Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’d like to make an apology

george floyd

Never before have I screamed as loud, or as often, in my own home when I am the only human in the building as I have in the last week plus.

And my throat is sore.

And it’s been the last 48 hours where I’ve realized my rage is in many ways turned inward. I’m angry with myself. I’m angry for my cowardice. I’m angry for the ways I am able, as an upper-middle-class white male, to have the language of sorrow without the reality of risk when it comes to issues and conversations of race, religion, politics, and power.

So when I scream, knees bending and legs falling to the nasty kitchen floor multiple times, night after night, I’d like to accept that I’m mostly screaming at myself. I’m furious, heartbroken, exhausted, and… and… but I’m screaming alone, in a home by myself where no one can hear and no one will expect it.

Perhaps that’s why shooting a force of voice and growl and tears and volume from a deep place seems like something that should help, but doesn’t.

And it hasn’t.

It has not helped.

And while the art of blaming someone else is a craft I’m quite skilled at and perhaps am spiritually gifted in, I am feeling more sharply tonight that I am ultimately falling into tears on the dirty tiles of the kitchen floor with guttural screams yelling at myself more than anyone else.

So I would like to apologize.

Friends of mine who talk to me in the flesh ever, whether occasionally or often, are not offered the luxury of wondering how I think or feel about certain issues, causes, people, politics, etc. I learned many years ago that I am or can be a quite exhausting friend in these ways.

I’m okay with that.

They know it. Because they know it, I’m argued with sometimes. Sometimes, often really, I am intentionally NOT invited into conversations about issues of race, policy, poverty, wealth, religion, power, justice, politics, etc. because I’m going to be “that guy” and there’s really just no time for that.

I’m okay with that too.

So why the apology?

I’ve still been lying. That’s why. I’ve been sitting next to you in church and I’ve been trying to be as quiet as possible because I don’t want to upset YOU by speaking out about your hatred toward some other group of human beings. You won’t call it hatred, you will call it holiness or doctrine, which you and I have both known is nonsense but it’s appropriate in these parts so you are used to people nodding and not saying anything.

So I’m sorry I didn’t say anything.

I’m not sorry to you, by the way. You were fine all along. But you were operating within a ‘spiritual world’ in the US south that allowed you permission to think God was on board with your racism and sexism.

And I’m sorry about that.

I am very, very sorry.

Not sorry to you. I’m sorry to every man or woman of color, every man or woman of the lesser, whether gay or poor or, hold your breath for the worst yet, any “liberal” man or woman.

I am very, very sorry. To you, black woman. To you, gay man. To you, “liberal woman” or “crazy-leftist” man.

I am very, very sorry. I’ve been able to slide past these comments of hatred from bishops, small group members, elders, choir members, church founders, big donors. Since I’ve been able to stay under their radar, I’ve been able to stay quiet.

But you’ve died.
But you’ve been starved.
But you’ve been hated.
But you’ve been ridiculed.
But you’ve been badmouthed.
But you’ve been called less-than, other-than, not-than.

And since I could slide by,
I’ve been hoping to find ways to
speak to the issue without losing my place of privilege.

For that, I apologize.

But apologies can be as
empty as
using tear-gas to take a photo-op
in front of a church building
holding a Bible
that says I’m running away from
the kingdom of God.

So I am sorry.

To my sisters and brothers of colors,
to my sisters who love sisters
and my brothers who love brothers,
to those who are living and finding beauty in ways they’ve been told
can’t be honored by the God of
beauty and the God of
choosing power in those who are told they do not belong…

to you,
I am sorry.

But my apology runs the risk of emptiness
just as my association with ‘good’ runs the risk of being co-opted
if I’m not willing to be excluded with you for simply honoring your belonging.
When you are excluded, I’ll take it as an invitation to us both.
I won’t slide by anymore.

So I’m done fitting in under the guise of thinking
I might be of more help ‘from the inside.’

