Charleston

My husband, James, and I spent a few days in Charleston, SC, last week. We stayed in a little cabin on Shem’s Creek, a salt marsh creek just outside the city of Charleston. The tide came and went and brought the water up the green sides of the banks; like a full cup, and then it was poured away and showed the mud beneath. The rhythm of the moon pulls at the waterways surrounding historic Charleston. We drank wine at night on the dock as we watched the moon slide behind the trailing clouds and the ripples of the creek awash with moonlight and reflections. We greeted the morning with our coffee on the same dock to the symphony of splashes, bird calls and squirrels scampering through the giant oaks whose roots sunk deep in the mud. The salt marsh is prolific with fish, birds, dragonflies, mosquitoes and a tranquil beauty. The architecture of Charleston is haunting and lovely. The food decadent and delicious. Yet I left the city sad. The history of slavery lies heavy in that land. We toured a plantation and city homes from the 1700’s. The slave quarters were starkly cramped and small against the large homes. We read ships logs with notations of how many died crossing the ocean. We saw the auction house which still stands downtown. Most of the affluent are still are a lighter shade than those in poverty. The songs of the enslaved, the crafts they made, the labor of their hands still inhabits every area of that city. Yet they left no writing and their history is only oral and visual; passed down in the places that they lived and the stories and songs they left. It was a crime to read or write. The wealth and decadence of the golden age of Charleston was made possible through enslaved hands; the ownership of other human beings. It made it hard for me to enjoy the architecture, the cobbled streets, the evidence of great wealth and trade knowing that it was created on the backs of others. I tried to think how I would feel touring the plantations if I was of African American descent. I think I would be angry. Standing in small rooms entire families slept in, seeing the call bells, the small back staircases leading to grand dining rooms, reading the laws of those times, knowing the suffering, the persecution, the injustice; it was hard to imagine how owners could dehumanize their fellow human beings such as it happened in our country. But on the other hand it is clear. The issues are different for us but the human motivation the same; economics, greed, fear, putting one’s interests above another persons, complacence, lack of self awareness. The sins of our fathers become accepted and a part of our culture. How could a child born into a system, set to profit from his parents’ economic interests woven in slavery feel compelled to reject it? It would take great moral clarity and courage for those born into the privileged class to put their own financial security at risk by taking a moral stand. Such is still the state of the human heart today. People lack compassion for immigrants when they see them as an economic and safety risk. It is hard to face truths about poverty and homelessness in a divided wealth system that promotes those who have things and makes it hard to climb out of poverty if you lack resources. It is easier to look after our own interests. There are many people fighting the good fight and leading with compassion. Many who blaze paths for others. But the same motivations that drove people then to disregard the plight of the less fortunate exist today. It literally took a war to shut slavery down. Nothing else would have compelled the south to give up the economic wealth that slavery brought. Families were financially ruined, great industries crippled. The plantation we toured had shut down their brick factory after slavery was made illegal. It was no longer profitable to make bricks by paying people for their labor. An entire financial system had to be overhauled, profit found in other places. The sin of slavery still bleeds in our country through the generations in the forms of racism, poverty, education. I could see droplets of red flung all over that beautiful city. The blood of the ancestors of Africans dropped on those shores is still there. At least now there is a recognition of the wrong that was done. Each place we visited honored the lives of the enslaved and recognized the great injustice that was done. I honor them. Their beautiful songs of hope are sung in churches across our land. Their blood runs now in free and proud Americans. May we always remember.
*Shem’s Creek, Charleston, SC*

