On Our Anniversary

 

l&j - bridegroom-128

By Urban South Photo

“Right now, I love you forever. I love you for the hardest mile we walked together.” Andrea Gibson

I don’t know if i can in good faith call it my most favorite part of our wedding day, only because i can’t choose a slice of the whole cake and call it the most sumptuous.

But this is definitely the story i love most today.

We woke up on August ninth to a downpour. My mother had always told me how they had wrapped her train and head with trash bags as she walked to the church, to keep them from soaking. Saran held my hand and told me it was good luck.

Jonathan and i had always loved the rain. I told our photographer – who had managed to sneak engagement portraits in between drizzles some nine months prior – that this was just our lot. We learned to love in the downpour; we’d been engaged just two months when a plane crash took four people from our family forever, when i was in biweekly therapy for clinical OCD and anxiety, when we looked at each other and said, “are they right?”

“Are we too young?”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Postcard from Prague

PRAGUE title slide

In October, Jonathan and i did what we love to do most of all: took off for a new place to meet each other all over again. My brother Thom was studying in Prague for the semester and it was the perfect opportunity both to visit him and to explore a new crook of the world.

If you read my interview over on Viscera Stories, you’ll know that one of my favorite parts of travel is finding that the mundane is made new all over again. It’s also in that newness that i find myself meeting people i’ve known for years for the first time again. Seeing Thom, my younger-but-taller brother, expertly navigate a city in an entirely new language to him (Czech) and participating in his life as an adult was a real treasure.

prague watermarked 04

prague watermark 05

Old Town Square, all lit up at night. I loved the Astonomical Clock best, where on the hour the “Death” figure tolls the bell and the apostles process in the windows of the clock. It is, admittedly, mildly underwhelming; a Brit next to me blurted out: “Is that it? I’m off for a pint!”

prague watermark 02

prague watermark 01

ALCHEMISTS

Jonathan and i had some days to wander about by ourselves while Thom had class. We tried to find a monastery, and wound up in a nunnery, which felt prophetic. Loreta, built like the one in Italy of the same name, to honor the alleged brithplace of Mary. [Don’t question the Italian distance from Nazareth]. We had the cloister to ourselves, and every chapel was dedicated to Mary or another woman saint. I wept. We finished the afternoon with the above view and a cup of tea and a long chat with our waitress where we taught her North Carolina English slang and she gently corrected our frenetic Czech attempts at ordering the cheese plate.

prague watermark 06

PENTECOST LORETO PRAGUE BUILDINGS

Prague was also clearly a city reeling from communism; Thom was strict that we were not to speak on the trams, to stay quiet in restaurants. There was a joviality between friends, but not an openness to strangers. Religious iconography adorned almost every building, but then there were layers of grimey graffiti around the edges.

PRAGUE time eated

You cannot go to Prague and not at least walk to the Jewish Quarter – a once thriving part of the city, now full with ten times more more tourists and tombstones than Jewish inhabitants. Remnants of a not-so-long-ago genocide.

There are numerous famous sites to visit, but we decided our hearts could best handle a long time in one place, and i was most intrigued by the Spanish Synagogue.

jewish spanish synagogue

All the architecture and design is done in a style similar to Islamic art in Spain and Northern Africa – interlocking patterns, calligraphic Hebrew verses, and no images of people or prophets. All the descriptions were in Czech, but the piles of tefillin stripped from faces and mezuzah ripped from doors all now piled behind glass cases told the story well enough.

CHARLES BRIDGE

prague history

prague watermark 03

IMG_9333

Prague is often described as the new European hotspot; it’s extremely affordable (seriously, the amount of beer consumed for the pittance of pennies spent) and rich in a complicated history. On the one hand, there’s all the color and warmth of Central Europe and the Mediterranean, but on the other, there is the brooding undercurrent of Easter Europe’s communist history. It is a city coming to know itself all over again. Which is the epitome of traveling together, for me. My husband, my brother and i met between buildings of saints and sinners, over goulash and pizza, we met again for the first time and talked as old friends.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



Must-Do’s:

Have a beer in a local micro-brewery. Slash, have a beer with every meal. It’s cheaper than water.

