Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Big "M"

So I got this friend who's generally not keen on the idea of marriage. The other day she asked me what's so special about signing that piece of paper? The question threw me for a minute; not because I don't have wonderful reasons to support marriage, but because signing the piece of paper was about the last reason I had for doing it. I don't think it even made the list.

Yes, that piece of paper is important in the legal context of marriage, but that's not what it's about. To be clear, I'm not using this to contradict my support for gay marriage...denying one group of people a right afforded to another group is discrimination, plain and simple. Even if that right is the intricately complex gift called marriage.

I can only speak for myself (and in part Jen but I've learned NOT to do that without prior agreement...did I mention the intricate complexities?), but something happens when you make a pledge of commitment in front of others and before God, however you understand God to be. It's like you're saying I'm going to make the effort and sacrifices to make this relationship work because I love this person standing across from me and who I am when I am with them. And marriage is work...any relationship is work if you want it to last. And, yes, you make can those promises to any significant other without 'signing a piece of paper' but again...something different happens when you do.

The best analogy (and y'all know you love my analogies!) I can come up with is this: Dating is like getting a bachelor's degree, and marriage is like getting a Doctorate! It takes a higher (and deeper) level of commitment, maturity, flexibility, sacrifice, connection, surrender, willingness. To play devil's advocate (and I do so love to play the part) perhaps I can make the case that this is an argument for lifetime commitment, and the best we have right now as a legal and religious 'catch-all' is the institution of marriage.

Could Jen & I have chosen to spend our lives together without getting married? Sure.

But trust me on this one...something deeper happened when we did.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How do you wake up?

One of my favorite spiritual teachers told me that the intention with which we start our day tends to dictate how that day goes. Problem is many of us start with fear & deception. We scare ourselves awake with loud blaring alarms then hit snooze, essentially lying to ourselves about wanting to start our day.

I usuallly wake up too dazed to even remember my name so I let music set help me start the day right.

Here's what I wake up to:

1. GOOD MORNING (INTRO) - John Legend - Birds chirping, yawning, strings, soft crooning

2. GOOD MORNING - John Legend - "Before we start the day I'm whispering in your ear...Good morning." Wake up love song. It's a new additiong to the list & Jen hasn't heard it yet but ikm thinking it'll lead to some morning suga.

3. GOOD MORNING - Lenny Kravitz - "Good morning, nice to see you, how ya been, the beginning of another lovely day." Mellow Lenny walks us through morning routine including cold shower. It is nice to see the family first thing.

4. RAINBOW - G. Love - "I woke up this morning rainbow filled the sky...that was God telling me everything's goona be alright." Nuf said.

5. THREE LITTLE BIRDS - Bob Marley - "Don't worry about a thing cause every little thing's gonna be alright." I believe I always see the glass-half-full because I grew up embedding songs like this into my consciousness.

6. I SAW GOD - Victor Wooten - "I saw God the other day...she looked like you...he looked like me." On the latest solo album (Palmystery) from Bela Fleck's bassist. It ain't easy seeing the divinity in some folks so it helps to start with a daily reminder.

7. YOU ARE THE UNIVERSE - The Brand New Heavies - "You are the universe, and there ain't nothing you can't do...you're a driver not a passenger in life" A fun affirmation song by my favorite British imports.

8. CITIZEN OF THE PLANET - Alanis Morrissette - "I am a Citizen of the Planet...my laws are of attraction...my favorite pastime is stretching." I don't need to go on again about my big love for AM. This song humbly reminds me that it ain't all about me...most of the time ;)

9. ENERGY - The Apples In Stereo - "And the world is made of energy...and the world is synchronicity...and the world is possibility" Fun pop romp just in case I'm actually still in bed at this point.

10. ALLE-ALLELUIA - Rickie Byars Beckwith - "Surrounded by the Presence...the source of all creation all creation allows my heart to sing again." Just in case the day before sucked, I got another chance to sing & smile. This song actually starts with annoying old-school alarm bell ringing so it's last onthe list.

So my early holiday gift to all of you who might be reading this: go to http://www.box.net/shared/hegnx86g07 and download the tracks. No cost to you but I no guarantees they'll all play since not all are in mp3 format.

So reply and tell me...HOW DO YOU WAKE UP?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why is this prop 8 issue important to me?

(Me, Joy, our friend Jenny)

I was surprised by my own interest and call to action on this issue. It may not seem like much, but for me to go protest in 30-degree weather is a BIG DEAL for the man from de islands! I think it was my first protest ever, which says something about my aptitude for civil unrest. But I felt compelled to act for a variety of reasons.

There was a time I would've been the one on the other side of the street holding a sign about 'Salvation' and 'Homosexuality is a Sin.' But in college I became good friends with people who were gay, and I learned that not only were they no different than me, some of them were actually BETTER PEOPLE than me! I was jealous of anyone who was so clear about who they were and could stand in that clarity.

