The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Sophia (Wisdom) offering The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is bold and pleasantly frightening.  Sue Monk Kidd questioning her spiritual journey and wondering if her Christian faith actually recognizes her womanhood and speaks to her directly, is a question I believe many women have asked, including myself, and what is so surprising is this memoir written over 25 years ago,  is still very relevant today.   Sue Kid Monk’s tenacity to deal with the question is one of bravery and begins the process to heal what she calls, “feminine wounds.” 

In all honesty, reading this book was difficult because it tugged in those neglected spaces women usually just settle for, and at the same time, there is liberation taking place.   Kidd gently forces women to truly focus on what roles they play in their faith journey and reminds us not to just accept the status quo as is, but that it is quite alright to search for a place that includes you and includes your worth.  This book is for women who are ready to heal wounds caused by a Christian faith tradition that has stifled the voices of the feminine  sacred divine.   This book is for women who are searching for a rebirth in becoming who their authentic, beautiful and holy selves truly are. 

There is a warning though that comes when you begin to open your mind to the The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  Don’t be surprised as you read Kidd’s memoir, that you soon remember a moment when listening to a sermon you didn’t agree with and secretly screamed out loud but kept the facade of a smile on your face to show your loyalty, or when participating in a women’s conference that somehow managed to include Adam’s rib into their description of women, and yet you kept that silly grin on your face, that you as well have participated in patriarch oppressive systems.  You will come to the realization that you too might be ready to start a faith journey you can claim your own, but be further warned,  with that comes labor pains that may take longer than expected, but the stretch marks will soon tell the story of a journey worth taking.  

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

Hope: Again?

This is the first Sunday in Advent 2021 and today the word is Hope. I struggle with the word, hope. I don’t know if my hoping to have a better world or my hoping to complete my doctor of ministry degree really gets me motivated to create those possibilities, but I’m working my way through this thought. Here is why. About 4 years ago at a coffee bar, while this young man read poetry and played sounds on his folk guitar that made me feel like I could fly above the clouds, he said, “There is no such thing as hope.” Hoping for things in life or hoping to be something in life, it just doesn’t get you to the places you want to be. His thought was that hope is just a pipe dream that you can wish over and over again. I remember this night well. This was the night I realized and accepted that my Mom was not going to live for very much longer. She had stage 4 lung cancer and all I could do that night was turn to Hope.

Hope is breathing through the difficulties that life throws at you. Hope is walking through the storms, seeing the rain beating on your face, watching the hurricanes toss you around, but you move anyway. Hope is believing that there will be an end to this crazy pandemic! Hope is being vulnerable before something or someone that refuses to see you. Hope is praying for a sick friend or relative because they have no one else. Hope is loving a partner who is struggling with their own demons. Hope is reaching inside your purse and coming up with a few coins to buy a candy bar for your crying child who throws a tantrum and everyone looks at you like you’re crazy. Hope is praying that you will get up in the morning, ready to go to a job you don’t like, but it pays the bills, but one day it will get better, because you continue to hope.

I disagree with the young poet with the smooth sounding guitar. Hope pushes you to dream, to have vision, to imagine the possibilities.

Hope is where we start. In this season of Advent, my prayer for you is that you continue to hope for the very best for you and for others. Imagine us all hoping for the very best for and in our world. Imagine us now walking towards that hope.

Be Bless My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Mr. See Me

God finds a way to get your attention. No, I am not talking about a god that chastises you or is sending you to hell. I don’t know that god. Hope you don’t either! But God who speaks to you either with a whisper or a loud shout that tells you that you are so much more than what you think. You know, that God who created every fiber of your being and was proud of the outcome. Well, this week, God spoke with a loud shout, and I wasn’t sure and still not sure how to handle it.

Here is what happened. I work with birth parents whose children are in the foster care system. This job has its ups and downs. I have experienced children reunited with parents and I have experienced foster care parents who have loved on children for years and have to say goodbye to them at a moment’s notice. I have cried over court decisions that I felt in my heart was wrong and I have jumped for joy when the court decisions were right. I have watched infants come into the system and seen them grow into toddlers and elementary children. I have seen older children take on the role of a parent to save their younger siblings from the awful knowledge they are unaware of. I can’t say that it is all rewarding and I can’t say that it is all just. This week I spent two hours with a birth parent that can be quite intimidating. He curses everyone out; have a shouting match and will debate every last thing, even when someone is trying to help him. He does not trust anyone. He has experienced much trauma and when someone attempts to get close, he pushes them away by using hurtful words concerning their race and/or their gender. This does not make this person sound like a nice person, does it? Let’s call this person, Mr. See Me.

Mr. See Me has been abused for most of his life by systems that have landed him in prison and taken away his family. He has been fighting, seeking justice for himself for a long time and he is tired. He experiences bouts of rage because he is never heard, never seen by those who think him to be insignificant and that his life does not matter. He is unable to express his mental depression at the same time living in denial and pretending that he is well, because, hey, that is what black men were taught to do. Don’t be vulnerable. Man Up and don’t let them see you cry. But every now and then, Mr. See Me shows himself, this loving person who talks about his children with pride and how he listens to his mother even when he doesn’t always agree with her. Every now and then Mr. See Me doesn’t realize it, but he allows you in, if only for a few seconds. On our last meeting, Mr. See Me, with a stern expression on his face, turns to me and says, “Your gift is not meant for this place; your gift is not helping anyone here!” For the past few months, I have said out loud this very thing; this place is not where I need to be. Mr. See Me saw me. Could I take the time to see him?