Try goulash or, if you’re brave, point randomly at the Czech menu and smile. This game of mine has not always paid off (anchovies over cooked carrots in Spain – blech!) but in Prague i wound up with a potato-onion pancake with brie melted inside. Aaah-mazing.

Visit Loreto, the nunnery on a hill overlooking the city. Quiet, less touristy than the main squares, and very affordable. You do have to pay for a photography pass.

Pay for the pass to see the inside of the Saint Vitus Cathedral at the Castle. The stained glass is breathtaking.

Meander in the Jewish Quarter, but try to go when the crowds are lighter (early in the morning) to give the place the time it deserves. Don’t plan on doing anything fun after.

Walk across the Charles Bridge at sunset, when the vendors are closing up shop and the tourists dispersed. You’ll have time to look at the statues then, and the Vlatava river sparkles as the city lights splutter on.

Avoid: Wenceslas Square, if you can, unless it’s a date memorializing the Velvet Revolution. Otherwise, it’s an overpriced and overcrowded Times-Square-esque thoroughfare. Also, beware pickpockets and try not to talk on the trams.

Highly Recommend Miss Sophie’s Hostel for cleanliness, location, and unbelievably kind staff.



Thesis: Submitted.

Cue: blog about how utterly anticlimactic it was to shove three $30 binders fat with 119 pages into professor’s mailboxes. Subsequent happy dance, alone, in dimly lit department lounge. Mild asthma attack.

Slow walk back to dorm, took brief nap.

Response: photoshoot with self, thesis, and about 2/3 of the books consulted and employed in the writing process.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

i call it: thesis face phases.

i call it: thesis face phases.

T-minus six days until the defense.

Here & Not Yet: Rethinking Advent Days 11 – 15

It’s a proper New England winter outside, snow accumulating along brined pathways, the draft from my window at war with my clanking heater. Jonathan’s out for a walk, the novelty of pink cheeks and frozen noses still in tact. He arrived in New England just in time to experience  it at its worst best.

Day 11: Steadfast. Taken in July, when we first adopted our kittens!

Day 11: Steadfast. Taken in July, when we first adopted our kittens!

I’m not a fan of the end of the semester. Yes, it’s the bulging purple bags under my eyes and the sort of haze everyone is over finals, three papers suddenly seeming more insurmountable than they were three weeks ago. I love Christmas, i love being home – whether home is here or North Carolina – but i just don’t love goodbyes. And yet the end of the semester means i get to leave one family for another, reconnecting with people i said farewell to in September.

Day 12: Hope, given by the MHC North Carolina Alums who send us Carolinians care packages every exam season!

Day 12: Hope, given by the MHC North Carolina Alums who send us Carolinians care packages every exam season!

Advent makes the most sense to me, now. Not when i’m home with cocoa wrapped in Ghanain quilts and binging on Scandal, not when the carols are on while i’m tucking tape into the corner of the last present to be wrapped. No, Advent makes the most sense to me in this horrible tension, this waiting – the here of Mount Holyoke, the not-yet of Durham, the half-packed bags and room in disarray.

Day 13: Justice. Tibetan prayer flags, a gift from my brother Thom.

Day 13: Justice. Tibetan prayer flags, a gift from my brother Thom.

When i come back to Mount Holyoke in the fall, it will be the last semester i do this. The last time my home is stretched across state lines, the last time i feel uprooted twice over. For that, i will be grateful. I’ll have had four years of Advent, four years of here-and-not-yet.

Day 14: Gather. Not sure if Jonathan is doing the Great Thanksgiving or basking in the falling snow.

Day 14: Gather. Not sure if Jonathan is doing the Great Thanksgiving or basking in the falling snow.

But for now, i’m trying to stay focused and lost in the process all at once. Trying not to want too much stability because in six weeks i’ll be doing this whole thing again in reverse order.

Day 15: Rejoice. On I-84, due West.

Day 15: Rejoice. On I-84, due West.

I’m finishing this blog, 24 hours later, from a very-welcome hotel bed over a very-finished plate of Indian take-out. J and i have made it the first 500 miles southbound towards NC. I’m feeling less and less torn now, more focused on the miles and right turns and ensuring we have enough nutella to last through tomorrow. The tension between here-and-not-yet doesn’t feel quite so bad when on the road.

buy our book!

best thing: christmas music.

first advent photos

ReThinking Advent.

