god is a seed


I accidentally wrote something more poetic for a theological reflection paper for my Life of Prayer class. I decided to share it because this reflection surprised me in many ways. Thankful for a seminary that helps me process in this way.

As a small child, I understood God to be like a seed planted in fertile soil. As I grew in my understanding of the Divine, so the Divine’s presence in my life grew up like a flower reaching to the sky for sunlight. Maybe God is a flower.

As a young adult in college, I understood God to be an overbearing, abusive parent, always telling me what to do and where to go, and if I did not do something right, I would be punished. Sometimes, bad things would happen just because God willed those things to happen and humanity simply had to deal with it. Maybe god is an ogre waiting to smite me?

One but not both of these perspectives can be true, I think, depending on how one chooses to experience the Divine, with a God that looks like the worst of humanity or a God that looks like the best in humanity—and maybe even in all living things we interact with each day. Through prayer over the course of these ten weeks, maybe I have caught a glimpse of the God who is a seed, the God who is alive and active in this world in all iterations and religions. We may all have a different understanding of how to approach this living, breathing Being, but so many come to the Divine expecting something. Perhaps I came expecting that the seed that grew into a flower as I grew up would remain so and that it would not become the Divine as an ogre my Church had promised me they would be.

Maybe that is a fairytale to hope that. But maybe, as I prayed the daily offices and recited prayers to the Divine, maybe the Divine presence can grow alongside my spirit once again. Maybe I cannot see the forest for the trees as the saying goes, but I think I have caught a glimpse of the Divine in each classmate spending time in prayer with me. Maybe I have caught a glimpse of the Divine in myself. If the Apostle Paul who once quoted some poets in Acts can say: “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’” (Acts 18:28) I think I can say that too.

Maybe God is a seed, a seed that once watered, grows with me as I grow into my calling, my sense of belonging in this world and with other people. Maybe God is a seed, a seed that grows into a tree that reaches its branches towards the sky. Maybe God is a seed. Or maybe God is a flower. Maybe, God is a tree.

And if God is a tree, with roots reaching deep into the earth, with branches growing out over the ground, roots spreading out as far as they can, maybe God does not have to be a fairytale of a world I hope to see. Maybe if God is a tree, this world I hope to see can be one I create. Not in isolation with God but in connection with community as we all seek the Divine in our lives and within ourselves.

Is God a seed? Or a flower? Or maybe God is an ogre waiting to smite me. Maybe God is a tree waiting to grow up to the heavens with me. I cannot say for certain what God is like but I can say what I have experienced of God and prayer. Perhaps God is many things to many people in many places throughout all time. If we are willing to look closely enough, that may surprise us and change us for the better. If God is a tree, a living, growing, breathing thing I can engage with, then maybe God can help me create a world where we are all connected to this Divine being regardless of where we come from.

Maybe, just maybe God is all of these things and more and refuses to be pinned down by our conceptions of Them. Maybe God is waiting for us to arrive at a place where we can see God in all that is around us and if we can see God in all of these things, we can dream of a world where all people and creatures are cherished and loved and cared for. Maybe God is waiting for us to arrive. And once we are there, we can share in a world where there is Love. Maybe, just maybe God is love.

what to do with death


(content note for mention of suicide and sexual abuse)

“Make my messes matter. Make this chaos count. Let every little fracture in me shatter out loud.” ~ Jupiter, Sleeping at Last

“Things we say now…” ~ from Wine Country

“It’s ok to want things. To give myself that permission…” ~ a thing I said in therapy this week

Grief is a weird thing. Especially when grieving multiple deaths. What brings me here today is the death of Rachel Held Evans less than two weeks ago. That feels surreal. She helped shape who I am now and so many others who have left toxic churches.

Grief is a weird thing. Sometimes you catch yourself crying in the middle of Target because not only did one of your favorite authors die, she was someone with whom you had hoped to become friends with, event hough you only met her that one time.

Grief is a weird thing. It is non-linear. You can be experiencing the stage of grief called denial after you’ve already accepted this is real. And none of us knows what to do with that.

