get him

beard force

The news story below is profoundly upsetting to me.  Not only because I become indignant in the face of injustice and cruelty, but also because a major and beautiful element of my super-special summer was a Sikh.  A Sikh taught me how to free my mind and body (through kundalini yoga and mantra) thereby connecting me back into my heavily guarded heart.  Her name is Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa, and I obvi think the world of her.  So, I read this news item and I think of Nirinjan and her family and my heart becomes heavy.  And then I think of all of the black people who experience(d) the constant threat of this type of… terrorism incident.  Back when there was no such thing as a hate crime, but there such a thing as nigger hunting.  I don’t mean to be rude or abrasive.  I mean to be truthful.

ATF 1995 nigger hunting liscense

 

 

 

via

How many black men, young and old heard “get him” as they were walking down a street?… or in their nightmares?  What kind of armor does that compel a person to take up?  In 2013, when a man is aquitted for shooting a black teenager armed only with a bag of skittles, what message does that send to a community about the value of it’s lives in this society? I think we can look around and see the answer to that.  Heavy armor,  is all I know to call it. And a message of meritlessness.

I hope you will take the 6-7 minutes it takes to watch the video interview with Professor Singh.  Here are a few things that stood out as insightful and relevant to this discussion at large:

  1. (In) the Sikh community, having a turban and a beard is…a trigger for fear in the mind of a large fraction of Americans who may not know that it’s an integral component of the sikh tradition. (That) is part of the problem.
  2. ….reach out to people so they don’t feel afraid to ask, “What’s that turban? What’s that beard all about? Who are you? Are you American or not? …Learn to invite people to ask those basic questions.  People have to not be afraid to ask those basic questions.

My thought on item number one is that there are stereotype-upholding attributes (physical and/or behavioral) of “african-american” people that trigger fear in the mind of a large fraction of Americans.  And that must be a really large number because this fear response thing has been so deeply ingrained our collective subconscious that even “african americans” can be fearful of other “african americans” for no reason other than that they “are” “african american”.  (I know that that was a lot of quotation marks.  Every one of them deliberate, btw.)  That is indeed a part of the problem.  A solution may be a conscious effort on everyone’s part to understand the roots of those particular attributes and to hold the intention of healing the historical trauma.  That may mean, if you’re white, consistently seeking to understand even after you are met with the discomfort of knowing that it is truly a privilege not to be laden with such a heavy historic burden and that, while you have every right to that freedom, you are no more entitled to it than any other living creature.  If you are black it may mean seeking to understand the suffering, overcoming,  nobility, and grace that come along with this history, but not ignoring the dysfunction and self destructive ways born out of a system designed to maintain a certain heirarchy.  A system that is so well implemented that we take it for granted.  We take it for truth and we create our reality on it’s baseless foundation.  We form our identities around it and we become another fragment of the illusion unwittingly yet obediently holding it in place.

The second quote struck me as wise and necessary.  It also took me back to Maui.  The moment I met Nirinjan.  Backstory- I was in Maui for The Daily Love: Enter the Heart retreat led by Daily Love founder Mastin Kipp.  Mastin Kipp = major catalyst for my growth, so I obvi think the world of him as well- Anyway, we all gathered for the first time and Mastin introduced Nirinjan and immediately asked her to explain Sikhism and her turban and to assure us that she was not a terrorist.  Point Blank.  Just like that.  He made it safe to ask, to be curious.  He acknowledged the stereotypes and the triggers that may surface in the presence of a turban.  There was nervous laughter amongst the group.  Some expressed shock.  But Mastin was like, “we see turban, we think terrorist.”  Just like that.  Point blank.  With no judgement about any of it.  Just focusing on the truth and then… the Truth.  We all need to do that.

1236682_10151556034060756_1074345682_n

17796_10201880606883030_1526597336_n

But the responsibility does not fall completely on the shoulders of the one perceived as different.  The one with the questions has a duty here, too.  The way I see it that duty is to ask the questions in a way that acknowledge your ignorance and does not impose a sense of “otherness/strangeness/weird” on the person who has piqued your curiosity.  Also be genuinely interested and curious.  Seek to understand and see it from a fresh perspective.  More simply, be respectful.  So much of this has been born out of a lack of respect.  All around.  It’s really all just one big misunderstanding.

