A Very Member Incorporate

Today was my confirmation into the Episcopal church at Epiphany, my home congregation. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful service, especially since my dad read my post on Facebook and literally dropped everything to make sure he and my stepmom were there. It meant a lot to me to have them as a part of our congregation during the laying on of hands, and as the bishop put his hands on my head, I literally laughed. I was so full of joy that I couldn’t stop myself. Christine and Lisa (my priest and my presbyter, respectively) smiled at me, and then it was done.

I was home.

After the service, everyone wanted pictures of our class (both the adults and the youth). In most of them, Douglas looks like he’s choking me. It was the most appropriate welcome in the history of the world, because OF COURSE I wanted to stand next to the youth group. Of course I did. It wouldn’t have been confirmation if I didn’t have a gaggle of teenagers all around, smiling and laughing because I was.

Then the group picture broke up and my dad said he wanted a picture of me and the bishop. I turned to him and said, “will you put rabbit ears on my head or something?” He said, “sure,” so our picture together is totally, completely me. We got a serious one, too, but it doesn’t mean as much, because for me, faith isn’t serious. I mean, it is. But at the same time, it’s also a lot of joy. My faith wouldn’t be mine if it didn’t include a lot of levity.

Being a Christian is hard. If we are called to be Christ to the world, it’s more than just showing up on Sundays. It’s looking into the face of homeless people and offering them bread. It is accepting no matter who shows up, and giving them food, anyway. It is seeing where there is no justice, and working to fix it. It is seeing other people, standing in their pain and shame, and trying everything to bring them the light that other people have brought to you.

Plus, the bishop has cool spiky hair. I bet yours doesn’t.

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Scrubs: Devotional for Advent I

I get up at the same time every morning. I sit at my computer for long hours writing and creating. In the evening, I rarely go out because after a day of expending creative energy, all I want is to curl up on the couch with my sweetheart.

That’s my life. Day in and day out.

It never fails to surprise me how much I don’t think. My life is on autopilot, reinforced by my iPhone and laptop. If I had my headphones in and I was facing the front, a grizzly bear could tear out the back wall of my house and I’d never even know it.

I am the lazy jackass to which Jesus is preaching.

When the days start to shorten, I turn inward and see even less of the world around me, because it takes more energy to do things in the dark. I have to convince myself that even though it feels like midnight, it’s actually only 7:00 PM. I am absolutely dragging ass trying to stay up for anything if it ends past 8:45. The comfort is that it’s not just me. The people who were with Jesus had the same feelings, for he says that the sun will darken, the moon will not give its light… but we have to be ready, anyway.

Ready for what?

I struggle with Mark, because his favorite word in Greek seems to be “immediately.” He writes a bit too maniacaly for my taste, but I admire his passion. To be fair, as a Gospel writer you were often on the receiving end of a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle, so there was no way to know if Jesus meant tomorrow or a thousand years later. I couldn’t possibly know Mark’s thought process, but it seems as if he is running around like Chicken Little.

Mark: GET READY!
Congregation: FOR WHAT?
Mark: THE SON OF MAN!
Congregation: WHEN?
Mark: I DON’T KNOW!

When I lived in NoVA (Northern Virginia), I had a friend that was pregnant for the first time. It was a learning curve for both of us. She’d never had a baby, and I’d never before become friends with a mom my own age. Every night I prayed for the baby, that he would be happy and healthy.

I knew he was coming. I just didn’t know when. That didn’t stop me from buying baby gifts, taking long labor-inducing walks with my friend, and packing a bag of goodies just in case I had to stay in the waiting room for an extended amount of time.

Again, I knew he was coming. I just didn’t know when…. but I was READY. I could relax and enjoy the fact that all I had to do was put on my scrubs and run. Later on, I realized that being ready wasn’t the gift. It was the journey I took to get there.

I smiled walking around baby stores, exclaiming over adult clothes in miniature. I started paying attention to ads for formula and diapers. The baby didn’t change me, but getting ready to welcome him did.

And that’s all Advent really is….. waiting for the baby.

Buy the diaper genie.
Wash his clothes in Dreft
Paint his room.
Build his crib.

It’s not the baby that will change you. It’s the way you made room for him, the way you watched and waited, the way you kept alert because you knew he was coming.

Welcome to Advent, where we can all fall asleep in the waiting room together.

Amen.

Black Friday

I have mentioned that I lost a friend, and I am still grieving mightily. She has a sacred place in my heart, and can’t see it anymore. I send love and I get back anger. I send peace and I get back “go fuck yourself.” It’s time to end it until she can get past her own pain, and probably won’t, because she doesn’t even acknowledge that it’s there. I cannot go on grieving someone who has so little regard for me, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

I have been in this relationship before… many times, in fact. In part, I have created them. I am used to being an enabler, and as soon as I do that, the pattern becomes entrenched and I can’t back out of it no matter how hard I try. The thing I have to work on are the triggers that make me think enabling is my only viable option.

