Blind Bartimaeus and You

“We have met the enemy…and it is us”.  I think that is a quote from an old comic strip called Pogo, and who knows if it predates that strip?  Almost certainly it does, as Solomon said so long ago there is nothing new under the sun.

But yeah…we are the enemy, our own enemy.  Here is what I want to get at in this post:

I have been so discouraged lately at the voice that is emerging inside circles of advocacy that I have been frequenting…maybe it was always there (likely), and I just had not heard it.  But it is a voice that sounds just like the voice that I used to hear in other circles that I grew up in and advocated for during earlier years before I grew and became more understanding of myself and others.

It is a voice of hate.wpid-img_448333691249833.jpeg

It is clumsy and has arthritic hands when it speaks and cannot hold small fine brushes or move with nuance, and so it paints with a broad brush in generalizations and caricatures…it is cartoonish, buffoonish…it is guffawing and backslapping…

…and the absolute worst is that it advocates the very hatred and othering and policing against others that has wounded and killed so many in LGTBQ circles.  Somehow, hatred and othering is okay because “they have it coming”.

I would say that I am embarrassed for the individuals to whom I refer, except that I am so deeply dismayed embarrassment is too embarrassed to show her face.  I think it is clear that hatred is a human heart problem…and will never ever be conquered by more hatred…ever.  Hatred can only be driven out by love, and when love is met with more hatred, the only secret weapon it has in its employ is grace, as displayed by forgiveness and then more love.wpid-fb_img_1425865715455.jpg

Constance:  if you fail to grasp this essential truth, then you will be doomed to circle the constellations in this galaxy of ideas and ideologies that provide us with cosmic meaning and orientation, and you will dwell in one thinking it is finally the one with no idiots or haters present inside it…until you hear the voice of hate and bigotry emanating from within the very halls you hallow and inhabit!

I am going to pick two things for examples:

The first was a simply post about a man who had taken his 2 children in a custody dispute…all we really knew was that this had happened, and there was some evidence of drug use and/or mental illness and distress…and there were pictures.

A picture of the man…and a picture of the lil guy he took, and one of the lil daughter he took…and all I saw was eyes.

Haunted eyes, each one.  Sad eyes, desperate eyes…eyes that cried out like Bartimaeus “Son of  David have MERCY on me and LET ME SEE!”  The oldest of these children (the dad) had a whole history in his eyes, no, a legacy…of pain, of confusion and sorrow, of despair served in daily doses as the only draught to drink in horrible deserts bereft of love…and the youngest of the eyes (the kids) were in pain as well, but still innocent enough to hope and believe that it would pass, the horror, like a rain storm, and momma and daddy would love each other and love them.

I burst into tears and began to beg…literally beg Mama to fly to them and rescue them all three…

…and then I began to read the comments about the article, with gleeful jibes thrown, and schadenfreude running rampant as the demise of this dad was held up as “getting what he deserved”.

Oh Mama…may I never EVER get what I deserve…Son of David, deliver me from what I deserve and let me see!!!

The second example is from a long post, written by an obviously intelligent, sensitive and aware caring young person…earnest and passionate, and on fire to move against injustice…and so absolutely certain that all it takes is her voice and the voices of her compatriots who just say “No more” and call out the offenders and the haters and the (fill in the blanks)…and I think this post dismayed me more than the first example, because she was so blind to her own broad-brush strokes, generalizations, and culpability in being an exact mirror to the sort of behavior she decried.
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She led with the typical sort of introduction that I encounter when I am defiled by the comments from my haters:

“…I am compelled, for several reasons, to respond to you. Please know that I do so out of a desire not to attack you, but for you to hear something that needs to be heard…”

Of course it goes without saying that she was not addressing LGTBQ people or individuals, or members of a group that experiences discrimination…she was addressing the people of power and privilege…people who should know better (or should they?  Are they not mere imperfect people?  Do they not have the same issues and struggles we all have in their beings, in their ontological journeys?).

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She is compelled.  Constance, none of us is merely compelled…there is also the issue of will and choice…we feel that something is absolutely essential for us to comment on…and then we cross the Rubicon and say “compelled”…or “have no peace until I tell you this”…oh I have run the gamut of what excuse people devise in order to unload.  And there is also the assurance that there is not a desire to attack.

Did you see what she did there?  What is always done when we are going to go on a hunt for specks in our sister/brother’s eye?  It is the way we attempt to look around the beam sticking out of our own, and it is always the same:  I do not want to attack you or hurt you, oh NO!  But I am “compelled” to…I have no choice, and Ima bout ta unload both barrels on your ass, so it is your own fault for being such a (fill in the blank)…

…and then we warm to the task.