I’m usually so wary of Christianese.

You know, that sappy blue poster with Jesus-is-Lord in curlicue font. White porcelain angels on display, their eyes so dewy i want to dab them with a tissue. Pink Bibles and Joel Osteen Prosperity Gospel ickyness.

Part of it is plain old aversion, wary of anything that is covered in the sheen of Jesus but bearing the message of no-gays-here, womyn-still-are-temptress-Eve’s. Part of that is my own prejudice, my fear that there is real faith to be had even in the places that make my so-called open-mindedness run for the hills of you’re-only-open-minded-if-you’re-minded-like-me liberaldom.

And, honestly, part of it is i hate evangelizing. I doled out postcards for church services in the seventh grade because i’d found Jesus and wanted other people to do so too, but only if they felt comfortable with me asking and only if they saw the fat gay pride pin on my backpack.

I got burned. I got asked by the Christians why i could be a feminist and by the feminists why i worshipped a God referred to in exclusively masculine pronouns. And so i stopped talking about my faith, because at least feminism was more open to internal critique. Feminism sat with questions more than answers. Christianity, it seemed to me then, was all about rules and He-God and keeping the panties on of everyone who wasn’t white and cisgendered and a heterosexual male.

I got scared. I got scared i was isolating people, i got scared i was infringing on my own profession of pro-interfaith, pro-you-do-you. But frustratingly, beautifully, inexplicably, i kept going to church. Sure, i said “She” for every God-pronoun printed in the bulletin and refused to chant along certain hymn lyrics. But i stayed, stubbornly faithful and begrudging, i stayed.

It wasn’t until Erin asked me to write for what would become Talking Taboo that i even started really talking about my faith with more than my roommate and my church-going friend. It wasn’t until i fell in love with a recovering  evangelical that i saw there was goodness, good faith, real love, real commitment and real truth to be found in the very same NC churches that also took public stances for Amendment 1.

My mother calls this Jesus’ ability to love the Pharisee and the leper.

And i am called to love like Jesus. Love radically, authentically, love by holding accountable and love by listening to all who i would otherwise judge.

So in ashes, i began to really fall in love with the Church again. To worshipping Mother God, yes. But also to the pews, the Our Fathers, the muddy mess of Kingdom-coming, Kingdom-not-yet. (Or as Mary Daly would swiftly correct: Sisterhood of the Cosmic Covenant-coming, not yet).

I think that’s why i so love Advent. Yeah, it’s the tacky Christmas sweater obsession, and the spiked eggnog, and draining my bank account to spoil the ones i love. But it’s so much more than that.

It’s that waiting, that dialectic of here, but not yet. Tension and pull, leper and Pharisee, shepherds coming with wealthy wise ones after.

So in that spirit of tension, of pushing to what i am not yet but planting myself also in what i know, i’ve started doing something that feels very new. Very not-lizzie. At least, not the lizzie who dragged Jonathan to the back corner pew on the first Sunday of Advent because she was so overwhelmed by the crowd of a walloping 40 people in the sanctuary.

I’ve started participating in the Rethink Church Photo-a-Day for Advent. Rethink Church is no  browbeat-er but it’s big for the girl who gags in the “Christian Life” aisle of Barnes & Noble. I mean, come on, my Instagram is the holy ground on which only egregious numbers of cat photos and sibling funny faces can appear.

So, five days in, here’s my experience: stupidly scary to add #rethinkchurch to my pictures, surprisingly prayerful to think about how photographs of mundane moments can capture that tension of here-and-not-yet. Is it earth-shattering? Well, no, no it’s not. But it’s been a baby step.

Day 1: Go.

Day 1: Go.

Day 2: Bound.

Day 2: Bound.

Day 3: Peace.

Day 3: Peace. (Bathroom graffiti at Mount Holyoke)

Day 4: Time.

Day 4: Time. (In the Mount Holyoke Library)

Day 5: Flood, for the memories and longing of these mountains and this time in my life. Taken in Scotland in April.

Day 5: Flood, for the memories and longing of these mountains and this time in my life. Taken in Scotland in April.

And, should you like to participate as well, here are the rest of the allotted themes:

advent-photo-a-day-final

Do you have any special practices during Advent? Have you been participating in the #RethinkChristmas photo-a-day? What’s it been like for you? (Leave a comment with you Instagram name!)

