When A Cross-Dresser Meets An Off-Key Kumbayah

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 12.02.08 AMI quit all service-related activities this past summer when I burned out.

And I haven’t been back at them since.

But the thing is, when you go too long with your heart-values being unrequited, something different—but equally damaging—happens: your heart starts to choke on your own values because they just keep sitting there, stacking up inside you.

Until they come so high you can nearly taste them crawling inch by inch up the back of your throat, suffocating you for their need to be released.

So it was no surprise to walk into Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry at butt-early o’clock on Saturday and feel like I could breathe again. I had come home. Home, I tell you. A place so familiar I can smell it in my sleep, with sounds and sights cascading dreamily through me like a favorite childhood memory – maybe the one where I sit on the counter in our growing-up kitchen, sneaking dough and keeping my mama company while she makes my favorite cookies. Comfort, contentment, intimacy, warmth down to my little white feet, that’s what flooded over my body when I travelled across the threshold of that church-basement pantry.

I’ve said it before and I’ll I say it again: there is never a greater sense of belonging then in this space, where my soul is catapulted to the center of an unwashed, undignified sea of quirky people. I love the loud-mouths, the misfits, the skin colors and wrinkle patterns. I love the offending scents, bad language and indecent behavior. I love the spectrum and volume of energy buzzing and pinging from wall to wall, the graceless chaos of pushing and shoving. I love the reluctant acceptance and show of community. I love the joy that still comes when someone starts yelling at me because I can’t understand the name he mumbles at the registration table. All this—even much more—and I feel like I’m the opportunist who found herself in heaven because she already chose to die.

Jay-Z and Kanye were wrong, you know. There IS church in the wild and I find it every time I’m there in that jungle of battered humanity, where I am chief of all the rabble-ish creatures. But, for absolutely dead damn certain the finest part of the whole [rethink] church service that morning was the moment when a lively cross-dressed man (complete with giant gold hoop earrings) flaunted in and started serenading the crowd at the very height of his off-key lungs. Round and around and around he would weave himself slowly through all the food-seeking bodies with an open hymn book in hand, singing song after song. He was so LOUD y’all, but in my estimation this man seemed like he represented The Glue that stuck all us kids together that day . . . not only did his off-color character invite you to come just as you are with all the strangeness and skeletons you stand up under, but because the first song he belted forth was none other then Kumbayah – the tune “originally associated with human and spiritual unity, closeness and compassion”. The whole eccentric event made me want to whoop and dance and grin as wide as the lousy limitations of my face would allow. And my spirit was so stretched with colliding and ricocheting sensations, the feeling you might have when something shamelessly pure and indescribably right and incandescently beautiful rises from an unseen place and expands your chest with all the good things. Bursting, I have heard it called before.

I am bursting. And all the craziness and Kumbayah singing doesn’t stop me from pausing within the bedlam just to inhale him, my Jesus. Pausing and breathing and shutting my eyes for only a moment and I can see his figure moving around the earthbound bodies in that fluid way – touching shoulders, bathing feet, bending close for every hug, delivering that celestial-sized smile he’s famous for . . . You see? The reason I go is selfish, really. I just want to be close to Jesus and remember who he is [especially] during this Lent season. Not only is he all over every person I smell and touch and serve, but his Spirit is also whorling between every piece of food and flesh. I mean, you literally and certainly CAN’T miss him. Of all the reasons for dragging my arse out of bed on a Saturday morning, that one is the absolute best.

{Image: SOURCE}

Life Lately

In Me: I’m sitting here inside a solitary moment, unexpected, and inhale the aloneness with passionate affection to soothe and nurture the recent bankruptcy to my quiet-side. The only company kept is a cozy, perfect spot at the vintage, enamel-top kitchen table where just the right amount of sunlight slants through the thin, aged glass . . . to bathe a warm circle between my shoulder blades, balance out the autumn-cold felt in my bare feet.

I write my thoughts in pencil just the way they come, without prescription or necessary purpose. I am in that vulnerable state, the skin inside my teal-blue cardigan with the brass buttons feels peeled, exposed – at any moment, with the smallest provocation, my eyes might just film and spill, from nothing more then the morning call of a bird in all it’s natural beauty or the color of the night sky when the city lights filter to it’s indigo edges or from a breeze so gentle and flawless a heart could melt from noticing.

There is a season or two (or more) in every year where I am uncomfortably close to my humanity. Right now is that season and I get so tired of this old-man skin I wear . . . but it’s the only thing that breaks me? And I feel more like a train wreck then a life artist, {even though I’m not sure the two are mutually exclusive} a poor, naked wretch of a walking catastrophe full-up with cracks and fractures. Yet, all-broken-up-me has found that the purest expression of my union with Christ begins and ends with the acceptance of my wounded self. So, instead of running from the pain of it, my legs take flight, barreling all of this daughter-child full-force into the gale, searching for His wild, element-tossed face in the tempest . . . found You.

