Saturday, May 9, 2020

Call Me a Momma’s Boy Again
Call me a momma’s boy.
Call me a momma’s boy again.
It doesn’t matter what you mean by calling me such a name.
If you think that calling me a momma’s boy is an insult,
that your words define me
as weak, or afraid
then you are very much mistaken.

I don’t know about your momma.
I do know all mommas are not the same.
I’ve lived long enough
to know some momma’s
never should have been,
but are
despite a lot
of life situations.
I know some momma’s struggle to be.
I know some momma’s never got a chance to be.
I know some momma’s whose chance
to love their child into adulthood get’s snatched away.
There are all kinds of momma’s,
all kinds of stories.
I do know my momma,
and as one of her three children, I can tell you
what it means to be her boy.
There’s an old photo of my mom
holding me when I was an infant.
I love that picture.
I’m asleep…
my big mouth wide open,
my head resting on her shoulder.
I didn’t know much then,
but I didn’t have to know anything to be loved and to love.
I know a lot of things now.
One of the things I know without a doubt is:
the woman who birthed me is fiercely
beautiful and strong.
Way back in the day
when culture worked to define women
within the confines of the home
as a homemaker, or a stay at home mom,
my mom
stepped outside the box and became.
What she became
has had a lot to do with what I have become.
She’s taught me a lot about life:
Be who God created you to genuinely be.
Expect others to be genuinely who they are.
When you fail to be genuine…admit it.
When others fail to be genuine…be aware.
Care deeply about your history, your story, where you came from.
Do something that matters…
that matters to you and that matters to others.
Don’t give up
even when that may be all you want to do.
Don’t stay in a box,
even when others say you should.
Laugh at yourself.
Invite others to laugh.
These are a few of her lessons for living.
There is not a day that goes by
that I remember
this woman
who gave me life
and taught me to be
the man God created me to me.
I’m proud to be
a momma’s boy.
That’s me.
I love my momma.
Always have.
Always will.
And will always be.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Don't Be Silly

Really. Why? 
Why can't I be silly? 
Why can't you? 

Oh, yes.  
I just looked up the definition: 

adjective: stupid, unintelligent, idiotic, brainless
noun: nincompoop, dunce, nitwit, ninny

the origin of the word 
coming from Middle English 
is "seely" 
which means happy.

try on the mandate, "Don't be silly!" 
translated - Don't be happy. 

And there it is in a nutshell, 
if I cannot be happy in this moment 
then you should not. 

one thing my grandmother taught me 
was that there are far too many things in this world
that are serious and bland.  

"The worst thing you could be is a bore", she would say.

A story: 
Enter side stage: 
Well, it really wasn't a stage 
it was the door to the hallway into her bedrooms.
Nana would invite/instruct me to sit in her 
gold Naugahyde reclining/rocker chair. 
She would then say, "Wait, I want to show you something!"
Disappearing behind the hall door 
I waited for her return. 

Typically, she would would model 
her new outfits hand-sewn by a neighbor. 
Each new ensemble came perfectly paired 
with her latest Sarah Coventry accent pin, or neckless. 

this time was different. 
She busted into the room with a loud laugh
wearing an off white girdle 

Who owns an off white girdle 
orange polka dots? 

That's silly!

Oh, yes!
The silliness erupted. 
We laughed until our sides hurt. 
And then she said,
"Put it on!"
I hesitated, 
but every molecule of my "closeted" life 
wanted to be silly just like my Nana! 

I put it on
and we had another round of side hurting 

It didn't stop there. 
She said, "Come in the kitchen and let's see who can kick their leg the highest.  
And we did.
We kicked up our legs 
and she would mark our kick with a magnet. 

"Don't be silly, the woman snipped 
during a meeting at church." 
Good heavens the last place to be silly, 
to be happy 
should be church.....
and I wonder 
what Jesus would say to that? 

That one silly moment in my life with my grandmother wearing that white, orange polka-dotted girdle 
has stayed with me all these years.  

Each time I remember her kicking up her leg in the kitchen, 
I smile to the bottom of my being.  

She taught me how to be happy,
because she had the courage and imagination 


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

What makes you a good story teller?

I was asked to speak about storytelling to a group.
What makes you a good storyteller? 

Early in my life, I had no clue I was born to tell stories. 

I spent the greater part of my time observing life. 
Being a passive observant was a defense mechanism.
Shame convinced me I was not legitimate and did not belong like others belonged.

Oh, I had small pockets of belonging; a few people let me in their life. 

Mostly I played a part. 

I laughed. 
Oh, you're funny, many would say. 
It was not always a compliment. 
My laughter was not always joyful.

What makes you a good storyteller? 

My grandmother. 
My children.
My coming out. 
My descent into "hell".
My slow ascent out of hell. 
My shedding of shame. 
My discovering of a sense of home.
My ability to adapt, consistently show up, take risks.
My husband who has taught me how to love every single part of life.

What makes you a good storyteller? 

Vulnerability to risk friendship and finding a new friend.
Living into confidence and no longer allowing anyone to abuse me emotionally. 
Creating boundaries and sticking to them. 

What makes you a good storyteller? 

Understanding that ordinary, simple stories are deeply powerful. 
Letting go of the idea that a story has to be perfect before sharing. 

