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2 months ago

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Photo: I had to bake bread today…

You see, I was hoping that I’d wake up today with the sunshine and feel a little better about things. Surely lack of sunshine is what set me in my bad mood on Monday morning. Problem is, I didn’t feel better. I took one scroll through my Facebook feed and just felt just as bad, if not worse. This world is so awful right now. It’s been awful, but it feels particularly awful right now.

I might be feeling acutely sensitive because the story about the two men in the Philly Starbucks hits really close to home. I live a life where I’m the only Black body in the rooms I walk into. Daily. The grocery store, my favorite little breakfast joint, my favorite little lunch joint, that favorite little bar where I like to meet friends, my local Starbucks, my church, my bookstore… My daily life is spent being the Only. Yes, there are other Black people who live in the area, but we are so few and far between that it’s actually rare to cross paths.

Sometimes, I can be good humored about it all. I’ve been known to crack the joke to break the ice and just get it out there. People either relax or they don’t, and I instantly know who I’m dealing with, which can be very helpful. Other times, I have to be extremely self-conscious and incredibly careful. I have to be aware of my movements, my hands, my purse…  But last week’s news and this week’s subsequent think-pieces (and other incidents reported) have really struck me hard. Being a Black body in white spaces is hard. It’s stressful. It’s exhausting.

And that’s just thinking about me. When my thoughts inevitably venture to these two boys of mine… Lord, I feel awful. I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing. I feel like I’m dooming them to something unspeakable. I’m questioning a hell of a lot of life choices. I feel damned for doing, damned for not doing.

I’ve been working on my sermons for church (yes, sermons, because there are two services and I think I need to tell two different stories) and I’ve been trying to find the hope to weave into the lessons and the gospel. It should be a slam dunk. Easter 7 in Year B, for ya’ll who know you’re liturgical calendars, is Jesus instructing his disciples as follows: ““This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Oh man, so easy, right?

But in our context. This context? Lord.

And how do you stand up and preach this lesson in this context to my church, untrained as I am? And then there is the “I’m the only Black person here” part.

I’m not sure how to do this in a way that doesn’t melt everyone’s faces off. I’ve been known to do that without even trying.

I have written many times that I know the world isn’t ending because there are people still baking bread. When the anxiety is overwhelming, I pick up the basic ingredients and preheat my oven. Today, I made bran muffins because I needed something warmer and browner, something that would bring something rustic to the air of this home. I also wanted to burn a different kind of fire in my gut. Something sustaining instead of something out of control. The result was the photo above, 12 simple little muffins that the boys devoured. Their scent still lingers in the house, even this late in the afternoon. I can’t fix the world with bread. But I can recenter with it.

My Quiet Thoughts aren’t quiet today. They are loud and anxious, questioning and afraid. There is anger, of course, about the injustice after injustice, the bias, the bullshit… Reading stories about people complaining about Starbucks closing their stores for an afternoon of training. Reading stories about people harassing Starbucks employees. Watching video and seeing stories of places calling cops of Black people lawfully in places of business. The wall-to-wall coverage of the death of a local officer here and the outpouring of loving support for his K9 dog in the face of the the ambivalence, time and again, for the Black men killed and the families left shattered in the wake. I don’t have the spirit for it. Not today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.

I’ll share my little surprise that did lift my spirits this week:

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First of all, thanks to my awesome camera, I was able to get a photo of the kits for the first time ever on this blog. These photos are a bit blurry because we’re talking my telezoom lens, my 100 year-old wonky glass windows and the storm window. I’m going to get The Husband to remove the storm window this weekend so I can get a better view next week.

There are seven kits this year, which is the biggest litter we’ve ever had. Usually there are three or four. I don’t know how this mama managed seven. As you can see, everyone is healthy and the little fuzzy wuzzies are really, really adorable. The boys and I could watch them for hours. Mama is also really healthy. Her coat is gorgeous. She’s lively, certainly alert, but relaxed. Matter of fact, when The Husband went out for work this morning, she sat on the stone fence and watched, two or three kits meandering out from under the barn undisturbed by his presence. It’s really awesome. I can only believe that seven healthy kits in the fox litter is general good luck for us, right? Right?? It’s gotta be auspicious. Someone please send me an awesome legend to back up my hunch!

It’s a sunny day in Massachusetts, but it’s cold and windy. A tease, for sure. We played outside as long as we could stand, but then we came in because we’re sick of being cold. There are assurances of good weather next week, but who can believe when snow fell yesterday morning? In a world full of transitions, I guess faith is required.

My Dear Reader, it is Friday. Fridays are for wishes. I wish you a little order amidst the chaos. A little time to open the windows, clean a little something, put a little laundry away. Move clothes around in your closet, Dear Reader. Break out your spring bag and put the winter one away (Grandy had a bag for every season. I’ve never been able to do that. But I aspire to it for sure!). Be sure to transition yourself, too. How do your feet look, Dear Reader? How does your skin feel? I wish you a little time to reacquaint yourself with a body that has been covered up for a while. Love what you see, no matter what you see. I wish you fresh eats. Crunchy salad, fruit-infused water, something light and bright to wake things up. I don’t just wish you a new fresh read, Dear Reader, but I wish you poetry this weekend. I wish you words that force you to see this world for its cruelty and its beauty. I wish you the compelling need to do something to make it a little better for all we share the way with. I wish you a loving embrace that lingers, a story told so well that you don’t want it to end, and one more round to toast the longer days and the growing season to come.

You are loved, Dear Reader. You are loved because you are and because you do and because when you wake up in the morning, you raise the sun a little higher for the people in your life. You give more than you take. You inspire more than you know. Shine your light brightly, denying the darkness any place to hide. Do it by simply being, Dear Reader. You’re infinitely beautiful. You’re enough and you’re amazing.

Until Monday, take care.

6 Replies to “[Quiet Thoughts] Centering Prayer”

  1. Speak your truth wonderful woman. Ask God to guide your words and remember all the times in the Bible that God called on the unprepared to do something great, and then helped them do it. YOU are not unprepared. You are more prepared for this sermon than many would be.

    I don’t have a legend for your foxes, but I’d like to point out some symbolism. The fox is generally reviled. It’s hunted and poisoned and generally seen as the lowest of the low because it outwits those in power to get what it needs and what its family needs. So this glowing picture of health who is so capable that she has brought a bumper crop of young into this world, is a reminder that the abused, mistreated and misunderstood can rise, can share their gifts, can make the world a place full of wonders.

    1. People poison foxes? I had no idea! I really had no idea that people hate foxes so much.

      Your thought here gives me chills. I’m grateful that you pointed out the parallel. I promise to treasure it. I am thinking about to make art out of it, actually…

  2. Aww — love the fox pictures! It’s so cool that you have those living near you. We have a lot of scuzzy urban foxes in SE London but… they’re not as cute, they’re just pests, so it’s taken me a while to unlearn my deep suspicion of foxes in general. But I see cute pictures of them on the internet and I realise they’re not all like that — some are totally adorable.

    1. I’m so surprised that people don’t like foxes! And I didn’t know that foxes lived in urban areas! I’m learning a lot over here!

      1. Yeah, they’re scavengers — eat out of people’s bins and stuff. Which is why people who live in urban areas tend not to like them, because we’re only familiar with that kind!

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