Thursday, May 28, 2020


I saw it only briefly, yet I cannot get the image out of my mind.

I guess I am not meant to get it out my mind. Or out of my heart.

His name was George Floyd. He was not another black man being murdered. He was not a statistic. He was a man with a name and a history and a family and a future.

Except that future was taken away.

Brutally. Violently. Senselessly. Shamefully. Amid disempowered bystanders crying for mercy for the suffocating man.

George Floyd.

The image of that white officers knee firmly in place on George Floyds neck haunts me. I cannot get it out of my mind. I guess I am not supposed to.

What do I do with it?

I weep with it. I weep for all the black people of this and all countries. That they have to see that image. That they have to deal with that image. That they have to reckon with that image and that potential threat. To them. To their loved ones. I weep we have not come further than we have. That is still happening. In this country. At this time. I weep that we then treat the black demonstrators against this atrocity differently and more violently than we do rifle carrying white men outraged by stay at home orders.

How could this still be happening?

Did I mention his name was George Floyd?

I pray with that unforgettable image. I pray that I be purged completely of my white privileged perspective. I pray that I may be a force for change. A force for true and radical equality. I force that uplifts and transforms the energy of fear, hatred, bigotry, and violence. In personal, practical, applicable ways.

One of the many haunting aspects of watching George Floyd being murdered was that he was suffocated with a knee.

A fire storm occurred over a black man taking a knee during the National Anthem as a way of bringing attention to the ongoing systemic racism in this country. And yet a black man has been killed at the knee of a white police officer. Killed as an effect of what that kneeling black man was trying to bring attention to.

I cannot get that image out of my mind. I am not supposed to. I am meant to use it.

And so, I weep. I pray. I look deeply within. I write. I take the actions I can take. I use that image in every way I can to block those hideous occurrences from continuing to happen. To call it out. To use my anger as a fiery torch to light the way to a world that works equally for all. For all.

What else can I possibly do?

I take a knee for George Floyd.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


“You can lead a horse to water…”

Well, you know the rest.

I was never easily led to water, or anywhere else for that matter. I have always been cautious about what the water had really done for the one seeking to lead me. If it appeared that the proverbial water had done something beneficial for you, I may well follow you and take a drink. If you speak about the water as being helpful in one way, yet how you live exhibits something entirely different, I am not interested in being led. Not by you. Not by anyone. It does not matter how many others may be sipping or gulping. I want to literally test the waters before I will follow the lead. And most certainly before I take a taste.

And so, I have never been a follower or certainly not a devotee. I am not claiming that this is right. It has just been the way I have walked my particular path. I have had many great teachers. I have had a few heroes. I had a great therapist, and a wonderful spiritual director. I have never really had a mentor. Not a consistent one. Looking back, I can see the limitations that this has imposed. I can see the struggles that could have been lessened had I had such a companion. With all the great teachers I still learned a painful amount through good old trial and error.

At around twenty years into active ministry I began to feel the call to assist and mentor people who were being drawn to lives of fulltime sacred service. Not all of these folks would call the vocation ministry per se. But I was aware of people in my sphere who were working jobs to support themselves yet were being urged forward to live lives that would be in service of supporting others. They felt the centrifugal force of their lives was pulling them to use their gifts and aptitudes for purposes greater than just their own selves. For most of these people there was some level of trepidation around how they would move from where they were to where they were being called to be.

I related to this dilemma. I had gone through a similar transition. When I found myself at a startling crossroads in my life, out of it came the call that was to become the pull of my life. I prayed and I prayed into that call. I knew that I had to financially support myself, and I had no idea how those two factors were going to come together. At that point I had no therapist, no spiritual director, and certainly no mentor.

And so, I took each wobbly step forward on my own. I prayed deeply and listened fervently. I sometimes fought and more often fumbled. But I kept moving forward. The next right thing fell into place. I did not let fear stop me. In fact, I let fear propel me forward. I knew what I was meant to do, even though I often believed I did not have the personality to do it.

I wince as I recall the number of mistakes I made. I gringe as I realize the number of mistakes I am still making. I sometimes wistfully wish I had had that mentor. I wish a horse whisperer had come along to lead me to the water for which I was thirsting.