I’m struggling with going to church,
because too many of those in the church feel too safe spewing hatred at you.
They now spew hatred at me.
If you can’t be a part of my ‘church’
then I cannot either.

If you cannot be treated with dignity and justice and respect from the church,
then I cant be a part of that ‘church’

I’m sorry it’s taken me this long;
I’m sorry it’s taken me an unacceptable amount of time.
I’m sorry it’s taken me far more than 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

To the elderly man and woman who spew hatred on social media
to entire worlds of people different from themselves,
if you are what my church is,
then I am not a part of this church.

To the put-together professor, homemaker, clergy, banker, or lawyer,
if you are not willing to put your name next to the implications
to lives of those of color, of poverty, of immigration status, of sexuality…
then you are letting me know that you are not willing to put your name with me.

I won’t need you to leave.
I won’t try to get rid of you.
I’ve learned over the last 30+ years that churches don’t do that well.

I’ll go.
I’ll consider it an honor to move toward the margins
and find a home there with those
honored by God for the mere fact that you
in your confusion
have decided aren’t as worthy as you.

dear pastor,
dear professor,
dear choir member,
dear youth minister,
dear uncle,
dear cousin,
dear family friend,
dear deputy sherrif,
dear part-time cop,
dear best friend,
dear food delivery dude,
dear banker,
dear retired doctor,
dear retired teacher,
dear lawyer,
dear neighbor,
dear student,
dear …

I’ll be calling you
and writing you
because I’ve not been telling you the truth about
what I’ve heard you say and what I’ve seen you do.

I’ve been too gentle as you’ve been racist.
I’ve been too silent as you’ve been hateful.
I’ve been too self-protective as you’ve been granting benefits.
I’ve been too grateful as we’ve been blindly privileged.

I’ve pretended my gentleness, silence, self-protection, and gratitude
are part of a longer, wiser, more cautious game.
They’re not.
They are only part of cowardice.
I should have told you.
I should have told myself.

I’m sorry I’ve waited this long,
in an attempt to save something for myself
while it continues to cost the lives of others,


I’ll be calling you
and writing you.

I want to make sure we have the chance to talk it through.
I want to make sure you are given the space to tell me I misunderstand your stance.
But tiptoes won’t be walked on around you and your answers anymore.
You’ll be asked to speak it clearly
because the lives of too many people have been lost
while I’ve been trying not to put you on the spot.

If that means whatever I thought you and I shared together,
I’m sorry for just now realizing that I’ve been playing a game all this time.

For that I’m so, so, so very sorry.

And it can’t happen anymore.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They’ll learn what it was all worth to begin with.

Pine Tree Drive


perfectly fashioned


Children in cages.
Babies in barns.
Bassinettes in the rushes.
Infants in mangers.
Kings as refugees in tent cities.

And while the facts are always true,
the lies are always powerful.

And the narrative built on lies makes clear:
there’s no room for the dark-skinned baby boy,
whose parents are doing their best,
to follow the laws of the empire
while raising a child in light of the goodness of the kingdom.

So hardship, anxiety, and finally the gift of birth
is met with “no room,” “no space,” “no acceptance,”
on this side of the cage,
the barn,
the rushes,
the mangers,
the tents,
the wall.


But also,
the women and men
who do everything to
show them,
tell them,
hold them,
say their names,
tell their stories,
and promise to them
by actions
and the locking of knowing eyes,
that they are loved.

One face of one child,
on any and every side of
any and every
possesses the image
of the Divine
in all the
perfectly fashioned ways

You are dared to look in the eyes
of any child
born on any side
of the rich man’s  argument
and say he is not
fit to be the king of the universe.

And he is [


So obviously,
acceptance, room, space, or not,
thanks be given to God.

Pine Tree Dr.

the first page

1.1.2019.Header Pic A.Blank moleskin open

I generally skip the first few pages of new moleskins. I think my early, unattended ‘logic’ suggested I come back to address the initial page when I knew exactly what should be penned to shape the rest of the pages to follow. It was as if the beginnings seemed so crisp that to ink them wantonly would at best fail to live up to first page standards––or at worse would render less than in all the other lined pages to follow.

