I am from: a link-up with SheLoves.

I am from three hundred nacimentos–scenes of Christ’s birth, year round,

from santos watching over us on-fire Protestants, and a violin-playing goat.

I am from the big sky of the Southwest–God’s nave, my first cathedral–

big enough to hold my grief and all my gaping questions.

I am from the yucca and the bluebonnet, both.

I am from backbreaking sacrifices and loud interruptions,

from the reader, the teacher, the linguist, the lavisher.

I’m from the last bite of salt + savory and dinner-table history lessons

and really, every space turned classroom.

I’m from “why be anyone else?” and “a fool does not take correction”

and “I love you a bushel and a peck.”

I’m from the sarcasm that can disarm or pierce by my own hand.

I’m from the desert and a long boat ride,

from tamales y chile con carne and Nürnberger sausages.

From the time she sang on the piano and the time she prayed the prayer

and the time they told him his brownness was better off with sawdust than grammar rules.

I am from that one gold-leafed portrait we bought the week he died,

crying in the gallery because he would have bought it no matter what.

I’m from the ones who would buy flowers, not bread, if they were starving.

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...wait, other people don't have 7' giraffes in their entryways? weird.

…wait, other people don’t have 7′ giraffes in their entryways? weird.

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the crew, including a teensy me.

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Today I am linking up with some lovely voices over at SheLoves Magazine. I hope you’ll read along, or even join! Find the other pieces (and the skeleton for this one) by clicking here.

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water to water.

they told me once that You are a vast and endless ocean,

stretching into that firmament meeting-space,

horizon that only keeps spilling out of itself–out of Yourself–

touched and untouched by this small rag-tag raft i paddle.

[i left their waters long ago, but i kept the float and oar.

i hope they don’t mind too much.]

i used to think i had arrived somewhere,

until i realized there is no shore of arriving.

there is always just this–just You, this sea.

one day, there will be no raft.

for now, it is littered with trinkets.

therefore let us keep the Feast

is etched fresh into the wood, alleluia.

something about a sloppy wet kiss

spray-painted with gusto, in blue.

there’s a tambourine lying around here

somewhere, if you insist, and these old

dance ribbons i found are tattered now,

streaming out behind me into the water,

like so many snakes dancing in tune.

a wisewoman once told my friend,

go out and have a look around.

and that is what he did. i want to know

if she gave him a walking-stick or a

pair of shoes or an oar like mine.

[i used to think i had arrived somewhere,

go and have a look around,

until i realized there is no shore of arriving.]

tonight, though, You are the sky:

dark and deep and shadow.

still unfolding, ever.

time present and time past, i wonder if

the waters will always be divided from the waters,

i wonder if i can find the still point even now,

for there the dance is.

it is enough to capsize.

i’m leaving the church

that let me hide out in the beginning,

like a stray animal for which you feign ignorance,

dropping spare crumbs from the Table, so it can

ease into breathing this kind of air before approaching you.

i’m leaving the church

that passed me Christ’s peace in eyes and mouth and hands,

not hurried, embarrassed, or even surprised to find me there,

even happy to see me in a pew becoming regular,

forgetting and learning my name a thousand times.

i’m leaving the church

that called me songbird when my voice grew strong again,

and has that funny upward lilt when we hit the part that goes,

we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

and says it like all other words depend on it.

i’m leaving the church

that sobbed honest through the prayers of the people

when children were shot down in Connecticut,

and steeled itself for action as the rain fell

on the fires of West, just 17 miles north.

i’m leaving the church

that reads the Bible in 90 days because scripture matters,

that asks the hard, wild, beautiful, terrifying questions,

but doesn’t act like it has all the answers

[though you’ll never be left all alone in the dark].

i’m leaving the church

that is a little clumsy sometimes,

not always knowing exactly the right thing to say,

or how to serve the least of these, or how to ‘build community,’

but God, it never gives up the fight.

i’m leaving the church

who understands the rhythms of the river,

 not once pressuring me to confirm my place in its walls,

but enfolded me anyway, a vagrant, knowing that

even if I was passing through, I’d need food for the journey.

i’m leaving the church

that rejoiced when I decided to adopt them back,

that commissioned me in confirmation,

empowering me for service, taking my hand to say

let us go in peace, to love and serve the Lord, Alleluia, Alleluia!

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thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia.

In case you couldn’t tell, I wouldn’t leave St. Paul’s, my church in Waco–my ‘home church, if you will–if I could help it. As I’ve said in painstaking detail here and elsewhere, I’m moving to North Carolina next week, and will find a new place to worship there. I am so incredibly thankful for the community of St. Paul’s that offered grace in a thousand small ways over the last two years, safe space for the Lord to move in.

