Virgin.

You, there.

Yes, you,

girl.

 

Mary.

 

Do not be afraid.

I have a message for you.

 

God is in your body

Growing,

gaining shape,

 

Fingers and toes soon now.

 

Oh,

pregnant woman,

now what kind of super food

diet

would you begin to make?

 

For God,

Is there.

Sharing in everything you take.

 

I once saw Jesus in the sky.

Not a wishful thought,

or a trick of a sleepy mind.

 

There, right there, taking shape.

Ten fingers, ten toes.

 

As above, so below.

 

My friend Jeff was there

with me.

The blades of grass were radiating

all this light,

we had never seen

Before.

 

Now I can’t unsee it.

 

This world is screaming,

Even the rocks cry out,

About your glory.

 

On that first day,

when I started to really see

God everywhere,

in everything.

 

I also finally saw Mary

In me.

 

Pregnant with the divine.

But she knew it.

Whereas I did not,

for nearly all my life.

 

I was taught to think this way,

You know.

 

Original sin.

Man’s fall from grace.

But really,

woman’s fall.

 

She just took man with her.

 

And so I was told

only the Virgin Queen,

Could house God

 

in her body

now.

 

Purity for women.

Bravery for men.

 

Even Joseph,

Magnanimous for not having stoned Mary outright.

A hero for marrying her.

 

Why is a woman unto herself

So threatening?

 

I have a hunch.

 

Virgin,

it’s original meaning

Suggests a woman

Who is not owned.

 

By any man,

or system.

 

Belonging to no one but herself.

 

So, is this how we give birth

to God?

 

First, by claiming our Self?

 

 

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Beatitudes

The beatitudes.

A phrase so often used, I stopped asking what it means.

Supreme blessedness.

 

Before you read it,

what would you have guessed?

 

It’s hard to hear something old as if it’s new,

 

But you have heard it

Said

Blessed are the poor, the mourners,

and the meek,

 

Poor in spirit, but how can this be?

Empty vessels.

Capable of receiving something.

A willingness not to know

Everything.

 

For those who mourn,

Somehow this is the holy fountain.

where

Jesus wept.

 

What’s on the other side of mourning?

For me, it’s always grace.

Just enough letting go to come away –

From that sticky, intractable place.

 

I know you’ve mourned more than people –

We can lose our grip

On all sorts of things,

Ideas, identities,

Comforting fantasies.

 

Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is right.

The right way, the right thing.

To hunger and thirst,

A human body

Never drinks enough to again never drink.

 

So goes the soul.

Never done with it’s searching.

Or it too will die.

 

Blessed are the merciful, for that comes back around.

You start right here at home.

On yourself,

Then your neighbor,

And that neighbor down the street.

 

It gets tricky eventually.

You can’t fake it.

So, you come back home, again.

The next day it’s easier.

You remember now how it feels.

 

And what of those with pure hearts?

I don’t hear this Jesus saying “good” hearts here,

Although, where I come from,

We have corrupted the word –

Pure.

 

Like the surface of a lake, without a ripple.

The sky’s reflection undisturbed.

 

A heart without disturbance

Above or below,

Can gaze upon itself, and see

what’s there.

 

God.

 

What then is honest here in my heart?

A cascade, like water,

Over and over it turns.

Always hoping.

 

This world is hard, and nothing bright is seen

through the lens of more light.

We need shadow.

 

There’s shadow in my heart.

Living there alongside the light.

I know I can’t see God if I turn that into a fight.

 

But when the waters calm,

And everything undisturbed is seen,

Maybe that feeling –

Like coming home,

Is itself a way of seeing

 

God.

 

Blessed are the makers and maintainers of peace,

he says.

What did I do a moment ago inside my own heart?

 

Seven devils were cast out of Mary Magdalene.

A holy number of completion.

Meaning,

the accusations from within must have stopped.

 

“You should not feel this way,

don’t think any of those thoughts”.

Phrases no longer spoken by the woman called Magdalene,

now undisturbed

about what’s in her heart.

 

Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?

None.

 

The Kingdom of God is like this.

 

Blessed are those persecuted for doing what is right.

Every pure heart asks,

“But how will I know what is right?”

 

 

Supremely Blessed are you –

When people are cruel,

And unrelenting in their cruelty

On My account.

 

Don’t be cruel, I hear.

Not to yourself, not to others,

There’s always part of you that can never know

Another.

You answer to your own heart.

 

If you are in Me,

and I am in you,

Your process will involve pruning,

he says,

 

Remember those dirty, despised old prophets?

Not one of them beloved.

 

But beloved is not the same as blessed.

 

Shining faces, sure footed.

Do the prophets act like they had regrets?

 

When I sit and I listen

to Jesus words,

From this famous sermon on the mount,

 

Although he never said it

Out loud,

I hear the question,

Still.

 

Can we learn to live in harmony,

Inside one human heart?

 

 

 

 

Eve.

To be a woman in the church,

No matter the age.

