Category Archives: holy days

we are pride!!!

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we are pride!!!

Towards the end of the Spring Semester I was asked to share a reflection at a vigil in celebration of Pride. In honor of Pride Month I wanted to share my ramblings—you, me, us, we are pride!

— 

We are Pride

A queerfelt muchas gracias to you all for your presence tonight.

Tonight we are pride! Tonight we celebrate all of who we are! Tonight we lift up our queerness, our rainbows, our LGBTQliciousness…we lift up our pride in who we are, who we have been, and who we will become.

I often get asked, is being a LGBT choice? Many have responded to this question with, why would anyone choose this life? Choose the hardship? Choose the discrimination? However, most recently I’ve decided to rant to the world…Why NOT choose being queer? I am not ashamed and there is nothing wrong or less than for being me, or being you, or being us.

We need to take pride in our isness and should not, cannot, will not feel shame or have folks through misguided shade. I honestly don’t think LGBT identities are choices, however, if I could choose I would choose queer everyday.   This is not to undermine the experiences of hardship that we have experienced…discrimination, rejection, isolation, violence, confusion. But I also have done some incredible things like getting arrested for civil disobedience, getting to hang out with folks who teach me everyday about beingness, getting to join my voice to the countless others advocating for all are welcome to truly mean all are welcome at OHIO and beyond its fun being a colorful thorn in the side of some of our student, faculty, staff, and administrative leaders on campus.

I don’t want us to feel bad about ourselves or for others to take pity…hell the fuck no to pity, I want people to be proud of us and for us to pridefully chant…we are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going anywhere!

Tonight, this week, and other moments of Pride are not at the expense of the challenges and tragedies we have endured as a community…

  • The murders of trans women in the United States and around the world
  • The microaggressions that students experience everyday in the classroom and other spaces on our campus and all OHIO campuses
  • The reality that yes we can get married but we can be fired in 30 states and executed in 7 countries.
  • Folks who are being targeted for being LGBT, with little or no recourse from our community
  • The white washing and heterowashing of the radicalness of LGBTQ folks and our contributions
  • The kids who are kicked out of their homes for living and loving beyond the norm
  • The countless and often unknown victims of sexualized violence who identify as trans or gender variant or queer
  • The misrepresentation and otherization of our vibrant and diverse community in the media and other social networks

Claiming and reclaiming that we are pride is a re-energizer to continue to counter violence. We are pride and honor with pride

  • Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and all those who refused to be bullied and silenced at Stone Wall
  • The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 2010 and June 26, 2015 when marriage equality became the law of the land.
  • Though we may have our critiques of her, Caitlyn Jenner has opened the door for conversations around trans identities throughout the United States.
  • Laverne Cox was on the cover of Time Magazine
  • Abby Wambach has a freakin’ Barbie made in her image
  • A Mya Taylor, a trans woman of color, was the center of a campaign for an Oscar Nomination for Tangerine.
  • Nike created a sneaker in honor of Pride Month
  • The Legend of Korra celebrated bisexuality
  • OHIO has and is and will be taking steps to fully live into diversity and inclusion…we have an LGBT Center, Gender Neutral Housing, LGBTQ Studies Certificate, Name and Pronoun Policy, trans healthcare for students, and we are moving forward with a new LGBT Living Experience and Gender Inclusive Restrooms.

We reflect and we remember our heroes and sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes”…

  • Gloria Anzaldua
  • Albus Dumbledore
  • Bayard Rustin
  • Ellen Paige
  • Frank Ocean
  • Carmen Carrera
  • Langston Hughes
  • Harvey Milk
  • Alice Walker
  • Neil Patrick Harris
  • Zachary Quinto
  • RuPaul
  • Tom Daly
  • Laverne Cox
  • Margaret Cho

Trail blazers past and present, who spark and kindle our commitment to embodying #bobcatrainbowwarriorfierceness. We take pride in our journeys of living and expressing who we are…we honor all of who we are, our bloopers and our triumphs as individuals and as familia…we take pride in our efforts to embody being a rainbow in the clouds of others…we take pride in our goods, our bads, and our freaking awesomeness!

