness, the bursts of unforeseen energy, the constant need to self-protect, my impatience with small-talk, and my love of love (both love with a lowercase and uppercase). The first time I was introduced to the Enneagram, I was 20 years old working on a farm. All of my teammates at the farm were raving about it, eagerly learning and discussing their types. The online test that I took described me as a Type Four, but not only was I assigned a Four, the particular test I took described me as an unhealthy Four. I responded by bursting into tears. The label of “unhealthy” slapped me in the face. I didn’t want to be reminded that I wasn’t well, especially after being sent home from a service year program because they couldn’t provide the mental health support that I needed, despite their best attempts.
by John Hampton
Nearly two years ago, I wrote a blog post about how my church split, and it pissed off a lot of people. People I knew were reading what I wrote and talking about it on Facebook. Many of my friends were supportive of what I had to say, and that kind of validation was an amazing thing to experience. But not everyone was supportive. Lots of people didn’t like the way I talked about my experience.
They said I was angry.
They said I was looking for things to complain about.
They said I was just imagining things.
Not too long ago, I learned about Muted Group Theory, and something clicked. First developed by Edwin and Shirley Ardener in 1975 to show how white men create the dominant culture and in turn subjugate women through the use of language, this theory also accounts for the ways that dominant culture mutes people of color, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, and so many others.
by Hye Sung
Sometimes I feel alone. Like there’s something wrong with me. Like I’m a bad person, a misfit – not fit for friendship. I feel that way tonight. I feel bad.
I think it’s because I’m remembering.
I grew up in the Unification Church. We believed that the Reverend Sun Myung Moon was the second coming of Christ. We were called Moonies.
My parents dedicated their lives to the cause of Rev. Moon – a man I called True Father. Their lives were directed and commanded by leaders in the church, and their marriage was arranged by Moon. Our church community was tight-knit, and even though my life was mostly normal, my identity as a Moonie was central.
Growing up, every morning started with a full bow to a picture of Moon and his wife. I would read his words. When Moon was in the States, we’d go to his mansion in New York and listen to him speak. To make space for all the members to fit in the room and to be as close to Father as possible, I’d sit seiza-style, legs folded under the thighs. I made several pilgrimages to Korea, the Fatherland. These trips cost thousands of dollars. I believed they were worth it. Someday, my parents would arrange my marriage to another member born into the church. Together, my wife and I would join in the work of building God's kingdom on earth.
At least, that was the plan.
I cut myself off from the church when I was 16.
by Angelica Brown
When David was the king of Israel, there was a terrible, terrible drought. The ground cracked and pleaded for water. The people were hungry and the sun was hot.
David asked god why.
God said it was because when Israel was under the rule of Saul, Israel had unjustly slain the Gibeonites. The earth was breaking open, crying out against this unjust slaughter.
by Sarah Griffith Lund
Today my eight year old son heard a different story. All along we’ve told our child the story of how his grandpa Griffith was a great animal doctor who loved taking care of people’s pets. This is true. We told our son that his grandpa died before he was born, and that grandpa was a good person and would be very proud of his grandson. This is also true.
It is important for me as a mother that my child first hears the story of the blessing of his genetic inheritance from his maternal grandfather: love of creation, love of learning, love of healing, love of life.
Today it was time for my son to hear a different story. Today, just as causally as you’d talk about what happened at school, I told the story of his grandpa’s illness. I told the story of when grandpa’s brain got a sickness and how it changed all of our lives.
by Juniper Klatt
Fear comes in many shapes and sizes, most notably in the eight-legged variety.
I attribute the last how-ever-many-years of screeching when discovering one of such creatures to an infamous moment when I was little and excitedly on my way to a swimming pool in my grandparent’s backyard. In my delight I failed to noticed there was something across the path and ran right into a giant spider’s web and a giant spider.
It was not a good day.
If there is one place spiders love, it is the bathtub. Or the folds of the shower curtain. Or on the edge of the bathmat. Or just hanging out in the corner by the bathroom fan.
Over the last 6 months, my views on spiders have been changing. Previously, I would find a spider hanging out in the tub – scream – and then go get someone to remove it from the tub (or this world). A few months ago I started to remove them gently myself, with a long, long, long stick, and put them outside. Then the other day, I found one in the shower curtain fold, and I just let it be.
by Rachel Virginia Hester
In my 25 years of living and in the year 2018 I have found that
now, in our world, beauty means
hiding from people that your family didn’t love you well
hiding that your family growing up isn’t kind, a safe place and put together
hiding that things in your family have still not gotten much better
and hiding that this pain has shaped a part of your brain and body.
Now, in our world, beauty means
not being dark
by Juniper Klatt
My dad is a mystic and dreamer. Throughout my childhood, I often heard the phrase “you can pick you friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose”. With such wisdom and humor, my dad consistently brings laughter and moments of “what in the world?!” into my world.
