Saturday, November 23, 2019

School Dream

So last night I had this
School dream
It was the
First day of school
And I was on time to class
And I was wearing pants
And I found a seat with no problem
And I
Listened to the professor lecture
Literature, justice and the law
While taking notes by hand
with a blue pen.
It wasn't stressful at all.
Kind of a good class, actually.

Self Aware

This Is Just an Utterly Ordinary Sentence That I Rearranged On Separate Lines And Called A Poem

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Of Grace and Letting God Work

This last month, Poolesville Presbyterian "did some work," as folks apparently say these days.

In 1880, a black man named George Peck was lynched by a white mob directly across the street from our church sanctuary. In partnership with a coalition of churches, local leaders, and other members of the Poolesville community, our little church hosted a memorial event. There were prayers, meditations on violence and reconciliation, and poems from local students.  Then, a soil collection from the site of the lynching, after which that soil was sent to the Equal Justice Initiative's museum in Montgomery, Alabama.

The day was perfect and beautiful.  There were hundreds in attendance, from our community and from all around the county.  There were news reports, as radio and local television stations shared the event, with coverage on the front of the Washington Post metro section, and other media outlets ranging from the Houston Chronicle to the San Francisco...Chronicle.  The story of what the Iglesia Presbiteriana de Poolesville was doing even made its way into Spanish language media.

It was kind of a Thing, and it was a thing church folks had wrestled with for a bit.  How do we do this?    
We'd thought about it, prayed about it, and considered the event carefully before it began.  What gifts should we bring?  What's the best way to support other organizers of the event?  How do we do this well, and respectfully, and in a way that is both honest and healing and respectful to the best spirit of our community?

Folks from the church stepped up, as we do.  There were snacks, and beverages, and a general sense of supportiveness and welcome that couldn't be missed.

Both I and the elders on Session were of one mind about how the event should be lead.  We needed community folks engaged, and the closer to the heart of our community, the better.  There were many different folks who might be able to provide leadership, but one name kept resurfacing: Pastor Chuck, who leads worship at the nondenominational church in town.  His family goes back a hundred and fifty years in our little town, one of the longest standing black families resident in the area.  They've owned land...a free black family, owning land...since before the Civil War.  And he works in Poolesville.  And he's just a great, spirit-filled, gracious human being.

We all knew he was right for this moment.  This town is "his dirt," as he so viscerally an appropriately described it on that day.  The challenge was twofold.  First, getting him on board, which proved to be as easy as so much of what God intends is easy.  Chuck was all in and called in.  Chuck was fired up.

The second challenge was on me.  It was shutting down those mutters and nibbles of ego that stir whenever an important thing happens, right there in your church, and you realize you're not going to be leading it.  You'd think, as an introvert, that I'd automatically avoid that, but no.  There's always that human tendency to want the light of public affirmation, to want the limelight, to want to overstep or upstage.  I do come from a family of actors, anxious and inward as I am.  What I needed to do was to find the right amount of space, to speak words of welcome and support and move aside, to be sure that the people that are clearly called by God to a moment were right where God wanted them to be.  

Which, praise the Lord, was just what happened.  

That challenge to both be present and make space is one that rests on every moment of our lives.  We're called to both live out our gifts into the world and lift up others.  The first requires that we overcome our fears.  The second, that we overcome our desire for control.

Neither is particularly easy, but both are necessary as we seek to live out God's gracious work of reconciliation.