I’ll post my pictures every five days for the remainder of Advent, but in the meantime, stay warm in the waiting.

current jam: Jonathan singing “Praise to the Lord the Almighty” on Skype. (“Is that your current jam?” he just exclaimed when i asked the title. He knows me too well.)

The Drive Back.

It was the ninth time i’d made the trek.

Four Augusts ago, my mother came home armed with Bugles and window-paint Crayola markers; the Bugles, because she says no road trip is complete without crunchy tornado-shaped crackers from a gas station. The markers, so i could plaster her CRV with “Mount Holyoke or Bust!” and “Go Pegasus!”

It was the first road trip to my new home in South Hadley, Massachusetts. We took I-95, with a stop-off at an Aloft hotel somewhere in New Jersey. Mom did all the driving, because i was barely 18 and really not adept at highways in New England. Further proof of my inaptitude for staying in the lines came when i realized i’d mixed up my move-in date – we were a day early. Gracious Residential Life staff handed me a key anyway, and my mother set to work arranging my furniture in spacial relation sense and i planned wall-pockets for my posters.

I remember going to the parent-daughter tea without her. I’d insisted i’d be fine if she left before all the parent orientation activities. Strapped up my red boots and Ghanaian bracelets and told myself i was brave and true like any good Mount Holyoke woman. I sat in the corner, keeping tears in my chest and falling in love with new friends all in the same cup of chai. She says now it is one of her greatest regrets – listening to me and leaving when she did.

Everything and nothing has changed since that August. I still make her mix CDs when i leave for long periods of time. I don’t record voice messages on them anymore, but they’re as carefully curated as the day i handed her my “i’m grown and going to college and trying to be cool, but damn will i miss you” CD. (I changed the title for her; something cleaner and more sophisticated in block Sharpie writing). She came over before this big drive to help me fill my van again, her spacial relations genius only paralleled by her ability to leave hidden notes among my treasures.

But the most obvious change was who i made the drive with.

IMG_4707

I picked Jonathan up from the Divinity School around 2:30 after an embarrassingly tearful farewell to our kittens (they were having a weekend with my mother). We made excellent time, pulling into our stop in Pennsylvania at precisely 10 PM. Our route has changed since the plastered-in-paint CRV days. I prefer the leisure of I-81, the highway clinging to Appalachian mountains and off-the-track home diners. And the decided lack of the Jersey Turnpike.

Somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley!

Somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley!

Sun-dappled photo opp in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Sun-dappled photo opp in the Blue Ridge Mountains!

Day two took us through rural Pennsylvania which bears a remarkable resemblance to the Trossachs in Scotland. Clearly, i wasn’t the first to think so:

IMG_4728

(I’ve also seen a rather gruesome-yet-compelling film that re-tells Macbeth, entitled: Scotland, PA)

Scotland felt so far and so close all at once. Mount Holyoke has been such a constant in my last three years that it seemed unfathomable to think of it changing, and yet i wondered how new it would look to me after nine months away.

Contemplating what it would be like returning to a home so beloved as a woman so changed sat with me for the drive. I loved my time abroad, still ache a little when i think about how beautiful Edinburgh must be in the (assuredly rain-splattered) fall. Missing my friends across the pond, missing my friends scattered across America. It had been a long summer. A summer of tremendous loss in my family, but also a summer spent with the man i’d committed to spending the rest of my life to. More transition than i thought possible in nine months away from school.

But there are some things that never seem to change. With New England temperatures come New England donuts – and our first Dunkin’ Donuts run! (I’m aware they do exist in the South, just in disappointingly small quantities!).

IMG_4730Clambering off of I-86 in Hartford onto I-91 remained a nightmare (the tunnel!) but my hands were steady on the wheel, the route still ingrained. We were staying with friends with Amherst for the night, but i insisted on taking the long way round. I wanted to drive past it, a tease, to see the campus from the roadside before moving in the next day.

My posters have changed since first year – all save one. I keep them all stored in the same long green bin, but the only recurring character is Rosie the Riveter – a poster i bought on my middle-school field trip to Washington, D.C. She’s crumpled on every corner and it takes some ten thumbtacks to hold her up, but it wouldn’t live in a room without her. Some days just need that muscle-bearing woman to get me through.

