I Have Arrived

It is a real and true fact that if you enter a party by loudly declaring, “I have arrived,” everyone will think that you’re cool. I just wanted to start things off by establishing that right at the outset because I have been that person on my share of occasions and I’m not sure that everyone understands that fact. But it’s still true.

It should be pretty clear to you, reader, that this blog is entitled Journeyman and I did that for two reasons. First, it’s the step before master and I started this while getting a masters. Second, because it’s about the journey not the destination and all that hackneyed but true stuff about always growing.

Some things that a friend said to me this week really made me ponder anew that truth. Not just that there is no real arrival, life is a continuous journey whether we want it to be or not, whether we sit content with our current circumstances or not. It is impossible to sit still in life.

And if that is so, what then am I going to do with that understanding? If change really is the only constant, how am I going to respond? I think there are myriad healthy ways to live life but I also think that one key element that they share is placing a high value on striving for growth. Not in the dumb capitalist always-more-forever kind of way, but in an I’m-striving-and-that’s-what’s-important kind of way. If that makes sense?

I am not the complete package. I am not a finished product, though for that matter I am not a product at all but that’s a different conversation.

Another different conversation, but one that I am actually going to have right now: characters in books. I haven’t been reading anything spectacular lately–or even really worth writing about–but I did hear someone talking about characters and they said something interesting. Allow me to paraphrase:

I love identifying with characters in books I read, seeing similarities between their world and my world, putting myself in their shoes and whatnot. But it’s even better when I can love characters on their own terms, not need to connect them to real life, appreciating them in their own world.

I heartily agree. I don’t think I’ve ever put it so many words but that’s something that has long marked a good read for me–when it takes me so completely out of myself that characters and places become deeply real for my consciousness, for however long I might be able to hold them there.

I suppose it’s just another way of describing escapism but I also think it’s more nuanced and complicated than that. There is an empathy at play when one becomes so involved with characters that they are curious about their lives beyond the page, interested in their emotions beyond what is directly communicated through the writing.

Anyway, just a few thoughts on that because I was really struck by putting it that way–making connections to characters is great but what about when the characters are so real that you don’t even feel the need to connect them to your life. Cool.

This week’s little learning opportunity is an article from The Atlantic from several years ago. Ta-Nahesi Coates discussing history and the idea of reparations for slavery. It’s quite a read on a number of levels but I highly recommend getting through it all. There’s so much going on and this barely skims the surface. You can find it here.

For a while, I have been conceptually in favor of reparations because I think there’s a huge horrible shadow from the past that looms over this country’s present and that a constant refusal to deal with that past has meant that it has never actually gone away. However, I have been wary of actual proposals because I think the logistics of it all is absolutely too complicated to really achieve anything meaningful.

But I think that article makes a compelling argument that, whatever you feel about reparations, we need to have a national conversation about it. We should have a formal investigation into different approaches and proposals. We should badger our government into actually talking seriously about the ways it has abused its citizens very deliberately, very cruelly since the founding of this country (and before, too).

There is an extraordinary power in having that conversation. There are many reasons why the kind of transformation that it might offer is still out of our reach but can you imagine the kind of children that we could raise if their school curriculum actually taught about the history of race in this country? The complicity of governments and institutions and regular people for centuries? I’d like to imagine that people would be kinder and wiser, maybe not universally but at least there would be a little more empathy in the world. I’d hope.

But anyway. I have come to think that it’s absolutely pivotal for us to have a national reckoning with our past. Even if reparations don’t materialize at the end of that conversation (which, to be clear, would also be ongoing), or if the reparations scheme that is decided on ends up being not great, it would mark a national understanding, maybe even remorse.

I’m sure that I have no idea about good answers to the problems discussed in that article. Many very smart people have spent very many years trying to think about it and there has been no consensus. But while I am reluctant to even consider a positive use of the term, I think true patriotism–thinking about the holiday we recently celebrated–involves addressing the wounds of our fellow citizens and the ghosts of those we have enslaved, beaten, raped, and murdered.

As it has been said, when someone stabs you, simply removing the knife is not progress. To make progress, you need medical attention. You need healing.

And to conclude, a few images depicting kitty adventures because it is always the right time to depict kitty adventures. Jenni met a frog, apparently.