We are pride! All of us without exception IS fabulous, fierce, glitterful, amazing, unicornlicious…

We are pride…we are here…we are queer…we have always been here and we will always be here.

Cheers and queers!  Muchas gracias!

la lucha is back! the story of resurrection is a story of transition

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la lucha is back!  the story of resurrection is a story of transition

Reflection also available on Believe Out Loud’s website!  La Lucha, Mi Pulpito is back in action…the journey and the resilience is real!

Easter Sunday. A day of many questions and confusion within a hope-filled community.

We still don’t know exactly what happened that night and moment. We can’t begin to imagination what folks were experiencing and feeling. As we reflected together this year over the snippets shared in the gospels, we immersed ourselves in imagining the fear and excitement of that moment.

Jesus’ followers did not know what was going to happen next or what to do next or what to say next.

After many doubts, they began to celebrate the resurrection not only of the Risen Christ, but the resurrection that erupted within them as individuals and as an emerging tribe what would be known by their love.

Though the future was not clear and would never be clear, they began to understand the transfiguration of the moment and the calling to live into wholeness, adopt and reclaim language, and ultimately to embody the resurrection of their being-ness.

As a trans and queer person of color, as a person of faith and spirit, as a person who struggles with the hallenges of living in a world enmeshed and divided by binaries, the story of resurrection speaks to me on many different levels.

The story of resurrection is a story of transition.

The Resurrection is the beginning of a journey of living into wholeness, a journey of affirming who one always was, and a journey of discovering and/or rediscovering new aspects of who we are—a journey similar to the many ways we transition as trans-identified folks.

Transition is not about medical procedures, changing one’s name, adapting the ways a person dresses, or wrestling with the dynamics of what it means to “pass” or whether one wants to even pass. These are just some of the aspects of transition.

But transition is ultimately about living into you. And that kind of living means different things to different people—it is filled with fear and questions, determination and doubts, hope and wholeness, risks and affirmation.

As people wrestling with different understandings and embodiments of gender, we stare into the tombs of our pasts, we come to recognize that who we were, who we were forced to be, who the world expected us to be is no longer there and perhaps was never there.

Who we are was hidden, and it took the passion of struggle to reveal ourselves to the world.

The bandages that covered wounds of societal and even self-inflicted violence are discarded with humble fierceness to reveal us in our fullness and in our dazzling light.

Resurrection is not about changing who we are. Like transition, it is about affirming who we are, who we have always been, and who we will always be. Just as Jesus revealed (and re-revealed and re-re-revealed) to the emerging Christian tribe, we as trans folk, genderqueer folk, gender creative folk, gender non-conforming folk, agender folk, Two Spirit folk, and the “various-expressions-of-gender-diversity” folk reveal who we are to our tribes, communities, families, and the world.

The Resurrection did not change Jesus into something new but simply affirmed who he always was. Jesus came out of the closet that was the tomb. We as trans people do the same—we affirm who we are, sometimes privately and sometimes publically and sometimes both, coming out of the tombs of closets, binaries, and imposed expectations.

After our journeys of crucifixion, mindful that each journey is different, we emerge as wholeful and resilient selves and souls.

Much like the apostles who ran into an empty tomb, we wrestle with many questions and doubts and disbeliefs imposed on a body they expect to be there, the body they predetermined should be there, but instead encounter a body that is sacred through its scars and a body that is whole despite several attempts by others to break it.

But, also like the apostles, we too have Mary Magdalenes in our lives who advocate with us to share our voices, often not being acknowledged or listened to—trans accomplices who continue to rant with us as we share who we are, both to and with the world in our sacred and sassy mystery of us.

The Resurrection is a transition—a transition that will never end as living into our being-ness is a never-ending transition. One does not complete transition, one does not finish resurrecting—both are ongoing adventures of struggle and resilience, of ups and downs, of tears of pain and tears of celebration.

The Resurrection that is transition is Biblically sparked and continues to spark the emergence and revealing of imperfectly fierce believers who affirm the good news of who they are in their messy wholeness.