Sikh Professor Attacked in Potential Hate Crime

VIA

On Saturday night Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in his neighborhood by a large group of young men, who yelled the words “Osama,” “terrorist,” and “get him.” He says they grabbed his beard, punched him, and dragged him to the ground where they continued to beat him. He was rushed to the hospital with a fractured jaw and several missing teeth. Singh is Sikh and wears a turban and beard, and says he’s been profiled as a Muslim and attacked in the past, although never so violently.

Singh is a professor at Columbia University, and is also a practicing physician. In addition he has also been an advocate for addressing historic discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., which he says goes beyond mistaking this ethnic group for Muslims. The suspects have not yet been detained.

Video Interview with Professor Singh

Click here to Meet a Sikh Family

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Jy0TOw1sBkU

Advertisements

throwback (and forth) thursday

I don’t even know where to begin with this.  It is my first official throwback.  I’m fairly certain it isn’t meant to follow a now vs. then format, but it looks like that is what I have created.  A couple of days ago i alluded to having had the best summer ever.  I did.  But it wasn’t all conventional summertime fun.  It was stuff that grew me out of the places in which i was stuck.  Believe me digging up the roots that were planted in infertile soil is likely to be uncomfortable to say the least.  It’s also likely to be the most loving and wonderful thing you could ever do for yourself – and for every one else for that matter.  Basically, I got a roadmap out of the illusion of my self and this world that I was lost in.  Does that make sense?  I’m trying to get into the habit of checking for understanding in all areas of my life.  Might as well include the blog.

Here goes:

lost

 

found

Let me be clear that these are not literal before and after pictures.  I did not start the summer off significantly larger than i am now, wearing glasses and hair that is… just… poorly straightened and….well, i could go on and on but i don’t want to be mean to me…

What these do represent however is that by the end of this summer I had completely lost the sad feeling that I had not grown up to be the person I was once on track to becoming.  The highest manifestation of myself, in other words.  I had lost my way.  Lost my way inside of myself.   It happens to everyone to some degree.  I am proud to report that after a little trauma and drama plus a truly magical trip to Maui, I am back in congruence with my true self.  Most of the time.  There are occasional flare ups of the old paradigm.  i sit quietly with them until they pass.  they always do.  i spend most of the rest of my time in absolute awe of everything.  For example, I was totally in awe when a friend on Facebook who has known me since I was a very little girl sent me a message that ended with, “When I watch you on FB, I’m always so happy to see that you’ve become the amazing woman that I expected you to become.”  I cried.  I had always thought how disheartening it may have been to some people who had known me to be such a bright, sparkly little girl, grow progressively more dull as time went on.  I don’t mean dull as in boring personality.  I mean it in terms of energy, twinkle, confidence, promise, conviction, and potential.  This is not about living up to other people’s expectations.  These expectations are the ones I set first.

I have so much more to tell you, blog.  So much.  Thank you for your patience.  You may have noticed that this blog is going through some changes.  It’s about time, I’d say.  The outer reflects the inner.  I’m trying to take this thing in a direction that is aligned with my vision for my life and humanity in general.  So, please bear with me while I sort this format out, and if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!  And by suggestions I mean, “It would be nice to have a playlist embedded here.”  Not, “Stop wishing you were white and denying your blackness” or any of that low level nonsense.  Please. Satnam.

save self from other self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

autumn

In the first grade I knew a girl named Autumn.  I thought the name was weird and wonderful.  Now i just think it’s wonderful.  As is the season for which she was named.  I think I have been living in a perpetual state of spiritual fall if there is such a thing. I suppose there is now that I named it.  Anyway, translation= I feel as though consistently working on balancing light and dark, gracefully letting go (or simply letting go period- gracefully is pushing it), and accepting and acknowledging impermanence have been my inner-life’s work.  At this point all I know for “sure” is that it’s when i resist those things that I experience the most discomfort.