So blank it was.

And blank they remained.

For nearly two decades back, every journal I’ve ever owned still bares blank pages hiding any hint they were ever used; a couple of turns later reads the actual first entry.

The first entry three pages in can be found with its own strike-throughs, misspellings, and coffee blots.

Today I started a new Moleskin for the first day of the new year.

On the first page.

Pine Tree Dr.


thickness of thin space

Three years ago. So much has changed, and so much is the same.

most hopeful

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 7.42.53 PM

Here I am in an empty church. In it, between the rows of pews, on the tile floor, under the silent cross, I walk along a boundary, a place in between heaven and earth. The Celts called it thin space….The church calendar calls into consciousness the existence of a world uninhabited by efficiency, a world filled with the excessiveness of saints, ashes, smoke, fire; it fills my heart with both dread and hope. It tells of journeys and mysteries, things “seen and unseen,” the world of the almost known. It dreams impossibilities: a sea divided in two, five thousand fed by a loaf and two fishes, a man raised from the dead. 

– Nora Gallagher
Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith

It seemed as though every few breaths had to be wrestled quietly to keep exhales from becoming tears. I don’t think tears of any kind of…

View original post 542 more words

from invictus to hip hop

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 11.57.37 PM

The brief lecture shifted swiftly from Invictus to Hip Hop.

“I am the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.”
Students filled the tired bleachers
pretending not to be listening.
Adults lined the edges
pretending to be listening.

But the students were being spoken to as adults;
and they were hanging on every word.
The adults were being reminded why they chose this path;
they were hanging on every word.

Then sudden and unexpected shift.
He began speaking the poetry
written by the poets these students
were likely listening to with hidden earbuds
during this very assembly.
He is speaking their language,
the same language of Invictus, but now
spoken to the 16-year-old who
usually can’t help but roll her eyes.

Students now slam their feet on the bleachers,
clapping wildly and worried casually.
Worried about whether they are caring too much
what this university president has to say.
Worried if their friends will catch them caring too much.
Worried that they might actually begin to care again.
Teachers worried they are reminded yet again of
why they roam these halls and click against the dry erase boards.

But he is speaking their language. Their languages.
And we are all hanging on every word.

You can notice the chill bumps they have down their arms,
the chill bumps I have down my arms.
The university president is speaking my language
The students slamming their feet on the tired bleachers
are speaking my language too.
The adults lining the edges of the room
are speaking it too.

We are all now wondering
if it is still possible.
if we are the master.
if we are the captain.
The questions themselves are our language,
and he spoke it so well.

Jackson Central-Merry Assembly

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“it’s dark in here” | reflections on MLK Day

most hopeful


It’s no secret that racism is not okay.

Most people know it. A lot of people pretend like they agree with it. Some people fake it. Everyone deals with it.

But we all know that racism is not okay.

And so we think of ourselves as matured. As evolved. As just and honest and good and lovely.

But we are, all of us, racist, of course.


I was walking through the mall a few weekends ago with a guy who used to be a college student in a small group of mine. We were there for me to run an errand, and this guy, a man who is soon to be a youth pastor in a church, made a comment that has been haunting me since that day.

“It’s dark in here.”

I looked around, looked up at the skylights, around at the stores and back at him.


View original post 645 more words

all our problems

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 10.09.22 PM

They have been saying it for several weeks just before we are dismissed from the service on Sunday mornings. As we participate through the Kenyan liturgy, the children are invited to the front of the room, bumbling and running and sisterly fighting their ways to the front, up the steps, and to the center of the stage and everyone’s attention. They are guided, as the congregation is guided by them, to take their right arms and respond to the priest as he says:

leader: all our problems
kids/congregation/me: we send to the cross of Christ

As we all say together, led both by the children and the priest and also by this deep and gut-wrenching reality that we are staring problems in the face everyday that we don’t know what to do with, “we send to the cross of Christ,” we hold up our right arms as far out as we can reach and then throw them pointing or open-handed to the cross centered at the very front of the room.

