Tag Archives: church

Well hello, sunshine.

15 Nov

You’ll notice a little house-cleaning has been underway here at TMIForever. That’s because a while back I decided that I would use this lovely readership I’ve built here and this “safe place” we have established here to discuss some taboo, “tmi” subjects: politics and religion.

My good friend Lemmons once said, “Politics and religion are my two favorite subjects. I don’t know what everyone else’s problem is.” That tickled me, and it suits me well, too. I can discuss both and rarely get angry when differences in opinion or philosophy are discovered. I’ve yet to meet a person with whom I agree on everything anyway.

I have, however, become very upset when I feel attacked because of my beliefs. I’ve felt “treed” before, like prey. Remember how Chuck used to get so angry when discussing politics with me that he would fly off the handle and I’d wind up in tears? I’ve never understood the anger some people feel when they encounter diversity. Is it fear? What in the world do y’all think I’m gonna do?? “One day she’s blogging about her Marxist ideas, and the next thing you know she’s setting up an Occupy tent city with her commie pinko queer buddies and planning topless nature walks with her gang of hairy-legged hippy girlfriends.”

Seriously, y’all. I have a good number of regular readers who live outside of the Deep South, many of whom have never even visited here.

Let me tell ya, this is one amazing place. It is beautiful. It’s inspiring. It’s fun. The smells, the sounds… even when you’re alone the nighttime bugs serenade you. There’s always music, some of the best music you’ll ever hear, even if you search the world over twice. The people… there’s nothing like ’em. Colorful, entertaining, industrious… story tellers, too. Man, the story tellers we are so fortunate to have. And the stories … they’re woven in honeysuckle and poured out in drawl so thick it could transform bathroom door graffiti into poetry.

Plus, we have tomatoes in the summer. I know other places do too, but not like ours, vine ripened in the sweltering Mississippi heat and oppressive humidity. They are damn fine.

The South is not a difficult place to live. It’s hard to think of leaving most of the time.

There’s just these two things…
1. Mosquitos
2. Intolerance/Fear

I’m not sure why so many people in the rural South are afraid, and I don’t know exactly what frightens them. I know change is hard for many people, regardless of where they hang their hats, but mercy are Southerners terrified of progress.

It’s weird the progress Southerners fear, too. Like they appear completely fine with a few select food manufacturers monopolizing the market and genetically modifying their meals, pumping them full of chemicals, mimicking natural tastes and selling “food” that kills people via cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity…

But let people of different races start breeding and they’re fanning themselves in a frenzy, wondering why the entire world is oblivious to our final destination when the road is so straight and we’re clearly traversing it in a handbasket.

Still, as a church friend of mine likes to say, “We don’t live in a war zone. How can anyone say it’s ‘hard’ to live here?”

True story… but just because you don’t have a brain tumor doesn’t mean passing a kidney stone isn’t painful. The truth is that living in the Deep South and being different, not sharing the prejudices that have such deep roots in our clay soil, that can be a scary existence sometimes. And a lonely one.

When my mother was a teenager, someone who lived the way I do and voiced opinions that I’ve voiced would have had a brick through her window and a cross on her lawn at best. At worst, she’d have her uppity ass put in her place by being raped and beaten into submission… or killed.

Ann Moody was a young black Mississippian during the Civil Rights Movement. She was born and raised in Mississippi and has some stories that will cause you to lie awake at night, scared despite being over 40 years away from the monsters you fear. She had been working to register black voters in Canton when Dr. King delivered his most famous speech. I remember her stating, (paraphrasing to the best of my recollection), “Martin Luther King getting everybody excited about his dream, his dream… in Canton we were so busy trying to keep from getting killed that we never got a chance to sleep, let alone dream.”

Is it that bad now? NO. Of course not.

The South is slow to change, but cut us a little slack. Have you driven on a country road with us? Listened to us talk? Shoooot, we don’t like rushin’ thangs.

But when it comes to basic human decency and tolerance for diversity, we honestly deserve a cattle prod to our collective rear end.

Beautiful stories are unfolding all around us here in Mississippi. And sad, heartbreaking tales as well.

I’ve been downhearted (baby). I’ve been hurt. And I’ve been ashamed, because I hurt people… or at least, for a moment, I intended to hurt them. I don’t want to use my words against people.

I’m so glad I have this community to which I may return to request support and love. I know I’m safe and embraced here and I hope y’all feel comfortable here too.

We all need a safe haven, especially us spiritual misfits, the religious renegades. This is my place.

Take your shoes off and sit a spell. Cuss if you like. Try not to hurt anyone. Apologize if you fail in that, and try again.

Forgive: Yourself. Me. Each other. It feels good, and Yeshua stressed the importance of forgiveness. Regardless if you’re religious or not, I think we can agree that forgiveness and reconciliation feel good, if nothing else.

Let’s get together and feel alright, amirite?

Seriously, just be kind and you are all welcome here, to experience my journey with me or to offer up your own story. Let’s just try not to hurt each other. I’ve experienced a lot of pain and felt myself the target of a good deal of animosity. I’d like to at least maintain this cyber refuge as my bastion against the hostility directed at not just myself, but everyone who is “othered” and outcast.

Thanks for listening, every one of you. I believe the Divine Spark exists within us all, that it is universal. Namaste y’all.

Oh it was a good day!

19 Mar

I didn’t even have to use my A-K! Sorry, I couldn’t help the Ice Cube reference.

Lately, I have been weighed down with stress and anxiety.