Ah, that is a great source of shame.

 

Were you, like me, given the story of Eve

to blame?

That first woman, tempted by the power of knowledge,

Not smart enough to know her place.

 

And poor, innocent Adam,

So trusting of the woman,

Now defiled

After her tango with the snake.

 

Taking serpent’s words, and God’s fruit into her body

now changed.

Now naked and ashamed.

 

Man’s first words in his own defense,

“She tricked me!”.

 

What a witch.

 

Well, here’s another trick.

Blame.

Scapegoat a gender, get every last one of them.

Meanwhile, stripping God of any feminine traits.

 

If God is male, then male is god.

 

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?

That which cannot be named.

Only felt.

In our bodies.

This knowledge of God.

 

Who among us knew it first?

Eve.

And of course, she was afraid.

 

How does a fragile human body withstand the knowledge of God

Once consumed?

 

For me, it’s always some tender blend

of grief and grace –

Mixed.

Like Eve,

 

I cannot keep it to myself.

And, yet I too am rendered a bit naked

And ashamed.

 

But shame, beloveds, is not the toxic terror you’ve been told.

Just the stripping back of one or two dead layers,

Much like the snake.

 

Nearly every woman on earth would now pay

For the peeling

Of old skin,

 

Unearthing something new.

 

But this is not a surface peel.

The encounter with God we’ve been offered

By the snake.

 

When we eat the fruit, we risk becoming

A graveyard

For all the people we thought we were.

 

Scales falling from the eyes of Saul,

A new name, a new life, and here we have

Paul.

 

Not my favorite apostle.

Some thorn is his side about women still.

But,

Then I suppose we all have to drag our own humanity

Along

with us,

 

Long after consuming what’s been given

by Grace.

I AM.

The day Moses met God, he asked,

“What is your name?”,

 

“I have no name”, comes the reply,

From a Source now unnamed.

 

All alone atop that Holy Mountain,

Moses worries after those waiting down below.

 

“Without a name”, he pleads, “How will my people come to know

You from all the other gods

Belonging to these poor, lost, wandering men?”

 

Was it courageous, or cowardice to stand there in that place,

And so boldly ask God for the Grace –

To become small enough for them?

 

“This, not that” was the first and only Law given

By God to those two humans in the Garden.

 

An instruction for an era lost,

The Garden now invisible,

And yet –

 

Just like Moses and his people, most of us here

Are still believing “this, not that” will save us

From the pain of our uncertainty.

 

Shaped by years of wandering through deserts

Of our own,

Are we not guilty of thirsting after the image

Of arriving –

Somewhere, each one of us a beggar.

 

“This, not that, black or white, Please Lord, make it simple”.

 

Moses could have said that.

I hear it in his question.

 

Yet, God, unchanged and ever changing, always sets the tone –

A riddle for an answer.

Or perhaps, an Answer for minds too riddled to hear it:

 

“I AM”.

 

Do you ever wonder what that sound was like in the ears of the man who heard it first?

 

Could it have been pronounced “A-UM”?

 

I’ve heard that sound fall from the mouths of people

Perched atop holy mountains of their own.

Spandex on their bodies,

Twenty dollars for enlightenment.

 

Do they know the Holy mountain upon which they are standing?

They’ve at least removed their shoes.

 

“OM”, it is written, but as it moves from breath, to throat, to tongue, to lips

It sounds

More like this:

“Ahhhhhhhhhh—Ummmmmmm”.

 

The Beginning and The End.

The Alpha and The Omega.

The Atman and The Brahman.

Or can we say, The Ego and The Soul?

 

That which can perceive That which Is.

 

It’s strange and clear and merciful –

Each ancient tradition tells a story

Of this sound.

 

Do you recognize it yet?

 

It’s unclear whether Moses or his people could,

And most days it seems the same for you, and for me –

 

Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he bothered once again

To tell us,

“I AM”.

 

The way, the truth, and the light.

 

I think we needed someone to show us,

In the flesh.

I AM.

 

“Stick your finger in my side”, he says,

To his dear doubting friend.

 

But that’s not what I was taught.

Were you?

Instead, instructed over and over to literalize,

To flatten it down.

 

But, didn’t God warn Moses?

Oh wait, I mean,

I AM.

 

Jesus may have been the flesh and bone and blood encounter

With a God

We can’t nail down.

 

Genesis tells us of Creation from No thing.

Science claims the heart begins as a null-point,

A Zero at the center.

No thing.

 

Then a twist, and a spin, and suddenly a beat:

I AM.

 

And while our riddled minds are grasping yet again

After a Name

For the magic happening here,

 

The temple curtain gets torn straight down the middle,

From top to bottom, falling away in two –

Pieces.

 

Holy of Holies now unveiled,

Each one of us bracing to be blinded

By a glimpse

Of what’s inside.

 

Yet, those among us brave or crazy enough

To look

And see –

Will find

No thing is there.

 

No name.

No nails.

 

No thing.

