Your grief rang out from my television. Your pleas of “I want my daddy” echoed in a small living room in Massachusetts. Far from the intrusive cameras broadcasting your grief, I sobbed with you. I wish I could give you your daddy back.
Cameron, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that your father was killed in that parking lot. I’m sorry that there is a system of injustice in this country that will most likely allow it to go without consequence. I’m sorry for the evil people who will malign your father and blame him for his own murder while hiding behind a fake screen name. I’m sorry for all of it.
I pray that God’s loving arms will cradle you like a daddy holding a precious child. I trust that your daddy now lives in the eternal peace of God. May friends and family love and support you through your grief.
As for me, Cameron, I’m here, far away from Baton Rouge, doing what I can to build up the realm of God. A place where equality is real and justice is not a word trotted out for elections and press conferences but a true way of life for all of God’s children. And I know it isn't nearly enough. And sometimes I get sad that it will never be enough. But I'm a woman of faith so I'll keep trying with hope for the future. Your future, Cameron and mine, because I don't want to live in a world where murdering a black man is acceptable procedure.
I cannot give you your daddy back but I will do what I can to make sure no other child has to cry on television to open the ears of those who have been deaf to the sobs. I will do what I can to make sure that no other child has to pray that mommy has Facebook Live running to keep her safe. I will try, dear Cameron, to be a better human. One who works everyday to confront racism – racism in society and racism so ingrained in me that it takes me by surprise and makes me ashamed when I recognize it. Like I said, I get sad sometimes, but I keep trying. I keep trying because it's all we can do. Step by step. Word by word. It often feels like we are building God's kingdom of peace and justice one tiny Lego brick at a time. But even that doesn't stop the construction.
So, go on and cry a while longer, Cameron. Grieve as you need to and I’ll be here crying with you and working in hope to make these tears be your last.
Yours in Christ,
Dearest Brothers and Sister in Christ,
I'm on my very last nerve with many of you. In fact, if I knew your middle names I'd use them as a warning. You know, the way mom did when she’d just had enough.
THAT'S how fed up I am.
Today I've read several things that made me grind my teeth as our religion was maligned or misrepresented yet again. And to be sure – I know how dangerous it is to lump all Christians together. To that end, I’m primarily speaking to my more liberal Christian siblings. You conservative folks can keep on reading as well, but I’ve accepted that we’ll be on different sides of these issues until Jesus himself settles the debates. (Hopefully with a dance-off.)
Still with me? Here goes:
1. Jesus was not killed by “the Jews.” It is historically (and, frankly, theologically) inaccurate. The Roman occupiers were the ones who carried out the death sentence. Do not use scripture to support any anti-Semitism. How about this – DON’T BE ANTI-SEMITIC.
2. God is not your banker, black jack dealer or sugar daddy. Seriously. God does not exist to give you money or earthly goods. The folks who preach that God wants you to be rich and that the greater your faith the greater your wealth are wrong and dangerous. God does not reward or punish with goods like some omniscient game show host. Follow this line of thinking to its logical conclusion. If God rewards the faithful with money and treasure then how does God feel about the folks who just happen to be born into an impoverished place? I know, right? It must suck to be born someplace where God doesn’t reward faithfulness with cash.
3. If you are Christian in the USA you are NOT being persecuted for your religion. Here’s the thing, and I don’t want to scare you but…it isn’t 1954. See, since 1954 we’ve changed a lot as a country. Other religions are getting acknowledged. People are getting to even know folks of other faiths and even more shockingly – liking them. Our little Christian bubbles, be they our parishes or communities, have popped. We now have to share the power and the privilege with others. Oh, and stop whining about time. No longer is Sunday morning a sacred time when the only thing one could do was attend church. Now there are stores open and sports events competing for the 10am time slot. Get Over It. Just because the Christian faith isn’t as disproportionally privileged over other faiths as it used to be doesn’t mean “they’re out to get you.”
Well, I don’t know about you but I feel much better after getting that off my chest.
I’ll end this letter with a paraphrase of the close of Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth:
I, Jen, write this letter with my own MacBook.
Our Lord Come!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.
Here’s the dilemma. I’m eight years old and painfully shy. I can’t order for myself at a restaurant because that would require speaking to a stranger. I can’t go to any sleepovers because my friends have parents I don’t know and interacting with them would be too much to take. AND my dream is to become a television actor.
I can go on stage and be fine. I can use someone else’s words and not feel the least bit self-conscious. The audience, full of strangers, doesn’t bother me at all but I can’t audition for anything beyond school plays because…strangers.
Fast forward to today. My career, my calling, requires talking to strangers (which is still not my favorite part but I can do it.) And… I’ve found my voice in stand-up comedy. Am I an actor? Not yet. But I know that dreams change and I’m actually pretty happy where I am. ( although I am now available for auditions…. Call me!)
ODE TO A COFFEE POT
I bless you, dear one, for the timer that awakens you before the sunrise.
In the quiet of the daybreak you gurgle and sputter.
Dark essence of life, you drip slowly forming a pool of caffeinated hope.
Warmed by unseen elements you remain still and watchful
Until I, stumbling and bleary-eyed, arrive to receive your gifts.
I can’t thread a needle.
I understand the basics of it. I get that the thread goes into the eye and comes out the other side. My issue is that my crappy fine motor skills have always been a struggle. I don’t get it.
In college I was in marching band and we were required to make can-can dancer costumes with lots of stiff tulle and ruffles. We were given materials and simple instructions. I was to hand stitch one piece of fabric together to complete the outfit. Easy.
I stapled my costume together.
The next Saturday during the halftime show the staples started to give and stuck into my legs as we began the kick-line. I ended the show with a dozen pinpricks in my thighs and rivulets of blood running down my legs. Oooo La La…. Sexy.
I took the costume back to my dorm room, tore out the staples and swore I would fix it. The next Friday night found me hunched over the can-can skirt, stapler in hand. Each week would be a blood sacrifice to the gods of the French dancing girls and my inability to sew.
Perhaps this is where my secret obsession starts because I am fascinated by the television show Project Runway. Have you seen this show? The contestants not only know how to thread needles but they also can make entire outfits in one day. They make gowns and suits and dresses and all sorts of odd things and the judges watch the runway show each week kicking off the creator of the worst piece.
I’ve learned from watching Project Runway that my idea of a nice dress is not fashion forward. I can’t tell an avant garde look from a thrift store discount rack outfit. I still don’t know how to sew.
The finale is coming up this week and I’m looking forward to discovering the identity of the winner. I know it won’t ever be me.