You might ask, so what is so special about Mr. See Me statement directed to me. In his anger, his disappointments, his struggles through his own life, Mr. See Me saw a gift in me! How many of us have decided that we have all the answers because we believe we are the only ones that can save someone but that very person we believe need our help, because we are so great and mighty, turns out to be the very one saving us?

Yes, I am still pondering on what Mr. See Me said and I am thankful that Mr. See Me decided to show his gift to me, if only for a few seconds. A few seconds that made me see him fully as a human being. For a few seconds who will you see differently, who will you not judge, who will you allow yourself to fully see?

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Just Another Thought..

Sitting here trying to figure out what to blog about today. Crazy. I have not blogged in two weeks. Not because I didn’t want to, I got busy, life happened and well, no excuses. So, here I am, with nothing to say really and I guess that is okay. It would be nice to find something to say that is positive and uplifting, especially now where we are again experiencing another virus surge, to mask or not to mask, that is the question. I, of course, think the answer is simple. Wherever we see our children, our little ones who are not vaccinated, the children who depend on adults to protect them, then for me it is obvious, wear a damn mask!

We are all tired! Got that! But exactly what are we tired of? Are we really tired of not doing everything our little hearts desire or are we really tired of taking care of each other? Which one? Did we realize somewhere along the line that this is what God’s aspires for us, to actually see each other, show compassion for each other, take care of each other’s need? You know, actually love my neighbor? Is this what we are tired of? Maybe we have discovered that reaching out across the aisle to save another person is not as scary as we once thought. Maybe we have also realized this kind of love comes with a sacrifice offering of egos. And just maybe the tiredness of it all comes from the struggle pulling us to what was familiar than now to this energy of love that is seeking to show us what is possible. And what is possible is near. What is possible is everyone having enough. What is possible is everyone being whole. What is possible is life!

So apparently I did have something to say today. We are all tired, but we can’t give up now. We can’t lose hope. We can’t lose faith in each other. I need you to survive and I pray you feel the same about about me!

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

My Apology

“Beginning Again” started out to be a blog about me finding the what next after retirement and could I possibly still dream after turning 60 years old. I am grateful because I am still dreaming. The dreams are not what they once were. The dreams are much better. Because my dreams are not just for me but I realize that my dreams are connected to something bigger than I. My dreams are connected to a better humanity. A humanity that uplifts all, treats all with dignity and grace, stand for the rights of all, ensure that all have enough. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught how much we have hurt each other. We cannot return to a normal that is abusive mentally and physically. We must seek forgiveness. We must apologize. So, here I am, with a dream that offers an apology for those who have been hurt, especially by the church.

To the gay youth at church who stopped coming because we called you a sin. 
To the single parent who only wanted to belong but instead we gossiped about your clothes. 
To the immigrant who only wanted to worship but the church refused to protect you.  
To the homeless person who joyfully expressed his voice every Sunday, only to be shush. 
To the trans person who boldly walked in the sanctuary as themself and told they could not be.
To the once incarcerated who comes back and no one greets you with open arms. 
To the children who are told to sit, not talk, because their voice is not valued. 
To the black boys and girls who scream as we sit by, saying nothing, seeing them murdered.
To all who have never felt the unconditional love of God's hand,
I am sorry.

God is love. God commands us to do better, to be better, to be who God has created us to be. We, who are created in the image of God. God shows up in the gay youth, the single parent, the immigrant, the homeless, the trans, the incarcerated, the children, all of us. God makes God self present in all of us.

This is my apology. I pray you come and dream with me. I pray you find your apology so that all good dreams will be fulfilled. So that all we see in each other is God’s image. What a beautiful sight to behold!

Be well my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

An Angry Prayer!

Another friend has died. I saw the Facebook post with unbelief, saying how could this be? He just posted a funny story a few days ago. This has to be a lie. But it wasn’t. And I became angry. My anger was and I think still is directed to God. This is so hard because feeling anger towards God is wrong, right? I mean, the one that I uplift, the one that I sing praises to, the one I depend upon, the one that I preach about, the one that I follow and ask others to follow. Another friend has died, doing the work of caring for others, following what God asked of him. I am livid! So God, hear my angry prayer.

God, I know you are here but it does not feel like you are. There is sorrow and anguish that we are facing and yes, it feels like we are alone. Hearing of hundreds of thousands dying and friends, family crying and trying to do the best they can. Hear this prayer, O God. We have seen you in our troubles before. We have heard how you cried when your people were taken and we have heard how you rejoiced when your people were found. We read stories of how you have healed the sick and even raised the dead. Hear this prayer, O God! See our anger, see our tears. Remember how much you love us, even when we do not love others. Hear us as we scream out to you. Our voices may rattle, our tone sincere, our use of words may not all be appropriate. But you already know, because we are your creation, you already know we are tired. Comfort, O God your people. Remember us. Remember the songs we sang, when all was well. Remember our dancing as we rejoiced, when all was well. Remember our attention to you, when all was well. We know you are here. We know you see our anger. We know you see us. We are not going anywhere; we are patiently waiting on you.