Other Wests

A gladsome Thursday to you all! Or, really, whatever kind of Thursday it may be. Or another day, if you’re reading this another day. Anyway. It’s July when I’m writing this and I hope it finds you well because I’ll be honest, it’s very much taken me by surprise.

I really didn’t expect for things to look like this current July, as I’m sure none of us really did. Unless, of course, we’re talking about our expectations from a couple days ago, in which case I imagine we were decently accurate. Things just keep being things and I’ve had quite enough. In all fairness, nothing bad has really happened to me personally so I’ve plenty to be thankful for.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve taken up my gratitude journal again and that’s been nice. I’ve been doing (most days, around) 200 push ups each day for the past two months. Getting out for mostly daily walks down to the shore. It’s been excellent, really, as sometimes in my head and lonely as I can be. I’m trying to focus on the good because apparently that’s the stage of pandemic that I’ve reached. At least for the time being. We’ll see how long it’ll keep up.

I would like to discuss a poem (since it’s been a while and you know I love discussing poetry). Though it’s from Emily Dickinson, it’s one that I was unfamiliar with until fairly recently. She did write like a zillion little poems, after all. Not knowing quite what to make of it, I did read a few explications that I found online which offered some good thoughts. Even when I don’t think quite like those writers, they can at least offer a good jumping off point for further investigation and personal musing.

It is a difficult poem to parse, certainly. I love and I hate its ambiguity. I can’t make heads nor tails of the situation. She definitely loves someone, they may or may not love her back, she may or may not tell them she loves them.

But I think even the least poetic among us can we appreciate this incredible way to say simply that the sun has set:

Withdrew the Sun—to Other Wests—

Part of me says that the poem is not merely speaking of the sun setting but that the conversation between the two has become so weighty that even celestial bodies cannot bear to witness it and flee into other worlds, other universes. That a question of love is too deep even for the sun to ponder. And so she is left to contemplate the moon, the sea, and the inexplicable relationship they share in the tide. And whatever answer she finds there, she at last whispers back.

Sometimes, I wish to see Other Wests, whatever they may be. But more, I think, I wish to hear a whispered ‘yes’ when I find one with whom we both could suffice.

Men, ah, men. Queer men, too. Yikes. Anyway. Me being forever alone was not supposed to be the point of this post, I do just really like the poem, okay?

I think it’s amazing to imagine the sun fleeing the power of love, taking its leave of Earth and going to other, extraterrestrial Wests.

I have only a small offering for our weekly dose of trying-to-do-something. It is simply a quotation from Ibram X Kendi’s currently very popular book, How to Be an Anti-Racist. I find it very challenging because I so often want to claim goodness by simply distancing myself from badness, not doing the work to make goodness happen in me and in the world. He says:

The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.’

Do you, do I, allow or confront? Individual situations might not be quite so clear cut to us but the principle is clear. We are active or we are not. We are pursuing justice or we are not. We are racist or we are anti-racist.

Turtles, Rivers, Mitochondria, Figs

There are certain moments in life where it feels like a light has come on. Not sudden understanding, exactly, but sudden vision. Where before there was darkness, now there is light. You look up and realize, hey, my life can look different. I can improve my life. I can change things and those changes could totally transform me and my life for the better.

I think everyone can, and maybe does, experience this to some extent. But a really startlingly clear example would be queer people as they begin to come out. Finally opening up your heart–even just to yourself–enough to see that there could be happiness for you. That there is more than everything you thought your life had to be.

I can’t explain how powerful it is to come to a place where you can dream about falling in love when you have literally never been able to really imagine it before. It’s like being practically frozen and taking a sip of rich hot chocolate: you can feel it travel through you, track its progress across your body, feel a change instantly in a way that was hard to conceive of when all you could think about was how cold you were.

The thing queer people won’t hesitate to tell you is that coming out is not one moment, one choice. It’s a choice that, once made, must be made over and over again as you encounter new people, new situations, new realities. And therein, I think, is one of the most powerful lessons about these light-on moments.

