Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Cross is More Than a Whisper

I wrote this poem after visiting Israel/Palestine. That trip forever changed how I view war and our world. However, a poem uses specificity to speak to universality. These words came from the Middle East but speak to all injustice, whether across the ocean in an ancient desert, or a few miles away in Memphis, Tennessee or just outside my door in Olive Branch, Mississippi.

If our God is for us then who can ever stop us…

If our God is for us,
then who are we

What do we stand against?

I have to ask, because
the bombs are steady falling.
I watch the babies die,
the mothers cry,
the men turned each day
to animal instinct,
to survival at expense
of love, life, peace.

The bombs fall and we
who claim to believe
our God can do anything…

What the hell are we doing?

How dare we debate doctrine
as our brothers die.
How dare we who follow the Christ
throw stones and walk past
the beaten man in the ditch?
How dare we side
with human power?

The bombs fall.
The people cry.
The bodies are broken
and peace will die.

Because we stand by
and let this happen.

We are letting this happen.

We quote the Old Testament
and Revelation
but never Jesus.
We can’t quote Jesus
to defend ourselves
because deep down we know
that Jesus is ashamed.

How dare we claim

You go to Israel and watch
the agony and hate,
watch as you read
the Sermon on the Mount
and then you tell me
if Jesus is proud
of all we see
in his homeland.

Was the cross only for me?

Was the cross only a whisper
when it’s meant to be a scream?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Coloring the '90s

Y'all know I love adult coloring books. Coloring was one of my favorite pastimes as a child, and some things never change.

I dealt with panic attacks and some other anxiety issues pretty heavily in 2014, and I colored my way through much of that struggle. Everything from sugar skulls to Bible verses to Lisa Frank... The act of filling in the lines with brightness stilled my wild stallion of a mind.

I haven't gotten to color as much lately, but I did spend some time with this new coloring book: That's So '90s Pop

Strictly speaking, this isn't just a coloring book. It is an activity book. It also has some trivia stuff inside its pages. The little-known-facts are fun, but the activities don't go one way or the other with me. I want to color, so I mostly skip those.

My only complaint about the coloring pages is that the artist may have tried to make the people too realistic. The faces are more lined than I would like them to be, but that isn't a big deal. I just prefer a bit more whimsy to my cartoon celebrities. LOL!

Since I just shared with you all how I feel about 90s hip-hop, I thought this would be worth sharing. It's a fun little book to add to my collection. Here is the first page I colored:

Sometimes, a girl just needs a little Alanis to vent all the anger from her spirit. Know what I mean?

It's a jagged little pill... swimming in your stomach.

I hope your Sunday is beautiful. I felt it was time for a lighter post. My thoughts have been heavy as of late.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Used to Dance

I used to dance.

I wasn't that great at ballet or jazz or even modern... the three styles we learned in middle school classes. The only reason I took dance on into high school was because I didn't know what to replace it with. The theater class was full, and I'd already been in dance so at least it was a known quantity.

I don't remember how long we were in that freshman class before the teacher told us to split into groups and choreograph our own routines. I do remember that my only friend in the class was Tina and she picked our music, "No Diggity" by Blackstreet. Off to the gym we went, playing this hip-hop song and working out moves. At that point, it was probably me just doing whatever moves Tina told me to do. Aside from my 5th grade obsession with En Vogue, I was surrounded by bluegrass and country western music. The little bit of R&B I knew was pitiful.

So, there we were, doing our thing on one side of the gym, when we heard another group talking about us. They'd paused their own routine to watch ours. The gist of their comments can be summed up like this: "Those white girls can dance."

It turns out my body was not made for ballet and jazz, but it did know a thing or two about rhythm. Dance became my confidence currency. My friend, Catherine, started calling me "Black White Girl" when she saw me dance backstage after a theater performance one night. I'd quit taking the school classes, but I hadn't stopped moving.

I went from standing on the sidelines at parties to diving into the thick of things, my body pressed against another body. Boy, girl, didn't matter. The point was to dance, to feel the music in my muscles, to know that my body knew what it was doing.

Until that moment, that acknowledgment from the outside that something about my physicality was right, I had been at odds with my body.

Too skinny.
Too pale.
Too freckled.
Too flat-chested.
Too oily.
Too weak.

There was always something wrong with me.

All of that changed when I let myself dance.

I stopped dancing when I got married. I had good reasons. By that point, the dancing I did was out at nightclubs, my body pressed against the body of some man I didn't know. I never gave out my number. I didn't drink or talk or flirt. I rarely got their names. I just went to dance, to feel the power that existed inside my limbs. But, if we're being honest, it was vertical sex with clothes on. The choreographed routines had long slipped away. What used to be about connecting to my body turned into a connection to someone else's body, allowing how they moved with me to boost up my flagging confidence.

I did go to a club once after I got married. I had two kids by that point, but I was visiting a friend in Virginia, my kids states away. We decided to go out dancing at a club called Corned Beef.

They played techno music.

I stood there, baffled by the speakers. What was that stuff? How was I supposed to move to it? And who with? I no longer needed other bodies to tell me what mine could do. My body had twice created new life. My body could rock it.

My friend and I danced together for a bit, but the music was a disappointment and we soon gave up and headed home.

I still dance in my kitchen when no one is looking.

When I started back to school last month, a full twenty years since that first dance routine to "No Diggity" in the gym at Lower Richland High School, I was nervous. My confidence was a mess.

So I made a playlist. 90s R&B blasted from my speakers in the week leading up to my first class. I dance in the driver's seat. My kids laugh or roll their eyes, and that's okay.

Because it works. I feel those rhythms inside my skin and I remember how I used to move, and I know I can do that again. Maybe I am not heading off to a hip-hop class, but I am heading off to class, and if my body can remember how to dance, so can my mind.

Who knows, maybe one of these days, I WILL head off to a hip-hop class.

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