In honor of my fav season, here’s some stuff to ponder as fall takes over…

fall gold and red waterfall

Autumn: Reflections on the Season

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

The autumn equinox marks the arrival of the season of fall, traditionally seen as a period of changes leading to the dark of winter. In Holidays and Holy Nights, Christopher Hill points out that for Christians who observe the liturgical year, autumn is actually the beginning of the cycle. In an excerpt, he suggests that “the dynamics of the fall of the year have the sweep of a great symphony or an epic poem.”

That may explain why so many poets have reflected on this season. The Heart of Autumn contains 38 examples selected by Robert Atwan from such poets as Robert Bly, May Sarton, Carl Sandburg, Robert Penn Warren, Archibald MacLeish, and others. The excerpt from this book is “Leaves” by William Virgil Davis, a poem that conveys the mysterious qualities of fall.

What spiritual lessons and practices are suggested by the coming of autumn? Here are three areas for your meditations.

1. BALANCING DARKNESS WITH LIGHT

On the autumn equinox, day and night are of equal length. This signals the need to balance light and darkness within us. Far too often, we fear the dark and adore only the light. Joyce Rupp, a Catholic writer and poet who is one of our Living Spiritual Teachers, challenges us in Little Pieces of Light to befriend our inner darkness: “I gratefully acknowledge how darkness has become less of an enemy for me and more of a place of silent nurturance, where the slow, steady gestation needed for my soul’s growth can occur. Not only is light a welcomed part of my life, but I am also developing a greater understanding of how much I need to befriend my inner darkness.”

…”Sometimes there is no remedy for our situation than to begin from a point of absolute darkness. Turning off a television set and extinguishing a lantern have certain similarities; they are both abrupt and transition making, and can leave us in a different world. In darkness, we are always on our own.”

2. LETTING GO

As we watch leaves fluttering to the ground in the fall, we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is a time for letting go and releasing things that have been a burden. All the religious traditions pay tribute to such acts of relinquishment. Fall is the right time to practice getting out of the way and letting Spirit take charge of our lives.

sometimes let go

…Buddhist teacher Sharon Saltzberg, another of our Living Spiritual Teachers, writes in Lovingkindness about one of the offshoots of letting go: “Generosity has such power because it is characterized by the inner quality of letting go or relinquishing. Being able to let go, to give up, to renounce, to give generously — these capacities spring from the same source within us. When we practice generosity, we open to all of these liberating qualities simultaneously. They carry us to a profound knowing of freedom, and they also are the loving expression of that same state of freedom.” Fall, then, is the perfect season to give generously of your time and talents to others.

3. ACKNOWLEDGING IMPERMANENCE

Autumn reminds us of the impermanence of everything. We have experienced the budding of life in spring and the flowerings and profusions of summer. Now the leaves fall and bare branches remind us of the fleeting nature of all things. Jewish rabbi and writer Harold Kushner in The Lord Is My Shepherd suggests that when we contemplate fall’s changes, we grow more appreciative of all the beauties that surround us:

“The poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, ‘Death is the mother of beauty.’ What those words say to me is that we cherish the beauty of a sunrise, of a New England autumn, of a relationship, of a child’s hug, precisely because those things will not be around forever and neither will we be around to enjoy them.”

Fall also brings home to our consciousness death and the challenge to live every day to the fullest. Susan Jeffers in Embracing Uncertainty gives us a spiritual practice to facilitate this twofold movement:

“I was once told that certain spiritual masters in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that all life was impermament. And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought, ‘I’m still here!’ This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day.”

Finally, Cynthia Kneen, in Awake Mind, Open Heartshares an open heart practice to carry with you into the fall.

“When you are brave and have an open heart, you have affection for this world — this sunlight, this other human being, this experience. You experience it nakedly, and when it touches your heart, you realize this world is very fleeting. So it is perfect to say ‘Hello means good-bye.’ And also, ‘My hope, hello again.’ ”

autumn heart tree fall

what Loving and loving are all about

I don’t feel quite right about focusing more on Cheerios than on the Lovings yesterday.  Perhaps I did it because this is the 4th Loving Day that I’ve had this blog so felt that I’d covered that already. Or, perhaps I did it because I knew I had this one in store for today.  This article, written by the Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis (Ph.D/black woman married to a white man/woman of color and of God who stands for equal rights for all re:gay marriage) for the Huffington Post Religion blog, is all about liberty and justice for all.  On a good day I’m all about liberty and justice for all!  That there’s a place called “Middle Church” makes my heart swell.  I want to go to there.  I love knowing that Reverend Lewis exists.  I find inspiration in that knowing.  I love knowing what Mildred Loving thought and how she felt about life and love and equality, and am inspired by that too.