“…What is sobering and disturbing to me is that you’re so wholeheartedly standing with these men who say that so many people out there, who just want to be loved and cared for equally, without fear of persecution, like everyone else, are less than you, less than me, less than anyone else who is…”

Generalization…broad brush.  “These men who say” … “…like everyone else” … “less than anyone else who is” (and another place to fill in the blank with whatever issue is pressing on the compelled one’s heart.

And then the rest of the letter unfolds…paragraphs written passionately, eloquently, and for the sake of the forum just washing over the individuals who comprise any group on any side of an issue.  I found myself stopping during each paragraph and chewing on the nuances lost, the ways that history was condensed down to make some tired old point, and worst of all, the ways that the very audience to which she wrote was treated with the same disdain and othering that she decried was happening from them.tumblr_nob12yGJx91t5dsq4o1_500

And I cast my own mind back…to not so long ago…when I was unconscious of myself and still ripped in twain by dissociation and societal policing from childhood on up…when I myself held to the things I had been taught and thought I never had reason to question much…when I had a Christian ideology that said homosexuality was a sin…even though I interacted with many people in churches who had confided in me their struggles with their orientations and desires and their love of God.

While I never believed that God was going to send them to hell, I did cast a jaundiced, privileged eye on mentions of this issue of homosexuality that are in the New Testament and gave a casual shrug and not much else, no study really, no research into cultural context or hermeneutics…

…during this time of my life the trope “hate the sin but love the sinner” was my attempt to somehow reach out and love my fellow humans struggling in this life.

I see now how deeply othering this attitude was, how privileged and unwittingly high and mighty this was of me in what it actually communicated…

…but my motive for doing so was not…NOT what is so often accused:  an excuse to hate…it was a weak, half-hearted attempt to love and reach out to them in spite of our differences.

I knew thousands of people just like me in this regard…truly interacted with thousands…conversations, shared meals, shared prayers and tears, even shared sweat and blood…and they are people who love God, and love people too…and are whether they know it or not just like old Blind Bartimaeus crying out to Jesus as He passes by.So when I read things like this, and there are many…I remember these people (some of them even read here though they are not among Constance…they are Reader, because they still think that sexuality and gender orientation are synonymous) and my heart recoils when I feel the rage and intensity of articles written about them, to them that are written to an individual but aimed at a whole group.

I invite you over to read this article for yourself, and what scares me the most is that I might in my inadequacy and my own clumsiness misrepresent the writer or conjecture what is in her heart…and if I do, dear sister, PLEASE forgive me in advance.

It is not her writing it that I am disturbed by…but rather the way that the very tools that are used against me daily I see being used against people like so many that I know…and I imagine that those words will do no more to change their hearts than the words of the haters here at Grace Notes change mine.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freedhearts/2015/05/20/a-straight-christian-mom-responds-to-dobsons-attack-on-gays/

What is tragic is that this article has appeared in other forums authored by a voice that is unusually balanced and deft at writing about these things without generalizations and broad brush ad hominum attack…without resorting to trope and cliche…it has appeared because there are a lot of really good topics that this writer touches on and I am sure that he wants those things to be noticed and contemplated.

But the comments…oh Mama, save us.  Gleeful…piling on…and centering each and everyone of us back in the skin of…

Blind Bartimaeus.

We have met the enemy…and she is me…the enemy is us.

Oh Constance…how about this?  Simplify it, and do justice.  Love mercy.  And walk humbly.

It’s okay to love people…even the ones who despitefully use you…yes, even “brunette” who writes here to hate on me.  I bet my bottom dollar that “brunette” truly believes that the words sent to me will somehow “jolt me awake” and draw me “back to the Lord”.  And I know that the letter I was sent by a friend for over 3 decades was written with a truly heavy heart and accompanied by the firm conviction that they were wounds from a friend, better than a thousand kisses from an enemy.  And the man who said that I was demonized literally believes in his heart that he spoke to me “the Word of the Lord”, and rests secure and yet sad for me.  I know he feels like God gave him an unfair task that he took on in love.

He is wrong of course…and yet that has NOTHING to do with his intention and motive…and so that is what I look for, search for…in justice and mercy and humility.

Imagine the shock and surprise of Blind Bartimaeus when Jesus gave him sight, but instead of seeing what normal people saw…he saw thru the eyes of God.

In deepest love, and true sorrow if I have hurt or wounded anyone in this writing…please…let us truly be of a different ilk than those who we feel are wrong.

It’s time to shatter mirrors, and behold Him and be transformed.

