a spiritual experience… and my man :)

There it was
Glowing before me
A bulbous, blue-grey-white
Floating, resting
Unknowable gift.

I could only nod in recognition.

My spirit knew and said
“wow, wow
wow,
wow.”

I didn’t want to lose it
But didn’t want to force it
I also didn’t want to spin off
Like I usually do

But beyond all that
I knew it didn’t matter
And that I was okay —
It saw me
And I saw it
And we were one.

The more I said “wow”
The larger the feeling was
The closer I came
To explosion of my core –
My mind
Body
Soul
Spirit
All
Into fragments

What would it mean?
And it didn’t matter
Nothing mattered
Because we connected
And that was all I needed to know

~

Spinning
Shaking
A slight touch
A slight breeze
Your shoulder
Where I rest

Your gentle patient way
Calm resilient way
Joy-full praise
Your loving hands

I don’t know where you came from
And we’re far from perfect
But I have never felt so safe
And cared for
And drawn
And at peace
With anyone else

The way you move
From here to there
I don’t know anything
But I’m drawn to you.
And if anyone in the world deserves my trust,
You do.

a sermon from 2 years ago

In the summer of 2006, my family decided to go backpacking in upstate New York. We were far from home and far from anyone we knew. And on one hot day, as our car snaked up a mountain and came around a narrow turn, dad didn’t turn fast enough and we smashed into a large white truck.

I didn’t know I had internal injuries and broken bones. I didn’t know my entire family had internal injuries and broken bones. But I knew that when the old man came running out of his house and got on his hands and knees on the pavement so I could lean on his back because it hurt too much to lie on the ground — I’d never felt so grateful for the compassion of another human being in my life.

He had plenty of excuses not to help us. He was old! We were strangers. And I’m sure it didn’t feel very good to press his knees into the pavement while we waited for an ambulance. But somehow he knew that in that moment, he was capable of something that we weren’t capable of, and his heart was open to providing the compassion we needed.

In today’s scripture passage we read about a Hebrew boy born into a devastating situation. Pharaoh had put forth a decree commanding, “Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile.” When his mother conceived and bore a son, she was expected to make preparations for his death. But instead, she crafts a waterproof basket. She places him gently into the basket and floats him downstream with her prayers, and with his sister, Miriam, keeping watch.

When I first re-read the Moses story in Exegesis, I had the most trouble with the Pharaoh’s daughter, who appears next. I’d done a power analysis and wanted this to be a pure liberation story where the oppressed band together to overthrow Pharaoh’s household. But that wasn’t the part we were supposed to focus on. No – we were supposed to focus on the part where a member of the oppressing group has compassion on a member of the oppressed group. And she saves the day.

This is the last thing I wanted to preach a sermon at Union about. I have stories about Union that I’m still untangling now — stories about a white liberal institution that doesn’t really know how to talk about race, which are really stories about being teased by kids in my mostly white middle school when I was a new immigrant from the Philippines. And since Union is the first time I’ve been launched back into a mostly white setting since middle school and I’m still angry about how I was othered, this was the last place where I wanted to preach about the “oppressor” saving the day.

Last week I had a panic attack in the middle of the quad and a girl who I’d labeled “queen of the white liberal establishment of Union” took me in her arms and talked me through. She told me to slow down, breathe. She told me about her day. She told me it helped to make eye contact, so I had to look into her eyes. Really, God? Her?

I had never been very kind to her, so she didn’t need to walk towards me, paralyzed on the bench. But she’d been through panic attacks before. She knew that in that moment, she was capable of something that I wasn’t capable of. And her heart was open to providing the compassion that I needed.

When Pharaoh’s daughter saw the basket, she knew that in that context of empire — built on fear and slavery and death — she was capable of something this little boy’s mother wasn’t capable of. She could’ve minimized her power in that moment — played victim to Pharaoh’s edict, to her womanhood, to her father. And we would’ve understood.

But Pharaoh’s daughter uses her power. In the end, her compassion creates life from a situation of death and paves the way for the rest of the Biblical narrative.

What are you uniquely positioned to do?

Will you claim your power or play victim to circumstance?

Will you have compassion, if it means overturning and transforming your entire household?

performance of race

I am sensitive to dynamics of performance via my racial ambiguity, my apparent lack of a performative script for being, and my constant moving around to different neighborhoods and between countries, which made me keenly aware of the different “social codes” each space demanded and how these had to be learned. In a sense, I was always performing as I had no “assumed natural state.” The assumption was always that I was the one who had to learn their social codes since I was the stranger in their town and I didn’t have a script of my own anyway. Yet while an awareness of performance can be exhausting, it also lends to a consciousness of the constructedness of social code, and of how norms can and must be questioned to create liminal spaces[1] of possibility for change.

[1] Turner, Victor. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. New York: Cornell University Press, 1969, pg. 94.

“stations” by audre lorde

Audre Lorde – Stations

Some women love
to wait
for life for a ring
in the June light for a touch
of the sun to heal them for another
woman’s voice to make them whole
to untie their hands
put words in their mouths
form to their passages sound
to their screams for some other sleeper
to remember their future their past.

Some women wait for their right
train in the wrong station
in the alleys of morning
for the noon to holler
the night come down.

Some women wait for love
to rise up
the child of their promise
to gather from earth
what they do not plant
to claim pain for labor
to become
the tip of an arrow to aim
at the heart of now
but it never stays.

Some women wait for visions
That do not return
Where they were not welcome
Naked
For invitations to places
They always wanted
To visit
To be repeated.

Some women wait for themselves
Around the next corner
And call the empty spot peace
But the opposite of living
Is only not living
And the stars do not care.

Some women wait for something
To change and nothing
Does change
So they change
Themselves.

a list

  1. home
  2. “Our divine origins”
  3. Syncretic
  4. Dichotomous thinking
  5. Reify – making something abstract more concrete or real
  6. “fallacy of misplaced concretion”
  7. exile
  8. speculative (speculative nature of all thought)
  9. truth in poetry
  10. critiquing “foundationalism”
  11. impossibility of communicating univocally
  12. fallacy of the perfect dictionary
  13. clarity as a means of subjection
  14. naming, nameless – excitable speech