Your Signature Reads Like Heartache, But It’s Powerful

“This has my signature all over it.” Tear-swelled eyes lower toward creamy swirls in your now-room-temperature latte, and for a moment you look as if gravity might betray you. I rest my hand on the table, palm-up, an invitation, and notice how quickly it disappears into the weave of your fingers, hands laced together into … [Read more…]

On Being an Occasion of Joy

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When I was 19, I fell hard into the kind of deep depression that hits college kids whose unstable upbringings, rife with inconsistency and trauma, left them ill-prepared to face the self-direction and responsibility of independence. I didn’t grow up religious despite my father’s attempts to turn visitation weeks into conversions, but had started attending … [Read more…]

Present in Our Bodies: Sensuality, Movement, Feelings, and Joy

people dancing ecstatically, arms in the air

Christmas morning. I don’t usually have Sundays free and our family holiday celebrations lean nontraditional, so I’d come to a special ecstatic dance celebration and brought my 9-year-old daughter with me. As the music started and people all around us began to flow and move, I reached out to touch her hand. As if she’d … [Read more…]

Positive Presence in Tiring Times

Part of my 2011 vision board. Says "Speak Love, Write the Future, Heal, Witch"

I am tired. I’m tired in that way that happens when mind-overload, followed incautiously into concrete corners, limits the ability to conceive of solutions and dig up hope. I’m tired of reading commentary and I’m tired of thinking about the seeming impossibility of resolution, though I seem to be doing both compulsively. I read the news … [Read more…]

Intellectual Circles, Authenticity, Legibility, and Working Class Roots

In my other writing for Feminism and Religion, I’ve discussed how a key focus of my spiritual path involves dancing within the tension of opposites, finding ways to move mindfully and freely inside the orbit of sacred circularities in which every curve leads into and out of its inverse, with infinite shades in between. Two … [Read more…]

Touch and Presence as Intimate Communion

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Over the past 20 years, I’ve been blessed with many moments in which fully aware or embodied presence has intersected spiritual transformation, both in my own life and in the lives of others. In my work on a crisis hotline, I’ve held space for strangers to open up and speak freely about pain, grief, and … [Read more…]

Flow Arts as Spiritual Community

Ecstatic Dance at The Flowjo

Several years ago, my disillusionment with the spiritual communities available locally bubbled over. Nothing felt like a good fit for me theologically or culturally, and yet I yearned for intentional connection with similarly seeking and passionate people. I needed a community. My embodied understanding of divinity and search for a non-theological, non-hierarchical, quasi-spiritual community eventually … [Read more…]

Intellectual Curiosity as Holy Devotion

Hands holding sapling in soil

A significant part of my spiritual practice involves exploring the tension of opposites  – learning to create and grow in the space between polarities without feeling obligated to choose one over the other as my truth. Immanent or transcendent? Both. Embodied or abstract? Depends on the context. Intellectual or spiritual? Yes, please. My panentheistic view … [Read more…]

What I Believe: Panentheism

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I’ve always felt that our personal narratives shape how we come to know and understand the Divine, and that our theologies cannot be examined apart from the stories and experiences that lead us there. I’ve recently explored Carol Christ’s work on embodied theology, and have found a model therein for weaving personal narrative with theology. … [Read more…]

Knowing the Live Oaks: Finding the Balance Between Historicity and Inspiration in Neopaganism and Goddess Spirituality

angel oak

… Less important in the greater scheme of injustice but still pinching my heart was the realization that my trees – my breathtaking, “natural,” inspiring live oaks – weren’t part of the ancient beauty of this stunning landscape, but rather were substitutes for that ancient beauty, stand-ins chosen for their aesthetic splendor after the complete destruction … [Read more…]

I’ll Go With You: On Bathrooms and Theocracy

The window of the Switzerland Cafe in Little Switzerland, NC, where we ate lunch one day.

Last month, I took a dear friend on a trip to the North Carolina mountains. Throughout the trip we were sharply aware that we were no longer in the progressive enclave where we both lived – the tiny area whose deep blue always stands out in votes-by-county maps after elections and whose responses to discriminatory … [Read more…]

Leaving the Bubble, Privilege, and Safety

illgowithyou

Last month, I took a dear friend on a trip to the North Carolina mountains. For months, I’d been telling him about the spiritual impact the Appalachian landscape has on me – about how my heart opens when the skyline first comes into view, with its arches pushing skyward from the horizon, sculpted curves rising … [Read more…]

Living Out the Tension: Spirituality, Self-Care, & Activism in Action

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“Great art is not a matter of presenting one side or another, but presenting a picture so full of the contradictions, tragedies, [and] insights of the period that the impact is at once disturbing and satisfying.” – Pauli Murray My spirituality is inherently creative. Deep in the creative process, I open more fully to awareness of … [Read more…]

Poets, Christians, and Not Wanting to Be a Poser

OSH Statue

Lately, I’ve been pretty deep into words. Having been writing for years – essays, academic writing, and technical writing – I’ve always longed to write words of beauty and powerful metaphor, rather than direct explanations and carefully constructed arguments. In high school, some of the more brilliant kids I hung out with wrote poetry, and … [Read more…]

I See You: Can You Feel how Loved You Are?

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(Published at Rebelle Society) I see you. You may not realize it, but I do. I see you with eyes shaped by tides and waves, hills and trenches. When your joy explodes into the ether, and when the implosion of sorrow damn near pulls my heart out of my chest and straight into yours, I … [Read more…]

The Tension of Opposites: Love, Chaos, & the Wild Vortex

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“Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that a high tolerance for ambiguity, ambivalence, and a tendency to think in opposites are characteristics researchers have found common among creative people in many different fields. But professional creators… come to understand that in order to be creative, they need to give themselves to sensations of ‘knowing but not … [Read more…]

First View

mountains

She lounges back on the horizon arched curves pushing up from the heart and invites me, lures and calls me, closer into the mystery. Like magic I feel my body surge spirit hurling headfirst over the highways, past time, and into the crease where one rise meets the other. There, a river slinks through lushness, … [Read more…]

A Personal Face to the Refugee Crisis

I can’t help but notice how hard it is for us to connect with news stories when we don’t have a personal face — someone we know, or a memory, or some simple way of helping us feel personally impacted by stories we read about. My closest friend from college, about whom I care more … [Read more…]