I’ve written (to varying lengths) about our current situation several times the past several weeks. And I haven’t really known what to say but I keep repeating it over and over again, that I hope this changes things. That I hope we come out the other side of this better, different, more compassionate, more whole. But here’s finally something I can say that is, at least in some small, kind of psychological way actually actionable.

Think about your life changes like coming out. It’s something that, once you realize, you can’t imagine going back. Once you feel the freedom, you’ll do whatever you can to keep it. And as you move forward, you’ll always be on the lookout for moments when you might need to make the decision all over again.

Just as opportunities to come out come up all the time, so will opportunities that test your resolve on any change you’re trying to make. It’s not a sign of failure if you choose against your first decision. But if you’ve really seen the light, you’ll at least know what you’re striving toward, even if you don’t walk that direction every time. Once you have seen what life can be like, once you’ve granted your imagination permission to dream greater dreams, you can’t help but come out over and over again, even if imperfectly.

I guess I just want to encourage you in walking in response to whatever light-on moments you may have had in response to this pandemic. Whether related to your own life or social structures beyond your direct control. If your imaginations have been opened about what your life can look like, relish that. Exult in the joy of finally realizing whatever it is that you’ve realized. Give yourself grace in the months and years to come, knowing that change is hard and choosing over and over again is hard. But take heart.

I’m thinking about what I said last week. I know it wasn’t much but the thrust of it I think is about the most powerful change we can make. To love anyway. To forgive when we have no good reason. To be kind when we know it won’t be reciprocated. To be glad for a friend’s happiness instead of envious or melancholy that we don’t have the whatever.

These are all choices that we can make. Moment to moment, over and over again, until we die. And the best part is, they’re exactly the kind of choices that will treat us kindly when we fall short, and spur us to choose good more. The world is having a hard time right now, even more than usual, but we can choose to grow through it, choose to look different on the other side.

There’s such a beautiful natural analog to this in twisted trees and things like that. When the light changes or the wind shifts or the ground moves, they adapt. They don’t abandon where they’ve been but neither do they feel the need to continue in a course that no longer results in good growth. Their trunks and branches contort themselves so that they can flourish where they are, and every ounce of energy must again and again make the decision to support that new, different growth.

I encountered this poem from Jane Hirshfield entitled Optimism. I am thinking about what resilience means. Those parts of us which do not merely spring back but take a new shape, grow into something strange and twisted and beautiful. The sweetness of figs.

More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam
returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous
tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another. A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers,
mitochondria, figs — all this resinous, unretractable earth.

Love Anyway

I heard a song this week and, besides being something that I aspire to in my best moments regardless, felt like a direct response to the world right now. The lyrics are simple but clear and the message is about as concise as one could wish: love anyway.

What dreams may come, what trials we may face, love anyway. I have nothing more for you this week.



Times have been such times lately. They continue to be such and I’ve found it pretty stressful even in the midst of my life mostly looking the same. But I encourage you to reflect very deliberately on what’s going on for you.

And perhaps you can take some time to catalog the things that you have been doing lately that you haven’t typically done much, but which have brought you joy. Art projects, baking, teaching your children. Mediation, journaling, calling friends and relatives regularly. Going on walks, watching comedy specials, supporting local restaurants. Gardening, reading, exercising. Whatever else it might be.

In the intermediate future, some of those things might be difficult to keep up, as life returns to a non-pandemic rhythm. But I encourage you to cast your mind forward to that time and think of how you can commit to keeping those joyful activities thriving.

On a more macro level, I also encourage you to think about the things that, as a society, we should not want to return to ‘normal.’ Doing the bare minimum with healthcare, housing, and the minimum wage. Unnecessary commutes, unnecessary prison sentences, unnecessary restrictions. Teacher pay, care for the elderly, racism. Lying and/or incompetent politicians, ridicule of expertise, disbelief of science. Pollution, individualism of the most selfish sort, failure to understand the interconnectedness of our communities and our world. Lots of things I hope that we change forever.

Now is the time. Think carefully about the life and world you want on the other side of this thing. Get it down while it’s fresh in your mind and find a way to hold onto the things you’re thinking and feeling. We can change things but it’s not going to happen on its own. We’ve got to do things with purpose. Take now to think about what that purpose is, or maybe what you hoped it had been and now realize it wasn’t.