Jonathan was an asthma-saver unloading the van while i flittered with where to put what. The lack of A/C in our dorms rarely poses a problem past the fifth of September, but move-in day is always a humidity fest of misery and stale air.

And yet, all my tummy-knots were coming unraveled one thread at a time. It had been a fat nine months of change, but the campus was as beautiful as that first drive four Augusts ago. When mom and i pulled up to a building i didn’t yet know the name of that now i know houses the Religion department. My second home on campus. When we looked at the green and the lake and the Hogwarts-like library and both wondered who i’d be when i left this place. Wondered how i’d get through those first few tummy-knotting weeks.

Sometimes i still wonder. The similarities can seem minute, like the spaces between them eat away at the reminders they bear. But still, devotedly, i tack those ten pins around Rosie the Riveter. Still i look to her on those miserable Massachusetts snow days.

IMG_4811

And i’m learning, in that sluggish every day way, to sit with the paradox of big changes in small things. Jonathan and i are old pros at the distance, now, however begrudgingly so. And i wouldn’t trade that big change for the world. So with new Scottish flags on my wall and well-worn pens in my backpack, the semester is starting. And i’m glad to be home, if for only one more year.

IMG_4803

current jam: ‘from this valley’ the civil wars.

best thing: convocation!

pre-order my book here! 

Watching Mom Get Arrested: Reflections from Moral Monday.

I was ankle-deep in mud, my clammy hands in knots as i looked for her brown-haired head. The crowd was making itself a Red Sea, an aisle split down the middle of rainbow flags and Have Mercy placards. “It’s not that bad,” the lady next to me was saying. “The handcuffs hurt, but the officers are all real polite. What’s her name?”

“Hannah.” I replied, still trying to get tippy-toed height to catch her eye. “Her name’s Hannah. She’s in the white stole.”

My mom, freshly-turned 50 and a lifelong goody-two-shoes, was about to get arrested.

The parting of the Red Sea.

The parting of the Red Sea.

Rev. Barber.

Rev. Barber.

There was a man at the podium bringing down the house with prayers for healing and reprimands for the NC Legislature’s racist policies. Rev. Barber, president of the NC NAACP stood directly in front of us, fingers tapping on his waiting microphone and looking solemn. Focused. His disgust at the NC Legislature calling the 1965 Voting Rights Act a “headache” rang in my ears.

In February of 1965, in Marion, Alabama, one of the most profound but least known civil rights marches took place. James Orange, a member of the SCLC, had been arrested for organizing a voter-registration drive. 400 people had gathered in the Zion Methodist Church in Marion to walk, peacefully, in protest of the arrest. A police blockade met their walk, wherein 50 state troopers descended wielding clubs on the unarmed crowd.

Jimmie Lee Jackson, a US Army veteran, was among the crowd. He took refuge in a café, where he was beaten and shot twice by state troopers. He was trying to protect his mother. He died from his injuries 8 days later.

Jimmie Lee Jackson was the first martyr killed in the fight for the Voting Rights Act.

And Governor McCrory has called this act “a headache.” In the same week that the US Supreme Court has, in the words of Justice Ruth Ginsburg, thrown out the umbrella in the midst of a rainstorm, the very reason the Voting Rights Act came to pass is under fire. The North Carolina Legislature is threatening to pass a Voter ID law under the so-called “Restore Confidence in Government Act.” The same act that would restrict/eliminate early voting – a tool used predominantly by students and racial minorities.

And the Legislature does so in the same breath that denies 17,000 unemployed NC citizens their unemployment benefits, what Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman calls a “war on the unemployed.” And refuses to expand Medicaid. Riding on the heels of last year’s viciously minded Amendment 1, which mandated the only legal union recognized by the state was a marriage between a man and a woman – denying rights to victims of domestic violence in unwed partnerships, same-gender couples, and anyone not wed in the eyes of the State.

And this is only the beginning of our grievances with these elected officials.

Last Monday, Jonathan and i sang our voices hoarse in front of the North Carolina Legislative Building. We’d gone to the growing Moral Monday movement with our friend Aaron, each bearing a sign condemning cuts to public school funds and demands for racial equality under the law. These gatherings are headed by the NAACP but comprise of every body of people from labor unions to Planned Parenthood volunteers to more clergy of all faiths than you could shake a Eucharistic loaf at.