 

Only

I AM.

 

Did not Siddhartha while sitting under the Bodhi tree

Find

No thing too?

Once named, then unnamed, and renamed:

Awakened one.

One who sees.

 

Would you look for yourself?

 

Try Within.

 

Each one of us already knows this Place,

It’s Only human

Beings who could mistake that inner space

 

For alienation.

 

Instead of what it truly is –

Our own Holy ordination.

 

— Whitney Logan, 5.8.17

Fully Human & Fully Divine

“I’m convinced that the discovery of a true God, and the discovery of the true Self are simultaneous journeys; they feed one another. When you meet the true Self, you’re most open to a bigger, truer name for God. When you meet a bigger, truer, more loving God, you surrender to that same identity within yourself.”

— Richard Rohr

Nothing is wrong with you: an Easter message.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to hear Anne Lamott speak about her new book, “Hallelujah Anyway”. The conversation was so honest, and soul-stirring that I followed it up with a couple days of binge-listening to several different interviews Anne has done in the last few years. During one of these interviews, she mentioned something a Jesuit priest once said to her about what he called the “5 rules on how to be a Good American”, which we are all forced to learn as early as possible.

1. Don’t have anything wrong with you.
2. If there is something wrong with you, fix it immediately.
3. If you can’t fix it, hide it.
4. If you can’t hide it, stay home—just don’t show up or you’ll make other people uncomfortable.
5. If you insist on showing up anyway, at least have the decency to feel ashamed.

Some of my earliest, earliest memories involve a growing, nagging, sweat-inducing certainty that something was terribly wrong with me. One of the primary reasons I fell so completely head-over-heels into the psychological refuge of Christianity was that it seemed to possess the answer to this precise problem.

“Yes”, Christianity said to me, “there is indeed something very wrong with you. Of course, this will continue to be painful for you and everyone who knows you for as long as you live. But, BUT: if you believe in exactly precisely this one thing, in exactly precisely this one way, and try your best to imitate exactly precisely the attitudes and actions prescribed by this one thing, your reward will be this: immediately AFTER you DIE, you will then finally become perfect”.

What a relief.

So, naturally, I swan-dove into this ideology at 12 years old, and really didn’t start to look underneath the hood of any of it until I was about 22 years old.

Eleven whole years of messy, beautiful, clumsy, miraculous, painful, healing, mentally ill, and spiritually sublime moments later, I have decided that this is not at all what Jesus tried to teach us. In fact, I now believe that to the degree with which we have confused his actual message with the nonsense described above is the degree to which we will wind up abusing ourselves and everyone around us.

So then, if not that painful personal pretzeling our way to salvation, what do I think Jesus did try to teach us?

Well, when I read the gospels now, I hear – over and over – a message that sounds more like this: “Oh, you beloved over-anxious, grasping, clinging children. I need you to try really hard to put your listening ears on for a whole minute while I explain this to you again. Heaven is not somewhere else, it’s right here. Communion with God is not later, it’s now. The Holy Spirit is not behind a curtain in the temple, it’s in your own body”. (Paraphrasing, hi).

Don’t believe me? Read it all over again for yourself. Start with Matthew, finish with the first part of Acts. Consider setting aside your preconceived or previously conceived interpretations, and going very slowly through the story again. Because it’s all right there – every beautiful, relieving, grace-soaked word – hidden in plain-sight.

I love Eve.

Eve, my favorite bible character, or otherwise known by the patriarchy as “Adam’s wife”, showed up in a TIME op-ed piece co-written by one of my heroes, Glennon Doyle Melton. This particular bit or writing right here (click link) is the whole reason I couldn’t stand being a woman in the church any longer. In fact, I think I have now spent a cumulative 7-8 years in therapy working this poison out of my own self-concept.

More pressing still, I now have a daughter, and I’m genuinely afraid to bring her up in the church for fear she might receive the same messages I did. In fact, I go visit churches by myself like an adult pre-screening a PG-13 movie to make sure it’s not going to be too corrupting for my child’s eyes and ears. Sometimes I actually picture myself sitting in the back of her fictional Sunday School classroom, and when we get to the whole bit about Eve, standing up and saying something like:

“Alright. That’s enough of that then.

Listen up kids, let me give you a brief little background about ancient semitic oral tradition and language, and how that fits into a much larger puzzle of religious and cultural context than the story itself reveals on the surface.

You tracking with me?

Okay, cool, next up: the ‘serpent’ as a symbol of feminine spirituality and the cycles of life-death-and-re-birth innate in a woman’s developing consciousness.

Any questions so far?”.

(Somehow I’m still waiting for my invite to be a guest Sunday School teacher at any church in town?!).

As Christian women (and men) start to wake up and demand better for themselves and their daughters (and sons), the church is going to have to decide how to respond. And as they do, I sure hope they look to JESUS instead of Mike Pence for guidance. Because Jesus spent plenty of time with women, all by himself, without a chaperone. In fact, they were some of his closest companions.