Category Archives: Church


I’d be lying if I said spirituality is easy for me, but I’d also be lying if I said it didn’t matter or was difficult. My spirituality is by far the most important and integral part of my life, but it’s also one of the most complicated facets.

On my way back to coffee shop I visited yesterday, on my way back to actually complete my lesson plans for next week, I went past Taylor University, a small very conservative Christian college in Upland, Indiana. I am not a fan of their theology or their ridiculous set of strict rules, but I do feel like many of my favorite people in this world have gone there and gotten out relatively unscathed. Some of them seem to have even learned a thing or along the way. Taylor is also a somewhat rivalry of my theological alma mater, Anderson University, an equally conservative and rule-ridiculous college about 45 minutes away.

Anyway, I bring up Taylor University because my spirituality these days is heavily influenced by Jesus and Buddha, but not by any official church or religion. I pray, I meditate, I try to be kind and compassionate. Some days are more successful than others, but I haven’t been to an actual church service, except for watching my grandchildren be baptized, for about two years, I’d say. This is not because I don’t find it valuable—the Episcopal Church has my organized religion heart—but I just find that I can practice my spiritual pretty much anywhere. If I am not careful, I am moved to spiritual tears by pretty much anything.

Back to this morning—all these asides make my head spin, but that’s just how my brain works—when I drove past Taylor Lake on my way to some of the most beautiful scenery in East Central Indiana, a road that, when I was in high school, people called Devil’s Backbone, ironic because of TU being right there, I had a feeling in my gut that was so familiar.

If you know my story, you know I was baptized at a very young age, maybe 6, after accepting Jesus into my heart in an old, brown recliner chair where I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer with my mom one night before bed time. If you know my story even better, you know that I by no means believe that is how a conversion experience works, or that we maybe don’t even need conversion, because we are all good and pure and beautiful on the inside anyway, but that is how it happened for me at 4, 5, or 6.

As I drove past TU this morning with a beautiful pink sunrise and the fall leaves reflecting on the smooth water of the lake, I was transported back to 40 years ago when I wore a little white sundress and waded into a cold, slightly mucky, and very weedy, Taylor Lake to make a public profession of the faith that was shaping me. I waded in to the water, said I confessed my sins, promised to live a good life, and then I was under the water, looking up through a blur into the sunlight above the water.

As I drove past that lake this morning, my heart moved, my spirit stirred, I began to cry, and I wondered when everything in this world got so unbeautiful and so difficult and so mean. I wished I could go back and see the world through the water into the sun, weeds wrapped around my little ankles, safe in a feeling that everything would be alright.

I’ve started this post a million times…

or so it seems. I usually know with a certain level of accuracy how to express what I am feeling, but this week I am at a loss for words. I’m unsure what to say, and I’m unsure what to think, and I’m unsure what to do.

I’ve heard people say that the election resonated with them in the same way that the Pulse shooting resonated with them, but that’s not quite it for me. I’ve heard people say that they feel like a homeless person, because their home has been taken from them by force, but I can’t say that because I’ve never been homeless.

There are countless other ways people have described their disappointment, including a customer who came in, in tears, because she fears for her autistic son’s well-being and the loss of Arctic animals because of climate change. I, too, am scared—no terrified—for my GLBT+, non-white, non-“Christian” friends and the earth. I’m pissed that we are in a war in Standing Rock, North Dakota with indigenous people who are trying to protect the tiny bit of land that they were given by our government. This article by Code Switch is an excellent article about what’s going on there.

I feel like I am inside some bad trip, where nothing makes sense, and someone is trying to help me down, but I can’t come down. I’m just stuck, here, in an alternate world where nothing makes sense and nothing adds up. People, who I previously considered friends, intelligent friends, say things that make no sense, things that don’t follow any kind of consistent ethic, and that don’t align with their previously stated morality.

I keep seeing these things posted on Facebook walls of people who voted for Donald Trump, and I can’t wrap my head around how people can reconcile this bit of Scripture with the running platform of our President Elect:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Everyone around me is angry or sad, and those who aren’t angry or sad are elated and willing to tell me so. Over and over again. People I don’t know post hateful things on my Facebook timeline.  I spent fifteen minutes yesterday with a customer who told me all about how the next four years are going to be the best of his life. When I said, okay, he said, your products are going to be made in the US again. I said, okay, and he just kept talking about how P.E. Trump is trying so hard to establish himself as a good president. I said, okay.

I’m tired. I’m taking a break.


About four months ago, on my 42nd birthday, I set some goals. The older I get, the easier it is for me to just ignore my goals, to not care about meeting those goals, or to just be lackadaisical about accomplishing them.

On this coming Sunday, Advent begins, so I think I might try to accomplish my goal of going to church. I think I need it. I think you need for me to go. I say this because I have not been my best self for the majority of November. Maybe a baby Jewish refugee in a wooden cow trough, who was birthed to an unwed teenage mother and father, who was brought gifts by “foreigners,” who was worshipped by the working class, and who was later saved from infanticide at the hands of the ruling class will be just the miracle to bring me around.

Anyway, I set a couple of other goals, too: running, compassion, pay it forward, social media and creativity, and finances.