Last Tuesday, my mother worked at her church’s food pantry – as she does almost every Tuesday. She goes, as the pastor, to pray with the people who gather for the food they need to feed their families. In her own words,

“[…] nothing in my life compares to what I hear in prayer time every Tuesday night. Last week, when I asked for prayer requests someone told me she was peeing in a can in her house because she couldn’t afford to have her septic tank cleaned out. The toilet was all stopped up, she said. Her prayer was that through God’s mercy SOMEONE would help her and her family out. […] And the week before I prayed with a Latina woman whose son was being deported. Her tears dripped on my hand as I offered up a begging prayer for safety and mercy. What else was I to do?? I just didn’t know. I was so angry at our immigration laws and our sense of nationhood that supports them. I confess I was having a hard time loving the Pharisee in that moment…..but I prayed anyway and that prayer changed me.”

So yesterday, as i stood ankle-deep in mud, my mother clamped her hands in prayer and began to walk through that Red Sea. She began to walk for the women she prayed with on Tuesday, for her LGBTQ friends and family, for the unemployed and the suffering. I caught sight of her before she saw me.

In my head, i was still rubbing her arm at the legal briefing, singing and chanting not one step back! In my head, she was my Southern-lady mother who grew up on a farm in the rural south, a woman whose refusal to stand for oppression was born out of an acute understanding of what it means to be oppressed.

IMG_3823

At the pre-rally briefing, where all those volunteering to get arrested gathered around Rev. Barber.

IMG_3835

Guiding her to where she'd begin the walk into the Legislature.

Guiding her to where she’d begin the walk into the Legislature. Many thanks to my friend, Sara Beth, for taking this!

And then my eyes were full of her, full of her scared but determined face. Around me everyone yelled their thanks, their praise, their you-are-a-hero shouts.

We met each other’s gaze, each of us weeping with pride and humility and worry, and then she was gone.

Walking the gauntlet, she’d tell us later in front of the Wake County Detention Center. Walking into a building where they sang “Amazing Grace” and quietly were escorted, cuffed, out. Walking into a building where she would crack jokes with the police officers. She wrote later her heralding as a hero juxtaposed sharply with feeling like “an insignificant sacrifice.”

Many thanks to our friend Shay Hall, who took this picture within the Legislature.

Many thanks to our friend Shay Hall, who took this picture within the Legislature.

IMG_3848

The rally beside the Inmate Transfer Buses, where she & the other 80 participants were taken to the jail.

The rally beside the Inmate Transfer Buses, where she & the other 80 participants were taken to the jail.

My mother had a lot of privilege in getting arrested. Her job is not at stake, she didn’t have to post bail or even worry that her time in the Detention Center would linger longer than the night. She, praise Mother Mary, did not face the same fate as Jimmie Lee Jackson. The police officers that arrested her did not beat her with clubs.

We are white, cisgendered, middle-class American citizens. And we know that this gives us undeserved privilege often at the expense of people of color, trans* people, people without such job security or citizenship. We pray for a day when radical equality exists among all humanity.

We are not protesting as a means for speaking for people who cannot speak for themselves – marginalized people have their own voices that must be listened to. Not at all. We protest with uniquely our own voices, voices that are allies and amplifiers and advocates and women who won’t stand for such sexism, racism, homophobia, and greed. We protest next to signs that read: Non-theists have morals too! We protest knowing that the arrest of over 650 people now 9 weeks into these gatherings are not going to turn the tide overnight. We protest knowing our own humanness, our own frailty. But we protest, and we protest loudly.

She wrote: “I didn’t go to this protest because I dislike republicans. I don’t. It wasn’t because I love democrats. They, too, are politicians. Who I love and who I vote for every time is this God-human Jesus. I LOVE the politics of Jesus. I am smitten with his curious ability to love the leper AND the Pharisee. I want to be like that!! People like that can never keep their mouths shut!”

And i, i am grateful i have a mother who won’t keep quiet. Who practices what she preaches – literally. Who on her unsteady feet walked into a building where she knew she would face arrest. Who practices meek boldness, fierce conviction, and humble love.

That, truly, is the greatest privilege of them all.