Amen

Believe

Today is cloudy and the fog is very thick. I believe, though, that the sun is shining behind those clouds, fighting to come through and will succeed.

Today is dreary and quiet. I hear no noise of children playing in the street. I believe, though, I will hear them again when the sun defeats the darkness.

Today feels hopeless. Watching those lost in the debris of an uncaring world. I believe, though, the sun will shine so bright, that we will have no choice but to look through the darkness and be forced to see our imperfections, but also see our possibilities.

Today we will discover that we are the light that shines, we are the ones we have been waiting for.

Nothing

There is so much to say during this pandemic! And yet I have absolutely nothing to say. I feel exactly the way a blank sheet of paper feels. Nothing coming from the page. Just a stare. Maybe a sigh. A tear. So I will embrace nothing, hoping that something will come tomorrow.

Oscar Night

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

I’m looking at the 2020 Oscars and having a moment. Remembering when I was eight years old and saying one day I’m going to be on stage getting that Oscar. I loved acting and singing, knowing at such an early age what my talent was. I just knew one day I would be there. I’m not.

Yes, I’m sad that I did not reach out for my dreams. I’m sad that I didn’t try, at all to go for what I knew I could do. I should have listened to my heart and not listened to my mother who wanted to make sure I was able to eat and said, go to college, study business administration and get a skill to fall back on. I remember sitting in the back of the college auditorium, seeing students rehearsing for their upcoming play, “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Me, next day, singing, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, in the girl’s dormitory bathroom and hearing one of my floor mates applauding the sound of my voice. I should have changed my major then.

It’s not anyone’s fault. But let me just say this to a parent who could be poor, afraid that you don’t have much to offer to your children, afraid that your children’s life may pattern the life of yours. Tell your child to trust their gifts, tell your child their talent is big enough to carry them into success. For if you don’t, you child will pattern their life after yours, a life of being afraid, a life of shoulda, woulda, a life of sitting sixty years later, drinking a glass of red wine, wondering what could have been.

I don’t dislike my life now. It took be a while to get to a place of contentment. But damn, I could have been a star!!

I love church….but sometimes??

Last Sunday I went to church. I wasn’t exactly excited about going. I did go out of responsibility and unfortunately that was about it. Church for me has become a difficult journey. I don’t know why or maybe I do and don’t want to admit that in this adult life, church is not what my mother told me it is, a place to welcome you and to love on you and to get saved. Really… my mom didn’t say to welcome you or to love on you (I thought maybe that would just make me feel better) but she did say to get saved. But still there is something that I quite can’t put my hands on. No, I’m not excited about going to this place but when I’m there, preaching, worshiping, praying, I so enjoy seeing people happy, smiling and letting them know that they matter.

Throughout church service with the choir singing and people sharing their hopes and pains, it is all so beautiful until the call “to be saved”. I could not shake the uneasy feeling I had that something wasn’t right about this. People who gathered into church came because of a number of reasons. Some that I can think of are to be part of a community, some seeking to find forgiveness, some who are seeking to be loved, some seeking to get into a heavenly realm, some I guess seeking to be saved because they believe themselves to be unworthy. But “being saved” seemed to be the only reason the church exist. And on that thought is where I find church difficult.

What would happened if all Christian churches would take people as is and not define them needing to be saved, but instead needing to be accepted and loved?! What would happened if people were able to walk into a church and breathe and not fear because the world is scarier enough to deal with?! What would happened if the church decides that all who walks through the door has no judgement but only the opportunity to become whole?! What would happened?

And what are we being saved from? Or saved to? And will God only love me if I get saved? I don’t remember Jesus ever saying anything about this to the point where we put so much emphasis on it that the church only becomes concerned about one’s salvation so you can go to heaven….until then…well… you’re on your own!

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

This is not a call for individual salvation….this is a call for community salvation. And eternal life is not something we look to experience after death but living life fully now, living life with hope and assurance, with love and acceptance. I mean is the church really just saving for the “way up yonder” moment and the right now doesn’t matter?

As I’m writing this, I just happened to see someone on a website holding up a sign saying, “Repent or Go go Hell!” Ugh!!

Yes, we seek God to enter our lives….all of what our lives look like. ALL OF WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE…and I truly believe God can handle what that looks like! God transforms, not the church. The church, the ecclesia, the community supports…not damage.

I’m at a point in my life, as a preacher of the Gospel, as a sister of humankind, as a wife and mother I want to greet all those who enter into the church and welcome them, hug them and let them know they are saved from ridicule, judgement and self-doubt. I want them to know that God has always been with them. I want them to know that God loves them, relax and just breathe. And that the community, the ecclesia, seeks salvation along with them and God will provide that for us all.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Breathe!