I am especially grateful to Fr. Chuck, Amma Jo, and Amma Erin Jean for their ministry to the parish, and to me, in ways they couldn’t even guess. I am in awe of the ways in which they are faithful to God and the church.

Incidentally, I am adding this post to a throng of stories over at A Deeper Church as part of a larger conversation about church. I hope you will read other stories in the comments there–they’re stunning.

grace and peace to you, friends. may you find a house of prayer to love and be loved in.

The altar in Ordinary Time, under a canopy of painted stars. John, shepherd-Jesus, and Paul, from left to right. photo by St. Paul’s Episcopal church, Waco.

The [recently built] Chapel of the Four Sisters, where midweek Eucharist is held, as well as other prayer services throughout the year. When Sarah Bessey writes, “calm your heart,” I think of this chapel, exactly. [though I wish I had a better picture].

on trespasses.

the curse burns easy out of my heart but trips once, twice on my tongue.

this, not two hours after the sermon centered on reconciliation, about the older brother.

this, after weeping over those I love who harden their hearts to the Feast.

this, after the whisper to my own stand-in-the-cold heart:

come back inside, love.

not two hours ago.

I say it to his face, to one from whom a wrong perceived, though halfway known.

[I realize later this is the Old Ones’ definition of wrath.]

what began as that comforting righteous indignation ended up in bed with

the self-righteousness, the actual wrong courted by bitterness aged,

true injury gouged in old scars but left to fester.

if you are seeking the Doctor’s attentions, you must uncover the wound.

but how?

how to crack open my own chest, peel away my own slipshod dressing?

how to heal, not just “get over?”

how to forgive as I have been forgiven?

how to set free the debtor, set myself free in turn?

is it action or emotion: a grace to feel or to do?

I know the end of that parable.

…if you do not forgive your brother or your sister from your heart.

I know what it means to pick the scab, to lick and relive,

to burrow into shadow until the speeches we make to ourselves

are all we see, finally dancing before us.

even if I knew how, I’m not so sure I could do it:

to relinquish what I’m owed, to waive even the one day’s wage?

I’m not so sure I can do something as radical as Light.

fragments, two.

Again I bring you a fragment found, this time, in the back of a book. I remembered it because of a tweet, actually. I remember now everything about writing it– low belly orange sun, whitewashed campus lawn furniture printing the back of my thighs. A few hours later, I would be sitting almost right in a fire, wine glass tilted in unsure hand, spectacular friendships kindling prophetic. That memory alone is a forgotten snapshot worth mentioning.

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I wouldn’t say we are a “broken family.”

“Cracked” is more like it–like we are that section [of wall] above a door in a house with a poor, dry, Texas foundation, fissure stretching from frame to ceiling, widening on days when the air is thick enough to cut, but so small and delicate on others that you can barely see it at all.

It’s just another piece of wall.

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I think I got the humidity thing reversed. Wouldn’t the crack get bigger the drier it was? Science, guys.

fragment, one.

Here is something about myself: I will write little bits of thoughts on bits of paper, in backs of books, receipts, boarding passes. I find them long after I forget them, what they were for, or why. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Anyway, I’m thinking of sharing them as I find them, starting tonight. It’s like finding a photograph.

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I want to tell you that there is another way.

the way of grace.

I want to read that Corinthians passage slowly, like a prayer–

to remind you it’s not really just about weddings, or even just about

the way He loves.

I would show you the rebuke between the lines.

I would tell you there is something to sharing scars—

here I was cut, here I cut.

but you know what else?

here I was stitched together.

here the bits of skin reconciled,

here they found each other again.

and here, this bit, just on my ribcage.

that is the one still bleeding. 

the one I’m not sure will ever heal.

here is the truth, honest-to-goodness:

I called my mother for the 5th time to ask how to cook the fish.

 

 

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yeah, I don’t get the fish thing either.

After posting, I realized that this could read along the lines of self-injury– that is not my story, but it could be yours, or a friend’s. Read this post by Tamára Lunardo, and check out the organization To Write Love on Her Arms.

to the girl in the bar.

I wish I had bought you pancakes–

pulled you off the pole in the middle of the dance floor

[and then off that guy nearby],

taken you to the nearest late-night breakfast joint

and given you a love offering covered in syrup.

When you stumbled across the street, I should have

grabbed your wrist, called you Daughter.

Maybe I would have pulled you in to dance

with us–women who dance like the loved.

[But if I gave you a short stack, over coffee

I would tell you that I could be just like you,

with a few more drinks and a few less friends.]

When they turned on the lights to shut us down

to reveal the sticky floor and your mascara streaming,

I wish I had found you, so you could feel found.

I wish I had bought you pancakes, because

that could be your Grace.