Let’s encourage one another to stop saying no to love.  Let’s encourage love in whatever form it arises.  Let us love that.

P.S. I also love that Willy Wonka meme, yet I have no idea what Mr. Wonka has to do with this, if anything.  That was my own find on the world wide web, not part of the Reverend’s article. Just for the record.

P.P.S. It is nearly impossible to be depressed and inspired at the same time, so let us also encourage one another to be inspired.  Or, even better, start living an inspired life yourself and watch the inspiration and the health of your community grow.

Making Love Legal

Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church

Posted: 06/07/2013

Central Point, Virginia. 1958: Richard and Mildred Loving jailed. Their crime: marriage. He was white. She was black. “We were married on the second day of June. And the police came after us the fourteenth day of July,” Mildred Loving said in the documentary “The Loving Story” (HBO, 2011).

An anonymous tip sent police to their house in the middle of the night. Making love was a crime, too, for people of different races. The police found them sleeping. They were arrested for “cohabitating as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth.” Their marriage was illegal in 24 states in 1958.

Richard and Mildred pled guilty, and received a one-year prison sentence, which would be suspended if they left Virginia. They moved to Washington, D.C., sneaking home to see family and friends. Mildred wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy who referred her to the A.C.L.U. Richard told their lawyer, “Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”

Love was not enough to mitigate the racial fear and hatred that resisted their union. It was not enough to unravel the complicated narrative of white supremacy that led to segregation, to Jim Crow and anti-miscegenation laws.

In Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision held that the prohibition of biracial marriage was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Earl Warren and the other justices claimed that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival … Under our constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

No matter what society asserts about race, no matter what religious institutions teach about race and no matter the ethnicity of the couple, marriage is a basic civil right.

The Supreme Court changed the narrative, changed the story. And it changed the culture. According to Pew Research study of married couples (February 2012), the share of interracial couples reached an all-time high of 8.4 percent. In 1980, that share was just 3.2 percent.

The narrative of homophobia in our nation is also complicated and tragic. The culture has shaped it, religious institutions have often reinforced it, and fear feeds it. I believe that no matter what the culture asserts, adults have the civil right to marry, no matter their sexual orientation.

gay marriage is illegal so was interracial wonka

And I believe this is also true: Wherever love is, God is. The writer of 1 John says, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.” I think it is important for congregations that teach “God is love” to also affirm the marriage of same-gender loving couples. They should have the civil right to marry and their love should be blessed in our churches.

On Sunday, June 9 at 6 p.m., at Middle Church, my white husband and I will celebrate Loving Day (celebrated nationally on June 12) and the landmark case that gave us the right to marry and live with each other. We will celebrate in hope that the Supreme Court will once again change the story, that it will rule on Prop 8 and DOMA in such a way that all couples have the right to marry in every state in our union.

Original gospel music by Broadway and television actor Tituss Burgess will be performed and there will be a renewal of vows for straight and gay couples. Burgess (Jersey BoysThe Little MermaidGuys and Dolls and 30 Rock), Alyson Palmer (of BETTY, whose music has been heard on The L-WordUgly Betty and Weeds), and Broadway’s Jenny Powers (Grease and Little Women) will solo at the event. Middle Church stands for the freedom of all couples to legally marry. During the commitment ceremony, all couples — no matter their ethnicity, or their gender or sexuality — can renew or make new vows to each other. We will celebrate loving, because we know for sure that love heals. Come and bring someone special with you!

Commenting on the similarities between interracial and same-sex marriage in 2007, Mildred Loving said,

I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry … I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That is what Loving and loving are all about.

Amen, and may it be so.

loving

inter-related

universe of souls

In a real sense all life is inter-related.  All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.  I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.  This is the inter-related structure of reality.“- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.