That was not the way I was to be led. I guess deep down I know I would not have listened.

That deep down knowing did not clearly reveal itself until I acted upon my guidance to offer mentorship to others who might be facing a similar scary trail to what I had tread. My heart wanted to be for others the mentor I never had. I wanted to help seekers avoid the many pitfalls I had encountered when I was scared and mostly alone. I genuinely felt it was time in my life and in my ministry to help usher in the next generation of helpers. It felt as if this mentoring would be a piece of legacy I could leave that would make use of my own fumbling yet deeply sincere journey to a life of service.

You can lead a horse to water…

I marvel that after the path that I have personally trod I thought that others might eagerly want me to lead them to the waters of their own calling. I wince at my own arrogance in thinking anyone would be drawn to listen to me and to follow my council. It is a humbling lesson in learning what I did not know I did not know. I guess more than ever I needed a mentor to show me how to mentor.

I am learning that you cannot lead those who do not wish to be led. Not even if they say that they do. You cannot guide those who think they already know. You cannot teach ones who are not yet teachable. And that is exactly as it is meant to be. The lesson in this was clearly for me, and not for them.

Maybe this wonderful small herd did not resonate with what the water had done for me. Maybe they, like me, need to go it alone and make their own mistakes on the path of their independent contributions. Maybe I was kidding myself that my now twenty-five years of full-time ministry had given me some insight that might be valuable for others. Maybe the path I was showing was simply not the path for them. So many maybes. Each valuable lessons. For me.

I remember a retreat day a decade or more ago when I had the realization that I felt I no longer needed to be needed. Maybe that is the lesson that is being reinforced now. Have I fallen into the trap of needing to be needed? Was I trying to pull horses in directions that they did not want to go? Did I not listen closely enough behind the calls for mentorship? Was I blinded by my own lens of what I thought people needed? Did I enter into mentorship with attachments or expectations?

I guess I was the horse that was led to the water and it was me that needed to drink.

I needed to know that my path is the path that is right for me, and only me. That I will continue each day to serve as I am inspired to serve, and to release the inevitable attachments to how it is received. I will continue to help if asked and know that what I offer may or may not be employed. I do not, and cannot, know what is best for others. I often am mistaken in what is even best for me. I am as expanded as I am humbled. I am grateful beyond measure. I now know what I didn’t know.

After all this time I know that life can lead this horse to water, and I am finally free to drink.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


I’m dying.

I am not.

That distinction has set me free.

In a time of veracious global illness and vast dying there is an invitation to open into the inescapable truth that I’m dying. Most likely not today. In all probability not anytime soon. And yet even that is questionable. The only thing that is beyond question is that it will happen.

Equally beyond question is that I am will never die.

There is a tension of sorts between those two unquestionable truths.

One day the who of me will release its final exhalation and this incarnation will be ended. The what of I am will remain unaffected. The what may well carry on becoming another who. Unlearned lessons will move with that final exhalation to resolve themselves in perhaps a more hospitable inner environment. I suspect that in the realm between states everything is simultaneous, making multiple incarnations irrelevant. And yet experientially we evolve within and between these embodied states. Embodied states that we tend to identify with and attach ourselves to.

And then they come to an end.

And yet the essence of them does not.

And so, when I die, I also will not. This is not for me a happy sticker to assuage a fear of leaving this body. It is a lens through which I remain awake during a time of unprecedented illness, fear, grief, suffering, and death. It does not discount those experiences. It does not diminish the loss being felt. It does not give me license to live recklessly during these pandemic days.

It gives me a context in which I may hold all of this dying and loss without drowning in hopelessness and despair.

Even more than that it implores me to live these days fully and wakefully. It invites me to meet my moments repeatedly and courageously with a brave and open heart. It allows me to face death straight on, tears streaming yet knowingly smiling.

Those who rationally and carelessly quote statistics will not do so when the fatality is someone they love.

This body could easily be added to those numbers. I could get sick and I could die.

To some I would be another digit in the statistical reporting. For some there would be meaning and loss. Soon, however, I would be a memory and life will go on. And that is how it will be.


I’m dying.

I am not.

There is no question that I will die. The question really is about how I will live.

