I wrote in the new book, How to Begin, that I went into ministry at least partly because I wanted to be a witch, but nobody will give you a salary or benefits to be a witch.
Ministry, it turns out, often makes me feel more like an administrative elf rubber-stamping arcane scrolls. There are weeks or months when I feel like I have lost any magick I ever had–was it all a dream, after all?
But then, magical moments surface. Like the way the afternoon light limned the hospital room last week when I was visiting a young(ish) dad from my church after his new cancer diagnosis. We joked and cried in turn about how much it sucks when a rogue cell misdivides and then keeps on acting up until lo and behold, you have cancer.
Or the way I randomly reached out to a woman from my church who works with incarcerated youth, and she said my text came at weirdly the right moment to land a God-nudge that she had been dodging.
Or how the signal dropped on the Zoom committee meeting from purgatory as I was walking along a reservoir, leaving me with nothing to do but hold my 16-year-old’s hand (a miracle in itself, that she still lets me) as the California towhees swooped for supper and the sun slipped behind the hills.
I was so mad at this world we have made (again) when the SCOTUS decision leaked last week. “God dammit!” I yelled. “It’s gonna be time to march again, and I’m tired of marching! We march and we march and it makes no difference because the minority rule will not be shamed by massive numbers of people in the streets, nor even by Gallup polls! They just lie and cheat and steal to get power, and do whatever they can to keep it as long as they can, for their warped, nefarious white nationalist ‘Christian’ ends! Domestic supply of infants, my ass. Are people with uteruses nothing but baby factories? What about all the meticulously catalogued collateral damage that happens when abortion is illegal and social safety nets are weak? And whose rights are they coming for next? What CENTURY is this?”
I do what I usually do when I’m upset. I remembered my baptism by climbing into our backyard hot tub (I’m not much of a thing person, but our hot tub is one thing that I really, really love. I want the next stimulus plan to include a hot tub for everyone in America. It would solve so many problems).
I floated, and drank up the crescent moon squeezing moon-juice onto me. Low scattered clouds scudded by at speed, occasionally obscuring the winking moon in their race east. My palms faced up, and energy filled me from above. I felt magick pouring back into me.
God took my by the ankles, and pulled me up into a full float, and said “Protests are important–especially so that people can find each other and find their courage when lives are on the line. But I also need people to stand still, anchored in the earth on two strong feet, to pull down Good energy, to pull it down and direct it into the world.” It sounded just woo-woo enough that I knew it was God and not me, because I’m really a pretty practical person, for all my witchy longings.
One of the chapters of How to Begin is about everyday mysticism–you know, when God breaks through the banal practicalities of life with a message whispered in your ear, and/or rends a hole in the time/space continuum to send you in an entirely new direction, and/or sends you a dream that is OBVIOUSLY NOT “just” a dream.
Here’s a quote from the book:
Oddly, even though I’m cautiously open to all things mystical, it turns out I’m also a realist who is shocked pretty much every time God makes Herself noisily known. God’s dramatic entrances have happened often enough in my life that you would think I would start to expect it. But I’m grateful for my own surprise. Every time God talks directly to me, either with words written on my heart, a clear-as-a-bell voice that is wiser than I am, or through a sign smoothing my travels through this sticky-wicket world, it feels like an astonishing gift.
Those moments of God’s almost embarrassing personal attention give us a chance to claim the magick afoot in the world for the good of all. I do think there are corrupt principalities and powers at work in the world. I believe we need to take to the streets and the ballot box to stop them, and to do our best to awaken those spellbound into fearmongering by the Powers that Be–by remaining in loving connection to them even when their political convictions piss us off.
And I also believe we need to attune ourselves to supernatural energies directly. To root ourselves, to float, to drink the moon, to ritually dance and sing in order to banish evil energy.
So, Loves, if you’re feeling like me, and you don’t know what to do next, first, remember your baptism:
image description: Carmen and I swimming Walden Pond at sunset in Sept 2015 (courtesy Boston Globe)
Then read this piece by Jay Kaspian Kang, which reminded me why we march.
Then read this piece by Jill Filipovic, who is always so clear about the bad things that are happening, and especially clear how we can act to preserve the lives of those whose rights are being robbed.
And if you want a really good theological and biblical grounding in a theology of God letting us be decisionmakers about our own bodies, listen to yesterday’s incredible sermon by my colleague Rev. Kelly (here's the ms. if you want to read it).
Then take to the streets, and to a redwood grove, a pine ridge, the crashing ocean, the pocket park down the street from your house, and drink the moon. You’ll need all that juice for this journey.
Hey! My book went to the printers on Friday! You can still pre-order here or here or here, and it will magically arrive in your mailbox in 6 months. Why does it take 6 months? Beats me. Maybe it has to go to the moon and back.
Things I am excited about:
I’ve applied to the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Psychedelics, a brand-new certificate program for clergy and others who want to be trained as spiritual guides to people have high-dose psychedelic trips for the purposes of healing from addiction, depression, trauma as well as for spiritual and emotional wellness–please pray that I get in!
Later this month I have plans to jump into this river and this river! And maybe this lake! I think you should go jump in a lake, too.
I am newly re-enamored of the Gottman Institute, which has a long track record of helping couples stay vital and tender in their relationships. Peter and I went on a retreat recently and came back with “love maps” cards and “open questions” cards that we have used at the family dinner table with our kids, and even with our Supper Club to deepen warmth and trust!
The inimitable Alice Walker was at my church a couple of weeks ago, with a new book–excerpts from 30 years of her journals. I love reading words from the young, brilliant, impetuous, sometimes insecure, still-becoming Alice. Alice Walker–she’s just like us ;)!
I think I invented this recipe for vegan oyster mushroom “bacon” (see below). You may never eat bacon again. I realize what a throwdown that is.
Get a pound of oyster mushrooms, brush off loose dirt (don’t wash), tear the big ones in half the long way. Put 1/4 lb. Trader Joe's vegan buttery spread (the new one that comes in a brick...so good...it even browns) in a big cast iron pan and melt. Put one layer of mushrooms in with room between them, and put another smaller cast iron pan on top of it to weight them. Cook on medium heat until the mushrooms are beautifully caramelized. Throw some salt on the top (I like Maldon smoked salt for everything), flip them with tongs and replace the smaller cast iron “press.” When the second side is browned, turned off heat and eat! them! all! slowly and with joy.
Friends, Family, Colleagues & Readers I just haven’t met yet.