showing up for life

I think one of the biggest areas of maturity for me was the idea of showing up for life and for people. Some days I would rather not go to meet a friend for lunch, take a phone call or have that extra moment of conversation at work engaging in another’s life and thoughts.  I’m naturally an introvert and it often takes an effort. Some days it would be easier to call in sick, not attend the meeting I promised, not go to the shower or going away party. I believe every time I shy away from important responsibilities or meaningful interactions with those I care about, I lose a bit of the richness and fullness of life. It is easier to live shallow some days than invest in the things I have in front of me; family, friends, coworkers, my job. This is a entirely different idea than saying yes to everything and having the inability to draw boundaries. I am personally very good at drawing boundaries. It’s taking risks, being vulnerable that I find more difficult. It’s finally doing a blog and putting my writing out there for the world to see. It’s saying yes to playing piano in public. It’s going to the birthday party that I know I may not enjoy but going anyway so the people I love will know I showed up for them. It’s taking my career seriously and investing my time to be the best neonatal nurse I can be. It’s choosing to have real compassion for the patients and families that I meet. It’s choosing to being incovenienced once in a while when the reason and the people are important. It’s like gaurding a treasure, my life, in a meaningful way, so that I don’t lose it through laziness, selfishness and carelessness.

*picture taken by my husband summer 2019 in Rome*

church

I have an odd history with church as many do. On one hand I thoroughly despise the power and manipulation over people’s minds that is an inherent part of religion. On the other hand I know I will never quit going or finding a refuge in those moments when I come together with others, as a body of people, in a moment of reverence and peace. It’s a love/hate relationship. It’s like the government. We need the government for various reasons (some of which we can agree and disagree on), however every government, even the best of them, has corruption somewhere inside. Similar to the church. Great reason for them not to co-mingle. One of my favorite bloggers, Gigi, of hitandrun1964, recently put a quote by George Carlin up that I totally agree with. “I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death”. My parents were loud evangelical christians, who promoted a very heavy handed, conversion style, pro-discipline (read child abuse), ugly talking (read discrimination towards all sorts of people). Despite them, I came to believe in a loving God. I rejected that sort of christianity and still have a visceral reaction to those who promote God and political agenda out of the same mouth. However, I have a deep and abiding strength from my faith and belief in God. My husband is a minister. He got into the gig about halfway through our marriage (we’ve been married 25 years).  One reason I was attracted to him as a human being was his ability to have a strong faith without being an asshole. However, little did I dream he would become a minister…ergo, I became a minister’s wife. He decided to go to seminary somewhere in his 30’s and ended up becoming a minister. He loves church ministry. He has a vision to make the church a vibrant and helpful part of the community. He had a very healthy and positive ubringing and relationship with the church of England (he’s a Brit). Think of all the things a minister’s wife might deal with and you are pretty much spot on.  People make all kinds of assumptions about me. My family struggles with living in a fishbowl.  However, he’s a great guy and very balanced which makes him a great minister. I’ve taken a number of steps to carve out a space for our marriage, our children and myself to protect our autonomy and privacy. On the way home from church today my daughter and I were listening to Sam Smith, the vocalist. What a voice that man has! His songs are filled with inuendo about church. His songs echo gospel, choirs and are filled with references to church. However, they are not church friendly. They are anti-church. His songs remind me of my internal dialogue and struggle when I see how people are manipulated by religion, strong personalities, sects, cults, brands, the religious right, political/church power. As a woman I find the church often male dominated and misogynistic. I feel alone on this subject. I resonate and identify with those who reject religion and have been bullied by people who say they speak for God. And yet, deep inside my heart there is a space where I find hope, healing and restoration in my Faith in God. Such a paradox.

 

*RHINO district, Denver*

JOY

the enemies of joy are comparison and regret

I believe we should look to our own houses

live in today

refuse the net of shadows that entangle us when we cast our eye on another’s marriage, home, health, bank account, state of mind, education, country, car, job

I believe we should look to our futures

from today

cast away the chains of regret, throw down the shackles which bind us when we recite the litany of things that could have been different; our heritage, upbringing, family, choices, journeys, mistakes, addictions, moves, lovers, failures

I believe we should embrace all that made us who we are today and be content with all we have, who we have and who we are

if change can be made then make it but if change cannot be made then embrace the things that stay and make them the best they can be

take away the seats of comparison and regret and invite joy to sit at our tables

*RHINO district Denver*