I am on a train out of here. I do not know whether it is a local or an express.

If this all seems fatalistic to you, so be it. It is enlivening for me. A bit confrontive for sure. Knowing that I am on that train implores to fully live each moment of the ride. To live radically and to love freely. To not take advantage of a single moment here upon this wondrous planet in this miraculous body. To honor each and every being that will die today by relishing the fact that I am still alive.

I will always be immortal. That can never die.

I have this precious chance today to inhabit mortality. How will I do that in such a way that my breathing and my embodiment light the way for those who think that dying ends in death?

I’m dying and I am not.

When I go into the always now here, I intend to do so fully used up and freely given. So full that I simply had to empty out.

I am living like it could be today.

Thursday, May 7, 2020


I guess it is the price you pay for jogging while black.

I am not in any way making a joke.

I at first felt as if typing those words was making me sick. Then I realized I was typing the words from a deep sick feeling down inside of me.

News reposts tell me that a young black man was hunted and gunned down for basically being black. For jogging while being black.

How could that be?

When I was in my early teens a high school senior in my home congregation decided to bring a friend of hers to church. I recall vividly looking down the hallway as Jennifer and her friend approached from the opposite end of the hall. It is not so much the sight of the two approaching that I so remember. It is the reaction of nearly every other person in that corridor to the astounding sight before them.

Jennifer had the audacity to bring a black person to our all-white Evangelical church.

This young man was attending church while black. Didn’t he know he that could get him killed?

Perhaps not literally. But the looks I saw on the adult faces all around me were murderous for sure. I was not clear at the time who they would go for first. The black friend or Jennifer.

The memory makes me feel sad and sick. It makes me sadder still that things like this are still happening. That a young black man cannot go jogging without being profiled and gunned down for simply being black.

Now let me be clear I have not fact checked the details of this report. Had he not been black that would not be questioned or in need of justification. The sick, sad feeling in my body is enough evidence for me.

A mother of two shared with me that seeing this news report filled her with dread regarding the destiny of her own black sons. Hearing and feeling her fear churned my sadness into grief and my anger into rage. What must she go through on a daily basis? These are adult sons. Yet would not she want to lock them safely in the house and away from those who would destroy them for nothing more than the color of their skin?

I would.

There is no spirituality without a deep, honest inquiry into how and where race relations land within us individually. We must know directly how we were programmed to relate to people of different races, cultures, religions, orientations. I had to go inside of myself to deal with and integrate that experience of Jennifer and her black friend. I conceptually believed that all people are equal long before I had a deep, felt experience of it. I had to get ruthlessly real about having a white God before I could embrace a God of all color.

So, I am sick, and I am sad. And I am more committed than ever to do everything I can to contribute to a world where black beings can jog and shop and attend church and go anywhere at anytime and not fear being attacked, smeared, or gunned down.

My sickness, sadness, grief, and even rage are signals to me that justice is being violated, and that I am here to take a stand for restoring that justice. We are far from a world or a country of truly equal rights. The ravages of this pandemic and where it is hitting hardest is glaring evidence of it.

Though I have been maligned, bullied, and beaten for being gay there were times earlier in life when I tried and successfully “passed.” I know I would not be welcome now in the church of my upbringing. There would certainly be an uprising in the hallway if I were to enter today. Especially if I had my husband on my arm. I no longer choose to attempt to pass. And I also know that there is an advantage to being gay yet also being white.

You cannot pass for being white.

I write these words from my sick, sad, and aching heart. I write these words for mothers who fear their children will be gunned down for nothing more than being black. I write these words for Jennifer, and for that friend who turned so many heads in that so-called Christian church. I write these words wondering if he survived being black in a world where the odds are against him. I write these words as a part of my response and as a part of my stand for justice.

A change must happen. For mothers, sons, daughters, joggers of black and brown heritage. That change has and continues happening inside of me. I will not be silenced. Regardless of how this writing is received I will continue to speak out when justice is denied. Until my dying breath I will speak out.

Thank you, Jennifer. It was a brave thing to do. And thank you to the friend I never even got to meet. You turned heads. And you were a part of opening my heart.

I pray you are somewhere jogging safely.

Black, and safe.