Much like the Christian tribe grappling with the possibilities of the future, as trans people of faith and spirit we don’t always know what will come next.

But we are ready to take on the world with our scars as living badges of honor and resilience. 

Emergence, affirmation, creation, resurrection, and transition are journeys of is-ness and not was-ness, journeys of both/and-ness mixed with either/or-ness and also neither-ness. Who we are—not only as trans people, but simply and revolutionarily as people—is dynamic and messy, deconstructive and reconstructive, struggle-filled and celebration-ful, confusing and inspiring.

Amen, blessed be.

featured image from: http://jesusinlove.blogspot.com/2013/07/resurrection-added-to-lgbt-stations-of.html

fix society, please

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fix society, please

Earlier this semester we organized a Rally for Trans and Queer Justice in response to the violence that many in the trans and queer communities are experiencing.  It was inspired by rallies calling for justice following the aftermath of ongoing events at Ferguson and the tragic death of Eric Gardner.   As I read articles about the rallies and participated in some of the rallies here in Athens, I became aware that the lives of trans and queer people were not receiving attention despite the many alarming (but overlooked) reports involving trans women of color being murdered in the United States.  I do not want to undermine the #blacklivesmatter movement or the conversations connected to how the black community is treated and mistreated by systems of oppression that permeate all levels of society; however, I do not want these conversations to overshadow the lives lost due to violence in all its forms targeted towards trans and queer communities.  In our chanting and call for justice we must also include #translivesmatter … it is not about replacing or undermining or getting caught up in who is more oppressed, but coming together to ensure that #ALLourlivesmatter in our rallying and ranting and writing.

Below is the reflection I shared at the rally.

Saludos a todas y todos…My name is delfin and I am trans and queer person of color.  On behalf of the center and all involved in making today happen, thank your for your presence!

Today, we rally, rant, rave, and chant NOT ONE MORE!  Today, we rally, rant, rave, and chant to break the silence.

As trans people our lives, voices, bodies, and experiences have been forgotten, neglected, and silenced. Today we roar…NOT ONE MORE!

Queer and Trans people are victims and survivors of all forms of violence. We have experienced and we are surviving…

  • Violence such as living in Ohio, one of 29 states where we can be fired for being and/or being perceived as LGBT
  • Violence such as having to navigate a campus segregated by gender, where our pronouns and names are misused and abused … a campus and community where finding a safe restroom to use is an everyday challenge
  • Violence such as suicide…40-50% of suicides are attempted and/or completed by LGB youth with rates being higher for trans youth
  • The violence of conversion therapy and reparative therapy
  • The violence that erases the lives and experiences of Asexuals due to misunderstandings of romantic and emotional attraction
  • Violence reflected in that trans women are at higher risk of sexual assault than cisgender women…the rates being much higher for trans women of color
  • The violence of having to be diagnosed with a disorder in order to live into and be who we are
  • The violence of our lives, bodies, experiences, and voices being silenced, erased, and pushed to the side

In December, 17 year old Leelah Alcorn completed suicide.  In her note she challenged us to fix society…It is in her honor and in the honor of many many many more that we gather today to fix society and to fix society now!

Just this month, 3 black trans women were murdered:  Ms Edwards, Lamia Beard, and Ty Underwood.  In Colorado a queer identified youth, Jessie, was the victim of homicide perpetrated by the police force.  In our own state of Ohio, 4 trans women of color have been murdered…these are story the stories that we’ve heard through the media…there are many more that go unreported and untold.

Research shows that 67% of victims of anti-LGBT violence are trans women of color…research shows that 30 to possible 70% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.  Many of the names read at Trans Day of Remembrance last November were of Latina women.

Where is our national outcry?  Where are the occupies and the national organizing?  Where are the programs ensuring that those silenced are not forgotten?  We here today, we are breaking this silence…We roar NOT ONE MORE!

Yes we want equality, yes we want legal protections, yes we want healthcare…more importantly, we want the simple yet radical act of being recognized and affirmed as people.  We want to know at our core that our lives, bodies, voices, and experiences are affirmed…we want to know that we matter.

