Category Archives: musings

What Time Is It?

     I haven’t posted in over three weeks and as I sit here before a blank page I keep cycling through outrage at the President’s continuing message of hate, hope in my sisters and brothers who RESIST every day in many ways, grief over what is happening in our nation as our light dims, and fear that we will not be able to turn back the tide of evil.

Then there are my duties as pastor, family member, writer, and therapist. Life hasn’t stopped. No matter how horrific Trump’s behavior I still need to earn a living, clean house, cook meals, pastor my flock, respond to the needs of the vulnerable in my community, listen deeply to the journey of my clients, and write.

Now you might think I haven’t been writing but the truth is, I finished the manuscript that was seven years in the making.(!) I am told it is normal for a first book to simmer that long. My story has found its final shape and I even like it. Now I am free to begin my next project.

Most of us live busy and fractured lives but that is not the full picture. Just being alive means at any given moment we may be dealing with loss, stress, joy, love, times of celebration, times to make love, and times of grief.

Many of us in the resistance are on care overload. We feel and are deeply responsible for our macro as well as micro existence. For the world, the nation, our families and friends, and ourselves.

We cannot, MUST NOT stop caring. To do so endangers real people, real values, real events, real history. Nor can we ignore the needs of those in our immediate purview. What good is it to work for a better world if we neglect those closest to us?

So this is not an either/or reflection. Nor is it a both/and one. Rather I am reminded of the deep wisdom of being in the moment. Maybe this should be our spiritual challenge: to recognize the moment we are in and the needs of that moment.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said it best:

3For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

May we be blessed in our discernment, our work, and our passion for there is much to be done. We must find our way one day, one moment, one act at a time.

Today I leave you with a question only you can answer for yourself: what time is it?

 

 

 

 

Wisdom: Day Two

Some of you may have noticed a lag between this and my last Wisdom blog (Day One 5/22/17). I’ve had a lot to say  about  our recent elections and their fallout . We are at political DefCon Alpha. Current events get in the way of more general thoughts about life.  As a student of history, a world traveler, a user of the Oxford comma, and a person of faith I  have a whole lot to say about our Orwellian present.

    But today let’s veer off the political track for a moment and let me tell you about a practice I am new at and love: laughing at myself.

One of my character flaws is that I take myself seriously. Those who love me say  I take myself too seriously. To be perfectly honest, sometimes I do. Okay,  lots of times. That being said, when I laugh at myself something happens. My perspective shifts and I experience a sharp drop of stress. It’s a two for one special:  freedom from self-judgment and openness to self-acceptance.

So the entirety of my wisdom for today is this: learn to laugh at yourself – your foibles, your missteps, your idiocy – and don’t wait until you are my age to do it. Life will be so much easier to navigate.

Kathy Griffith, Moral Fiber and the Hard Work of Staying Sane

 Now is the time when every good citizen is called to stretch their moral fiber, to build their moral strength, and to go high when they go low.

It’s hard.

It is difficult to manage fear and anger when all around us we see and suffer from the abuse of power. It is especially difficult when our representatives in the White House and in Congress betray us on a daily basis.

Gut the EPA? Dismantle our education system? Abandon our commitment to civil rights? Reduce veterans’ benefits? Create non-realities based on ‘alternative’ facts?

Really?

All this is in addition to the vile disrespect hurled at both President Obama and Hillary Clinton with impunity. The lynching of effigies, the threats of assassination and hanging by Ted Nugent. Who, when challenged, responded eloquently with “Suck my machine gun.”

WE CAN’T DESCEND TO THAT LEVEL. We being the Dems, the left, the citizenry, and spiritual communities. None of us can afford to allow that sort of discourse to be normal.

I don’t want to live in a world where that kind of talk and action are normalized. Lynching is not okay. Assassination is not okay. Threatening either one is not okay. Neither are machine guns in the hands of the public. Neither is mock beheading.

Kathy Griffith is a funny woman. She went way too far. She expressed vividly and profoundly feelings we struggle with. But we are the gatekeepers of civilization as we know it and we cannot stoop to the level of those whom we oppose or we will become like them and soon there will be no difference between us.

