Buoyancy

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m sinking. Not bobbing up and down like I’m treading life, nor even my own weird little breast stroke toward a known shore. Just sinking, a teensy bit here and a teensy bit there.

I can feel the tug on my ankles, on my spine, and even, sometimes, at the base of my neck.

Of course, my initial reaction to this feeling is to think of it as negative: I’m drowning! Something is wrong! I must have a foot tumor! (I don’t. I have the fairly common and treatable plantar fasciitis–maybe, I see the doctor next week.)

This is me. “I’m sinking!” waving my arms toward a shore I can’t see and certain that no one is paying attention as the water covers my heart, my ears, my eyes.

Instead, I could rid myself of the water metaphor and simply tell myself: “I’m landing! I’m getting grounded! I’m finding my footing–even with a foot tumor!” and then rest in the damp grass while smelling the newly blooming flowers.

It is a choice, isn’t it? To decide if what I am feeling is a good thing or a thing of dread. Though most days it takes the form of dread and anger, until I look around me and see that I am cared for by someone who deserves so much more from a partner who isn’t partnering much these days–like he threw me the lifeline and instead of helping him to pull me back into the boat, I’m either floating, fully buoyant, or resisting with dead weight because that’s what I feel like right now. Dead weight.

You know, I sat down to write about underpants. Yup. Underpants. He hates when I write about such things. But I was remembering how I opened the underpants drawer the other day as I got dressed and there was a fire of joy lit when I saw that the ones on top were The Big Underpants–the cotton, stretched out but still functioning, REALLY big underpants. It was like, oh, THIS is going to be a comfortable day.

And then, boom, the realization that all my days are “comfortable” right now. None of my days require anything but the big underpants–or at least very few of them. This is when I feel the tug that feels like drowning.

Like when I am enjoying eating an orange as I sit on the steps of the back deck, sun shining on my face and the orange cat stretched out behind me in the shade of my body. And then, BOOM: I don’t deserve this. I have not worked for this moment of joy. And there isn’t enough grace in the universe to cover my not working, not deserving.

I am floating gracelessly these days–even floating between being fully buoyant and easy to move to being the full dead weight of myself. I’ve been floating from one thing until I land at the next, pretending I am laying the groundwork for economic recovery down the road. Except I’m not really pretending, because I believe it. I believe that I am planting seeds even when it feels like I’m just sitting on the wet turf, my bottom sinking deeper and deeper.

But it doesn’t buy bread or wine, this seed-planting.

And maybe I’m a fool for believing in myself when there is no evidence to point toward that ever working before. But this is me, putting one sore foot in front of another. Trying to find my ground again. Trying to remember that gravity is my friend and being pulled down is not always a bad thing.

Oh, and all days should be big underpants days. Just sayin’.

 

#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.

 

A Prayer for The Work

14449834_10209314972942714_1611560989051837028_nLet me not become my disappointment

Let me use my disappointment
to continue the work for justice
let it sit within me and urge me on
But help me fight becoming a
walking billboard for despair

Let me not become my anger

Let me feel my anger fully
and use it to combat injustice
and keep me going until all are free
but help me use it, not become it
so the world sees me, the person,
who seeks to uplift and be uplifted

Let me not become my disagreement
And let me never again say or accept
“Let’s agree to disagree”

Help me remember the person
behind the disagreement is human, too.
Hurts, too. Has been wounded by
a system that shields the work it has done
to keep us disagreeing, turning us away
from the help we offer each other.

Let me embody my joy even
in the face of work unending,
in the face of greed and disconnect
in the face of sorrow, anger, and, yes,
disappointment

Let me embody wonder
so that when I hear someone
who says things that jangle my
every justice-seeking nerve
I find the reserve to ask, with true interest,
“Tell me why you said that?”

Let me embody love
Because there are people out there
who need it.
Let it be the root of the work, but
remember, it, alone, is not the work.