People who have been abused take a long time to readjust their patterns, because they are in effect, reshaping their personalities. I stepped over a huge boundary without even knowing it, and the fallout began immediately, just shit raining down on my head which I thought I deserved because I’d behaved badly, anyway.

A few weeks later, I realized that I couldn’t possibly apologize enough, because what I’d already done was beyond the call of duty. I laid myself bare on like, three media platforms and still… go fuck yourself and get the fuck out of my life.

It wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, she proved to be one of the great loves of my life, completely sanctioned by Dana because it wasn’t *that* kind of love, but still absolutely unconditional… the type of love that you try all your life to have for yourself to feel complete.

The kind I need right now, because surely it can only get better from here.

Giving Thanks

Here, in no particular order, are the things I’m grateful for:

My wife, who continues to love me more than I deserve, and when you find that marriage, it will be the one that truly completes you, especially if you are also complete inside yourself. Now, I feel I have both of those things. I learned a long time ago that I wasn’t longing to be owned. I was longing for a mate. I found her.

My friends on the ground, who love me beyond all measure even when I feel like I’m just waiting for The Doctor. In this metaphor, I believe wholeheartedly that I am Amy Pond. I love my Doctor beyond all measure, but Dana is my Centurion, the one that would wait 2,000 years… And then I flip the metaphor on its ear and I become The Doctor and Aaron becomes Craig, because it would be just like Aaron and I to lose track of a baby in the mall. I am also surprisingly like Matt Smith’s Doctor- I feel that I am twice as awkward and half as clever, but we both pull off the “giraffe in a bow tie” image quite nicely. Therefore, I am thankful to Doctor Who for giving me an additional world of description.

I am thankful for Shonda Rimes and the work she does on Scandal, because it is the highlight of my week to disappear into that world for an hour.

I am thankful for Pizza Night, because through it, everyone I’ve ever loved has sat with me on the couch and shared the communion of bread and tomato sauce….. both physically and metaphorically. There’s always love at supper time.

I am thankful for stories, both mine and everyone else’s- fictional or not. I love media not because I’m trying to be numbed out, but because cartoons and other TV shows are worlds to be explored. Podcasts are usually daring interviews with people I want to meet. I want to live on Battlestar Galactica. I want to have coffee with Frasier and Niles. I want to stand in the sun with Jake Ballard, and friggin’ adopt Quinn and Huck (because don’t you see that under their baddassery lies a need to be loved?). SuperGrover is my hero. If you doubt a mother’s love, you won’t after meeting Molly Weasley. If the TARDIS landed on my front lawn, the surprise would be in who popped out. It’s always going to be The Doctor, of course, but the fun is wondering which face loves YOU!

I am grateful to start the process of writing fiction. It sucks, there are plot holes all over the place that I don’t know how to fix yet, but my characters are worlds in which I can disappear. I can make them the people that I need them to be, and if that isn’t part of healing yourself, I don’t know what is. Through your characters, you are in charge of your own world, including getting the people you love to say the words you need to hear and be complete…. because you didn’t need them to process. You divided yourself in half and the conversation erased a scar.

I am thankful for dreams in the same way I am thankful for fictional media. The people that have hurt me the most show up, and we have eight uninterrupted hours to talk, relax, and just be together without the pressure of resolving anything. I go to my dreams to just *be.* There’s no fighting, there’s just love. For instance, Diane and I have had coffee every Wednesday for a year and a half. In those moments, I don’t remember abuse. I remember the way her hand feels on my head when she tousles my hair. In my dreams, there is more forgiveness and love to me than when I am awake. I go to sleep to remember the parts of Diane that make me, well, me….. if that makes any damn sense at all. It is 15 til 7:00 AM and I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet.

I am thankful for Aaron Sorkin, who created the legend of a knife passed down by a Boston silversmith named Paul Revere.

I am thankful for my Fanagans, who support and sustain me every day without fail from all corners of the earth.

I am thankful for the experience that pulled me out of The Matrix and taught me that my feelings matter, and I do have the ability to both speak truth to power and lead people in a way that I wasn’t sure I could. I’m no longer hanging on to ANYONE’s coattails. Not my dad’s. Not Susan’s. Not Tara’s. Not Christine’s. Not Lisa’s. I finally, finally, finally BOUGHT MY OWN DAMN COAT.

I am thankful for Meag, Tym, Lake, Wade, Deah, and Giles…. my Canadians. They are like me…….. and so not. They remind me of a different side of politics that I never knew I needed. To get past the politics of kindness.

