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Baptism

baptism

Baptismal promises are only the beginning of life as a Catholic. These promises are made to God and to the child itself. We are witnessing the spiritual sunrise for the young spirit placed in my arms. I will kiss them gently and welcome them.

I will always tell people that I enjoy baptisms far more than marriage ceremonies. While the love between two people can burn brightly and beautifully. truly. The softest light we pass onto our children at baptism is the basis for our understanding of love throughout our entire life.

Sin is humankind’s estrangement and alienation from God. But the youngest babe knows nothing of this. They know nothing of the struggles about to be present in their path for decades to come.

Every time I anoint a fussing newborn I am reminded of Thomas Merton: "I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen."

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night colored eyes

shotgun

The force of the shotgun blast blows him clear off his feet into the corner. Most men would be screaming from the agony, but he is not most men.

He sits there matter-of-factly as his life drains out all around him. He reaches down into it, the gushing wound in his groin, his hand lifting away covered in gore.

From that, he looks up at me with his night-colored eyes, beautiful and terrible all at once.

“For a time now,” he says, “I wondered if it was you who would stop me.”

“And what made you decide it was?”

He grins up at me like a five-year-old caught stealing extra sweets after supper.

“When I realized he was your child. It was the only way I knew I'd ever be able to pay.”

He looks away for a moment, and with a small sigh, the last breath escapes his lips.

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Aim

Aim

The phone vibrated in his pocket. Must be his mother, or worse, his ex-wife.

Thanksgiving planning was in full swing - trying to decide who sits next to who, who pissed in whose Cheerios during the year, which young spawn had new boyfriends or girlfriends or non-binary companions or whatever the horse shit one of Jack’s kids had come up with at fourth-of-July

- - and, again the phone vibrated. He reached down and turned it off, and returned to his meeting.

“Technology is next on the list, Jason, you’re up.”

Walking to the front of the room, he flipped up his laptop.

He plugged in and brought up his first slide, “As you can see, revenues from our social sharing…”

The round video conferencing speaker let out a short chirp, “Network connection lost, call ended.”

“Fuck. The network is down.,” said one of the sales directors.

“Today is obvious duh, huh dip shit? Its month end how are we going to get work done?”, said someone.

“Great, Jason, you could have just said your presentation wasn’t ready.”, someone said in the room making the others chuckle.

He stood mournfully in front of the slowly emptying room. He unplugged his laptop and followed everyone else out.

As he turned the corner towards his desk the lights in the office flickered, then went out. The slow whine of everything electric spinning down was quickly replaced by an eerie silence.

The office manager eventually came through and said it was a rolling blackout - and that if you could work from home you should probably do that. He methodically collected up his stuff, giving out a big sigh as left the office.

“Today was supposed to be my big day,” he mumbled to himself, “my big day.”

He got in his car, punched ‘home’ on his navigation and started the drive home when the red engine light came on.

“Perfect.” He mumbled.

He soon found himself walking home, having left his Prius with a dubious mechanic for diagnosis.

“My big day,” he mumbled to himself.

“I’m sorry I ruined your big day,” said a youthful, but apologetic voice.

He looked up to see a little girl standing in the road in front of his house. Was it a little girl? The hood on the coat made him not so sure. She wore a strand of white Christmas tree lights that were curiously plugged into her pocket somehow.

“I’m new at this - and well, my aim is not the best that it could be?”

“Pardon?”

“My aim.”

“I’m sorry - this isn’t making any sense.”

“Death rarely does, I suppose?”

“Death? What about death?”

“Well - I killed your network, then your car - and I was supposed to kill you. But my aim was off.”

“Kill me?”

“Well, your fate was to die of a heart attack this morning at your desk. But- you were so excited about your presentation. 

It didn’t seem fair 

     - so I killed the network instead. 

But my bosses were like - killing a network is not the same. 

'You march right back down there and give that man his heart attack.' 

So I came back - and saw that you didn’t get to make your presentation, you looked so sad, so I killed the electricity.”

“And my Prius?” he said nonchalantly, playing along with the logic of the strange little girl.

“Well, that brings us to right now. I tried to kill you again and managed just a red engine light. so embarrassing - - but at the Toyota dealership, I tried one last time and instead killed the Prius - - which fell off the hoist that belongs to the dubious mechanic, well, and onto you, while you were waiting….

but I couldn’t let you realize I’d killed you by dropping a car on you...

 like something out of looney tunes. 

So I waited to tell you once you’d gotten home.”

“So my body is actually back at the dealer crushed under a broken Prius?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“That’s actually a lot nicer of a death than a heart attack at my desk.”

“You think so? That’s kind of you to say.”

“Tell me, is there powerpoint in the afterlife?”

“Oh dear me, no.”

“I’m liking the thereafter better already….”

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Weaponized, Real Beauty

you are beautiful

"I grew up like a neglected weed – ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it." - Harriet Tubman said that 163 years ago. For a lot of us it might as well have been said yesterday. 