 

Tattooed On My Heart

I have seen some gawd-awful tattoos
Oh, it isn’t the theme so much…
it is the foolishness of letting
a needle that is marking permanence
and making marks that will last forever

be wielded by a clumsy hand,
a hand unloving, a hand unkind
worse, a hand that simply doesn’t care
or even know to care or have a clue
what Tender Mercy is

(on the wings of a snow white dove…)

I am thankful for Their Needle, Their Words,
Their Implacable Mercies that zing
again and again and again
to render marks eternal
indelible on my soul, forever

and rend my skin irrelevant
because They have become
Tattooed On My Heart

Impossibility Concealed

I saw this quote just now…and I want to comment on it afterwards.  Read on:

It annoys me so much when people take advantage of someone’s kindness.

Please note:  if a person is truly being kind, it is impossible to “take advantage”…you have already been given advantage.  Any “taking” involved is just your mental gymnastics performed to justify something within yourself…the mere propping up of an ego-centered and self-oriented world view that fosters the idea that anything good must be taken.

The humiliation of receiving…it is a huge stumbling block for so many, and yet the privilege of being kind can overcome it.

Because kindness is only kindness if it is given with an open hand and a priori of any sort of reaction by the recipient.

How you respond to kindness given says nothing about me and everything about you.

Why not choose and act in kind?tumblr_nht789CcLX1rcq303o1_1280

Scars

Here on this side? See our scars.
Our wounds (both bloody and bloodless),
slashes (from sword-edge and word),
stand here stark, and they testify
in agonized aching hushed voices
of terrified troubling stories…

we hear them tell extreme tales
of widespread violence, of rape
of torture, and we the lost subjects
imprisoned in darkness and sadness
bear these wounds in our bodies, how long?
Permanent markings of violence?

These black tattoos left by oppression,
calligrified by sorrow’s stylus
that’s gripped in grief’s bony cold hand
to engrave deep its ravenous history
on our lonely hearts, carved here for…how long?
we’re identified by these curt scars.tumblr_n9ivwxEsoW1rvi7nzo1_400

Standing so quiet and still,
solitary smack dab
in the middle
of all that was, is,
and will be

the broken body of Jesus
the gushing stink of His spilled blood
but present with us now (like scars)
in the bread and the wine understood
to be broken and shed for our Good.

Jesus bore wounds of violent oppression
in His very own body forever!
Even after that morning so wrenching
that tilted this world on its axis
Heaven’s ringing eternal endorsement!

In that glorious bright resurrection
He stood there…just bearing those scars
in His hands, in His feet, in His side
and He showed them to all who would look…
He identified with us…in Scars.crown_of_love_by_phatpuppyart_studios-d8mgo73

There, on that side?  New Creation
began with Resurrected Jesus
and included those scars that He suffered
by nail and by spear and by word
and the wounds of the Glad Risen Lord,
the reminders of the crucifixion
take on new light and meaning and joy.

They shout of the Power and Glory
Of God dirty with History’s story
and triumphing now and forever
over evil and death, over sorrow
and a work of redemption that’s reigning
now begun in us, marked by our scars
here with us now in our wounded world.

So the present time is streaked with mercy
acts of justice, creation of beauty,
celebration of truth kissing grace on the lips
deeds of love and forgiveness and kindness
and such generous Grace over all!
Resurrection gives us such relevance
and a future where meaning is possible!tumblr_nahvy3d0Lf1t091kco1_1280

meaning made possible in resurrection
of a torn body still marked by the scars
like diadems, medals
adorning the Sacred Heart
Faithful forever and ever…

That’s the reality of resurrection
as displayed by the scars that He bears
as our Hope, as our Joy and our Glory
that shines in our darkest lost places
giving us reason to live.

We work and we toil, perhaps
even pour out our blood, sweat, and tears
to tend woundings of others,
and our labor is far from in vain
for Christ has gone on ahead

and He beckons with smile that is glinting
with towering majesty cloaked
in such Kindness, such glad jubilation
He scarce can contain His good will
He is on His Throne, Alive and Well.tumblr_nlqo0aoI0k1thfeewo1_1280

Amazed, Humbled, and Grateful

Please let me say thank you…thank you so very much.  You know who you are, who so generously donated to my transition funds.  I am beyond touched and so humbled by your kind gesture.

Constance, you just cannot measure how great the impartation of encouragement is when some tangible effort, regardless of how small, is made from one human to another.

Thank you.  From the very foundation of my heart.

Much love,  Charissatumblr_nlamvrNhwZ1sooy9go1_1280

“Random Acts of Kindness” are an impossibility, so just be kind!!

Constance…I FUME over the classification of these acts of kindness OR ANY ACT OF KINDNESS as random.

NO!