Did I mention I was thankful for Dana? It’s because she lets me have the life I want to create and makes room for it. Allows me to be bigger than I thought I could be and stands by me even when I am a right jackass, which is most of the time. She says that our relationship evens out by the amount of crap she throws at me in return, but this is my blog. If she wants to say that we’re even, she’s going to have to sign up for WordPress on her own. 🙂

My “Deal”

One of my Facebook friends asked me what my deal was with Cosby. Here, in its entirety, is my reply:

Here is my DEAL about Cosby. I am one of those people blown away by victim-shaming because it happened to me. My abuser is a fabulous musician and educator, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what happened. Federal agents dragged me away from her and I still spend hours every DAY trying to release shame. Fifteen women have the same story and you still don’t believe? Kiss my motherfucking ass because you deserve my rage.

In terms of a court case, it is clear that both “a preponderance of evidence” in a civil trial and “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal trial have been achieved. I hope that no jury in the world would be that starstruck or that stupid. Who was it that said, “the hardest part of being a lawyer is convincing twelve K-mart clerks you’re right?”

Then I posted Diane Syrcle’s “It Gets Better” video because “It Got Worse” for me. My friends saved my life, and they probably wouldn’t think of it in those terms, but I do. There are only four people in the world that know how bad it got, and one ripped me out of my reality. She is the rock of my church, because if we hadn’t met, my resurrection wouldn’t have happened. She is the reason that the Risen Christ means so much to me, because her words became an additional source of Red Letters I could “ponder in my heart.” I don’t need to know facts to know that miracles happen all the time, and this was one of them.

She gave me the belief that it would indeed get better and to that end, assured me that I didn’t have to worry anymore, dried my tears, and kissed my head- metaphorically because the only side of her that I know is her brain.  Through the power of the medium, it is also hilarious to me that the Internet CAUSED the resurrection to happen.

She is the reason I am so incredibly religious, which is extraordinarily funny because the only deity *she’s* mentioned is running. I believe in running.

Apparently, it works miracles.

Bill Cosby, Trademark

I have followers on “Stories” that aren’t my Facebook friends, so reposting here:

This Cosby thing is freaking me out, because from where I sit, there are too few people willing to believe that Cliff Huxtable is a rapist, and that’s the problem. Cliff and Bill are not the same person, never have been. Bill Cosby, Trademark is not the same as bill, either. Duality lives in a lot of people, and it is frightening for all involved when worlds collide. I refuse to take away his legacy of joy to the world, but at the same time, I think he is one of the most despicable people on earth because he won’t own it. Won’t sit in his wrongness and ask to be forgiven. Won’t apologize for all the gaslighting he’s done to these women to make them believe that if they talked, they were going to be in a lot of trouble. It’s what rapists do. Stop looking at guilty vs. innocent and start looking with your heart. Even if these women weren’t raped, can you not see that they have been through *something?* Can you not see that when these women came forward, they weren’t told that they were brave? They were told that they were wrong.

Sit in that.

Small Ball

One of the greatest sermons Susan Leo ever preached at Bridgeport was about baseball. She went to seminary in San Francisco, so there is no one more beloved to her on earth than her Giants. You would think that baseball and theology would be mutually exclusive. Not so much.

The sermon itself was about building a church one base hit at a time…. that nothing comes together with one big home run.

As I sit here in the quiet, writing, I’m thinking about small ball.

I have been so locked up inside that I’ve realized I’m trying to make every pitch into a game-winning homer, when in reality I am not going to come back from 5-0, even with the bases loaded. I have to change my strategy, because the home run is the unachievable dream while a base hit combined with three or four more and suddenly, the score doesn’t look so bad.

A home run is getting rich. Small ball is saving five dollars a week. I can spend my life hoping for the homer to end all homers, when in reality, I would be much better off by reorienting my expectations of success.

For instance, I am already successful, but not in ways that you can measure with money. There’s not much in my bank account, but I am the only one of my friends who can say that people from France to Bangladesh KNOW WHO I AM. They know my flaws, they know my charms, they know MY STORY. I could never put a price on that, because it saved the direction of my life from going into deeper disaster. I have a dream for a church that is viable and profitable…. but profitability is relative in ministry. By profitable, I mean that any money left over in our regular budget becomes savings for a disaster so that there is a rolling stability instead of a church dependent on its members in a week-to-week kind of way. There are always going to be economic disasters, and when that happens, you have to have a place to go. For me, church is that place.

It’s how Epiphany is rescuing me right now.

Next Sunday I am being received into the Episcopal church for the first time. I have attended since I was 17 in some capacity, but I have never officially put my name on the books as a very member incorporate.

Christine asked me if my plans for St. James meant that I didn’t want to join anymore. I held back tears and said, “I don’t have a home church. I want this to be home.” St. James will never be that for me. St. James is my creation. I am birthing it. While that is happening, I need to be Epiphany’s creation. Epiphany is a rebirth into light and life, which lifts me out of the darkness I often perpetuate because I don’t have the emotional tools to keep calm all the time. If I want to be a leader, I must first learn to serve.

It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. Where are you sitting?