The children giggle or try to hit each other or actually stare in amazement every now and then at the cross itself, or at their hands and their naive abilities to send things to Jesus and feel like they actually ever got there. I, on the other hand, find usually as my hand flies toward the cross in the front of the room that I get choked a little with the reality that the problems I’m carrying around are a little too big for me and mostly too heavy to actually send to the cross of Christ. As if I couldn’t get a good enough grip on them to throw them that far in the first place.

leader: all our difficulties
kids/congregation/me: we send to the cross of Christ

It’s amusing to me, as I look at those children up there throwing their arms toward the cross as they hurl their difficulties, to consider how simple some of their lives are. I’m not ignorant enough to think their lives are all simple, that some of them aren’t witnessing yelling and screaming and fighting, that some of them aren’t experiencing abuse and illness and secrets they think will kill them rather than be taken with them to their grave at some unreal and future time. Some are, no doubt, living amidst great difficulties. Many of them, however, are living in great comfort and safety and community that is true and rich and deep. But even for them that hurling of difficulties toward the cross feels almost like a prayer for their future selves, or for their sisters thousands of miles away or three miles away who are fighting to survive amidst great difficulties. They don’t know that their silly hurling of difficulties toward the cross of Christ is actually an offering of love and trust for one of their unmet, unknown peers. I move my hand gently toward the cross with them, but I can’t get words out of my mouth because I feel a little taken over by what is happening in the thin spaces these mornings.

leader: all the devil’s works
kids/congregation/me: we send to the cross of Christ

This one, of course, is a little scary because while we’d like to demonize someone else and name their works as those of the devil, we know deep down that some of our own works are marked by something other than the incarnational love of the king. So we know that to send the devil’s works, all of them, to the cross of Christ is actually to send a chunk of ourselves to die in uncertainty. We throw our perceived or desired success. We throw some of our pleasures and comforts that require the pain and heartache of others for us to afford them. We throw our reasons for why what affects us is more important that what affects the “others”. We throw our grudges and our bitterness and our stinginess and our insecurities and our greeds. It’s like we are taking off all of our clothes and throwing them up there to the cross of Christ. Then we find ourselves, if we dare throw all that up there, naked and embarrassed at what we actually look like now. I often can’t even get around to throwing my arm forward to send the devil’s works to the cross of Christ as the children are throwing it even more dramatically. Their innocent leading makes me feel a little more like a fraud if I were to join them.

leader: all our hopes
kids/congregation/me: we set on the risen Christ. 

The leader isn’t hurling anything forward to the cross anymore, and neither are the children. Their hands are up and usually open. Reaching out to the only place we know to reach with our fragile little arms to communicate where the kingdom has come in Christ’s resurrection, we reach up and out to the skies because we know there is more out there than we have ever understood. We know, too, that right here in the moment and in the space and in the wrestling brother and sister who’ve now been center stage too long to remember their mother’s threat of an after church mingling with no snacks if they misbehave, we are reaching out to something that we must have.

That hope we are reaching out for as if our lives and sanity and humanity depended on it.

We’ve been brave enough to speak out loud with our words and our bodies of our problems, our difficulties, and the devil’s works that we have co-opted and coauthored. Because of the courage of the kids and the costume of the priest, and because even our choking-up makes us know we must be telling a little more of the truth than usual, I’m able to lift up my right arm to the unknown skies, or the ceiling of this sad little building, and decide to set my hopes toward the impossible kingdom that I can’t stop thinking about, and the impossible king who has been causing impossible problems in our storylines since the very first story was ever set in motion.

all our problems
we send to the cross of Christ
all our difficulties
we send to the cross of Christ
all the devil’s works
we send to the cross of Christ
all our hopes
we set on the risen Christ. 

