Back in February, I found myself a little overwhelmed by the beginning of the anniversaries. My memories were full of "the last time" pictures. The last time I hosted in person book club. The last time we went to Tuesday Trivia at the local brew pub. Even as I just typed "in person," I had to chuckle. That wasn't even a term we would have used a short time ago. And yet that chuckle contains so much grief. As the memories flood in, so do all the feelings. What a year it has been.
A few weeks ago, I read the story of Rev. Chenda Innis Lee, Associate Pastor at a United Methodist Church in Virginia. Her open letter to the leadership of her church is available HERE. Please read her story in her own voice. It is powerful and has been on my mind since my first reading. I've been thinking about my four grown daughters, my experiences in the church, the way it has pained me to see the wounds inflicted on our clergy who identify as women, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and the intersection of all of that with the work I am doing this year with Designed for Joy, an organization that provides living wage jobs for vulnerable women making dangling earrings as a highlighted product.
One of my favorite things about social media is the way memories pop up. When this photo from almost exactly a year ago showed up, I was reminded of one of the best evenings I've had. My home church was lucky to have been asked to host an evening with Wm. Paul Young, the author of The Shack and several other wonderful books. We shared a lovely evening of conversation and fellowship leading up to his presentation. Although I took many notes that night, one quote from his story has continued to resonate with me. It made such an impact that it led me to choose "GIFT" as my word for 2020 (we'll talk about choosing a word for the year in another blog post soon). He said "When you let of your expectations, everything is a gift."
Today is November 2nd, 2020. It’s election eve in America. I find myself frustrated because these words have been stuck in my head and I haven’t taken the time to get them written, to share them with you before now. In my daily work I find myself steeped in conversations about wanting a better world. I speak and teach and coach on topics like racial reconciliation and the intersectionality of faith, racism, and feminism. I share these topics with many of the people I love, but not all. More and more, I am encountering others who quietly admit they share the frustration of loving someone who disagrees with them in this highly charged political environment.
I've been thinking about the phrase "living above the fray," so I looked it up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Almost a year ago, I hosted a retreat at my home here in North Carolina. One of the participants was my friend and fellow faith based life coach Nicole from Pennsylvania (you can meet her here). She invited me to share with you the story of her long drive south. When she arrived, she was clearly distressed. As conversations warmed up, she admitted she had been concerned about traveling to my home. Her family warned her the south might not be as welcoming as she hoped. As she drove past "the most gigantic confederate flags she'd ever seen" flagrantly on display along the highway, she wondered if maybe they had been right. I was mortified that a dear friend would be afraid to come to my home. I said I wanted things to be different. I said as a white woman of privilege I needed to make space for conversations with my peers on this topic. Today, a year later, those words convict me.
I am writing this on Thursday, May 7, 2020. On Thursdays, I wear black and participate in the World Council of Churches #thursdaysinblack campaign toward a world free of gender and sexual based violence. Today I'm reflecting on the intersection of this and race and guns. Today, this black I’m wearing feels so heavy. Today, the news is full of the story of yet another young black man gunned down in the streets. Today the image I can’t get out of my head is the face of Ahmaud Arbery's mother as she mourns the loss of her son.
Welcome to the first Monday in May of 2020. It is crazy to think of how much weight there is in that statement. The first Monday in May is simply not the day we were envisioning mere weeks ago. We have been in the Covid-19 world altering reality long enough that we are beginning to try to look ahead. This first week of May is also the beginning of International Coaching week. How do those things fit together?
It has been one doozy of a week...wait, has it been a week? Maybe for you it is just starting, maybe you have been at it for awhile, but it seems like everyone is facing the reality of a new normal for the near future. The era of new terms like social distancing and flattening the curve is here. We are in wilderness territory. I appreciated the scripture my coach shared with me,
For perhaps you have come to this royal (leadership) position for just such a time as this. ~Esther 4:14
These are challenging times. The news of the Corona virus is changing every hour and all of us are feeling the anxiety. Here in North Carolina, we have been asked to limit large gatherings and many, including my own congregation have made the choice to cancel in person worship services this Sunday and move them online.
We are in the final weeks of the month of July, first month of the second quarter of the year. It is the perfect time for a check in; What has been working? What has not been working? What do you need to celebrate? What do you need to change? As I began reflecting on the second quarter this year, a friend commented "this is actually the first day of the last 6 months of a decade." This idea kind of blew my