I pledge allegiance…

by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Oh say can you see by the dawns early light,
the dew left as gift upon the spider’s glistening web?

And at twilight’s last gleaming,
care not for stars and stripes,
but walk slowly waiting for the racoon to rise from slumber
and the great horned owl to begin his search.

Pledge not your allegiance to the flag,
but lie down in the grass and
whisper your unwavering allegiance
to the grasshopper and morel
who share the same rainfall
and will one day be mixed in
with the soil of our bodies
offering land to rest upon for future generations
of maples and earwigs and children.

Where is the liberty and justice
for the imprisoned?
for those sleeping below underpasses?
for those wandering heat waves and wading through floods?
for those living in the bombed out rubble?
for the vanishing insects and songbirds?

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Building a Tomb

Image credit: Compost artists Mindful Waste, Lilly Lawrence, Yehuda Arye Potaznik, Jerry Ingeman, Em Jacoby, and LiAnn Grahm.

By Justin Eisinga, published in Geez magazine’s Signs of Dawn

The stench of death is nearly impossible to contain when organic matter is left to decompose in the open air. If you live on or near a farm, this principle is one you encounter on a regular basis. But you do not need to be a farmer to understand that the scent of decomposition means something altogether wonderful is occurring. The smell of rotting food is a sign of life, indicating that intricate processes involving bacteria and fungi are at work. For people who compost, it is also an emblem of future food on the table – for the result of these processes contributes to the health of the soil in our gardens.

Compost, at its core, resembles a Shakespearean tragedy, as two lovers find themselves intertwined at their death. To generate healthy compost, two elements are required: carbon and nitrogen. We contribute these elements to our compost piles when we dump our green waste (in the form of food scraps and plants) and introduce it to our brown waste (dead leaves or straw). In their last days, the disintegration of these two types of matter introduces these foundational elements into the intricate dance of death and decay.

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The Dance with our DNA

Image credit: Angelica Frausto, “My Ancestors Hold Me”, 2020, digital, 13 in x 13 in.

By Naomi Ortiz, published in Geez magazine’s Signs of Dawn

As a mixed person with Indigenous, Latinx, and white heritage, I’ve become practised at acknowledging the historical complexities that live within my own body.

I came to doing ancestral work not because I had access to information through websites or even family stories, but because I felt responsibility to legacies that live on in my body. I am aware that violence got me here as much as love. Ancestral work is an invitation to the in-between.

Sitting on the side of the road at the edge of the desert, I look up into a mountain ridge full of Palo Verdes, Ocotillos, Jojoba bushes, and Saguaros. Intuitively, I know if I could see my ancestors and their numbers, they would stretch like this desert plant life as far as I could see.

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Transition News from Word and World

From Michael Boucher

When Word and World first began in 2001, the dream was to bring together the seminary, sanctuary, streets and soil in a traveling alternative seminary in order to fill a gap that so many had been noticing.  Word and World stood in the traditions of ‘church as movement’ and movement work as church and sought ways to the bring stories, practices and histories of liberation into deep and meaningful dialogue with our rich faith tradition.

Originally Word and World focused on creating week long (or multi-day) “schools” where participants would create a movement village and learning collaborative at various places across the United States to witness the local stories of struggle, faith and liberation as they were lived out in that context. 

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The Ditch

Combustion, by Marcia Foutch

By Marcia Foutch

I lived in Minneapolis for more than 30 years before I moved to Greensboro five years ago.  Our family home is at 32nd and Columbus which is 6 blocks from where George Floyd was killed. The majority of my family lives in the Minneapolis area (including the now infamous Brooklyn Center). At the beginning of the uprising that started last summer my son, who we call Bubby, asked me,” “Why do white people care about the murder of George Floyd? They’ve been killing us for more than 400 years – so what is so different about this one?”  I struggled trying to figure out an answer to his question. I thought about Grace Lee Boggs and her advice to look at “What time is it on the clock of the world?’.  And I thought of Reverend Nelson Johnson talking about the small streams of justice that flow into a mighty river that cannot be stopped.  And I thought of something that Deacon Bob Foxworth at Faith Community Church told me when I got to Greensboro a few years ago about what it takes to hold a man down in a ditch.  And after months of grappling with this question- this poem is my attempt to answer Bubby’s question.