Wisdom: Day One

I told you that one day I would reflect on the wisdom I may have acquired in my sixty-five years. Today is as good as any. Not because I sat down in front of my laptop feeling greatly wise or tremendously enlightened but because I sat down in from of my laptop today and felt just plain old.

Here’s the thing: I have learned a lot, Mostly I learned that there is a lot I do not know. I wake up every day wondering what I will learn. Partly because learning of all kinds, including emotional and spiritual learning, is an ongoing quest. I am a naturally curious person.  I want to know. And I love the mystery of existence. As it is reported that Michelangelo said when he neared death, “I am still learning.”

I know that I will never know it all. I won’t know it all theologically, scientifically, psychologically, spiritually or any other way. I may never even know the best recipe for a homemade strawberry cake. It never keeps me from looking but it does caution me against landing.

So the first and perhaps best bit of aged wisdom I can share is: don’t ever think you know it all. Some of you might laugh because I do know a lot of stuff and am willing to share the information whether it is about cooking, car maintenance, sheet rocking, children’s literature, gardening, decorating, history… the list goes on. In my defense I would argue that I share information not knowledge or wisdom. And in my continuing defense I admit I am wrong if my information I have is disproved.

Wisdom, on the other hand and in my experience, cannot be shared. It is discovered through the triumphs and tribulations and even the monotony of daily life. Information and good intentions don’t insulate us from tragedy or success, failure or fulfillment. We find meaning and wisdom by living our lives. The more full out you live the more opportunity to increase in wisdom.

I, myself, get wiser when I make mistakes. That’s the kind of learner I am. I may push back, kicking and screaming, but eventually, in making sense of my mistakes, I learn. Maybe you will become wise in other ways. But if you are like me then here is some information I can pass along: try not to hate yourself when you screw up. It’s your best shot at getting wise.

More later…

The Scars of Evil

            As a woman and a lesbian I wear the first hand scars of the injury done to my soul by sexism, heterosexism, and the not so subtle message that I am “less than.” I also carry within me secondary scars of evil. As a white person, I the carry the secondary scars of racism, as a non-Jew, the secondary scars of Nazism. As a citizen, the secondary scars of violence. As a human being, the secondary scars of intolerance.

I guess I made that up, secondary scars, or maybe have heard in another context, but what I mean is that I and we carry in our persons the consequences of evil that is done to others. We are not separate from that which is perpetrated on others. We are injured either by our complicity or our compassion, whether conscious or not. It is those scars that make it impossible for me to remain silent.

Godde calls us all to confront evil with love and love seems like an awfully flimsy weapon given the depth of evil we are capable of perpetrating on one another. But the activity of love is justice and Godde enlists human souls to do justice and be justice as the antidote to evil.

– from A Gracious Heresy, by ConnieTuttle

Disprove me. Please.

I was going to reflect on what I have learned in sixty-five years of walking this earth because, well, I know stuff. Maybe I will share with you the few nuggets of wisdom I gathered over time one day. But not today.

Not today, because today our healthcare system is being dismantled. And human compassion is being subjected to bottom line business decisions.

I cannot say this enough, people: the government is NOT a business. It is not meant to be run like a business. The function of government is to assure the health, welfare, and safety of all its citizens. Who thought that a businessman would understand a different kind of bottom line than money? Who truly believed that a businessman would exchange the accumulation of power and money for the welfare of a nation?

#45 doesn’t have a grasp of or acquaintance with history – American or otherwise – the Constitution of the United States, or even of basic human decency. You have seen him on TV being disrespectful of people of color, women, the disabled, and Muslims. If you are surprised when he gets around to disrespecting your rights and your worth then you, my friends, have drunk the kool-aid. It won’t stop at your door. It won’t even stop at the doors of the most white and most wealthy among us.

Power and money are completely self-serving. It has been said, none too often, that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” And no one loves money as much as the Donald. He has and will continue to pander to those who he believes will keep him in power. He has and will continue to pander to people and nations with whom he has vested interests. Even though we have no idea where or how far his business interests lie. We, the people, are not any part of the equation.

