Category Archives: Faith

Welcome home.

Peace is lopsided at my house.

Peace is actually red polka-dotted bunting across my front porch, leftover from Peace + Pie, a pie contest for peace and justice. I took off the Pie but Peace is always needed upon entering my home and the ampersand looks like a Jesus cross.

The wind blows the banner north so Peace is never symmetrical under my porch light, never centered over my front door. It’s always to the left of the house, hunched up, tilted.

I sit on my front porch swing and I just be.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.


That be. I just be.

Red wine in hand, barefoot, stretched on the porch swing. The rain falls tonight. The thunder strikes. The street wet with shards of lamppost light.

I think about the being. My spiritual director always invites me to be. And inevitably, no matter what we’re reflecting on, she invites me to welcome the pain.

Make space for the burden.

Welcome the heaviness.

Sit with it.

I hate this.

I do not want to welcome the pain. I do not want the pain, let alone create a hospitable space for it to feel at home. But I’m resigned.

Hello, Sorrow and Suffering. Please sit here on the porch with me.

As the rain falls I think about the burdens I have. I name them. There are four that are heavier tonight. I glance across the porch to see the new iron table I have placed there, four chairs surrounding it. Deep purple spray paint still strong and shiny. I envision the four burdens sitting in the chairs. Sinking deep. Taking a breather.

And then I realize it.

The Peace is lopsided. Over them.

I raise my glass and tip my head.

To Peace.

To being.

To heartache.

Welcome home.



The music pulsates in my ears before I reach the door, the bass muffled.  I enter the auditorium and find myself enveloped by black with swirls of magenta, electric orange, lime green, and neon yellow—an After Dark computer screen saver come alive on the outskirts of Memphis.

Electronica booms; a flash of hot pink darts past me.  My heart bounces in the rhythm shooting from the speakers.  As my eyes adjust to the dark I see them, the children I love, spinning glow-in-the-dark wands in every direction.

Torrential rains pushed our kids indoors the last night of our church retreat.  In a stroke of genius, unjustly common for these two dads, Chris and Josh throw a dance party.  With fluorescents off and music on, the glow-in-the-dark necklaces intended for the campfire become disco lights.

When “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Lewis plays in heaven, it will be because Josh Spickler is DJ-ing a rave for 3-9 year olds waving neon jewelry.  This is heaven, I think.  Right here.

Every inch of the room is dance floor.  A mom sways, holding her bobbing 4-year-old son’s hands.  Boys and girls giggle; they flit about on glow-dance runs.  Adults groove, too, and thankfully the darkness hides my awkward cavorting.  “Gangum Style” plays and this is the first time I almost like it.  Time suspends.

The music stops.  Chris flips on the lights.

“Neighborhood Church kids, this is the last song and then we have to get ready for bed.” Chris uses his fatherly tone to bring us down from levitation.

Preventing a revolt, DJ Josh re-directs. Hand cupped to his ear, he calls out to the little people, “How are you feeling?” 

HAPPY!” they cheer.  Pharrell’s “Happy” launches and it is black again.

The kids are wild with exuberance.  Maybe we all are.  We dance in the dark with our neon orbs and I press the memory into my eyes.  I hope we are teaching our kids to feel the sacred in the whimsical.  I pray they respond to Jesus’ invitation into the Kingdom of Light and realize, sometimes, it actually glows.


Easter Monday :: Week 2

It’s Easter Monday!  The first line of the Rend Collective song “Finally Free” keeps playing on repeat in my mind.

Your mercy rains from heaven

like confetti at a wedding

and I am celebrating

in the downpour.

These lyrics made me want to have confetti on Easter Sunday at our church.  I imagined throwing large handfuls of brightly colored sequins on folks as they entered the building.  Unfortunately, confetti is actually more expensive than one would think and the clean-up required would diminish the beauty of the Resurrection.  Well, it would for my heart anyways.  I like thinking about mercy as confetti, and knowing God isn’t put off by the mess it makes.

My pastor, Robert, and I settled on balloons for Neighborhood Church.  Several of us (special thanks to my dad, Holley, and Myles) blew up 150 balloons and scattered them over the front entryway of the church.  We wanted to surprise our adopted family with celebration.  Judging by the delighted squeals of the children as they arrived, it worked.

The Easter service began with several joyful songs before an invitation for everyone to crowd into the foyer outside our chapel.  Plastic champagne flutes filled with sparkling apple cider awaited.  We raised our glasses to Christ, “Our Redeemer, Our Hope, Our Everlasting Love.”  After this beautiful toast from our dear Charlie, the four-year olds and the sixty-year olds and everyone in-between clinked glasses exuberantly.  Brave Virginia then spoke out our grateful hearts to the God who makes all things new…and we were celebrating in the downpour.



May you find mercy as a cause for celebration on this Easter Monday.

May you know you are worth the mess of confetti.

May your soul cry out, “Finally Free.”




Drink the Sweetness

Sunrise Service at the Levitt Shell

It is Easter morning and the Sunrise Service at Overton Park starts at 6:30am. I set multiple alarms; I am not to be trusted in the morning. At 6:09 I crawl out of bed, brush my teeth and hair and don a fleece. I wait at the front storm door of my building. Sarah is coming to pick me up.