Grief is a weird thing. When you’re accepting the death of what once was–your faith, your family, your life that you had to walk away from because it was not life-giving.

I sat with Mary Magdalene for a bit. She’s sitting outside the tomb of all she knew for three years, following a guy named Jesus who performed miracles and loved those on the margins.

And then I realized I wasn’t just grieving Rachel’s death. But a death of things I once knew. I never sat with that. Growing up realizing you are captive to others’ beliefs and actions and cannot choose things for yourself. Growing up with abuse and realizing…now you can choose.

You can choose to see an empty tomb and new life. But not before you grieve, because something is lost. Something is lost that never was. But now something can be gained.

You see, an abusive father and an emotionally manipulative mother do not have to be the end of the story. Homophobia that separates families doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Systemic oppression and taking away reproductive rights doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Because maybe there’s some fight left in us still.

This doesn’t have to end at a grave. It didn’t have to end when I tried to drown myself in the bathtub at age 12 after being shamed for talking about a girl in my youth group too much. Or all the other times after that when I remembered sexual abuse from my father and neighbor.

Maybe this doesn’t have to end in death. Maybe there can be new life.

How does a house become a home?

I wish these were things my mother taught me. She did teach me how to grow a garden.

How does a garden grow? It needs to survive but not just live. It needs to thrive, it needs attention, kindness, care, love. And maybe that’s close enough and good enough for now. I am grateful for the life she gave me. I wouldn’t be here without her obviously but I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

Grief is a weird thing. Sometimes what you are grieving is not over someone who died but over death to who you used to be.  I keep thinking about how grief is a non-linear process. Like, you can be in denial and anger. And move past that and then come back to the denial stage. I don’t know how to reconcile that. I don’t think we’re supposed to.

I miss someone I met once. I miss them like I’ve known them my whole life. and I don’t get the chance to know them better.
Grief is exhausting. I keep viewing her like an enemy but I think if i sat with her like a friend, and accepted her…maybe this process would be easier.
I’m grieving two things. Two…people. One of them is me

So I made a friend. Her name is grief and she’s been waiting for me to sit with her for a little while and just be.

I would rather avoid her. But she calls me like an old friend who’s been waiting for me all my life. She whispers to me now that I’m ready to hear it: “You’re going to be ok.”

And I think that’s what Rachel would have told all of us too. “You’re going to be ok.” Because she just knew something we all didn’t know maybe.

Maybe I can’t walk around wearing black–observing a period of mourning for what was and what could have been. But I can sit with grief a little while longer. She has something to teach me still. Perhaps she has something to teach all of us.

That’s all I have for now. I know I’m rambling. But in closing, I just love this song.




we are the ones we’ve been waiting for

o+HtslcTQquqmvI+N0KCIA“Jesus was afraid” ~ Rachel Virginia Hester, (Please go read her blog, because she’s amazing: https://thegenerouspine.com/ )

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” ~ June Jordan, Poem for South African Women (from Passion 1980)

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that thee stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter, and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him…

Then the disciples returned to their homes…

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb…

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he said these things to her.” ~ John 20:1-2, 10-11, 18

I didn’t have a Good Friday sermon. I’m not even sure I have a good Friday prayer. Sometimes it’s just “My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?” I don’t know what to do with Easter in our post-resurrection church calendar. I only know how to sit in the ashes and grieve most days because trauma is a bitch and this world has so much pain…I don’t know what I need

But I do know I need a fucking resurrection. As a seminary student, I’m sure I’m supposed to feel something during Holy Week. This year, I felt more of a Holy Saturday than an Easter Sunday but I’m so longing for a resurrection. Yet, I keep coming back to post-resurrection Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

I keep thinking about Jesus as someone who had fresh wounds that hadn’t healed yet. Jesus shows up in front of the disciples with wounds NOT YET SCARS, fresh out of the grave (give or take a few days). And some of them don’t even believe him (re: Thomas, though he’s my favorite disciple).