Today I write as an elder. Sixty-five years of hard earned wisdom prompts me to stand and march and protest and defy this President with all the passion of a much younger me. The only real difference is that before I believed we would overcome. Now I am afraid we won’t.

Disprove me. Please.

The Power of our Stories

Yesterday we said these words in our Seder meal:  “Laughter and tears life and death, good and evil – these are bound  irrevocably together. We bless them together for we know that with without death we would not fully value life. Without tears we would not fully value laughter. As we learn to maximize the good and valuable, let us  remember the evil we would reject, lest it creep, unrecognized, back into our presence.”

Has Pharaoh crept back into power? In our day ‘pharaohs’ are the ones who live in luxury while families struggle to make ends meet. ‘Pharaohs’ are those who get tax cuts while the most vulnerable lose benefits like meals-on-wheels, childcare assistance, reproductive healthcare, social security, and disability benefits. ‘Pharaohs’ are the ones who wrangle power from the people and centralize it among friends and family.

Today I wonder how we can celebrate the journey to freedom when Pharaoh skulks around every corner working hard to corrode our freedoms. Pharaoh lives in the White House, in the Senate and House. Pharaoh now resides on the Supreme Court.

So how do we become free? We remember our history and tell those stores along with new stories as we begin again our journey to freedom. For those of us in the United States our stories are of our constitution and bill of rights, and stories of our march toward the liberation of all: the abolition movement, the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, the movement for LGBTQ rights, for immigrant rights. These are the stories we need to remember

How do we become free? We wake up for the hundredth morning and grope for words to describe what is wrong. We engage in small heroic acts of disobedience until our disparate voices come together into the cry of the people. We continue to move forward even though the way looks impossible and pharaoh nips at our heels.

We open our doors and make ourselves see the crimes of rape, violence, hatred, intolerance, prejudice, and the dehumanization of those called ‘other’ who are really our sisters and brothers and friends. And we care enough to act.

We have begun. We are marching and speaking and writing and calling and voting. We are wading into a sea and we are in it up to our necks. But our stories give up hope and tell us we will make a way through to the other side. So let’s keep telling our stories and singing our stories as we travel on the road to liberation. Let the children of today represented by the Children’s Choir of Boston sing a story for us and inspire us not to let anyone turn us ’round on this journey.

 

 

 

Am I Spiritual Enough?

This week I had the honor of having my blog  shared in an online group of fellow women clergy. I was excited until I reread what I had posted. Argh! Another political post where I talked about our nation’s need to repeat the part of our history that expresses the ideals upon which we are founded. It wasn’t bad. But was it spiritual? Did I share anything worthy of my clergy-sisters’ time and attention?

I wrestled with this a while. Some of my concerns were clearly ego. My online connection with other clergywomen is vitally important to me. What would they think? Even more important, am I spiritual enough for my cohorts in ministry?

I wondered if I am spiritual enough for myself. Here is what I rediscovered:

– spirituality has a million expressions

– whether I mention Godde or not, Godde is my ground of being (thanks, Tillich) When I act consciously I reflect my understanding of and relationship with the Divine.

– if I am not fighting injustice, concerned about ‘the least of these’ then I am not expressing my understanding, relationship, and experience of Godde.

– I would not be so passionately engaged in current politics if I didn’t name the evils of oppression, racism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, ageism, and the rape of the earth and sea and sky.

Because I am a Christian I will continue to speak and act out against the policies and actions of the current administration. I may not name Godde or Christ in each post, but I have reminded myself that I am following in a Way of peace and justice for humankind.

So I may not mention Godde. I may not thump on a Bible, defend a theological precept or church doctrine (actually I don’t do those things, anyway) but I will continue to live in such a way works for a world in which the hungry are fed, the homeless housed, the naked clothed, the oppressed set free, the prisoner liberated, and the earth protected.

It is good to trust that my clergy sisters know this. I am grateful my post was shared and I am even more grateful for the opportunity  to remind myself that I am spiritual enough.

The History We Need to Repeat

Echoing  in my brain is the warning that “if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it”. Is that what we are doing here? Repeating the doom of authoritarianism? Fascism? The ascendance of a keptocrasy? Stripping away the rights and dignity of the individual? Having a group in power that no longer represents interests of the citizenry? Maybe.