Sparked this
Uprising? What is it
About the killing of
George Floyd that
Made White America care
About the killing of
This Black Mother’s son?

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Geez magazine: Call for Advent pieces

Embracing Darkness
Due June 1, 2021

Credit: Megan Suttman

This year, Geez will offer a second edition of our daily Advent reflection book. While we hope that the pieces are as wild and varied as our community, we also hope to narrow in on the theme of Embracing Darkness. We are looking for reflections, poetry, prayers, and whatever else you can think of that fits in 200 words.

What can the darkness teach us? What gifts or wisdom can only be accessed in the night? What would the moon have to say about the dance between dark and light? Which Biblical or movement ancestors do we turn to as models of embracing darkness? How do we build our courage to stay in the dark? How do we resist the problematic binary of light (good) and darkness (bad)? How does this season offer a spiritual invitation towards racial justice? How does darkness welcome us into the counter-cultural work of rest and slowing down? What does fear of the dark have to do with fear of death? How do we resist the flashing lights of capitalist, consumerist Christmas? How do we learn from seeds that germinate in the dark and creation that is formed in the womb?

As always for Geez, we will be looking for words that shift the structures of power, incite community, make us belly laugh, and illuminate beauty and imagination.

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The Problems of Domination Intrinsic to Capitalism

Today we celebrate the retirement of Dr. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn from Vanderbilt Divinity School with an excerpt from his book Caring For Souls in a Neoliberal Age (2016), a vital resource for pastors, parents, social workers, therapists and community organizers.

A corollary of the claim that neoliberalism is now globally hegemonic is that pastoral care, as well as other forms of the care of souls, must undergo revision in order to have some hope adequate for both healing and protest. In this book, I will argue that the theories corresponding to this care, including pastoral theology, are generally constrained within postmodern cognitive models, as well as dwelling largely within the fabric of neoliberal versions of identity politics. Any substantial innovation in the fields of pastoral theology and the care of souls today, therefore, will require us to reaffirm our commitment to a common ground that unifies us as diverse people, and to the public good. It will also demand that we extend our analyses and critiques of oppression due to difference (identity) to include the problems of domination intrinsic to capitalism. Indeed, it will mean that subjugations rooted in difference will now be understood, and appreciated more profoundly, in light of capitalism’s current global hegemony. The time has arrived, then, to work toward a post-capitalist pastoral theology, by which I mean a pastoral theology that does not assume the normativity of capitalism.

Stop to Smell the Lilacs: A Mother’s Day Reflection

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I keep clearing space to write this piece and then finding a dozen other things to do instead. Perhaps a sign that I need to write this and perhaps a  that it is harder to do than I expected.

Over the last few years, I’ve spent hours and hours gathering a book on parenting. Although I don’t write much about my mom within, she breathes there from beginning to end. I have so much love and appreciation for how she nurtured who I am in both her living and her dying.

I know that Mother’s Day is complicated. There is joy and love and celebration, but there is also grief and pain and longing.

It has been 16 Mother’s Days without my mom now.

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Learning from the Laughter and the Trees: Tell me about Lent

By Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I consider myself a lover of liturgical seasons. I might even go as far as to call myself a geek. I love the rhythm of it in my body. The way it coincides with the changing earthly seasons. The cries for justice and stillness and singing and baking. I love it all!

Yet, I have never understood Lent. I can get it with my head, but I don’t feel it in my body. I haven’t found traditions or practices that summon me deeper.

So, I began the season this year with the question “what do you love about Lent?” I threw it out in trusted circles and on social media. I didn’t have a lot of capacity to try much, but I could spend the season listening. I scratched down quotes in the margins of notebooks. I collected wisdom and words.

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