Pine Tree

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

stained copper bartop


The copper bar top engraved with stunning rings
stained, overlapping, spreading, uncleanable
resisting the wipe-away desired by those in power.
They speak of conversations
some flavored with fear and trepidation
some with lust and the shadow of caution
some with hubris and the needs of the small

but some speak of thick laughter and deep honesty
of finding similarity beyond surface of geography, of system, of class,
Bent rather similarity of heart, of experience, of longing, of hope

These rings stained into this copper bar top
may very well speak,
at least quietly or in a half-sure whisper,
to the promise of connectedness
in the work
in the struggle
in the pain
in the insecurity
in the embarrassment

and also to the promise of connectedness
in the work
in the triumph
in the resilience
in the honesty
In he camaraderie.

We find ourselves in the honesty
of another
of anothers
And we realize that while the
narratives are so often laden with the
arsenic of loss, of trauma, of despair,
of finales and of failings and of fallings,
they are also laden with the
lace of humanity, of hopefulness, of possibility
of collegiality and of curiosity and of connectedness.

So we take a moment,
between knowing deep belly laughter
and knowing deep gutted tears
to honor the reality that

So even the person sitting quietly with book and drink
looking down at the stained copper bar top knows
he is part of a conversation and a community
whose reach is as much in the present as it
has ever been in the past or will be in the future.


Seattle, WA

the chime of the bells

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 11.57.39 PM

I heard the sound of the dog lapping water from the kiddie pool in my back yard.
The kiddie pool I get in when I get home from work on the days I actually get home from work.
I heard the sound of the dog lapping water from the kiddie pool in my back yard,
and then I heard the chime of the bells across the street from the Presbyterian bell tower,
the one I imagine when reading Buechner’s sermon, “The Clown in the Belfry,”
and then I clinked the ice cubes against the edges of my glass and returned to the book
to read the academy’s take of disaster and trauma in communities,
and the promise of resilience and growth and hope
in the face of destruction and death and doom.

And it was silent for a moment.

I was struck with the promise of life
as I was struck again today,
holding a child in my lap as the words of the New Testament were read aloud
by people believing and
people wanting to believe and
people who are furious they ever believed at all.

But I was struck with the promise of life today
holding a child in my lap as the words of the Lord were read aloud
prayed aloud
sung aloud
questioned aloud

And I remembered the lapping of the water in the kiddie pool,
And I remembered the workday filled with stories of life and loss and love and heartache
And I remembered the child in my lap who was waited on and prayed for
And I remembered the dinner with a new friend asking the same questions
And I remembered the old friend reminding me of my answers
And I remembered the everyday nature of the moments when
all promise and reminder of the kingdom crashes in unannounced

And I heard the chime of the bells across the street from the Presbyterian bell tower,
and the lapping of the dog from the kiddie pool,
and the promise and the boldness of the prayer on
mornings when I believe it and
mornings when I d0n’t
was echoed louder than all the hymns I’ve heard this month:

As our Father taught us, we are bold to pray:

Your kingdom come
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.

Pine Tree

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

the ministry of watching sparrows fall to the ground

D.L. Mayfield

image found here: image found here

It has been a few weeks. Death has been stalking this neighborhood. Suicides, both passive-and-not, have haunted us. I have sat in the apartments of recent widows and had nothing to say but “I’m sorry”. I have listened to people as they told me about all of their possessions going up in a blaze, looked at the floor where they and their 8 children now sleep. I have had people clutch my arms, tell me their stories in snippets, beg for bus money. I have heard so much that I cannot share with anyone.

Lately I have taken to chastising myself– what right do you have to be sad? You are just a newcomer, an outsider. Don’t co-opt the grief of others and pretend like it is your own. So I have settled into a numb sort of dullness. Objectively identifying situations with my lips: yes, yes…

View original post 962 more words