But  the history I want to repeat? The American Revolution. We’ve been here before. We have challenged an elite ruling class before. We championed the rights and well-being of the individual before. We  created a structure meant to protect us from authoritarianism before. We have a history of understanding ourselves as holding the torch of freedom as a light to the whole world.

We’ve screwed the pooch on some of that. Ever so slowly we became inured to the disconnect between congress and the people. We know something needs fixed and, God-help-us, enough people thought electing DJT was a good way to change things. The frightening truth is that his election merely intensifies the gulf between the haves and have-nots, maintains the status quo, pits citizen against citizen, and diminishes universal protections for the most vulnerable within our borders.

People, we know better. We know better than to let fear own us. We know the risks and the costs of freedom. And we need to stop being afraid of them. Freedom is risky.  We know that. We know what happens when power is centralized, co-opted, and abused. If not from our own history, then from the history of the world.

It is time  for us to own who we are and what we know.

If we are going to repeat history then let’s repeat our Revolution. We need to own it and carry it forward. We need to ride to raise the alarm. Every shareholder needs to make a stand and contribute to the cause. Just like our first revolution, there will be some who support the powers that be and a day will come when we have to make room for them to come back into the fold. But now let us focus on the work of freedom and muster both the will and commitment to be that straggly band of refusers who never give up. It is time value the idea of who we are enough to be it.

If we are doomed to repeat history then I don’t want to regret my part in it, do you? I will speak out and stand up to what is hateful, racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, vengeful, greedy, and self-aggrandizing. I am willing to stand, confront, work, get dirt under my fingernails, go to bed exhausted, wrestle with hopelessness, and get up and do it all over again. Like my ancestors before me. Are you willing to do the same?  Take a stand like your ancestors before you. We are an idea whose light will not be extinguished.

Let’s repeat that history.

An Open Letter to the President..

Dear President Trump,

I am not sure why I am writing you. I have a lot of concerns I’d like to share. I want you to know how afraid I am. How angry I am. I want you to know the things I care about and the things that matter to me – and to many, many other citizens in this nation you now lead. But I’m not sure why I’m writing you because I have had no indication that you listen to anyone other than whoever is flattering you and in the room at any given moment. I don’t trust your capacity to care about anything but yourself. I don’t trust in your ability to think in abstracts or to argue rationally from different points of view. But I’m writing you anyway.

I am writing like I am marching. And calling my senators and representatives. And demanding town hall meetings. Why am I doing this? Writing to you might not change anything, but all of us doing all these things together will. And because I think you and many who have been hired by the electorate have it all wrong. Being elected is not a sacred anointing. It is the collective body hiring a temp. You are not king or god or even patriarch. You are a flawed human being with a very large job to do and, frankly, you are doing it poorly.

The thing I am finding the most difficult to understand about you and about the GOP agenda in general is your obvious disregard for the health and wellbeing of the nation. Here are some questions I would really like an answer to:

How will reducing our access to healthcare make us better able to compete in the world market?

If you are going to privatize healthcare, why are you against raising the minimum wage to a living wage so that people have an outside chance of affording it?

How will privatizing education bring up the entire population, making us a better workforce and a better place to live, a better community, and a better able to innovate?

How will demonizing portions of the population bring us together as a nation? And how does that demonization reflect our values?

How does raping our environment protect our children, our food sources, our future? Is breathing clean air at all important to you? How about drinking uncontaminated water?

How is it that you only value the amazing gift of our public lands and national parks as unexploited business opportunities?

How is it that the forward movement of human rights and dignity, whose inception was the centerpiece of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, be refuted in favor of anti-Semitic, anti-people of color, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-disabled, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee factions that are a gross minority in this country? Why are you giving voice to hatred and division?

I want to know. Most of all I want to know how to stop you. I’m pretty sure you won’t tell me that but I’m pretty sure that I will. Me and millions of my friends. Because whether or not you to listen to me, the voting booth does. I only pray it is while we can still recognize ourselves.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Connie Tuttle