Monday, August 29, 2016

A Prayer For White Awakening (Get Woke)

A Prayer For White Awakening (Get Woke):
God of wisdom. God of mercy. God of reconciliation, unity and peace, we gather together:
to engage discomfort as a reach for healing
to risk releasing anxious self-protection as a reach for connection
to inquire what humility might ask of us as a reach for wisdom

God, convert us!

May we notice times when we feel defensive and convert that defensiveness for self to affirmation for our sisters and brothers who experience injustice
May we notice times when we feel resistance and convert that resistance into generosity to share our lives with our sisters and brothers 
May we notice how comfortable we have become with the privilege we do not even see and convert our energies from protecting our unseen privilege to sharing comforts of new friendships

May we notice that the desire not to be racist does not alone eradicate our participation in racism
May we notice that we participate in social systems that perpetuate generous distributions of privilege to us and meager distributions of privilege to others. 
May we love our sisters and brothers enough not to be paralyzed by guilt when we begin to notice these things

Give us eyes to see right through our own privilege
Give us ears to hear oppression in our own voices
Give us humility not merely to see and to hear, but to acknowledge 
Give us the wisdom to adjust our lives because of what we have seen and have heard
Give us the courage to leverage what privilege we have FOR, NOT OVER, our sisters and brothers. 
Infuse within us a grace so genuine that our very actions become the healing apologies for sins that have reverberated for generations and for centuries

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Delightfully Defiant and Subversive Woman

The Delightfully Defiant and Subversive Woman (A True Story)
I have a friend. Her name is Kathy Osborne. She and I have been friends for a long time - since before I was a teenager. I'm a couple years younger than she is, but that's part of what made being friends when we were so much younger so cool for me. When a high schooler pays any attention to a middle schooler it means a whole lot to the middle schooler. But that was the thing - Kathy either didn't really know the age rules about not being friends with people younger than you are, or perhaps, and this is even more likely, she thought those rules were ridiculous.
Kathy has always thought a lot of things were ridiculous. But not in the snarky or bitter way people think things are ridiculous and then share it on Facebook trying to score some likes. Kathy didn't care about likes. She still doesn't. She found things to be ridiculous when someone got the short end of the stick, when someone got slighted, when injustice spread it venom. What Kathy has always found to be ridiculous are things that are, in fact, loaded with ridiculosity.
She could spot this kind of stuff a mile away. But what makes Kathy unique is the manner in which she responds to it. When most people find something to be ridiculous, they have a blustery outrage about it, they fume about it, they mock it into oblivion, or they rally a pompous superiority about the matter. Kathy doesn't do anything like that. I wonder whether she even knows how.
When Kathy finds something ridiculous, she becomes nice. Ok, she's already super nice. But she gets nicer. How nice? She's so nice it's like the air temperature changes a little when she walks in the room. Whatever the temperature was before she walked into the room, it got closer to that perfect temperature where it feels like there is no temperature at all. She is that kind of nice. Her defiant and subversive response to the ridiculous is niceness - creative niceness. It's innocent niceness. It is a crushing niceness that manages to subvert and defy the power of the ridiculous, no matter how massive it happens to be. It's an undoing kind of niceness that rather innocently drags the ridiculous out into the light, but not to shame it. No. Her niceness redeems it.
Wait. Nice? That's it? Nice isn't special, it's not defiant and it certainly isn't subversive. If that is what you are thinking right now, you don't know Kathy. You and I find would find her to be nice. That's because we are also nice. Not as nice as Kathy, but we see nice for what it is and we like it. But if you were evil and if you were horrible, you would find her niceness to be an assault, a barrage, an over the top aggressiveness that felt cruel. Her smile would be threatening. Her simple way of going about doing the right thing innocently and nicely, even though it may break the social, cultural, or theological rules, would feel to the evil version of yourself to be diabolical. If we were evil, we would be worried about Kathy because we would feel defenseless against her defiant and subversive weapons. We would wonder why no one else could see what she was up to. She just gets away with it - no accountability. Unrelenting, unmitigated, and irrepressible nice.
So when Kathy got cancer, it was ridiculous.
It doesn't make any sense. How does the delightfully defiant and subversive woman get cancer? It's not fair. It's not right. It's certainly not something to be nice about.
And yet...
She did it again. I have been following the reports that her husband Brett (the rarest of men who deserves the privilege to be married to the delightfully defiant and subversive woman) posts on Facebook. Kathy, in her subtle ways, even under the pressure and pain of tests, reports, more tests, chemo, radiation, and surgeries, still she finds a nice way to be defiant and subversive.
For the record, I am pretty sure if I had to run the course Kathy has been forced to run, I'd be cursing things, calling down fire from Heaven, and feeling justified for the wake of ruined things left behind what should be regretful words flung off into servers around the world for everyone to see.
Not Kathy. She's nice.
In one of Brett's updates, he reported that as part of her treatment for cancer, Kathy had a tube or some highly intrusive thing most of us never knew existed, stuck in her. A thing, an object - part of it inside of her and part of it outside of her. It's not right. It's not natural. It's ridiculous. People weren't made to have tubes sticking out of them.
So, what does Kathy do about this ridiculous tube? Complain? No, that would been my move. Rip it out? No, that would have been my dad's move. Does she engage the pity of the world? She could have and would have gotten it. No. So what does Kathy do?
She names it.
That's right. She named the tube. She named it Axel Larry Osborne. First, middle, and last names. Delightful. Defiant. Subversive. It was nice. She included the tube - into the family! It's an Osborne. She threatened the tube - with inclusion. It's ridiculous to have a tube sticking out of her body and she turns the tables and welcomes it into the family.
And it's not just about being nice to the tube. It's being nice about having a tube. If you were the nurse having to attend to that tube and your patient named it Axel Larry Osborne, wouldn't that be a story to go home and tell? Wouldn't that has made an otherwise difficult job a little more worth it? If you were the nurse, how many other patients had been so hard to deal with? Many of them, as you can imagine. It makes sense to be miserable when the condition of your body is so ridiculous. What makes sense to Kathy, in the middle of her own cancer treatment, is to do something that immediately makes everyone a better person. It's funny. It's innocent. It's so Kathy.
That's it. That's what makes Kathy's nice so diabolically nice. The beast explodes out of the woods and she paints a flower on its tusk.
This is Kathy throwing her fists into the air.
This is Kathy fighting like Hell against a monster.
This is full on Kathy at her very finest.
If I were fighting cancer for one thousand years I would never have come up with naming the tube. It's genius. It's brilliant. It is delightfully defiant and subversive. And nice - it's Kathy Osborne's native language.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Though I Resist