So, he shows up to Mary Magdalene first. She gets to see his bloody scars first and the disciples don’t fucking believe her. There’s this saying I grew up hearing, “Preach from your scars, not your wounds.” I’m in seminary as a queer person who wants to do pastoral care. But how the hell can you heal if you’re constantly being wounded and re-traumatized by a church that doesn’t believe you. How do you do this thing called pastoral care working with churches and people who have also been wounded by churches? Of course, Brene Brown had a response for my questions: “How can you let yourself be loved if you won’t let yourself be seen?” (from Call to Courage a talk now on Netflix) The best advice comes in the form of a question sometimes.

This next part I call the queering of Mary Magdalene. Let’s do some midrash. Mary Magdalene is a bit of a mystery and yet she is mentioned BY NAME in all four gospels. John places her at the crucifixion of Jesus–she witnesses Jesus be brutally murdered. When others leave or question her words or her place in Jesus’ story, Mary stays. Mary doesn’t question. She soaks it all in and runs to tell the disciples about the resurrection even when they don’t believe her. A women preached and men didn’t believe her. What else is new?

Why was Mary so special that she’s a common thread in every gospel? Why is she important? Luke just tells us she had seven demons cast out of her and she’s always described as “Mary of Magdalene” identifying her name and where she came from. John thinks she’s so important that he records a dialogue between Mary and Jesus that the other women who were there don’t get.

Based off James Carroll’s article in the Smithsonian Magazine (June 2006) on “Who was Mary Magdalene,” he notes: “What we are getting is not history but memory.” And whoever wrote John’s Gospel…I love his memory. Because the picture he paints is of a woman who’s seen some shit and gets to see Jesus first. Mary gets a speaking part that’s passed on to us.

Mary Magdalene amazes me and I feel connected to her through time. It may be a one way mirror but Mary Magdalene’s story seems queer as hell. Mary doesn’t just visit the tomb, see he’s not there, and go on her merry way. She runs to tell everyone else, and GOES BACK to the tomb. The disciples (well, Peter and John) see the empty tomb and go back home.

Mary sticks around. She sticks around to see what happens next because she loves Jesus that much. She needs a fucking resurrection too. She’s been through too much to give up yet. She watches Jesus be murdered by the State and religious leaders who can’t handle his challenge to power and radical love of neighbor. Talk about some trauma.

So yeah, when Jesus shows up again, she’s ready…

She’s in shock and she’s grieving, not recognizing him at first. But she’s ready. And yet we still don’t believe her. She is scandalized and known as the woman who had seven demons cast out of her. History remembers her as a prostitute–she’s thought of as a slut even though there’s no real evidence of this. Mary, they still don’t believe me either. Girl, I get you.

Thomas, bless his heart, says “Let me see this bloody mess for myself–then I will believe.” And no one calls him a slut for it. The worst he gets is “doubting Thomas.”

They tell me I don’t belong and that my faith and message aren’t worthy. So why do we stay? The question perhaps isn’t why Mary. I think the question is why Jesus?

Why believe at all when we will be wounded for it? Why do we stick around when no one else does.

When churches decide to kick us out, when churches are doing the wounding, and we go back in anyway.

Mary, you were wounded and you kept helping, kept healing. You had to heal yourself first and kept being wounded. But you showed up anyway.

Dr. Julie Todd, one of my professors gave a moving poem as a speech for Honors Convocation at my school recently. She says from her poem When Spires Fall, “Standing in the empty tombs, what can we imagine. Let’s not even call it resurrection. Resist the urge to fall back into old habits and old concepts. Let’s call it creativity. Let’s call it joy. Let’s call it the threat of possibility.” 

People ask queer folks, why keep showing up? Why keep showing up in spaces that have pushed you out, told you that you don’t belong, have imposed life-limiting theologies on you instead of that which was life-giving… (this concept comes from Carrie Doehring in The Practice of Pastoral Care) 

Why keep showing up?

Because at some point, we decided Jesus was worth it.

Because Jesus had wounds and so do we. 

Because “Jesus was afraid” and so are we.