For more on Marion, Selma, and a theological approach to the Civil Rights Movement, i highly recommend Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice From the Civil Rights Movement to Today by Charles Marsh to provide a comprehensive overviewFor more on civil disobedience, nonviolence, and the history of theologically-led political action, i recommend A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. edited by James M. Washington. 

Here’s the Huffington Post coverage of last night, as well our interview with WCHL.

The Wind in the Streets: Saying Goodbye to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the city with the wind trapped in its streets. Every corner a new gust in a new direction. My hands are always slick around the umbrella handle, its protection a moot point in the sideways slashes of water. Unpredictable and wild, the weather is the spirit of the city.

Sunset on Calton Hill.

Sunset on Calton Hill.

“No one comes to Edinburgh for the weather,” my cabbie told me as i first drank in the city’s soggy streets. Groggy and achey and smelly from an overnight transatlantic flight, i surprised myself with open eyes all but glued to the windows. I remember my toes going numb in my soggy socks. He never did clarify why people came to Edinburgh.

But even in that state of sleep deprivation, i knew.

That was six months ago. Six months of bad weather, and now i know why people come to Edinburgh: it’s that wild, unpredictable, gritty-yet-quaint magic. It’s the slate slick with water on the street, the cobblestones encouraging a hop-skip dance to stay standing. It’s getting to know the shopkeepers like i lived in a small town but knowing there are more streets here than you could ever plot. It is the sun rolling fat across the spire-dotted horizon after torrential rain. It is the bagpipers on every corner of the Royal Mile making the soundtrack of the city raucous and real. It is the “I’m Scottish!” flags in the grocery store, it’s evensong at St. John’s on Princes Street, the rainbow quilt hanging in Saint Augustine’s. Tea and feminist theology with Rhiannon. Ceilidh with Megan. Flat dinners.

Edinburgh wouldn’t be the same without that sideways rain, the muck that makes me wish i had window-wipers for my glasses and waterproof woolens.

It is the city with the wind trapped in its streets, pushing the growth outwards but never letting its history be eaten by progress. The skyline of Edinburgh is my favorite of anyplace i’ve ever been: grey-black church spires competing with the looming castle for the crown of the view. No skyscrapers competing with Georgian buildings. Edinburgh’s sky breathes into every cobblestone of the city streets.

Edinburgh is a city made of magic, the enchantment trapped in the wind that binds fearlessly wild mountains to fearlessly proud castles.

New College.

New College.

Saint Margaret's Chapel in the Castle; the Castle from the Elephant House.

Saint Margaret’s Chapel in the Castle; the Castle from the Elephant House.

It was an excruciating farewell. I know, in my heart and in my ten-year plan (color-coded, of course), that the enchantment of Edinburgh is not done with me yet. But i didn’t know when i’d be back, and that was painful. I hate goodbyes. I don’t know anyone who relishes them, but i felt there was just one too many this time.

And the worst goodbye was the city itself, because the city is to me everyone in it. And the city is the wind in the streets.

Overlooking the city from Arthur's Seat!

Overlooking the city from Arthur’s Seat!

Arthur's Seat!

Arthur’s Seat!

But, as you may have heard, my Jonathan asked me a little question in the last few days we had in Edinburgh that has had a pretty big impact on our lives. So there was a big tug pulling me across the water: families eager to clutch our hands and coo over our giddiness. Big plans to make and old friends to see.

My flatmate Savannah wrote on her witty and wonderful blog* that she drew a distinction between being excited and being ready to come home:

“People keep asking me if I’m excited to come home. The answer is simple, of course I am! I think what they mean to ask is if I’m ready to come home, and this is a much more complicated question.”

I think i was a mix of ready and not ready, excited and dreading it.

All those months ago, my nose pressed against the window of the cab i felt that lurch in my stomach. The oh-no, i-like-this lurch. The scary fall and willingness to let myself fall all at once meant i knew, even then, that a similar cab ride back to the airport would be excruciating. And it was.

phone watermarked

But i couldn’t be more grateful that it happened. And, in the words of Scotland’s greatest poet Robert Burns:

But boundless oceans, roaring wide,
Between my love and me,
They never, never can divide
My heart and soul from thee.

Until next time, Edinburgh. I’ll wait for the wind.