Today, people will share their stories of struggle and resilience.  We have folks who have volunteered to share and we also welcome for folks gathered here to share.

Today, tomorrow, and every day, we will break the silence…we will rally, rant, rave, and chant until the violence stops!

Not one more murder…Not one more suicide…Not one more silencing…Not one more, period!

¡Muchas gracias!  ¡Viva la revolucion!

Some chants shared at the rally shared here for your use at other rallies…

The People United Will Never Be Defeated

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Transphobia’s Got To Go

This is What Democracy looks Like

Trans lives taken – shut it down!  Not one more life – shut it down!  The whole damn system – shut it down!

We’re here, we’re trans, we’re fabulous, don’t fuck with us

When trans people are under attack, what do we do, stand up, fight back

Whose streets? Our streets! Trans rights now

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a midwife’s nativity story

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a midwife’s nativity story

In the spirit of this holy season of new birth, I am resharing a piece inspired by my pondering Mary giving birth through the eyes and testimony of her widwife.

It has been more than 20 years, but I will never forget that night.

How could we turn them away?  How could we not help?

They had been on such a long journey…

by foot, by donkey, in the sun and heat, sweating, scared, confused, flabbergasted…

and all while 9 months pregnant!!!!

We did not have much room–my beloved and I did find some space with the animals in a cave;

it was not the ideal space for a young couple to give birth but they were grateful to have a place that was warm and dry—

they even said the animals were welcome companions after such a long, lonely journey.

Her husband found me—unsure of what to do but determined to help his young wife.

She was only 15 years old, but reflected a bold sense of hope-filled and faithful determination.

She asked a lot of questions…

Will it hurt…how long will it take…how do I…when do I…???

Will we be good parents?  Will we stay here in Bethlehem?

Nazareth is our home, will we be welcome there?

Are parents ever prepared, I wonder.

She also asked about angels visiting, which was a little confusing to me.

I was present when she gave birth to her first child…

I wiped the sweat from her forehead…held her hand giving her encouraging squeezes…

I calmed the father to be, reminding him to breathe…

I was the first to hold him…the one to lay him in his mother’s arms…

watching how only a babies eyes, cry, and peaceful sleep can melt away

the exhaustion, fear, uncertainties, and hardship of a long journey and of the unknown journey yet to come.

Who knows what challenges await them!?!?

I made sure that our religious laws and customs were followed as best I could

given that it was the middle of the night and we were in a cave filled with animals.

The night the soldiers came,

I gave them food, water, and supplies for their exile into Egypt…will they make it safely?

Why are they taking the children…why is this happening?

I can still hear the cries from babies being taken away from their families…

of fear, despair, loss, terror.

But then the image of the young family’s spirit,

their determination to survive and to live into their vocations as a family…

the memory of being there the night hope was birthed into the world

helped bring wholeness to many shattered lives.

I was Miriam of Nazareth’s midwife.

I served YHWH by serving a poor, frightened Jewish family.

What path would this child take?  Only G-d knows.

Years later I heard stories of a traveling rabbi

preaching about radical hospitality and wondered…

With this little one came esperanza and possibilities.

My life and testimony, overlooked by history, was lived in the service of others—

being present at the births of children…present at the birth of fe, nueva vida, and familia.

Being included in scrolls and stories and documents did not stop me from doing what was right—will it stop you?

Blessed be.

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honoring all members of the family

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honoring all members of the family

I was asked by our campus publication Compass to write an article/reflection on National Coming Out Day…below is the musing that was published.  Original link:  http://www.ohio.edu/compass/stories/14-15/10/national-coming-out-day.cfm

Oct. 11, 2014, marks the 26th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. The “holigay” started on Oct. 11, 1987, when half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

Since its beginning National Coming Out Day is an opportunity for folks of minoritized or marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities to openly share who they are with the world while advocating that we all have the right to live safely and without violence in this world.