I’ll be real with you, I don’t think much of anything will change. I’ve seen headlines and think-pieces on how the very nature of work will be altered moving forward. I don’t buy it. I hope. But while all our systems have been challenged, none of them have been overthrown. Those in power have rushed to their aid even as they have, to a greater or lesser extent, aided the common people.

But those powers that be will do everything they can to return to the status quo that they created and that benefits them. It sounds a little conspiracy-y to say it like that but it is what it is. Talking about changing offices forever? Doubt it. The people who built the massive office buildings won’t take kindly to employees who want to abandon them–even just for a couple days a week.

And for those who don’t work in offices? For the ‘essential’ workers who are outside of prestige jobs in medicine, for example? Lots of verbal support but it’s unlikely that the Republicans who supported our lovely stimulus checks would also support a minimum wage increase.

Hopefully, time and the world will prove me wrong.

I am not a policy wonk and I hesitate to make such pronouncements with any authority. And by ‘hesitate’, I mean ‘refrain entirely’ since none of my pronouncements actually carry any authority. But here we are.

I’ve just been sitting here. Working some. Enjoying the sun. Listening to a D&D podcast. Petting cats. Trying, as ever, to make and maintain friendships.

But I do hope that you take the time to make that catalog. Be deliberate about the changes you make. We aren’t all the ‘powers that be’ who can make the kind of decisions that transform societies. But in some ways, at least, we can transform our own lives. Let’s try to take this opportunity while we can. Be kinder to yourself and be kinder to those who have only had things worse since this whole thing started.

To finish us off this week, cats and poetry. The poem some distant relative of a translation from Hafez (but probs nowhere near something he actually wrote) and the setting of it by Dan Forrest has been haunting me for weeks. Enjoy.


All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

The Sky

I hope that you’re ready for some more poetry because I have been reading [as freedom is a breakfastfood] by E. E. Cummings and here’s the part that I want you to know:

—time is a tree(this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you

Life is but a little leaf on the great tree of time. But even time itself becomes limited and small in the face of love which is huge and boundless and essential and everywhere. That’s my happy thought for the week. Love is the sky, immense and present, and that is what is getting me through.

I’m going to be real with you though. I have had more video calls this week than ever before–and all of them social, voluntary, and friendly (none of them for work or interviews). I’ve been trying to lap it all up like a parched camel because it’s kind of exactly what I’ve been wishing for these past several months while at home, not particularly close with many friends.

So it’s been awesome in most ways but it’s also presented some mental challenges for me. I’ve written before that I’m trying to stick to the facts, as best as I may know them, when it comes to friends. Being clear with sending and receiving signals, communicating openly so that I can put the lie to the thoughts that tell me that I’m the least valuable player in any social setting. And I think that I’ve made progress on that, truly. One would think that all this social attention has helped too but, surprise, believing lies doesn’t have to be logical.

While I know that the reasonable response to such an increase in contact would be to think something along the lines of ‘wow people do like me, it really is just time and effort constraints that have prevented greater contact in the past’ and now that there’s time, there can be socializing with me. But the thing that I think initially, despite my best efforts, is that either a) this is happening because no one has anything better to do ie I’m a last resort or b) it’s been happening all along but only now am I being made aware of it because people are trying to reach out to others in these difficult times.

I recognize these problems and I’m working on combating them. Just wish it were a little easier. With everything going on, my life hasn’t actually changed much because most of my time has been stewing aimlessly at home anyway. The inescapable frustration of underemployment. The diminished capacity of listlessness. Stewing really is the right word for it most of the time. I hope I come out of this as a really delicious soup because otherwise what am I even doing.

Anyway. Trying not to turn too inward, a tendency for me which the current situation exacerbates.

There’s a whole lot going on in the world right now and it’s important to pay attention to it. I try to take it seriously when I can offer support to other people. It’s hard sometimes to know what to do especially when notes of caution are added to my natural laziness (and selfishness) but I do still want to try to do things. I tell myself it will be better when I have a normal, full-time job and can establish a reasonable routine but we’ll see about that I guess.

In the meantime, if there’s something that I can do for you, please let me know. Just like a little check-in, or virtually playing some games with you, or bringing you groceries if you’re in the area. I’d love to write you letters, too, which you can let sit in mail quarantine for a few days before opening. Whatever I can do.

