#UULent: Partnership

On our last night in Tucson, we danced to a live band in a hotel ballroom and I was reminded how much we like to dance–and how seldom we take the time to do so.

The crowd had dwindled by the time I kicked off my dress-up flip flops (how does anyone dance in flip flops?), and one man said “oh, things are getting serious–the shoes are coming off.”

Someone asked if we took lessons and we both laughed. “Wedding prep,” he said. “Years ago; now we just have fun.”

I think we are all smoke and mirrors with our dancing. We both have decent rhythm and we have a few moves, but it’s easy to fool a crowd that’s been drinking all night. Our dancing partnership is founded on two principles that continue to delight and confound us: 1. That we WILL mess up; and 2. That I will NOT ever figure out how to follow his lead.

Maybe I should be thinking about surrender here, rather than partnership, as I talk about the things that will go wrong. But maybe this is just how partnership works: agreeing on how to handle things when they go wrong and rejoicing when things go better than wrong.

I wish this had been the thing we worried over as part of our wedding prep: agreeing on how to behave when things go wrong, how to help each other when one or both of us ends up on the floor sideways, and how to move with grace through a crowd.

 

 

#UULent: Love

I’ve been ruminating on love today, a day where I am home alone with three cats who have been insisting, in turns, on being adored. But I went to the stored photos on my phone, thinking I could find a suitable selfie with my husband as my “love image.” And I did, but then I found this: taken as my daughters were about to drive back to their other lives after coming home for the Women’s March on Washington. And there they all are, scooped up in my husband’s grand wingspan (even the dopey orange cat).

This is the fun picture, but the picture I have of him from this time is standing outside the bus we just boarded for DC. “My whole life is getting on this bus,” he said as he gathered us all in for one last group hug, then stood outside, watching in.

Love. It’s like that wide wingspan: it is what holds us in, connected. Even those who aren’t pictured. Even the dopey cat.

 

#UULent: Courage

I woke up thinking about Jesus. This is not typical for me. While I am participating in the Unitarian Universalist Lenten practice (#UULent), I must be as clear as possible: I do not identify as Christian.

And, yet …

I woke up thinking of Jesus.

I wasn’t thinking of the things Jesus said. I was thinking of the things he was reported to have done.

Today’s Lenten practice word is courage. I tried to get a photo to go with this concept this afternoon of my long-haired calico cat, the one who guards herself so well on usual days, but today stretched out with her belly exposed to the sun streaming in the front window and also exposing her most vulnerable space to the world.I tried. But she heard my footsteps and is too quick and too guarded to leave herself vulnerable for too long.

What courage it must have taken for Jesus to take up for “the least of these” in times where doing got you crucified. Born of flesh, vulnerable to pain, asking why his God has forsaken him. Nevertheless, he persisted.

These days are troubling. I hear people say they are Christian and use that as a weapon against the least of these, against the ones I’m certain Jesus would be dining with were he to come back. In fact, I wondered today if he did come back if those self-anointed Christians would have him arrested for inciting or loitering. What of the property damage he is supposed to have committed in flipping the tables in the market place? They would certainly be tsking and shaking their heads and calling for him and his followers to be arrested, wouldn’t they? Calling for him to change the world through more “agreeable” measures.

Is it just me, or do you think Jesus would be (was?) sitting on the subway with the Drag Queen and the woman in the niqab?

I’ve been feeling woeful tired and not very courageous, so waking up thinking of Jesus turned out to be a good thing. I’m thankful for the story of Jesus of Nazarene to remind me that love and justice are not finite products meant to be hoarded by the “deserving.” I’m also reminded that the radical act of loving each other–of showing our vulnerable underbellies–may never end the greed and lust for power that divide many of us from each other, but it is a courageous and powerful act meant to be replicated throughout the marketplace.

 

#UULent: Surrender

I was getting ready to write about Surrender in the context of giving in to my chronic illness and the neediness of my cats, who surrounded me on the couch today, insisting that I lay low one more day after 10 days of travel.

But then, I looked up and saw the snow coming down in large, light flakes (dare I say, “special” snowflakes?). And I sighed.

Two days ago, I was in the southwest, and while it was not warm, it was the southwest and I was warm in my heart. I spent the better part of the last few days in Arizona explaining how I, a Southern California native who moved to Tempe in her 20s moved to Indiana 21 years ago, on a five-year trial basis. While in the desert, I let my heart yearn for the warmth that seeped into the joints in my hands and knees and made me feel good, or at least not bad. And here I am, back in the midwest where snow is falling on tulips that escaped the ground in February when the temperatures were in the 70s (F).

