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Showing posts from October, 2014

Honoring an Ancestor

So today, on Samhain, I’ve been reminded of my longstanding sense of connection to Ann Putnam the younger, the second-youngest of the “afflicted girls” of Salem Village, and probably the most persuasive of all those who accused innocent men and women of witchcraft. Ann Putnam, today, this day that is sacred to those of my religion, I claim you as Howard Pyle: 1893 ancestor to my spirit. May your heart have found peace and your spirit, wisdom. I realize this is an odd choice of an ancestor for a Wiccan to honor. Here’s why: the way that I view reincarnation is that we hold within us a part of the spirit of everyone who has lived before us. I hold within me, then, seeds of the greatest kindness and the most horrible cruelty of all humanity. This is who I am: in potential, at least, I am the same as the best and the worst of us. In honoring the spirit of Ann Putnam, I honor that truth–and also the truth that, when we find ourselves in the wrong, we can choose to rec

To the Servant-Leaders of the World

This is my love letter to the servant-leaders of the world. I see you.  I see you there, working so hard. You have a gift, or a mission, or a vision.  You have a knack for pulling people together, or you have reached down deep inside yourself and found something to serve in its place, because the need you see is so strong.  And you have brought together a group: a service project, a spiritual community, a movement against injustice, and you are engaged down to your bones.  You can sense the coming of the Beloved Community , and you are holding open the door, inviting in anyone who is willing to join you. And then it happens.  (It always happens.)  Just as you feel the first faint flush of success, of forward momentum toward your goal, the infighting begins.  (It always begins.) And you feel despair.  This is what I need you to know: do not despair. We are always falling in and out of the Beloved Community; we find it for a span of heartbeats, and then it dissolve

Yeah, It Really Is About Race

This story is old news.  Unfortunately, this story is old news: as old as my country, and older still. America is a racist nation. Photo: Jamie Bouie, 2014 Mike Brown’s death is barely mentioned in the news cycle these days.  I’m not sure who, outside of activist circles, has paid attention to the too-little-too-late “apologies” of Ferguson’s chief of police to his family–nor to the tone-deaf gesture he made, of marching with the very protesters calling for his resignation, while refusing to resign. I do know that the events in Ferguson have lit a fire under me that seems to have completely destroyed my complacent sense that racism is an evil that lies comfortably in the past.  I do know that, almost two months after a man was shot with his hands in the air in surrender, I can’t rest. My restlessness is made worse when I am in worship. Week after week, day after day, in meeting and in my own times of meditation, I find myself suddenly overwhelmed by my unea