Because we can heal.

Because we don’t want any more people to be wounded and need healing like we did.

Because healing is worth sticking around for.

Because of the “threat of possibility…”

Because “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for…” 

Todd continues in this movement,

“The rich and powerful fear nothing more than the empty space of pure possibility filled with the sounds of the pounding of thousands of pairs of feet of the ones who inspire no donations whose march began with whispers and dreams and not spires but raised fists and ferocious self-affirmations pointing upward lifting songs & doing drag shows the highest amplitude of loving the highest altitude of non-conformity sparking an uncontrollable heat that yes, will cause fires when spires fall, who are we?”

We are here being healed and reclaiming sacred spaces. Like holding drag shows in chapels, wearing binders on bodies, bowties and make up, glitter and rainbows. Pride flags and fists raised, our voices lifted up. These are a few of my favorite queers. We are bending the ears of those who refuse to hear us so that we cannot be ignored.

Let us heal our wounds and help others heal theirs too. Heal and be healed.

Blessed are the ones who are wounded for they shall be healed.

Blessed be the scars that marked our journeys here to healing. Amen.


Sources used and referenced:


When Spires Fall, by Julie Todd, for Honors Convocation at Iliff School of Theology, 4/24/19

The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Postmodern Approach by Carrie Doehring

The Call to Courage, Brene Brown, now on Netflix

Rachel Virginia Hester, from a thread on Twitter and conversations we have often

specks of dust (how to be real)


“If you’re lost and you’re lonely, go and figure out why. Take a trip to the dark side. Go and have a good cry. ‘Cause we’re all lonely. We’re all lonely together.

Leave what’s heavy, what’s heavy behind. Leave what’s heavy, what’s heavy behind.” ~ Heavy, Birdtalker

“To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.” ~ Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

“‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s the thing that happens to you…’ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.'” ~ from The Velveteen Rabbit: Or How Toys Become Real

It is time to step out into the light and let it reveal the Real Me. It’s time to give my body a chance to become My Body–one I can feel me in. One I can feel safe in. I love this body but it doesn’t fully feel like me yet. It feels like living in a fixer upper and there needs to be some updates to make this body temple more functional.

It’s time to make some changes around here. Not immediately, but in the next few months at least. It started with finding an identity that fit the ever growing understanding of my gender. Then, we changed the pronouns. Now I’m working on a new name and seeking top surgery consultation in the next couple of months.

Life is too short not to live it fully as yourself.

A dear friend of mine told me that they dreamed I had my surgery, and they came to visit me. And I said: “I am in pain but I feel real.” So, I’m hanging my hat on that mantra right now. It sort of sums up the experience of being trans/non binary.

I am in pain but I feel real. Surely, if dream me can do it, I can do this. With all the support of my wonderful wife and a community of friends who are my chosen family.

This past weekend I was so stressed out and couldn’t figure out why. Finally, after talking it out with my wife, I realized it was because so many good changes were happening all at once. And that I needed to move forward with the next step. It’s good to know that I am not alone on the journey…but it feels suddenly so much more personal–so much more…real.

It feels like becoming myself. And that thought is terrifying. Constantly writing myself into existence like I’m writing a novel that I’m living out every day. We all do this in our own way, I suppose. Whether we’re physically writing it down or just out there living life to the fullest. Whatever your method, don’t forget this novel of your life is yours to live out. You shouldn’t let anything hold you back from becoming yourself.

Ironically, I’m processing this here in this space on Ash Wednesday–the day Christians around the world reflect on the brevity of life and how death is inevitable. Death is inevitable but don’t let this hold you back. Just keep it in perspective. Death is inevitable but you don’t have to be afraid. Changes are inevitable. But the risk of living is worth it to be real. 

Brene Brown in particular has a lot to say about being vulnerable and combatting shame. But this one line may have saved me: “If you own this story you get to write the ending…” (from Daring Greatly)

“We’re all stories in the end. Let’s make it a good one eh?” ~ The Doctor, Doctor Who, Season 6, Episode 4




rainbow hallelujahs


For the LGBTQ people at the UMC General Conference this weekend…You are so brave, beloveds. Thank you for being so strong.