To conclude, some cute pictures of cat tongue because why not.

The line quoted at the start of this post is near the end of the final stanza. E. E. Cummings is hard to understand in the best of times but that stanza begins with the line, “worms are the words but joy’s the voice.” Whatever the words may be (worms? like, death? or nature? or just small, insignificant things? or???), the voice is joy. Joy is the voice and love is the sky.

I can’t get over that single phrase. Love is the sky. Love is the sky. Love is the sky. Love, love, love; sky, sky, sky.

Who Shall Command the Skylark

In times like these, my first and foremost offering to the great void of the internet that may or may not ever consume my blog must always be: cat. And as always, if you feel so led, please do feel free to share your own cat pictures with me because we must truly be here for one another when we possess such a commodity. In this case, as is not the case for basically everything else right now, sharing is caring.


Over the past several months, I have kept going back to Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet and its soaringly beautiful way of describing the world. Recently, a line from the section referred to as On Laws has been on my mind.

You can muffle the drum, and you can loosen the strings of the lyre, but who shall command the skylark not to sing?

This week has been rough on a lot of people in a lot of ways. I’m not sure the best way to address any of those people or those ways. One approach is to provide relief in the form of humor; another is to give encouragement and solace; another is to take the opportunity to look out for the least of us and try to argue for deep change. All good, all appropriate in times and places, I’m just not sure that I’m quite up to any of those tasks this week.

I feel like I spend too much time in self-pity and it’s something that I’m deliberately trying to change but, like, not trying too hard. When I say that I didn’t get the job that I had been hoping for, I really do feel like I have gotten over it and I didn’t spend an undue amount of time torn up about it. But at the same time, while I’m not overly sad and I did try to manage hopes beforehand, I do have numerous expectations that I have to–once again–revise.

So I’m not sure what I have to say because honestly, my current bleh is only kind of tangentially related to the current global situation. I’m just thinking again and again about the skylark. And the singing, as Emily Dickinson knew, that goes on and on. That thing with feathers that sings whether the world at large or merely your personal universe is in the midst of storm. That indomitable bird.

If you yourself aren’t up to singing, take solace in this: no one can command the skylark to be silent.

This section of The Prophet is immediately (and very appropriately, given the whole of the treatment of the topic of laws) followed by a section called On Freedom. Would that we staying at home were more free in this time, would that all people were more free in all other times. If we are not free, do we begrudge others their freedom–rightfully expressed without harm to others–or do we celebrate with them?

That’s kind of what I’m thinking about now, having pondered that single line the past couple days. How can I be the skylark to another–how can I bring hope or freedom or joy? And in the circumstances where my drum is muffled and my strings are loosed, am I listening for the skylark’s song–am I able to rejoice with those who rejoice when I am down?

Maybe this is all beating a metaphor or three way past their limits. I can’t help it, I’m a poetic romantic and I have a lot of time on my hands. Regardless, that’s what I want to say to you and to myself in this time. Plenty of people are reminding us to wash our hands (as they well should) so I guess I’ll be here to remind us to sing or hope or be free or whatever it is that I’m trying to say.

Anyway. As we cross into April, and continue into an uncertain future, let’s all resolve to be cleaner, kinder, and more hopeful. And, of course, let us luxuriate in the time spent with one another–virtually or in person–and with our cats.



Better Left Empty

A friend of mine wrote a lovely post about emptiness, right at the onset of social distancing across much of the US and beyond. His post was broad-ranging and focused on other things, like the ongoing refugee crisis and what this pandemic can mean for those in camps. But one little bit really stood out to me.

In describing how many people are taking this opportunity to unplug themselves a bit from life in some ways, only to fill up watching Netflix or whatever. Which, he says, isn’t exactly a bad thing in and of itself, “unless it fills space better left empty.”

The past several months, I’ve had more than my share of empty time on my hands, what with working very part-time and not doing much else at all. So really, things haven’t changed much for me this past week because my behavior is already well-adapted to the times (yes, all those memes about introverts and social distancing are me). And I’ve often wished, at times quite ardently, that I had a little bit more to fill up on. More things to do, or more accurately, probably, more motivation to do even little things.