A compelling moment brought me to Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning where I found this gift from heaven: Thornton Wilder’s one-act play “The Angel That Troubled the Waters,” based on John 5:1-4, dramatizes the power of the pool of Bethesda to heal whenever an angel stirred its waters. A physician comes periodically to the pool hoping to be the first in line and longing to be healed of his melancholy. The angel finally appears but blcoks the physcian just as he is ready to step into the water. The angel tells the physician to draw back , for this moment is not for him. The physician pleads for help in his broken voice, but the angel insists that healing is not intended for him.

The dialogue continues – and then comes the prophetic word from the angel: “Without your wounds where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.”

And the Light comes out and shines through much clearer for all the splits in my skin.

In Home: We moved to a new dwelling spot this summer after nearly 3 years of trying to save our home from foreclosure.  Right now, we’re sitting on the couch of “new start” and feeling 100 pounds lighter. The magic of the whole thing is that we feel like we’ve lived in this house our whole lives, our hearts feel that peaceful here. We’re healing from transition and heartache in a safe, beautiful place.

Would you like to see it? Our new pad? I was thinking that maybe I would do a video tour led by me and my wee scurvy dawgs . . .

In Announcements: #1. I have a new website!!! (Duh.) My friend Ben Hart of Animal Volcano gifted me with a bit more fun and functionality at my cyber haunt. If you want to see his BEST work, you can visit LOVE146.org where he designs all their pages and videos or watch this great clip to get a feel for his creative genius.

My dear friend Daniel Carter of d dot b :: the A side (I have no idea what that means, but it sounds cool), put code (a.k.a. “that’s Greek to me”) to this new look. I like my homeboys a LOT.

#2. My mama, Anne, is going to start guest posting here once or twice a month (YEAH!!!) and what’s really great about the whole thing is that she has to snail-mail all her contributions to me because she doesn’t even have internet. Whoa. Anyhew, I think you’re going to love her and while we don’t always share the same views and opinions, mama-Anne always has something valuable to say because the woman has lived life with so much fervor and heart.

In Closing: I love you all. Thank-you so much for being here . . . And, I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on brokenness, if you have a minute.

Erika

Photo Credit

Life Lately

An inspiration came in the night, an ongoing series to begin here. I’m calling it “Life Lately” and it will be comprised of vignettes that illustrate little happenings around my heart and home. What I haven’t decided is whether it’s going to be weekly or bi-weekly, but either way, it will look something like the following – with slight variations from time to time.

In My Heart: It feels tender at the moment. Quiet. Not many words, just many feelings and wonderings without language.

In The Living Room: It’s tea time in the morning for me, coffee for Austin and we’re together on the couch on a weekday – which comes every once in a blue moon. Have you ever seen one of those? Neither have I, that’s how rare they are. Which is to say, that’s how rare a Thursday morning coz is for us.

The two of us are enjoying it slow when the 3 Day Brighteners walk in the living room with their entertainments to lighten the moment.

These boys with their buzzed heads, they don’t need much . . . Just a little metallic-teal silly putty from the Target “dollar section” and an animated imagination and voila(!), we have an impromptu living room exhibition.

This is the stuff . . . you know the kind that makes life’s moments rich. We laughed as they paraded and I grabbed The Husbands iphone to make memories in the morning and SLOW visited our time and stretched the space we occupied to something bigger and more important then the surface shows.

In My Mind: I see how often other blogger’s post and I craft expectations for myself that take the joy clean out of my written communication and the joyless expectation gets a mite heavy for my wee shoulders. My heart can be prolific in it’s processes, but my words come slow in the fringe hours of time and even then sometimes I’m just too tired to rub two thoughts together let alone a whole reflection. Can I let the pressure go? Bring my words to screen when they fall from the Spirit and forget the rest? My longing is to see just One Face while I’m tapping my keys of black and white, but it’s just that . . . sometimes the One Face turns into a multitude and I lose sight of Who I write for.

In The Bedroom: Totally kidding!!!! Well, almost totally kidding . . . Austin Morrison downloaded a Kama Sutra app for his iphone. Who knew there was such a thing? Too much information? This may be one of those times when I don’t think before I speak. But, not to worry! I’ve thought about it and I won’t be keeping you posted. The End.

In The Kitchen: With these three growing, hungry-all-the-time-DUDES, we’ve had to creatively adjust and stretch our budget to accommodate their stomachs. This week, we ebay-ed ourselves a bread maker for a great price ($60 with free shipping). One day later, it’s already paid for itself.

In Thanks: # 238 A brother who surprises us with a Sunday afternoon offering to watch the boys so Austin and I can date around town. #239 Two on a couch. #240 Listening to the boys dialog when they don’t know I’m there. #241 Rain that doesn’t stop all day/ cozy board games to accommodate. #242 Music to move my legs. #243 Lark Rise To Candleford. #244 Weekends without plans. #245 Holding grubby hands. #246 Air conditioning for 95 degree days.

Love To All,

Erika