“Christ is risen!” she says when I get in the car.

“He is risen indeed!” I reply.

It is the Paschal greeting, the tradition of Christians for centuries to greet each other this way on Easter morning. My mother taught me when I was young and here with Sarah at 6:20am I remember she too is family.

We walk toward the Levitt Shell, an open venue in the central park of Memphis. I carry a blanket for us to sit on and my hot tea. It is a brisk morning and the sky still somber gray.

We are greeted by a man in a suit, offering a bulletin. The outdoor amphitheater is dotted with blankets and law chairs. Easter eggs on the great lawn. We spread out our blanket and wait.

It is an ecumenical service. The Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, the non-Southern Baptists and the Missionary Baptists are all waiting for the sun to rise together. Some in Sunday best, others look like they just unzipped a tent and came out to sit at the campfire. The Missionary Baptist choir is elegant in suits and heels. They fill the stage as if ready for Carnegie Hall. We are black and white, liturgical and charismatic on the lawn. We are one body.

A few from my church family sit on a blanket next to us. One is very small, happily eating Cheerios as she rests in a lap. There is Gospel sway and folk strumming, music for a slightly older crowd. Light breaks more and more.

Men and women ministers read prayers and the Resurrection story. Some in elegant robes, others in plain clothes. The sermon is delivered by a gentle man and he tells us it okay to doubt. That yes, this Resurrection story does sound made up. But it is our hope, one we will commit to wrestle with. It is darkness turning to light, and Christ is present in both.

On the stage is the communion table. A silk patterned tablecloth hangs long and sacred. It is covered in cups and plates. Each church has brought its own to share, a potluck Eucharist. There are cups made of clay and fired in a kiln, others made of silver. Some are simple and brown, another blazing green. The plates of bread are piled in mounds. A silver tower of trays stacks tall. It is the dish passed in my childhood. I imagine the small juice shot glasses, each sitting in place like a deviled egg plate.

A woman minister breaks the bread, pours the wine. Her voice is clear and sure:

This is the body of Christ, broken for you.

This is the blood of Christ, shed for you.

Soon men and women, ministers by vocation and ministers by commitment, come surround the table.  They take the elements and move toward the edges of the lawn in a horseshoe shape. The suits, the mountain gear, the old, the young, the black and the white. They move out in pairs—two by two—one with the bread and one with the juice. All who share in Christ’s resurrection are welcome at this table made by two willing servants.

We rise from our blankets and our lawn chairs. We stand in line and wait for our turn to receive the mystery. I take a chunk of bread and dip it in the juice. I linger at the soaking, wanting to sop up as much grace blood as I can. In my mouth it is sweet. I am reminded of what Augustine wrote:

The Lord was made sweet to you because he liberated you. You had been bitter to yourself when you were occupied only with yourself. Drink the sweetness.

I drink the sweetness in the park with the people. I forget myself and I take it in. The robes and the jeans, the tow-headed children still in pajamas. We have come to celebrate the sweetness of the Resurrection, the mystery that seems too good to be true. But it is only good and true and we are one body, coming from darkness into a marvelous light.

This piece was originally written in 2012.  I continue to celebrate Resurrection Sunday bright and early at the Levitt Shell Sunrise Service with Sarah and many Midtown friends every year.  The potluck Eucharist remains as my favorite part.


Easter Monday

Hello!  Welcome to my blog!

I have a tendency to wait until things are perfectly worked out in my mind before I actually take action to begin.  This is especially true of things I want to do well.  And my goodness, the first blog post on a brand new website?  That, friends, is something I’d most certainly like to do well.  I’ve written tens of entries in my head over the last months.

But something struck me today.  I’m fairly new to the church calendar but Eastern Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics continue to intentionally celebrate the Resurrection of Christ the week after Sunday.  This is brilliant to me.  Eastern Orthodox Christians call this “Bright Week” or “Renewal Week.”  Some call today “Easter Monday,” others “Bright Monday.”  They fill this week with psalms and hymns and Resurrection litanies.  Even funerals that take place this week must have particular, joyous rites celebrating the Resurrection.

My pastor shared this quote from N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope yesterday:

But my biggest problem starts on Easter Monday. I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week, which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday…and then, after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration….
In particular, if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast again—well, of course. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time; sometimes the ground ivy may need serious digging before you can get it out. That’s Lent for you. But you don’t want simply to turn the garden back into a neat bed of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds and to plant out a few cuttings. If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off if you are to flourish as a Christian and as a truly human being, then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life (personal and corporate) that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving. You may be able to do it only for six weeks, just as you may be able to go without beer or tobacco only for the six weeks of Lent. But if you really make a start on it, it might give you a sniff of new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures you never dreamed of. It might bring something of Easter into your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about.

What struck me today was desire.  I want every Monday for the next six weeks to be Easter Monday.  Truthfully, I want every Monday from here on to be lived like it’s Easter Monday; however, I need to be realistic and Tom Wright just gave me permission to start with six weeks.

I will celebrate and write of the joy and resurrection of Christ every Monday for six weeks.  Then we will go from there.