Do the Work at Hand

The bloggosphere is electric with reactions to the Trayvon Martin case.  I will keep this brief.  If you are in the clergy, bring your people together and comfort them, regardless of their race.  If you are preaching tomorrow, preach the sermon you intended, do not change your subject, rather offer a prayer for those who have come to this bizarre decision and a prayer for real change and real solutions to our colonial sickness.  If you are the member of a church come together with your youth and explain to them that they are safe; particularly if they are black and particularly if they are male.  Do not look for a reason to cause more harm here.  If you are not religious or part of a religious community, talk to your friends, your brothers and sisters, your family, and keep on talking.  We are stronger than this.

Tomorrow I will preach a sermon on Islam to a mostly white congregation.  I will preach about how I am as flawed as any racist or bigot and that in order to be the person of faith that I wish to be, I must acknowledge my failings and face them.  I ask you all as I will ask that congregation, before you react to today’s news, before you tell yourself that you are a good liberal; before you assume that you are immune to bias, look at yourself, ask yourself in your heart where you are broken and where you are flawed and dive deep into working with it to fix it in your heart.  This will allow you to see in the broken hearts of those who have just placed a young person’s life on a lower rung than that of a scared vigilante.

No injustice was ever solved by created greater injustices.  We can take back this country and our dignity and our future if we first learn how to truly love ourselves and one another.

A prayer to us all.

Last Splash

Okay folks, this one hurts.  I know that people passing is part of the circle of life, and when our favorite stars go, it should really just be a general sadness for them and their families while we enjoy the biography specials and the exposes on E!, but when I read that Esther Williams died today at 91, it kind of hit my like a truck.  You see, when I was an adolescent, trying to figure out just what was going on for me in terms of my not being attracted to girls and having a rather powerful crush on one of my male neighbors, I was also watching old movies on the TV.  Debbie Reynolds and Judy Garland were favorites; but above them all, standing on perfectly arched feet was Esther Williams.

I’m not quite sure what it was…maybe not so much a single quality, but a combination of things that made her seem at once other worldly and totally human.  In my youthful mind, she had the perfect body and face…which is a little ironic, because when I look at her now, she’s built a bit like a boy…clearly, I had formed my likes by this point.  She also seemed to have an irrepressible sense of humor.  When I watch her films now, I get the sense that frequently they had to do multiple takes because she was always cracking up.

It seemed to me that even though she was stunningly beautiful, she never took herself too seriously.  Although, that was different when it came to her swimming.  Watching her glide through the water, you could tell that this was a trained athlete, with flawless timing and technique…at least to a non-athletic swimmer like me.  She was beauty and strength and humility and glamour.  Wow.  Watching a woman like this in action gave me incredible respect for the full dimension of feminine culture.  In a bizarre way, seeing her was the beginning of me understanding that the other little boys and the terrible way they talked about girls as objects wasn’t right; nor was the way that some of the little girls acted like objects.  There was obviously much, much more to being a woman.  What a great foundation for getting to know the powerful young women of my teens not to mention the women of my family.

So to Esther and her family, I send a prayer, immense gratitude and a wish that somewhere some little gay boy is watching your old movies, looking at you and thinking, as I did, “if that is what a woman can be,  then I will always be in awe of what woman can be.”