Sunday, January 29, 2017

birthdays

I love birthdays. I love my birthday. I love everyone else's birthdays. I especially love birthdays in the era of social media.

Facebook is the best thing to happen to birthdays since cake.

I know that not everyone agrees with me. At least one friend probably wishes that I would stop remembering the birthday he chooses not to mark publicly.

I just can't let go of the idea that birthdays are an amazing thing, though, so I selfishly celebrate everyone else's birthdays as well as my own.

A birthday is the day that commemorates the fact that someone wasn't, until suddenly they were.  Birthdays commemorate magic! (while I concede that technically birth is biology, I maintain that it actually is magic)

A birthday is also the day that celebrates successfully having completed one more trip around the sun, three hundred and sixty five more days above the soil. This is also a feat worth noticing.

Over twelve years I had gotten used to receiving a dozen roses on my birthday. I'd missed them these last three.

This year, I decided to treat myself.


Almost, I cried in the flower shop. Instead, I cried in the car in the parking lot of my building. Buying flowers for my own birthday did not used to be my job.

It is now.

It is magic that I am here. Today is the day I remember that once upon a time I wasn't, until suddenly I was. Today is the day I thank God for the privilege of waking up to put my feet on the ground.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

women's march

I marched because I am a woman.

I marched because I have a mother and daughters and sisters and aunts and grandmothers. 

I marched because I have held space for the fears of my immigrant students and friends. 
Photo Credit: Veronica

I marched because democracy looks like voting AND it looks like this. 

Today I stood with half a million feminists as we peacefully occupied the streets of Washington, DC. 
Photo Credit: Veronica

Today I sang protest songs on the overcrowded metro to the rally. 
Photo Credit: Anna

Today I walked back across the river because the metro was too full. 

Today I put my body where my mouth is. 

Today I stood up. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mark

My uncle died. I am sad that he is gone, that I will never see his wry smile except on the backs of my eyelids. I am not sad that his pain is over. Chronic illness in these last years made his life a daily challenge, made him old before his time. I am sad that I did not figure out how to be supportive, that I  did not make the transition from niece to friend.

So many of our best family stories feature Mark.

My earliest memories of this uncle are as the humbug in the dark room upstairs who loved cats more than little girls and who did not celebrate Christmas with the rest of the family. The first year he decided to rejoin the holidays, he bought my sister, my cousins and me wild things from Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Ted got Max because he was the only boy at that point. My sister Gwen, Ted's sister Gretchen, and I got Wild Things 1, 2, and 3 in age order.

I am Wild Thing 1.

This toy, now more than thirty years old, still has pride of place in my bedroom.

When I was graduating college, Mark called and asked if he could come. I was surprised, but my mom pointed out that Mark had never had kids of his own, but he had me. He came, and I was glad he was there.

I thank him for teaching me cleverness, for honing my wit, and for showing me through his choices that it is possible to challenge the systems in which we participate. I can be a devout Methodist with heretical tendencies because Mark was an anarchist who worked for the IRS. Remind me to tell you the story about the name tags sometime.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

locked

Today I had a taste of what the foolish bridesmaids felt like, knocking on a locked door.

I thought I was being one of the wise bridesmaids. Two and a half weeks ago when a former pastor and professor's death was announced, I rearranged my standing obligations so that I could attend his memorial service this afternoon.

Winter has descended upon the area, and the drive up up up to Westmoreland Circle today was both treacherous and gorgeous.



The parking lot was empty, and the church was locked.

Another alum arrived, similarly confused. Eventually, his Google-fu told us the service had been rescheduled at a different location earlier in the day.

Although I was not particularly close to Jim personally, he was an important part of the community that shaped the faith that has carried me through my adulthood, and the world is less bright without him in it. I am oddly bereft at having missed the opportunity to mourn in community.

Since I had made space in the day for holy things, I stopped to walk the labyrinth at American before coming home.



The campus is a fleeting frosted wonderland.




Tuesday, November 15, 2016

a glimpse of love

The Internet has been filled with hate this week as examples of harassment and discrimination are documented, reported, posted, and shared. And with callous indifference as some Americans deny the veracity of these reports.

Some corners of the world are, however, filled with love. High school students in my county are stepping up with hope-filled chalk graffiti. It was an unexpected joy to ride across the Stafford St. bridge over I-66 today on my bicycle commute. 

When I got to campus, my office looked like this:


The messages extend down the hall:

Keep living love in your corner of the world, beloveds. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a glimpse of after

The weepy grey outside this morning matches my inside. I am sad at us, America.


Today is the day we acknowledge how splintered our democracy is, but today is not the end. This is when we sit in the brokenness and actually see the pieces and imagine the new things those pieces can become.

Love still wins when we keep choosing love.

Love wins when we listen earnestly enough to hear.

Love wins when we act with compassion and with resolve.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

a glimpse of democracy in action

Usually, 8:30 on a Tuesday morning would find my teacup and me still wearing jammies and reading over professional journal headlines. 

Today we're voting. 

No line outdoors. 

Orderly, fast-moving line inside. 

Twenty-five minutes total.