I am working on running, while also playing soccer and nursing my plantar fascia on my right foot. I won’t be running a full marathon again next summer, but I am going to run a 25K trail race at Afton; 15 miles is a more accomplishable goal for me this year.

Compassion, which includes going to church, seems to be going the best right now, since I am trying so hard to understand what makes people do what they do. I’m also trying to work at allowing myself to be in someone else’s shoes; I’m hoping that maybe I will somehow be able to better understand my fellow humans. I’ve also been a bit of a slacker when it comes to meditation, so I need to refocus on this aspect of my life as well. I can really tell when I practice mindfulness and when I don’t. I’m not so mindful right now. I’ve been vegetarian, but not vegan, which is something I will fix at the new year.

I still haven’t worked on paying it forward, and I’d love to find somewhere to volunteer every week, even though my schedule is a bit wacky, I could just RTO time each week for volunteering.

The social media and creativity goal is the one that I should’ve kept working on with diligence. More than any of the goals. I find that being on social media is really damaging to my psyche. People are mean. I should’ve been drawing or printmaking, instead of spending all those hours on Facebook, getting angrier.

Finally, my finances are slowly improving. I’m paying more on all of my credit cards each month, and I have a separate savings account, where I deposit all of my wages from Caribou, for vacation spending. We went to New York and I paid for all but the dog boarding with cash, but I quickly paid off the dog boarding upon our return.

So, while I’m not making major headway, I feel like I am making some. I’m also taking a break. Until after the holidays. Peace. Grace. Joy. Love. Hope.

Dear Eve

Why did you do it? Why did you eat the fruit? I could understand if it would have been a watermelon, a banana, or even some strawberries. Weren’t there pineapples and mangoes growing in the garden? Couldn’t you have just been happy with a coconut now and then?

Apples are just not that good. They are pretty, usually red, and possibly shiny, but you are not a raccoon or a crow. I hope, at least, that it wasn’t a Granny Smith, unless you had some caramel sauce.

Did you have cramps, a headache, a backache, or constipation? How did you stop the flow? Was there at least a hot spring you could relax in?

We got a raw deal,
Every Woman After You

Dear Ten-Year-Old Me

When you are 40, you will look back on this day as both a pleasure and a pain.

You will remember the gentle sway of your canoe as you sit and relax in the path carved out through endless lily pads by many, many similar boats over the years. You will remember the long, long day you spent in this canoe with a girl whose mother played violin and whose father taught biology. The fickle world of middle school church camp and the fact that neither of you had a clear camp-friend forced the two of you together for the day-long canoeing adventure. You thought it would be a beautiful day, because you loved canoeing and swimming, but she talked nonstop about herself and how smart she was. You learned later, when her mother ended up substitute teaching at a school where you taught in your early twenties, that she got pregnant at 16 or 17 and that her life had been hard. You would not be sympathetic. In fact, you almost thought she got what she deserved.

But on this day, just before you entered 8th grade, you floated lazily, dragging your finger through the duckweed that coated the top of the water. You had just about mustered up the courage to break up with that jack ass boy, and you should have, but you couldn’t. You really should have, but that’s not why I am writing to you this time.

You had been a Christian for over half your life already, and you thought church camp was about the best and worst place you’d ever been. As you floated there, you thought about the spirituality of the place, the lessons, the bible study, the worship, the beauty of it. You thought about how silly some of it seemed, the cliquey girls, the boys who openly flirted with them, the contrived games at recreation time. You thought about a high school counselor from your hometown, who, when I look back on your young life, you may have been a little sweet on. Finally, though you just prayed.

You swayed back and forth as the girl tried to paddle you forward, and you dragged your finger in the water, and you prayed. Hard. You wanted answers. You had always heard God speak, and you always would hear that voice. Even when you are 40 you’ll hear God’s voice. God’s voice will never leave your body or your soul.

In that moment, when you were floating there suspended between your middle school world, the natural world, and the spiritual world, you heard the words that will disturb you for the rest of your life: “I want you to do my work. I want you to speak. I want you to minister to those around you. I have called you to this.”

Those words will both shape and destroy you. You will always wrestle with what this means for your life. You will always wonder if you are, in fact, ministering. You will always wonder why you heard these words and then a few years later figured out your sexuality which wasn’t compliant with your chosen denomination’s perception of your calling. Hell, your gender is barely compliant with your chosen denomination’s perception of a call to ministry. You will always wonder why you can preach, why you can counsel, why you can minister in all situations. You will always have people who want your counsel. You will always feel like you could do more to uphold and fulfill this call, this vision. You will always feel unsettled.

You will go to seminary for three years, and you’ll work in a church for five. You’ll preach sermons, you’ll mentor teenagers, you’ll make an impact on countless lives. You’ll leave all that behind to do the same in the public school system. You’ll go to graduate school and you’ll read books that make you feel whole, that will lead you to putting your bifurcated self back together, because all your life you’ve been taught that you can’t be gay and a Christian, let alone be a pastor. You’ll always feel a bit of that push and pull. You’ll be 35 before you finally figure out that living a call and ministering is a process of putting all your pieces back together. Of accepting those things about yourself that seem to be in opposition.

While you sit there in that canoe, think long and hard about what you’re hearing, what it means, and how you’ll follow that longing, that call. Make some different choices. Give yourself some grace. And revel in who God has called you to be.