For most of my growing up years, my dad was a pastor, and I watched him hold space for people to grow, break down, discover themselves (and sometimes God), while he listened with an open heart. He has been a chaplain, sitting with people in crisis, grief, huge and sometimes sudden change, giving them space to feel their feels and making them tea or a sandwich. I’ve always admired my dad’s ability to stay calm when someone else needs to freak out.
by H.L. Holder
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.” ~ Psalm 139:13-15
For Transgender Day of Remembrance 2018:
I wanted to write something eloquent to honor your lives
To remember all your beautiful faces and mourn you properly
But all I could think of was how your lives were cut short
I wanted to write something powerful to honor your lives
To remember all your names (YOUR names) and grieve you somberly
by Erin Wilson
This blog post is one I've been mulling over for a while. I definitely had some of the thoughts that'll be included several years ago, but most of these thoughts come from the last almost 2 years since the 2016 election.
I, like many people I know, was upset by the results of the 2016 election. I felt like there was nothing I could do. Things felt hopeless.
Sometimes, they still do. But something I'm working on is finding ways to be the change. I've always admired those who participated in activism. I've longed to go be at protests, to march, to join a group of people in resisting systems of oppression.
I've watched friends go and do. I've felt incapable of action. I've felt overwhelmed by the darkness of this world.
by Derek Henson
** This posting contains language that may be offensive to some readers but is important to convey the true pain that many youth suffer at the hands of their peers.
October 15th has become a day when awareness is made of the bullying that many LGBT youth experience. It’s become the custom to wear purple to stand in solidarity with those who endure this type of harassment. This is a very important day for me because I was one of those youth. For years I suffered silently, not having a safe place to share my feelings and fears. No one knew the hurt that was building in me for so long…but here it is…finally…
by Elliot Coulter
For most of my life I’ve been afraid.
In the middle of the night, I would hear things. I’d wake up screaming and thrashing. Every night, I’d wake my parents with my screams and then try to fall asleep again on my mother’s side of the bed, clinging to her hand. I had to hear over and over that the dream wasn’t real before I could calm down enough to sleep.
Once I finally started sleeping in my own room, the voices didn’t go away. But instead of monsters, I often thought I could hear my mother’s voice in the middle of the night, usually asking for something (her Bible, some food, nail clippers). No matter how many times she told me she had been fast asleep and to stop waking her up with these “jokes,” I continued to go into her room, convinced that, this time, the voice was real.
In the Old Testament, Samuel hears the false voice of somebody he trusted. After coming to Eli several times, he learns it was the voice of God, but the voices I heard were not the voice of God. They were evil. I was afraid. And later in my life, I continued to feel that God had left me alone, giving me no voice or guidance that I could trust.
by Rachael Ward
Dear self, you are a survivor. Not by the definition of which comes through people’s mouths because they just don’t know what to say, but true grit survival. Be gentle with your story, self. You haven’t felt much affirmation your entire life.
Your shiny, colorful & creative attributes have been tarnished by the untruths & unjust efforts of those who act out of love disguised as fear / misunderstanding. Do not white wash the abuse of that last sentence – it’s true.
by Elijah Walker
This piece was first published in October 2017 and is re-posted here with permission.
For more than two years, I’ve experienced chronic pain, especially in my back and neck. I always thought it was something I would just have to “live with,” and didn’t anticipate that it would ever get better or worse. It just was.
But in August, all of a sudden, it was more than it had been. More excruciating. More debilitating. More overwhelming. The first time I noticed this change, I was walking in a shopping mall with my sister. We had only been on our feet for a few minutes when my legs went numb and I started to fall over—I had to use the wall behind me to catch myself. It happened again and again. The next week, I fell on the stairs because my legs were numb again. I fell on the stairs a second time and then realized that this is very bad.
Being in a new town and a new community, I wasn’t sure if I could find the support and care that I need. Thankfully, I found a doctor who agreed with me that something’s not right. I also have a patient advocate (and I recommend getting one yourself if you ever find yourself in a frustrating health situation).
by Eric Muhr
I’ve been thinking about the Bible. I’ve been thinking about the book of Job.
Because the story of Job is the oldest book in the portable library we call the Bible, I’ve wondered if maybe this story might be THE story. I’ve wondered about whether the other books could be commentary – a working through and a working out of the themes introduced in this first story, the story of Job: a story of suffering.
Unexpected. Undeserved. Unexplained.
Why is there suffering? The book of Job takes up quite a bit of space discussing the problem. Each of the friends introduces an idea as to the source of suffering and how we should respond. Job argues. The friends argue back. But it seems that suffering is not the moral – only the motivator. Without suffering, Job – a stand-in for humanity – might have no reason to consider his existence.