Sunset from Calton Hill.

Sunset from Calton Hill.

current jam: ‘then i met you’ the proclaimers.

best thing: chai tea.

*Which all of you should go read, because it really is one of the best blogs you’ll ever come across. (I’m a wee biased, but still!)

Faerie Frolicking on the Isle of Skye!

In the midst of all the excitement surrounding the Indiegogo campaign for Talking Taboo, i’ve let my recounting of Scottish Highlands adventures lapse. But no longer!

After our morning in Dornie admiring Eilean Donan Castle, Dad and i set off for the much-anticipated meander through the Isle of Skye.

Can you spy the Skye Bridge?

Can you spy the Skye Bridge? (Look to the right!)

Living in a flat with 11 other people and only one not studying abroad, i’d heard songs waxed lyrical about the beauty of Skye. It had only mounted my anticipation to see it myself – craggy mountains, frigid sea, ewes in such abundance i would have no shortage of puns to make.

My father, on the other hand, was not too ecstatic that the only thing i’d suggested we do, rather than just see, was the Faerie Glen south of Uig. (He was never one to clap in the Peter Pan scene when Tinkerbell fell flat). But Uig was at the northern crest of the Isle, so we took the morning to drive through Skye’s wee little towns and not-so-little countryside.

We also couldn’t resist a stop-off at a little knitwear shop called “Hand Spinner Having Fun!” Dad tried every sweater in their arsenal on, but to no avail. Being the size of a medium oak tree (as J would say) has its disadvantages. He did, however, procure for me a warm hat-like thing to keep my ears from getting redder in the cold.

The shoppe had a cat!

The shoppe had a cat!

The Cuillins.

The Cuillins.

P1010942

There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic to contend with, so i managed to snap what i think might rank in my top-ten favorite photos (of mine) of all time:

skye watermarked

Well, not much traffic save the rogue sheep or two.

IMG_2746

When we at last reached Uig we prioritized food over faeries (bet you can’t guess who prioritized that list!). There wasn’t a whole lot to be seen in town – a ferry (without wings, alas), two restaurants, and a gift shop. It was the kindly gentleman behind the counter who gave us better directions to find the odd road off the main one to get to the Faerie Glen. Suddenly, i was five years old again and half-tempted to buy the faerie dust for sale. Instead, we settled on post cards and set out for the road posted as “Balknock.”

And at its end we found the Faerie Glen.

P1010958

The Faerie Glen!

The Faerie Glen!

I clambered out of the car with a jolt, frolicking in the muddy sheep-paths and delighting in the conical hills.

“What exactly makes this a faerie glen, anyway?” Dad asked behind me. I was initially too busy clapping my hands and repeating that i did, in fact, believe in faeries, to answer.

“Isn’t it obvious?” I was all sass. “Faeries live here, Dad.” I think i even did my best toddler-pout.

He mouthed an “oh” and snapped another picture.

In the end, i think the glen won him over. We split paths, he up one hill and i its cousin, drinking in the damp glamour of this little corner of Scotland.

We took matching opposite-hilltop photos!

We took matching opposite-hilltop photos!

The rain was in a pelting phase by the time i at last un-muddied my boots and plopped in the car. Once more, i asked the universe to invent windshield wipers for glasses. We were off again, back to the south of the Isle. There was a bounty of waterfalls, a hop-off at the gorgeous Talisker distillery (we were too late for the tour, alas) and even a rainbow over the sea.

P1010924IMG_2804

Rainbow over the sea!

Rainbow over the sea!

We stopped in Portee for my favorite British delight, millionaire shortbread, and some hot chocolate to warm up. (I also may, or may not, have taken seven or eight maps of the island for my collection. They were free! I couldn’t resist!)

skye watermarked 01

Casual roadside sightings in Skye!

We were bound for the B&B which was nestled near more castle ruins and a seaside port. It was a charming end to a breathtaking day.

Dad would like you all to know he took this one.

Dad would like you all to know he took this one.

P1011007

I won’t say i convinced my father to believe in faeries, but i think Skye’s magic did a pretty good job of enthralling us both!

current jam: ‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ janelle monáe featuring erykah badu

best thing: my friends come soon! and so does a certain non-medium-sized oak tree lad!

support talking taboo on indiegogo!