Let me wake each day
with the purpose of forwarding justice
with anger, joy, disappointment, and love.
Let me learn over and over and over again
that love is what we are sent for:
reparation, re-membering, and realigning
from our original sin: that of forgetting
we are all in this, together.

Why I’m not Standing on the Side of Love

Let’s be “the love people” as those who see us show up in our yellow shirts call us. Let’s use language that is ultimately not only inclusive, but enveloping.

An incomplete reflection on the UUA General Assembly, 2016 ‪#‎uuaga

This reflection is incomplete in two ways:

  1. I did not attend the whole time. We (my husband, Brian and I) arrived Friday night and did not attend any of the plenary sessions. We did attend two workshops, the Ware Lecture, Sunday Worship, and processed in the line of White Allies to support the Black Lives UU (BLUU) and stayed for the Closing Ceremony, presented by BLUU.
  2. I am sure more reflection will come to me as I carry those events in me. They have become a part of me.

I’ve been mulling it over since Sunday, rather, I’ve been mulling over what I’m about to say for quite some time, but with new language from the Ware Lecture and Sunday Worship. I’ve also been mulling it over for years as I grudgingly and then lovingly became aware of my own tendency to use ableist language, routinely.

So here is my reflection:

It is time for Unitarian Universalists to retire the phrase “Standing on the Side of Love” as our signature in the world.

There is the obvious use of the word “standing” that ignores or leaves out those of our body whose bodies quite literally do not work in a way that allows them to stand, step, or march for or toward love. As a writer who loves metaphor, I have been, I will say frankly and unapologetically, an ass about ableist language. I have resisted changing with an intensity that hurt others and myself. As with all things, when I heard that my language was harmful, I tried to change old habits. But habits are habits, so now I have an additional pass through for my editing process, to check for such language and create new metaphors open for all. It is sometimes hard, until I open two doors in my mind: imagination and love. And now, I have the reminder from Krista Tippet (from the Ware Lecture): “Words Matter.” I’ll be posting this over my workspace, later.

But my primary struggle with the phrase “standing on the side of love,” and by “primary” I mean the first struggle, not the one that is most important to me, came back to me with full force when I heard Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout’s poem, “After All” (https://gtrpoems.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/14/#more-14) during Sunday worship. (http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2016/worship/sunday)

My struggle has been about the idea that love is on one side of some arbitrary dividing line. You are there, but love is here, and I’m on this side. Love abides, my friend. Not as a noun, as Rideout indicates of God.

In my theology, love has no side. Love exists, as the proverbial sun that shines on the sinner and the saints, on those who live from it and those whose fear obliterates it from their understanding of the world. But it is there. And we, my dear UU friends, are love.
We are in it, we are of it, we are both sides of the coin. Where fear and hatred exist, so does love even if it shows itself only in the perceived absence of it.

This is an unfinished reflection. This is me, struggling with how I wish to operate in the world, even when I fail at it. But love has no sides.

Let’s be “the love people” as those who see us show up in our yellow shirts call us. Let’s use language that is ultimately not only inclusive, but enveloping.

I was not yet at General Assembly when the Westboro Baptist people showed up, but I heard from friends who attended, who surrounded the protesters with love, that it was a transcendent moment for them—to learn to use the love they hold, the love they embody, to transform a situation and maybe even a life.

Let’s be that, together.

Words matter.

So let us not sit or stand or even lay down in the street on the side of love. Let love envelop all we encounter. Let’s be the body we dream about.

And to all who are hurting, and all who were brave, and all who felt diminished or left out of the conversation or were talked over or just weary of the process that our endless fascination of words and “winning” with them, I offer this: I see you. I hear you. I love you. We are in this together, and we will love our way into and out of a bunch of different things. And you are not only the embodiment of love, but of courage, of wisdom, of that ever-bending arc.

Not just with love, but as love, I thank you.

P.S. Please also, if you haven’t, view the closing ceremony coordinated and presented by Black Lives UU. http://www.uua.org/ga/off-site/2016/worship/closing