You ask most folks how they describe liberty today? They respond with learned vague platitudes - a home, a good job, a healthy family. I grew up watching the generations before me come home at night completely ruined chasing that liberty down. Chasing that definition of freedom. 

What good does do us if there is nothing left of us to enjoy any moment of it. Running ourselves ragged? People tie themselves down t'all these preconceptions. A home - you could be free there, if home didn't mean church cuz momma tells you to, if home hadn't mean neighborhoods with bullet holes in the sidin', if home meant my opinion had any value because I'm a girl. A good job? I can clean hotel rooms or fight in a kitchen for minimum wage. Go out and beg for the professional scraps left at someone else's table just so we can say we have a good job? and don't even start me on a healthy family -  we all know that doesn't even exist anymore? Nope - the scars on all of us show us that truth.

I went from high school graduation - right down to the school of beauty. I learned how to craft someone from caterpillar, through chrysalis, and onto a full on butterfly in just an hour's time. 

When I was a girl, I took all of Harriet's words, all those painful lessons she left for us to learn? I took it all for granted until I got the first month's books done at the salon. That's when I realized that I hadn't had any experience of the liberty - and I was ignorant of it as generations before me. My next choices would define me.  Not what I was expected to do by anyone else, but what my heart told me was right. 

Tubman said proudly once, "I can say what most conductors can't say; I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger." Now before we get all too up at it, its not like a chair in a salon is part of some grand underground railroad. 

However, when you see a sad woman's eyes light up with surprise when I turn her towards the mirror, you know this is their first step on the way to something else. None of my business where they pivot to, as long as when they are with me they achieve that moment where they 'see' beauty. You have never seen transformation like a black woman who looks in the mirror and for the first time in however long, sees how beautiful she is. She sees how she won't ever let herself be seen otherwise again. The power of having that as a truth always inside you? 

Weaponized, realized beauty. 

So, you ask me how I define liberty? I see it as an untetheredness. None of those other expectations weighin' me down like an anchor. I don't have a whole lot, but what I have I am putting to work. That's me putting MY freedom to work. 

I may have grown up one of the neglected weeds, but baby - Baby, watch me now. I'm just starting to bloom. And you'd do best by just makin' way.

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Spiritual Awakening

bouncing

It's that situation we've all found ourselves in where someone serves you a food you absolutely fucking hate. You are assured that obviously someone hadn't "made it the right way" for you yet. That kind of bullshit is never true, because now there you are, sitting in front of a giant pile of something you hate, except 'this time' it's served pureed with a sprinkling of pine nuts.

I'd come to the beach to attend to a 'Spiritual Rebelfest' on the recommendation of my friend Fran.

Fran is now firmly on the coal list come christmas time. Real dark, sooty, gross, earth-destroying coal.

I'd accepted Fran's challenge to come with a deliberately cleared mind. So much good that did. The introductory meet and greet was followed by nearly two hours non-genderspecific-splaining of the fucking rules.

I'm all for like minded folks to do stuff - but if it all that comes tightly wrapped in a bunch of rules meant to keep you from taking any kind of real risk, it's like planning an orgy and asking people to not fuck. Exactly - where is the fun in that? Purposefully zero fun environments make me a grumpy son-of-a-bitch.

I should have known better when the featured speaker was described in the Rebelfest guide as "a Jedi-infused, interspiritual smorgasbord of universally attuned awareness with stories that which will awaken and encourage the depth and breadth of ourselves to flourish, even in the chaos of our times." They left out - "hasn't been laid in a decade and blames everyone else. It couldn't possibly be him."

I used to think that compulsory conformity was part of just how gay people interact. The awfulness that can come from 'organized gay.' Pissy gangs of queens permanently choosing to trade snark and sarcasm for compassion and sensible wit. Some of uglier parts of humanity I've had the displeasure to view. Normal mean behavior but on fire. Mean behavior you'd never tolerate anywhere else in your life - but on fire, and usually involving the penis.

Rebelfest had truly opened my eyes, the truth was that organized ANYTHING was a giant steaming pile of fuck-you-I'm-out. They could be straight, gender binary, vegan, --- I've even encountered this dehumanizing shitshow behavior at silent retreats. It takes a PhD in complete human dysfunction to even fuck up silence.

As I left the "Welcome Plenary", one of the moderators greeted me in a stepford-wife voice.

"Remember that after 9p.m.," she said pointing at my device. (Because actually saying the term 'iPhone' is supporting income disparity and slave labor on circuit boards overseas), "Those are forbidden, they block the energy of the mind chakra. Ppeace will be with you."

Without answering, I took out my fucking iPhone - and before reaching my dormitory I had booked myself into an AirBnb down the coast. I spent the weekend bouncing on the mattress, occasionally taking breaks to drink giant big-gulp sized glasses of Pinot Noir, not giving a fuck if it broke any rules. That's some spiritual awakening for you.

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