I’ve been struggling to get a grip on my finances. That’s a pretty big worry sometimes, among all my other worries.

The global catastrophes, assaults on peaceful protesters  and systematic stripping away of workers’ rights in my own country have multiplied my distress. You know I’m very passionate about such things, so I get really emotionally affected by the news.

And to top it off, I’ve fallen behind on updating this blog, as well as my other one (God Bless The Grass, about green living and compassionate eating, if you’re interested) and my church’s website (Liberty Universalist). It is so difficult to keep up with my online responsibilities when I’m working with an outdated, slow laptop with an electrical taped cord (required since the battery is shot) and missing keys (noteably the “s” and “d” keys, which are reduced to small rubbery bulbs that must be carefully pressed), but those “responsibilities” are the ones that keep my life sane and balanced. I love writing, and I love you all for reading and responding to me. I need that in my life, so when I neglect it for other duties, I feel both stressed and guilty.

But today I started something that turned my whole thought process around. I started theCouch to 5K program, and the first walk/jog I took was up and down my old driveway. That may sound kinda lame, but it’s rather long and very hilly:

The hills are killer after a few laps!

I have many of you to thank for this! I saw the link to C25K on Amanda’s blog. And my dear friend Lindsey Lemmons is an amazing woman and an amazing runner, and when I expressed to her my desire to start running a few months ago she was very supportive and, as she has helped people train for marathons, said she would help motivate and encourage me along the way. I believe in Lindsey, so her belief in me means a lot. This is a woman who will wake up after a night of drinking and run ten miles! I also channeled my lovely girlfriend Marie while walking, as she has always been an inspiration to me, being so beautiful and strong and athletic. And when I thought a hill was too challenging, I thought about how Dar walks all the time, even though she’s a busy pregnant mom! And I can’t leave Beth out – not only did she inspire me to get in shape, but nearly every “green” change I’ve made was a direct result of Beth’s suggestions. In that respect, she has had more influence on the person I am today than anyone I know. You all helped me through the day. I want to make you girls proud!

As I was writing this I got a really positive and encouraging email from Lindsey, so yay!

Other things happened today that made it a good day. Chris is going to help me pay off the car – AWESOME – and hopefully I’ll have that taken care of by Monday! My friend Scott called and asked if I’d like to go to a movie and out to eat tomorrow and my parents said they’d keep the kids, so I’m happy and excited to be getting out of the house. And my sweet, sweet friend Bonnie made me a Rescue Remedy (a flower essence thing) to help with my nervousness about writing and delivering the sermon. She also loaned me some books to get me started with my own flower-essence-mixing, so I’m excited about that!

My church also decided to pay the registration fees for any of us who want to attend the Universalist Convocation in South Carolina in late May, and Danny said he had some free nights’ hotel stays he will donate, so all it will cost is what it will take to pitch in on gas and a van rental. That’s SO AWESOME, because I would really love to go. The bad thing about it is that if I get a job soon (FINGERS: CROSSED!) then I may not be able to take off the Friday and Monday I would need to take off to go. And if I was able to, Bonnaroo would definitely be out because I couldn’t take off a couple weeks later too (of course I don’t have money for that – Chris was taking me). But I’m trying to focus on the positive – if I get a job that will be more fantastic than anything, but if I don’t or if I just find something part time, I still have a lot to look forward to. If I have to choose between the UU Convocation and Bonnaroo, I’m going to have to go with the Convocation. I’ve thought a lot about that, and as much as I would just DIE to hear the lineup they have this year, I am really passionate about my church and I can’t pass up the opportunity to grow and be of more service to it.

So, that brings me to the sermon. Back when the church asked if I’d volunteer for a couple Sundays this year (our lay minister only comes every other 4th Sunday, and we only have forums on 2nd Sundays – no service at all on 1st and 3rd), I started writing a sermon on reconciling scientific knowledge and religious faith. And I think it’s pretty good, but as this date approached I began getting really, really nervous about it. I remembered my minister in Cordova, Rev. Bill Neely, and how amazing and poetic he was. One thing I always loved about his sermons was that he never failed to personalize it, weave in a personal story or experience. My science/religion sermon sounded more like a college lecture (starting with the two conflicting stories in Genesis and how we don’t take the Bible literally, going through the negative effects of letting someone else define God for you and how neglecting the spiritual aspect of your life can have negative consequences, about balancing both), and I’m not sure how to weave something personal and meaningful into it.

So on my walk/jog today, it hit me: there is SO MUCH going on in my life right now, so much going on in the world right now, that I could talk about maintaining a positive attitude and radiating love, and not letting all the negative news get you down, ya know? Like, how to use your concern for the positive instead of letting it make you hostile or fearful. I struggle with this myself, but I don’t think that should stop me from exploring the topic. I’m actually so much more excited about it now that, during a moment of bravery today, I emailed my friends in Starkville and invited them! (Those would be the ones mentioned in the previous post.) I do hope they’ll come. Not to hear me speak, but because I really think they’d enjoy what we have going on, and if me speaking will get them to check it out, GREAT! I guess it’d also be nice to feel all loved and stuff too, to know they support me and believe in me the way I believe in them.

So I’ll be up all night, sermon-writin’. If anyone has anything they’d like to add or contribute, FEEL FREE! And know that you all mean so much to me. I don’t have a lot of girlfriends in this small town, and this network that we have is what keeps me going, you all keep me going, and I am so very grateful for each and every one of you.

Lindsey, after the sermon on Sunday lets go to the Refuge and talk about God and do yoga. With a bottle of red wine. ;)

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