I was also somewhat empathetic to the discrimination they suffered. Coming from a country where blacks are the majority, I did not feel the sting of racial discrimination until I lived in small town Virginia. The same state which until 1967 enforced the 'Racial Integity Act'-a law that made interracial (specifically whites and non-whites) marriages illegal...talk about a misnomer-where's the integrity in that? Not only am I in an interracial marriage, but Jen (not Jenny in pics!) and I lived and were married in Virgina. It was inconceivable to us that there was a time we would have been imprisoned for an act of love.

That insipid law was overturned by the Supreme Court in landmark civil rights case Loving v. Virginia (1967). In its decision the court wrote, "Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival...." Yet today many of us would deny that right from others because we have accepted a certain theological interpretation as universal truth. I am in school to be an ordained minister, and I was appalled by the contributions from various religious movements supporting Proposition 8 (I always maintained that separation of church and state was a sham, but there wasn't even an attempt at subterfuge here!) If being called a Christian associates me with that kind of bigotry, I want to renounce the label. But instead, and even better, I will demonstrate with my life the true Christian compassion that Jesus modeled.

One of my favorite wedding memories occurred two nights before our wedding. Jen's best friend from college was delayed so we went to the Lincoln memorial to wait for her flight. We sat on the steps with a high-school civics class as their teacher played Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech from a boom-box held high above his head (a la John Cusack in 'Say Anything'). We appreciated fully in that instant the immense sacrifices that were made so that we could sanctify or love through marriage.

I was proud have my daughter at my side, teaching her that love has no limits...not color, not gender, not anything. I know that there will be an end to bigotry. The walls continue to crumble. I know that our protesting knocked a few more bricks out of this one.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Couldn't have said it better...

Kudos to Keith Olberman for this:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So Glad She's Not A Pyromaniac!

I had a neglectful parenting moment the other day. I was exhausted and fell asleep for an hour. Fortunately, my child's not the type who likes to set fire to things when left unattended...like I was. I woke up and found her under the tree in the front yard... drawing. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have Joy as my daughter. So much so that I simultaneously want to have more and let her be an only child. As absurd as it sounds, I don't want to run the risk that number two doesn't turn out as well. Is that crazy?
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My Daughter the Negotiator

I walked into the kitchen this morning to find a note from my sweet 8-yr-old scribbled on a napkin and clipped to a bag of potato chips. It read: "These are not for Daddy! respond? Love, Joy."

There are many nuances not to be missed. First, the implied declaration of ownership. She didn't write "These are mine" or "For Joy only". There's only two of us here right now, so if the chips aren't for me, by process of elimination...

Second, she actually gave me the opportunity to respond! In writing-there was a pen there too. I wasn't sure how to respond-there didn't seem to be room for a response; there wasn't even a question, but a declaration. So I asked her how I should respond. She said, "I don't know, but have fun with it!"

Third, she's claiming the chips, not planning on being affected by my response, but doing it all in Love.

Proud to be her Dad!
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Monday, November 10, 2008

The Joshua Generation

More insights on race and Obama:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gains and Losses aka Life101 - Part.2

As the euphoria of Obama's victory and the country's awakening begins to settle, we witness another sign that indeed the road is steep.
We witness another sign that bigotry and ignorance still exist in a country that claims to be the greatest country in the world.
Proposition 8 was passed in California effectively restoring the ban on same-sex marriage.

C'mon America...SERIOUSLY?!
Don't you get that we're among the last of those still making this an issue?
Don't you get that we're still allowing religious zealots to manipulate the constitution?
Don't you get that if two men or two women get married your life WILL NOT CHANGE?
Why do some of us still cling to antiquated ideas stemming from misunderstanding?
Why do some of us resist change with every last fiber of our being?

Well as the election so vividly demonstrated, CHANGE IS COMING!
And it can't be stopped.
It might be stalled, postponed, resisted, refuted.
But it can't be stopped, and we're not going back.

Two steps forward and one step back is still forward motion.
I hardly dared to believe that I would see a black president in my lifetime.
I do believe we will see same-sex marriage legalized for good in my lifetime.
I believe love will conquer over hate.
I believe.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gains and Losses aka Life101 - Part.1

The dream is realized, and as Obama reminded us in his inspiring acceptance speech, life goes on and the road ahead is steep.
I was sadly reminded of that by a jolting phone call that brought me back from my post-election-celebration high.
One of our closest family friends called to tell us her father had passed away after a long battle with lung cancer that developed from exposure to asbestos.
Dementia had begun to also take its toll and our friend was his full-time care-giver.
So although no surprise it was no less painful.

I'm writing this from the Lyceum at Unity Village.
Bishop John Shelby Spong reminded of the beautiful gift and responsibility and sometimes burden of being arguably the only conscious species on the planet.
As a result of this gift we spend our lives questioning.
We question our very existence; the meaning of it and our purpose.
We also question the end of it, and the after of it.

But in the moment of loss we can simply be with it.
In our culture we tend to rush our grief.
But true process can never be hastened.
We cannot rush wholeness.
Feeling loss and sadness and deep profound grief are important steps to wholeness.

So in the midst of this historic global moment I'm taking the time to feel my sadness for my friend and her loss.
How much time? As much as she needs.

zune tag: nugo74