A friend of mine died recently. Jeanne Audrey Powers was one of the first women ordained in the United Methodist Church. She worked for the General Conference in Manhattan and traveled the globe, hobnobbing with top religious leaders of every stripe. Just before she retired, she came out lesbian at an international conference, sending waves of dismay throughout the global church in hopes of leveraging transformation. She kept an apartment in Minneapolis and attended my church, which was how I came to work for a brief spell as her personal secretary. (more…)
As a privileged white woman I sometimes wonder what to do with my strong commitment to racial justice. Much as I want to join the Black Lives Matter movement on the streets or participate in my church’s educational programming around white privilege, as committed as I am to supporting my native brothers and sisters in their fight to protect their land from pipeline invasions, I know that’s not where my energy belongs. My money, yes, and my whole-hearted support, but not my energy. My clear calling is to write, teach, mother my child, tend my home, and tend my partnership.
Despite this clarity, I sometimes regret that I’m not doing enough. Recently, however, I got some insight into how teaching writing and writing well myself might further the work of racial justice—in ways however hidden, however small. (more…)
Here’s a law of physics that every preschooler knows: To have fun on the seesaw (or I should say teeter-totter now that I’m a Minnesotan), you need two people. Movement, balance, and those joyous bumps all depend on having weight at both ends.
This is true for so much else as well! A good conversation needs two people with different opinions and a willingness to listen. A healthy relationship needs tension as well as commonality. A productive solution to any problem addresses multiple aspects of that problem. The truth itself is never singular but always sitting right in the center of paradox.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m pondering our public rhetoric, especially around the upcoming election and in response to ongoing, systemic racism in our country. (more…)
Inspired by the 2015 Key West Literary Seminar, I’ve been thinking about these Leonard Cohen lyrics for months now. So few literary attempts ever achieve perfection! The Shakespeares among us are rare. Most of us are embarked on foolish, impossible, and yet strangely and ultimately worthwhile projects. “What matters most in our lives is unsayable,” Mark Doty said. “We’ve got to attempt to make meaning… Of course it’s impossible, but if we don’t, we despair.” (more…)