In my christian tradition (the United Church of Christ) we are deep into the season of Lent (the 40 days not including Sundays that runs from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday - it's calculated by a lunar calendar so the dates change every year, this year it started March 1 and will end April 13). Some christian traditions don't mark this liturgical season, mine does. I have been reflecting on the stories we always read in Lent about the adult Jesus in his three years of public teaching and healing before he was killed. According to our story He died quite young, 33 or so, killed by a repressive legal system in the service of a fearful government. Near the end he was politically savvy enough to know he had pissed off some pretty powerful people and that it was not going to end well for him. Yet even with that clear understanding he continued to teach and heal, continued to call out the powerful on their mistreatment of the poor and marginalized, continued to champion for the rights and decent treatment of foreigners and those incarcerated. My christian tradition puts a lot of emphasis on this part of the story which is why we feel especially called to follow the example of Jesus and work for social justice. Blessings during the Lenten season on all my christian family whose traditions also emphasize social justice in following Jesus. Blessings during this Lenten season on humans of all spiritual traditions (and no spiritual tradition) who work for social justice from your own stories and values.
I am not going to tell you anything you don’t already know, but sometimes it’s helpful to remember.
It is American to have ancestors who lived on this continent for thousands of years before the word America had even been uttered, and whose lands were stolen and lives were shattered by Spainish, English, French, and Dutch colonization.
It is American to have ancestors who were forcefully ripped away from their lives on another continent and sold here as slaves in the few hundred years when this part of the world began to be called America.
It is American to have ancestors who lived here for generations going from being Spainish citizens to Mexican citizens to citizens of the USA without leaving their Alta California or Coahuila y Tejas homes as the border crossed them.
It is American to have ancestors who came here illegally or legally from Europe or Asia or Africa or South America or Australia.
It is American to have ancestors who were, or were themselves, forced from their countries by religious persecution, or starvation and economic hardship, or violent regional conflict.
It is American to have ancestors who were, or were themselves, forced to flee their families in other countries because of domestic violence or gender identity or sexual orientation.
It is American to have ancestors who were, or are themselves, all of the above, or some of the above, or none of the above.
It is American to know and claim how and why we are here, knowing and honoring our personal histories and identities doesn’t divide us, it makes us stronger.
I am not telling you something you don’t already know, but sometimes it is helpful to remember.
Blessed Light and Sacred Dark
Suddenly this week I am being kissed awake by the Sun again. It is delightful rising up through consciousness to that warm touch and laying there in bright bliss for a time before leaving that intense caress. By the time I get downstairs the Sun is now high enough through the East facing window to be a presence where I write, continuing to warm my thoughts and illuminate my relationship with words, a kind of ménage á trois: the Sun, the words, and me.
My solar lover is back from the Southern Hemisphere where, for the past six months, they have been kissing awake other writers, other activists, other artists. I am not the jealous type so am always simply delighted to welcome the blessed Sun back from lying across other beds, kissing other faces, heating up other lives. In fact I so adore the writers, activists, and artists The Sun has been kissing and caressing while away from me that it is as if I too were there kissing and caressing them in bright bliss. That fills my heart with joy.
In any case I have not been alone for the past six months. I and other writers, activists, and artists, have been held in the exquisite embrace of the long regenerative nights. The sacred dark has made love to me and to many of us in the North. The sacred dark has rocked us to sleep each night since last September. I have been well loved and healed in that sacred dark embrace, and heavens know this particular year many of us as writers, activist, and artists in the North, needed that more than any year in my memory. Yet, I am happy to let the long nights slip away to delight in the South for the next six months. After half a year of the Sun’s passion my friends in the Southern hemisphere need the regenerative deep dreaming that comes with being held in the arms of the Dark, and we in the North need the passion and energy that comes with the Sun’s touch.
So it goes, every six months the cycle of blessed light and sacred dark continues to shift in our Earth’s journey through space. For those of you in the South may the lengthening night’s embrace bring you healing and repose. May each night’s kiss be a delight and reminder that you are beloved and deserve all the joys of the long nights. May the Moon and stars fill you with wonder and tenderness and wild flights of dreaming.
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, may the Sun’s return infuse every cell of our bodies with passion and strength. May the growing light illuminate our way. May the Sun’s fiery touch fuel our passions. May the heat of it boil our blood for justice. May the warm rays caress us from bud to blossom to fruit. May the center of every atom in our bodies vibrate in joyful resonance with the our solar lover.
I am profoundly grateful to be lovers with the Blessed Light and Sacred Dark, and to share them with all of you in this cycle of divine polyamorous life.
Ash Wednesday 2017
In my Christian tradition (the United Church of Christ) today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent. This year I am particularly mindful of what is literally in ashes around our world. I am mindful of the ashes of charred Earth in California (and the US West) from several years of drought and forrest fire, ashes now drenched in water from this flood year choking our waterways as the torrential rains more easily erode the charred land. I am mindful of the ashes of the remains of camps at Standing Rock where for months a great gathering of indigenous tribes and allies had met and done sacred ceremony in service of the Missouri River and all the beings downstream, now cleared and burned in the service of oil company profits. I am mindful of the ashes of whole neighborhoods in Syria where people once danced at weddings, children once played, faithful folk once prayed but now all that is left is ruins and ashes and so many people dead or scattered around the world looking for safety. I am mindful of the ashes of mosques and synagogues and churches torched by those who have been inflamed by hate and intolerance. This Ash Wednesday as I go forward to have ash smudged on my forehead and hear the words "Ashes to Ashes" I am particularly mindful of what is literally in ashes around our world. Blessings on all those who have found their world reduced to ashes, may they find solace, comfort, welcome, and strength.
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