For the last few years, National Coming Out Day has coincided with OHIO’s Homecoming. The LGBT Center has played off “homecoming” by reflecting that coming out is a way of coming home to one’s self, one’s family, and one’s community.

On this upcoming Homecoming weekend, we invite all members of the Bobcat Family to come out whether as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender; or as asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, intersex; or as a straight ally for coming out is not limited to just those of us who identify as LGBTQ or queer.

National Coming Out Day is also a time honor, remember, and affirm all who are in the closet who cannot come out for whatever reason. Our message to them is that they are not alone and have a community who is solidarity with them. In the words of queer athlete Brittney Griner, “don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because they’re always going to say something, but, if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

The theme of this year’s Homecoming of “Bobcat Family Reunion” is festive but also one mixed with several conflicting emotions. For many of us within the LGBT community, family reunions can be awkward and hurtful due to the lack of support of the “gay cousin” or not acknowledging the queer relationship of “aunt so-and-so” or intentionally using the wrong name and pronoun for the sibling who came out as gender-nonconforming. Because of these dynamics, many of us here at OHIO have found ways to redefine family by creating our own “chosen” families in which we are able to safely and openly belong.

Our hope is that during our upcoming Bobcat Family Reunion, we are able to remember the words of civil rights activist and ally Dolores Huerta, “in the Latino community, we do not turn our back on our family … we have a responsibility to nurture the youth in our families, not to push them out because they happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.”

And so we call on ALL within our Bobcat Family—students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members, ALL Bobcats—to “come out come out wherever you are, to come out come out whoever you are.” ALL are welcome to join us on Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. in Walter 135, to spark off the coming out celebrations with a performance by Harvey Katz (Athens Boys Choir).

ALL are welcome to come out with us on Friday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. in the Front Room for a National Coming Out Day Rally. All are welcome to join us, whether you are coming out for the first time or for the 1804th time or just want to be present.

As we celebrate Homecoming and National Coming Out Day with our Bobcat Family, may we embody with “bobcat rainbow warrior fierceness” the words of Harvey Milk, “you must come out … break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions … for your sake, for [all people’s] sake, for the sake of the youngsters who are scared … all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or [gender] identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential … burst down those closet doors once and for all …”

que viva cachita

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que viva cachita

In honor of the feast of Our Lady of Charity, patroness of Cuba, I am reposting a reflection on the revolutionary image and story.   For a basic understanding and background of the story of Our Lady of Charity, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Charity

¡Que viva Cachita!

Reading and reflecting on the story of the apparition of Our Lady of Charity, affectionately Cachita, has created an opportunity for me to profundizar my religious and cutltural roots as a Cuban-American (something that I have rarely done).  As with all stories that involve the divine, the story of Cachita carries with it a multiplicity of theological meanings.  Juan Moreno, one of the “tres Juanes,” shares a simple and very human narration of what took place almost 400 years ago demonstrating how the divine reached out to his community.  His personal testimony reflects how GOD continues to find ways to connect with us in order to create new spiritual and cultural identities within changing spiritual and cultural realities—a testimony and messenger whose radicalness not only lies in the message of his witness but also is in the testimony of his person as he was a black slave, a true embodiment that GOD speaks in the most prophetic and unexpected ways.

Much of my Marian Theology or Mariology has focused on the image of Mary as a disciple who journeys with us on el camino de fe para locos y apasionados (the path of faith for the crazy and passionate).  Juan’s story is in this same spirit presenting Cachita as a mother who walks with the people, especially the poor and oppressed.  Her image is found in the sea by a black man and two Indians; symbolically representing a beacon of hope and revived dignity in the chaotic waters of marginalization.  Though there is much discussion on her appearing both wet and dry as Juan shares at different parts of the narrative, this phenomenon shows that Mary is a mujer atrevida (a bold woman) that reverses social and cultural order by demonstrating that she is a woman who is with the people and is not afraid to get dirty (or in this case wet).