So, I'll come to this space again.....

and share some stories.  Some I've probably shared before, but good stories are worth sharing more than once. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Rohak’s Question.

abstract painting: Questions by Linda Woods 

Rohak a young Hindu man that stayed in my home for a period of time has kept in touch with me through the years. He’s a unique man of deep compassion and thought. Recently, a Law professor shared a story with his class about his sick child and how he felt abandoned by God. This left Rohak with a lot of questions, questions that have been asked by so many other throughout time. 

Why is God killing kids for playing with toy guns, or why would he abandon this lawyer?  It doesnt click. 

His question represents his wrestling to understand what has been called evil, what comes in the form of hatred and tragedy. I responded to Rohak’s question with these words:

As for deep rooted questions as you ask, my first response is this: the Christian Church, particular Christians in America, have concocted a shallow shell of a God and of faith. Theology for the most part has been constructed of black and white sophomoric bumper sticker thought.  

This kind of faith can sustain little. This kind of faith barely sustains a person when life is good much less when it falls apart!  This kind of faith does not allow for questions or doubt or anger.

So I can't and won't defend this kind of faith nor do I won't any part of it anymore.

Elie Weisel helps me better understand the hideous aspects of life and humanity and still hold on to a belief in God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote from a Christian standpoint; his writing digs deeper than the trite shallowness that is most often promoted as Christianity.Trite theology provides nothing of value!

Faith for me asks the very questions you have posed. I have no answer to offer, because to offer an answer would ignore the deep, deep pain that comes when tragedy destroys life.Faith for me is lifting up such questions.

Jesus mostly responded to questions with a question. 

The depth of who you are Rohak comes with the compassion you exhibit when hearing stories such as the one your professor shared. That compassion that causes you to wrestle and wonder, that my friend is what I experience, what I know in my life as faith.

A Junior High girl at church told me she asks a lot of questions and she has come to define God as the never-ending Question. I like that. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Response was the Best Response He Said

                                                         my dad and my grandson 

It's Gonna BE OKAY. 
That is the title of a journal, 
a book with blank pages waiting to be filled. 

My daughter gave me the journal two Christmas' ago. 
I've only written two pages. 
The first page I wrote over a year ago.
This page ends with the words of my father, 
the last words he spoke to me using full sentences.

I had called him because he had been admitted to the hospital. 
When he got on the phone with me he had something prepared to say, 
which means he didn't answer the question I asked him. 

"Dad, how are you doing?"
To which he said: 
"I read the front page article you were in."

Then he asked me a question: 
"Why didn't you mention me? You mentioned your mother."

I knew he was poking at me.
I knew he was proud of the article. 
I knew he was pleased with the news. 

The article was about the Supreme Court decision to 
affirm same-gender marriage. 

I told him that mom was the first person to call me, that 
was all I intended to tell the reporter. 

He responded,
(and this was the last sentence he would speak to me)
"I should have been in that story too, because my repsonse
to the Supreme Court decision was the best response."

And indeed it was,
because I am writing about him today
and remembering his words today. 

It's over a year since his death. 
The second page of the journal is now filled.
This page tells of my daughters marriage that took 
place one year to the day since his death. 

That man's love reaches through the months
and I suppose will reach through the years. 

I believe it is now time for me to fill up the third
page to that journal. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Light is a Choice

Where is the light at the end of the tunnel...
the long, long tunnel 
created by what has become an 
a long-term cultural addiction to 
a system of racism
caused by fear 
nurtured by hatred
escalated by a numbing denial
that some live with privilege
and others 
to live without.

Who wakes up in the morning to 
choose to live without?

The idea that anyone "chooses" 
the very thing 
that does not allow fullness in life
is a lie.

It is a lie 
that a woman would choose 
not to be treated as an equal
that any woman consciously chooses 
to work as hard as a man and get paid less.

Oh, it's a choice that women are treated 
less than equal
but it is not a woman's choice.

It is a lie
that a person would choose
to be homosexual and be denied 
the same dignity
every woman and man 
in this world deserves.

Oh, it's a choice that homosexuals 
are not treated as equal
but it is not a homosexual's choice. 

It is a lie
that African Americans would 
choose to live in a system of racism...
would choose to live 
with suspicion
in subtle ways 
and in blatant ways. 

Oh, it's a choice 
but it is not the choice of 
any African American woman or man...
not one. 

The light at the end of the tunnel 
requires the speaking of truth
that choices 
are indeed being made.

What will it take for those
choosing to create and sustain

This question is not a threat.

This question is about another choice
the choice by many 
to begin living in a way 
that allows light
to shine on darkness. 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

And To Your Generations

The promise from the beginning included those who were to come.
The "were to come"
just became another huge reality in my family.

The "were to come" came with my grandson six years ago.
Damian James made this world a more joyful, loving place to live.

The "were to come" is coming again...
this time my Daughter will bear the gift
and her gift already has my heart swelling to
burstable proportions.

The newest "were to come"
will be
Nova Blake.

The fear and challenge that comes with living is constant:
Another mass killing follows one we are barely rapping our minds and hearts around...
while forms of injustice for many continue.

I worry
about the present and the future
but when I look into the eyes of
the "were to come"
that have come
and are about to come in my family...

I burst with love.

"As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come."  Genesis 17:9