So now I’m sitting here thinking about what space is space better left empty. What are the spaces in my life where I could benefit from, not additional activity, but additional reflection. Spaces that I could ponder without filling. Spaces whose size and shape could teach me something. I’m not really sure where those places may be, and I’m pretty confident that I won’t know what do to with them if I find them. But I think the search is worthwhile even so. Just to know myself a little better–not just the things in my life but the bits that don’t get seen much, by me or by anyone.

And apparently, that’s all the space for introspection I have right now. Something is better than nothing, though. It’s worth coming back to, and I’m sure most of us have plenty of time right about now.

I have been baking some, which is always a good thing for me. Made some lovely brownies with a tangy cream cheese swirly bit on top, great combo. And some chocolate chip cookies because chocolate chip cookies are always a good option. Been hiking a bit as well, getting some Washington nature in as the season begins to change (hard to believe that we’re already almost to the solstice–it’s technically tonight!).

Wild to think that it’s essentially spring already. With everything going on, I’m not sure how much notice it will get. I did mostly forget that it was St Patrick’s Day just because it wasn’t really on my mind and I didn’t get out of the house. I have had some lovely walks, though, which have bee beneficial because I like walking and the weather is starting to turn and I went down to Glen Cove which is my favorite specific body of water, if I haven’t mentioned that lately.

Anyway. Taking a sec to go back to emptiness. I hope that you are given the peace and the space (metaphorical but also, six literal feet) to consider the places that the current crisis has emptied for you–or empty places that it has revealed to you.

I hope that you are able to consider those emptinesses in light of the things that have proven to be necessities. Toilet paper, apparently, but also connection, love, art, purpose.

I hope that lessons seen here and now are lessons that we remember. Watching the sick be treated without regard for payment. Watching the elderly be given attention that often they miss. Watching the air and water take a collective sigh of relief over our lessened emissions. Watching friend and neighbor working hard because they cannot afford not to. And a whole lot more.

And if you have no big social take-aways but you have learned something valuable about yourself or a loved one, then remember that, too. If you haven’t really been directly effected but you’ve taken note of those who are in need, from your own neighborhood to refugee camps around the world, remember that, too.

I think this would be a deeply terribly waste if we came away from this–and we will come away, sooner or later–having learned nothing and forgotten everything.

Job, Growth, Lips, Kitties

So I guess I should start off this week with the biggest personal yikes that has happened to me since I last posted. Which is that, unfortunately, I was not flown anywhere. Nor did I fly anywhere. Because my prospective employer decided that, what with a big virus threatening and extraneous travel not advised, a video interview (like my first one with them) would suffice. Understandable but not ideal. At least it still happened.

And I’m very grateful that it did. I think it went really well, I feel like I came across as very personable and very suited for the position. They all seemed really nice as well. Hoping that their willingness to fly me out (even though it didn’t happen) and having a two hour second interview are good signs. Now, once more, it’s a waiting game. But I should hear from them relatively soon. Here’s hoping. Hoping real hard.

Things otherwise have not been particularly thrilling. I also have not had any big thoughts about anything.

Mostly, this week, I have been daydreaming about moving and having my own place and purchasing household goods and putting up framed artwork on the walls. (Re)Building a routine around even the most mundane things.

As I’ve said before, I know that whatever comes next for me, it won’t automatically solve my problems and it will bring new problems of its own. But I am just really ready for those problems. Those opportunities. Those new things, whatever they may be. If this job turns out to be my job, then I will really look forward to all the changes that that new start will bring. Gasp! I’m looking forward to changes! Maybe this means I’m maturing.

The sermon series that the church I’m going to is presenting during Lent is about big questions people have about the faith. So far, we’ve covered Hell/End Times and politics. This coming Sunday, apparently they’re talking about homosexuality, what a joy.

I said that with that tone because I know neither pastor is personally affirming, nor is the denomination as a whole. Very not, in fact. But because I really just don’t care what they have to say about it (it’s not that I’m ignoring their perspective or anything, it’s more that I have heard it all before, thought about it, and rejected it) I don’t mind going and just kind of existing near them as a very gay, very affirming person. Visibly. So, you know, manicured and lipsticked.