Though I resist,
Time is my teacher,
Anticipating my awareness,
Slow to take as it is
At some enlightened place;
All the evidence
Already accessible
Slow as I am,
Time believes in me

Though I resist
Struggle is my master
Countering my every impulse
Making me earn twice
What I think should take once
Without explanation
Without justification
Frustrated as I get,
Struggle believes in me

Though I resist
Suffering is a misunderstood genius
Sculpting my soul
With ruthless chisel
Into something more like me
Deaf to my cries
Blind to my wounds
As I rage,
Suffering believes in me.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Thus ends... Thus begins...

We leave in an hour to drop Sierra off at college to start her Freshmen year.

Thus ends...
Thus begins...

She is on this verge of the miracle of launch into adulthood, independence, and freedom like she has never experienced before. It is an exciting time of exploring new contexts, new relationships, and new opportunities. It is the time of making up her mind like she has never had to do before, defining her boundaries likes she has never had to do before, and growing up emotionally and spiritually like she has never had to do before.

She will have the time of her life and she will be bored.
She will meet incredible people and she will meet some real dogs.
She will experience inspiration and she will experience discouragement.
She will rediscover herself because new cultures and contexts for the rediscovery.
She will discover new parts of herself that are a joy, a relief, and are confidence building while she will also find new parts of herself that require attention, management, and care.
She will face questions for which she will have well rehearsed answers and she will face questions which demand more wisdom of her than she has ever had to produce.

These are important days for Sierra Joy Gonzalez.

And we won't see much of any of those days. We will get rare and intermittent dispatches from the frontier - for we, too, are on the verge of the miracle of launch. For 18 years, four months, and 6 days the only way we have ever known how to relate to her landed on the "responsibility for her life" spectrum. And now we're launching from that spectrum to another one called, "watch her fly."

We have only limited experience with this new "watch her fly" role - and we're not very good at it.
We don't know what it's like when she goes "home" to a different bed.
We don't know what it's like for her room to be empty at night - where is the blue glow of her iphone?
We don't know yet how to eat dinner, the three of us rather than the four of us.
We don't yet know how much or how little to communicate and by which means.
We don't yet know how much of her life we'll even get to know.
How will we balance "we've parented our best" and "she's going to need some help"?
How will we navigate so much no knowing?
What will we do with the space left open now that she is filling other space?

These are important days for Chris and Gail Gonzalez.

I rest on these things in this miracle of launch:

1. God's love transcends challenges (Romans 8:38-39)
2. God's still working on us (Philippians 1:6)
3. God can make good out of anything (Romans 8:28)