Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Church Life

And what of those sinned against?

And what of those sinned against –
Bathsheba and Tamar,
The concubine cut up into pieces
By her Levite priest owner,
The two virgin daughters of Lot,
And millions of wounded women and men
Sitting in yet another dock wondering
How long their nightmares will last?

How can we beg God for forgiveness
And enjoy the fruits of mercy
Without even a nod to our victims
Who daily carry within and upon
Their embodied souls a lifetime
Of self-punishment as though they
Could ever atone for their broken selves?

They sit beside us in the pews (or not)
Afraid to tell their unwelcome truths
Terrified of whispers and innuendo
Choking on heaped-up tamped-down shame
And fear that they are indeed to blame
For predatory practices wielded skillfully
By church-going men or even women
Who now worship God freely and
Joyously believing all has been forgiven
When they haven’t begun to make amends
To those they harmed including themselves

I don’t have answers. Just questions this morning.

1. What does it mean to go to church carrying shame in a body meant to be loved and set free?
2. How do we begin to notice and reach out to listen and learn, not to fix what we may quickly decide is the true ‘problem’ when it isn’t?
3. Indeed, how do we come clean about our own unhealed wounds that will surely be exposed when we’re telling our truth?

The poem above comes from multiple experiences of being turned into ‘the problem’ I was not. Too often this was about my femaleness, which supposedly justified problems and attitudes that originated with others, usually men.

To all such people, including members of my family plus some pastors, employers and work or church-related colleagues:

Your problems are not rooted in my body,
my soul, my mind, my emotions,
my mouth, the look on my face,
or what I happened to be wearing that day.

On the other hand, I could learn from you if you’re interested and I’m not scared shitless. Otherwise, we’ll just keep soldiering on in our walled-off worlds, teetering precariously from time to time until it’s too late.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 September 2018

What I’m FOR today

There’s so much going so wrong today that I decided to make a roll call of what I’m FOR on this remarkable day. Remarkable because I lived to witness it! Including, in my past, this river and dock-life when I was growing up. Plus at least the following other items for which I’m grateful:

  • this beautiful world in places touched by human tragedy
  • family members more distant in miles than ever, yet closer to my heart
  • churches standing up to tough challenges without capitulating to visions of grandeur, glory or isolation
  • real places that offered me refuge and peace when I needed solitude and reassurance that my life matters
  • our son who turns 50 today and reminds me why I risked everything with my parents on the eve of my 50th birthday
  • our daughter who lives on the other side of the USA yet is present to me in ways I was never present to my mother
  • the Carolina Wren, Chickadees and Cardinals singing and chirping, plus the small ground squirrel who sits on our back yard wall surveying his spacious kingdom
  • courageous women, men and children who speak out and work for a better world for all of us
  • my neighbors: Roman Catholic, Muslim, Jew, Protestant, or Nothing at All who greet me, invite me into conversation, groan and smile with me, and offer me tea
  • my dear husband who I sometimes thought might be the wrong man for me, yet has become precious beyond words
  • my local church with its challenging mix of cultures, ethnicity, political persuasions, youth and decrepitude
  • days of such unexpected delight that I don’t want them to end, yet can let go because I love my water-bed and the partner swimming in it with me
  • my body and the way it’s leading me deeper into and out of myself in these last days of summer 2018.

And of course, I’m for you, my wonderful readers–an invisible family loosely held together somewhere out there beyond our control.

Elouise

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 22 August 2018
Photo found at pinterest; Skidaway River, Isle of Hope near Savannah, GA

Still on my open-mic high

Sunday evening I bravely showed up at our church with D and three poems. Our church’s first-ever open-mic night. The gym was set up with gracious laid-back elegance, and several tables were spread with café-quality cookies and other sweet finger foods. Plus non-alcoholic drinks and a basket for donations to the Deacon’s Fund.

To my surprise, I was up first. Good! It meant I fully enjoyed the rest of the show. Performers included children, young people, middle-age people, and a good number of us gray-hairs. About twelve ‘acts’ in all, ranging from poetry and a book excerpt reading to riddles, funny jokes, professional and amateur musical renditions, and a crazy-funny skit at the end.

It felt good to be behind a microphone again. I’m not a born performer. I do, though, love the way words work, especially when delivered as performance art, with an opportunity to say a bit about what I’ve written.

I chose personal poems, accessible to all ages. Below are links to my three poems, plus the third poem in its entirety. Reading it out loud was even better than writing it!

This was my first open-mic event ever. So now I’m wondering about venues where I might read and talk about more of my poems, now more than 390. But that’s for another day.

music to my ears
Her bespoke face
Homecoming on the Grounds….

Homecoming on the Grounds….

Homecoming this Sunday on the grounds
of the Montgomery Presbyterian Church
Come One, Come All!
Sunday, 12:30 to 5:00 pm
All Ages Welcome!

Beneath aging water oaks
Long wooden tables covered with oilcloth
and butcher paper groan with food
Children race shrieking with joy

Ladies arrange and surreptitiously rearrange
table settings to favor their own delicacies
properly positioned for easy access
and maximum compliments

Piles of coated, crispy southern fried chicken
Bowls of homegrown boiled corn on the cob cut in 2-inch portions
Mounds of southern white potato salad swimming
in mayo, relish, cut-up hard-boiled eggs, salt and pepper

Molded bright green and orange jello ‘salads’
defy description
laced with canned mixed fruit, grated carrots and raisins,
small-curd cottage cheese and pineapple bits or
My Mom’s strawberry jello salad
with real strawberries and rhubarb!

Platters of thick-sliced juicy homegrown tomatoes
Hunks of sugary-sweet southern-style cornbread
Pots of honey-bee honey and real butter

Obligatory cut green beans drowning
in canned cream-of-something soup topped
with crispy brown onion fries
Boiled collards and turnip greens swimming
in chunks of fatty ham and Tobasco-laced broth

Plates of beguiling deviled eggs dusted with red paprika
Baskets of buttery white rolls and salty potato chips
Nary a boiled carrot to be seen

Lemon chiffon pie, sweet potato pie
and banana pudding with soggy vanilla wafer edges
Cheesecake in graham-cracker crusts
topped with canned cherries
smothered in red glop

Pecan pies and German chocolate cakes
Chocolate chip cookies, decorated sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies
Moon Pies and Tootsie Rolls

Hot coffee with caffeine and real cream
Sweetened iced tea with lemon slices
Water and funeral home fans for the faint of heart

Yet more glorious still—
Pit-cooked, falling-apart whole barbecued pork
prepared and reverently tended overnight by real men
on the grounds of hog heaven
***

This is a favorite childhood memory from life in the South. I was 8 years old when we moved to the Deep South. These annual October potluck dinners were even better than Christmas!

Cheers!
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 October 2017
Image found at farmingtonnm.org

Daily Prompt: Brave

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