A friend and I recently went lipstick shopping so I could try it for the first time. Trying on lipstick in the store is so weird. I get it but also yikes. Seems like too much work to wear regularly (sorry about the patriarchy) but it’s a fun little accent. I got a pretty nice berry type shade, very eye-catching if you ask me.

So I’ll wear my lipstick and my random shade of nail polish and just generally do my best to radiate the message that God loves everyone, no caveats.

And of course, I would be remiss if I neglected my cat picture duties so here’s a quick little fix for you.

Walk Humbly

We proceed today to the third part in my little series inspired by this talk at a conference I went to back in November and using Micah 6:8 as a way to talk about stuff that I think is important.

So. Walk humbly.Our daily lives should be characterized humility at all times. I don’t recall the post in which I talked about “characterized” but I still like that word, it makes me feel better about evaluating myself on-the-whole rather than in-this-instance.

The point of this, I think, it to model ourselves after Jesus who, being literally actually God, was also just some random Jewish peasant. But foremost in his actions is taking care of others, no matter what it looked like. Meeting people’s needs, going to where they are–physically, culturally, mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually. I want to strive to care for others. Gently, humbly, individually, joyfully. Careful to try my best to ensure that they do not feel like a burden.

And here’s a big part of what I think is tricky about that. The difference between service and humility. Anyone can serve, all you have to do is do something. But like last week, when we had to not just do mercy but actively love it, to be humble is to serve for the right reasons, not just go through the motions. Jesus was big into this, the whole idea that when you give, do not even let your right hand know what your left is doing. Or something like that.

Finally, to walk is a directional verb, unlike do or love. We are meant to be going someplace. Which to me means two things: do not expect perfection, and be open to correction. On the first, that means that we ought to go easy on ourselves and on others because none of us are there yet. On humility, or on justice or mercy. I guess that is itself a little humility though, look at us we’re getting somewhere!

And on the second. When we get hurt by people, it can make us extra sensitive to correction. When people have used cudgels in the guise of guidance, especially in church settings, it can make any words of wisdom sometimes feel painful. But it is our work to listen to valid correction and strive to move forward–to heal our wounds and to walk further every day. On the reverse, we have to be sensitive to the hurt in others, to serve and guide them appropriately. Do not underplay or ignore or cheapen the experience of others in the pursuit of betterment (but also don’t give up that pursuit).

I think this correction piece is really key for religious settings in particular. The church offers boundaries and guidelines that the secular world doesn’t, exactly, and I think that’s a strength (when it is not abused). But this element of humility also means that (and here’s my little queer moment on the subject) the church must be able to look humbly on itself and take correction where it can be brought closer to the justice and mercy of God.

Let me tell you, applying for jobs has been a rough time. Being rejected over and over again from scores of places, month after month, isn’t great for one’s self-esteem. But that’s not humility. Working at Michael’s, cleaning bathrooms on the odd occasion–and not minding too too much, and at least there’s a paycheck. But that’s not humility.

I don’t mean this to be the kind of thing where I’m like, I’ve been stripped of everything that’s important to me and that’s how I learned to rely on God because a) I have not been so stripped, nowhere near and b) those stories always kind of annoy me though I’m not sure why. And also c) I don’t think that I’ve learned any better to rely on God than in the past few years (which is maybe a personal failing but that’s neither here nor there).

What I think I have learned a bit is a better perspective. First, on the very tangible scale of Capitalism, learning that I am and always will be replaceable and that a job will never actually care about me because it’s just a job (people can, but people are not jobs). And instead of this being depressing (though not having a job is kind of depressing), it is liberating because I am free to derive my value elsewhere. Like God, theoretically.

And second, perspective in a more global, cosmic sense. To be humbled by the knowledge of God, as far as I have come on that question. To know that while I certainly oughtn’t derive my own worth from a job, God definitely doesn’t. Not from a job, or a relationship, or actions, or words, or thoughts. God doesn’t consider any of those things when estimating my value–not even for an instant. Not a single thing.

The only thing that God considers when charting my value as a human being is that I am. That is the humility that I have been trying to learn. It may sound kind of counter-intuitive, the humility of knowing my worth, and maybe I haven’t explained it well, but I know what I mean.