Like the fluffy cat made fluffier by the snow, I give up. I surrender to the reality of my life. That I live here where the temperatures fluctuate as drastically as they do in the southwest, just lower.

I surrender, happily and without regret, to the life I have made, the choices that have led me here and to the snow that gathers on the brand new leaves.

I surrender with a heart full of memories and a head full of plans and the sunburn on the back of my hands that reminds me of the warmth I have left behind, and that I continue to carry.

 

UULent and quiet

It is very late here, right now. Others are observing lent by giving things up (like chocolate or alcohol) or adding things in (like exercise and sleep), but I am–as a non-Christian, non-observant type of person–going to try to follow the #UULent practice, as outlined, here:

And now, I realize, I have started it out doing it wrong. So I will start with this late post, reflecting on the quiet that comes after days away from home. The quiet that greets you in your usual routines, your own coffee pot, your own shower, and even in the loud, extended purring of cats so grateful for your return.

In the morning (which it will be rather soon), I will start day two by being mindful about the word “surrender;” and try to capture a verse or an image that reflects what I find. It may have only to do with laundry (which I was quiet about today), or I may find some other thoughts about it as I regroup to being home again, with the cold and windy and probably snowy weather.

For now, here’s an image of quiet that I found in the desert just two days ago. Blessings on the journey, friends. Here’s hoping you find what you are seeking as you go gently into your own 40-day sojourn.

 

Listen Up!

Join me at a Poetry Reading and Open Mic event hosted by Community Supported Art Valparaiso:

March 11
1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Red Cup Cafe in Chesterton, Indiana

I would love to have your support and also to hear you read. Join me, it’ll be fun!

Here’s a link to more information.

Here in the Middle Book Event

Oh, I’m super excited. Next Saturday, I’ll be joining some of the other authors in the Chicago-land area for an author meet-and-greet/book signing for Here In The Middle. If you are in the area, join us (details, below). If you can’t make it, here’s a slide show to share some of the people in the book:

Details on the book signing are here.

Hope to see you there!

Tina

B. Safe

B. Safe

“B. Safe” she wrote on my wall
as I ready myself to join
a wall of resistance

B. Safe.
B. Safe.
B. Safe.

It rings in my ears
almost like it always has

B. Safe.

Don’t ride the bus that late
Don’t walk alone at night
Don’t leave your drink
Don’t wear that skirt
Don’t travel alone
Don’t be alone
Don’t be
Don’t.

B. Safe, she wrote,
and it rings in my ears
almost like it always has
almost

Isn’t this part of
why we are marching
With thousands of others
who are limited
or limit themselves,
through fear for their safety?

Especially us pale women
who somehow got the notion
that we could have an expectation
of safety, however false

Unlike our sisters of color
who were born knowing
they’d never be safe
in a world that criminalizes,
dehumanizes, detains and
defames their bodies
for the crime of pigmentation

B. Safe, she says,
and I almost hear it
like I usually do.

In my head I tell her
I’m marching with joy
and in celebration
with daughters at my side
a mother at my back
a husband “safe” at home

and a pocket full of souls
I carry with me–
names etched
in my chicken scratch
on paper scraps
that reminds me how vast
one person’s reach can be.

We are resisters. Sisters.
Brothers, and more.
Building a wall
that expands
with the pulse of a
heartbeat or a
bass line or a
double-dutch rhyme

A wall of acceptance
plastered in rainbows
and raised fists
and the names of those
that led us here
to dance upon the arc
of justice that bends just so
we don’t see the end

but we dance
finding ourselves
with ourselves
and not one of us says
B. Safe.

Because we are, together.

A Toast for 2017

A Toast for 2017
Use love this year. Be fearless in love as we usually are to our beloved, but be fearless also in loving the foreigner, the frightened, the false, and most especially to those who believe that they are foes. Fearless love is no silent witness, but an active leader in reshaping a world that has forgotten its promise as well as its history. Be fearless going forward, using the archer of your heart to send the arrow ahead, to a future fair and just, and send your body on to meet it. Let’s find each other where our arrows meet in this new, old world. Cheers to bravery, compassion and charting that path. To you, my friends and dear leaders. To you.

Revolution

I carry the revolution
wherever I go

she’s with me
urging me on
to choose the good
over the simple
to choose the many
over the one

She urges me on in song
and prayer
and in the big yellow moon
in a sky of slate
and in the wind
of resistance
she begs me to look out
and then in
and then out again

Who needs you,
pilgrim soul
she asks
who needs you?

And though my wandering
is sometimes only in
a space called cyber
I know, through the revolution,
there is someone who needs me.

With gratitude for those
who show up
in person and in pixels
and remind me
again and again and again, again
that justice for all
is a lofty and necessary goal.