Juan shares that upon returning to shore with the statue an altar was built to place her on in the middle of the town. I believe that this is an attempt to keep the divine close to home.  Juan states that upon seeing the image, both he and his companions felt joy.  GOD does not speak through the image; simply being in her presence brings peace, comfort, and a sense of feeling acompanado.  The community built a place to both honor Mary and hold onto the joy her presence brought.   Despite the fact that Juan, Rodrigo, Juan, and los del pueblo were oppressed, they were able to carve out a refuge where people could relate to the divine on their own terms.  There is no command to build a chapel, shrine, or church—this is done instinctively as a way to create sacred space to keep the heavenly close by.   This is a mutual desire in that La Virgen wants to stay close to the people by demonstrating through lights where to build her iglesia; she wants to stay close to her children reminding them that GOD has not and will not abandon them.

Often times Marian images are used to uphold women’s faith.  Juan’s story of Cachita, however, also upholds the faith of men (the divine feminine kindles and rekindles the spark of faith in people of all genders).  Though men’s voices have dominated theological reflection and doctrine, it is often the case that lay men, especially my experience of hombres latinos, are reluctant to demonstrate their faith because eso es de mujer (that’s what women do).  The story of Cachita as told through Juan reverses this notion in that it is the every day joe smoe that mobilizes el culto for Cachita.  Juan describes how the men take the initiative to build the initial shrine, keep watch over Cachita, have conversations with Cachita, and lead the procession that leads to a miraculous quenching of a severe drought.   The devotion described through Juan’s vivienda is a reminder that faith goes not only beyond social class and race but also gender.   Though the men set out to retrieve salt for cooking and preserving food (a radical act of breaking gender norms), their lives become “salt for the earth.” Their experience not only preserves and spices up their faith and dignity but also that of the community and generations hasta la fecha (until today)

As our siblings in la lucha in the United Church of Christ share, “don’t put a period where GOD placed a comma—GOD is still speaking.”  The story and image of Nuestra Senora de la Caridad  continues to speak to Cubans and non-Cubans alike with new insights into how to encounter the divine within one’s own unique context and how that context can be transformed.   Que viva Cachita!!!

OurLadyofCharity

honoring and remembering

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honoring and remembering

Though my feelings about the military are conflicted, I would like to honor those who have served our country (for better or worse) as well as honor their families and loved ones. today we remember all who have given their lives for our country especially those who served (and the many who continue to serve) in coerced silence…may the justice and freedom they gave their lives for ripple into the country and military they served that did not always (and continues to not always) recognize the full personhood of ALL. May our mimosas and bbqs and beach parties not overshadow our remembering or the ongoing struggles of lgbtq servicepeople.

http://youtu.be/dwcgu4zcdHc

in honor of international day against homophobia and transphobia…until the violence ends

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in honor of international day against homophobia and transphobia…until the violence ends

Beginning in 2004, the  “International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia” has been commemorated on May 17 in an effort to lift up the experiences of LGBT people worldwide, a call to action for people to counter the violence we experience, and to form solidarity across international lines.  IDAHOT, as the day is known for short, is the “Global Day to Celebrate sexual and gender diversities” … a celebration of expression in its many forms to counter, resist, and transform the violence against all who live and love beyond the norm.  Below is a video from Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, the clip reflects V-Day’s efforts to become more inclusive of the experiences of Trans Women.  I wanted to share  in honor of IDAHOT’s theme for 2014 “Freedom of Expressions,”  a day to proclaim our voices, monologues, rants, raves, memes, art, songs, chants, symbols, and actions in support of the free expression of ALL people of ALL genders and orientations worldwide.    “They tried to beat the boy out of my girl, or at least they tried” reflects the power of story telling…a story both of hardship but also the inspirational and transgressive power of the human spirit.