My beloved queer siblings in Christ:

You are holy, holy, holy

Like a chorus of rainbow hallelujahs

Your voices cannot be silenced, cannot be ignored, cannot be mistaken for anything other than stunning bravery in the face of gross injustice.

You are holy, holy, holy

Like a chorus of rainbow hallelujahs

Your voices cry to the heavens, your voices reach beyond the stars, your voices are the echo of God’s heart of mercy.

You are holy, holy, holy

Like a chorus of rainbow hallelujahs

You are warriors of peace, messengers of love, children of God embraced by the Creator and Sustainer of your faith.

You are holy, holy, holy

Like a chorus of rainbow hallelujahs

You are holy, holy, holy


wild precious life


For Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

who taught me I did not have to be good.


You taught me what to do with my wild, precious life at a time when I didn’t know if I wanted that life to continue.

The wild geese you talked about saved me, so I could let the soft animal of my body love what it loves.

That “whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination…” as if to say, this world is yours and you are free to embrace it and embrace yourself.

When I thought I had to walk on my knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting…

Layers of me have come unglued. Slowly, I am becoming. Slowly I am becoming me.

Self-actualizing. Growing. Blooming. Surgically removing ever so gently tissue that had long since caused pain and trauma.

I am becoming me.

I am becoming.

I am here…

I am.

I am becoming a new creation and yet I have always been this way, I think.

This new creation that remains a mystery to everyone–including myself.

This is a transition–no this is a transformation.

This is a metamorphosis.

I am becoming me.

I am becoming.

I am.

I am already here writing myself into existence.

And I do not have to be good.



transitions on life’s way

How many times have I sat down to write this…and walked away. Because I was scared to speak my truth. I’m already brave just for existing as I am in a world that constantly wants to erase queer and trans bodies. I’m bad at being brave–only because being brave has usually meant not being afraid of anything. But if I’ve learned anything, bravery and courage allow space for fear and doing things in spite of that fear.

Or, in the words from one of my favorite movies The Princess Diaries, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear; the brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.” ~ Meg Cabot

“But the cautious do not live at all…” I had forgotten about that part of the quote.

It is my yearly practice to look back and see how much growth has happened in the course of a year and look forward to where I’d like to be in the next year. The past two years, I’ve come up with a few key phrases as a mantra for the year.

2017 – You are safe. You are loved. You are not alone.

2018 – You are good. You are enough. You belong.

I’m not sure what my words are yet for 2019, but I do know the one word I keep coming back to is bravery. I do not feel very brave. My wife tells me I’m brave all the time.

“You love you, you accept you, and you believe in you…I love you, I accept you, and I believe in you.” ~ my wonderful wife earlier this weekxsgvk5UHRBSloxiNdr88cg

Life transitions are hard. And transitioning from one thing to the next is natural. For me, I’m looking at somewhat of a physical transition that will help me feel more myself. The beginning of that starts with next Thursday when I will be getting an IUD to help mitigate symptoms of dysphoria that my menstrual cycle causes.

Meanwhile, I’m also dealing with conflicts in relationship with my mother and what reconciliation looks like, if a relationship with her can be possible right now, will I come out (again) to my family? Whilst being in seminary and pursuing a graduate degree, I’m looking ahead to taking care of my body, loving my body, and considering top surgery.

All this feels like a lot to share and honestly, living in this world as a non binary person can be terrifying. Most of the time, I try not to think about how often I do not fit in and how being “out” as non binary may lead to being treated not only as misunderstood, but as less than. Again. At this point, I just feel like I’m rambling on because my anxiety and fear are so present, and I ramble when I’m scared. Or I clam up and keep everything inside until it comes bursting forth.

2019 only has one word so far: You are brave.

Because maybe if I say that enough times, I will actually believe it. I am brave. And transitions on life’s way help us become who we were meant to be.

Please let me just be brave enough to be myself.