If there is anything random, Evil is what strikes in this way…seemingly no rhyme, no reason…no thought, sentientness or awareness or planning, or the most crucial element…choice.

We…humans…image-bearers, signifiers and signified both…we have choice, and thus have power over the forces that move and kill on random tides flowing.

The reason that you and I feel that welling lovely pain in our hearts as we read of what people have done is because they have chosen to value a greater good to the highest degree, and made the heart choice to be the love in this world and to do this to whomever was in their path regardless of knowing them or not…

…but not random.  No.

Kindness is the very breath of God.

Love, Charissa

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Let love be your guide, intentionally considered, liberally practiced.

Greater than Kindness?

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”

unknown quote this morning

*It is a true and high
aspiration of mine…to be kind.
Period.
Pure and simple.

To you precious loved ones
whose consciences lead you
to places other than
Their Happy House,
I say to you
that kindness is
our common bread,
our communion bread,
and love our wine.

To you beloved spiritual family…well is not all
the law,
the prophets, and
life in God
summed up in this:  Be Kind?
For how will we be kind without Them…right?
Or, to gussy it up
(cus we spiritual people love the gussy-up, giggle):
Love God,
Love your Neighbor as yourself,
do what you want others to do and
be what you want others to be.

Full stop.

 

love, Charissa
(shivering and
trembling with
dread, and
determination)

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Random Acts of Kindness: That phrase is an oxymoron!

So it drives me crazy when I hear folks speak of performing a “random act of kindness”!!  They do not understand the nature of random, and the nature of kindness.

Oh, I know what they mean to say…they are advocating the being kind to anyone you meet with no thought of gain or profit to yourself.  A great sentiment and I affirm it, and aspire to it as well!

BUT:  if it is “random”, then why does their need to be an exhortation to do it?  Does not the exhortation itself, if heard, processed, received and acted upon obliterate randomness?  Randomness is mindless, complete and utter chance happening regardless of if there is a consciousness aware of it and witness…or not.

I submit it is impossible for a human being to do anything random, ever.  I think that our very humanness eliminates “random” from possibility.  Now, things can happen to us in a way that is, if not random, at least very close to it…but what we do about it, how we receive them, or react to them, all that involves choice.

And here is another thing…why is there even a need to exhort one another to be kind in the first place?  I think it is because it is not the natural thing for us to be inherently kind.  In fact, it is in many ways unusual, or we wouldn’t feel so great when someone is kind to us.

Kindness:  it is a conscious choice to treat someone in a way that is higher, better, more loving…it is noble, and thus rare and admired when it is seen or experienced.  Nothing.  Random.  About.  It.

Let me add my exhortation…love everyone whom you are privileged to meet…treat them better than yourself, and prefer them and their needs to your own.  Do not just love those who love you, or be kind to those who are kind to you…anyone can do that.  But aspire to be kind to the stranger, the alien and fatherless, the widow and those who mourn.

True Kindness is measured by what you do for the ones you have absolutely no chance to benefit from in return.

No get out there and…

BE.

KIND!

Love, Charissa

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Flawless Trans Women Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox Respond Flawlessly To Katie Couric’s Invasive Questions | Autostraddle

I am sharing this post, and hope that you would click thru to see the story and video.  It is a fabulous example first of all of how easily and literally without awareness it is for cis-gendered people to do things to transgender people which they would never ever even think to do to cis-gendered people.

Secondly, it is also a great example of how to handle things with Grace and Kindness…far too often I find that we are so very sensitive and hyper aware of any slight, no matter how small.  It seems in our culture today that regardless of gender, sexuality, political persuasion, or religion we are by and large eager to take offense and cannot wait to grab those arrows of offense and stab our own selves with them!  It is is if we want to be infected with that poison, and then we turn around and start trying to infect others

No wonder that zombie movies and shows are so popular now…they are a metaphor for a process in our time by which it seems that we make ourselves and one another into spiritual zombies, rampaging about biting and devouring one another.

Let’s all just stop!  Step back.  Take a breath…and then simply

be kind…be merciful…be full of grace.

kindness-wave

Imagine…no not a world where there is no heaven, or religion, or any of the drivel that John Lennon sang about, for that very philosophy was already tried by the communists of Russia and Stalin’s regime, to the tune of nearly 100,000,000 deaths…that same philosophy was adhered to by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia…

No…imagine a world where each person actively sought to just be kind…to just show mercy…to just be full of grace…

What is required?  Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly, and love your neighbor as yourself.

See these two amazing human beings, and glean…maybe you too will be inspired as was I to strive to be a kinder and more gentle person.

Blessings,

Charissa

Flawless Trans Women Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox Respond Flawlessly To Katie Couric’s Invasive Questions | Autostraddle.