 

A little bit about the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia…

featured image from the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/freedom-of-expressions/)

in honor of mother’s day ~ a non-mom speaks about mother’s day

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in honor of mother’s day ~ a non-mom speaks about mother’s day
My friend Becky Schwantes-An truly captures my sentiments for this Mother’s Day through her Facebook post.   The reflection below is a combination of words from me, Becky, and Amy Young (from her blog the Time Warp Wife).  Happy Mother’s Day to all who mother and challenge and inspire and nurture and pastorally pester and nudge and empower and especially those who take it up a notch by grandmothering…blessings today to all mothers of all genders and identities and biologies and bodies and orientations

From Becky…

Today, I want to honor and acknowledge all of those for whom Mother’s Day is painful or difficult in some way. I know I am privileged to complain about messes and sleeplessness and even to publicly discuss the challenges of infant feeding or birth while I have friends and family who have painfully struggled with infertility, the loss of miscarriages, the deaths of children and mothers, the high financial cost that comes with conceiving or adopting when not in a “traditional” relationship, and even the challenge of watching friends experience dreams they have for their own lives but are unsure of whether or not they will be realized for them. This Mother’s Day, I remember you and keep you in my heart. Many of you help me parent my child even from afar (and you may not even know that you have helped), and you certainly care for and nurture others in loving ways. I hope you know that I celebrate with you this day, and I grieve with you if this is a difficult day for you.

A friend shared this post on the same topic. The following excerpt is also my prayer as I “acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering”.

  • To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
  • To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
  • To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
  • To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
  • To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
  • To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
  • To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
  • To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
  • To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
  • To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
  • To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
  • To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
  • To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
  • To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
  • To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
  • To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
  • And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.”

Below is the full reflection from Amy Young and a link to her blog:  http://timewarpwife.com/?p=3120

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering…

  • To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
  • To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
  • To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
  • To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
  • To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
  • To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
  • To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
  • To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
  • To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
  • To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
  • To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
  • To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
  • To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
  • To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
  • To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
  • To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
  • And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering, I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out =).

Warmly and in your corner,

Amy

Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at “The Messy Middle” and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she’s having fun!).

featured image from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce

easter rebirthing hope

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easter rebirthing hope

For a long time, Easter for me meant only celebrating Jesus’ resurrection and the empty tomb.  Though the power of the empty tomb that filled the women to proclaim a radical message to the other apostles still dazzles me…as I’ve grown in my faith, as I have become more curious and curiouser, perhaps as I have embraced my inner heretic, I’ve come to understand and behold the Easter story on deeper levels.

What happened and didn’t happen during those hours and days, I have no clue…what was and continues to be wholizing is that Easter is a time to embrace hope, to wrestle with the light of a new day after a dark night.  The empty tomb is a testament that life will suck and be painful but as live through the bumps and bloopers we realize to our core that the ugly too shall pass.  Easter reflects the pain and joy of birth and rebirth. 

I am mindful that writing this in my pajamas while I sit outside enjoying the refreshing spring weather listening to birds speak through chirps overlooking a field and cow pasture–it is easier written than lived.  My prayer and hope is for this not to be a hokey cliche but that whether those reading this are in a place of peace or in a place of “tombness” with its confusion, fears, self-doubts, desolation, messiness, and overwhelming thoughts of getting out of bed let alone leave the house–may I, may you, may we all remember and re-member in the pits of our guts which are soulfully deeper than our hearts that we too will resurrect. 

Whether we believe in Jesus’ resurrection as fact or metaphor or something in between, may the message of new hope-filled life live in us always.  May we listen to the unexpected messengers who bring us radical “truths” as we grapple with disbeliefs.  Perhaps our “tombness” (either because of self inflictions or societal impositions or both) will last 3 days or 3 years, our time in the coldness and darkness of life’s tomb-like moments will pass and we too will triumphantly resurrect in our wholeness.  Maybe we too will have an explosion of light that cracks open rocks and dazzles those watching…our wholized bodies and souls so awesomely awesome that we are no longer recognized because like a phoenix we have been transformed…or maybe we will just smile in a way that resonates and ripples through our bodies and lives (no other bells and whistles)…we will emerge, we will re-emerge, we will re-re-emerge…our scars from life’s many crucifixions as badges of honor that we are thrivefully here so queerfully cheer.  Amen!

featured image from:  http://redesigningworship.com/2011/05/resurrection-hope-easter-stage-design/