Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

RLP Winter Retreat

The Real Live Preacher Winter Retreat 2010 was held at Covenant Contemplative Fellowship in Garden Ridge, Texas on Feb. 26-28. While the slide show cannot capture the whole retreat, which was built around the theme of Telling Your Faith Story, please click on the arrow to see a little of what the retreatants experienced and hear a bit of the music of Paul Soupiset.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Blessed and Convicted

(based on Matthew 5: 1-10)

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Convicted am I for my riches and holding back too much for myself.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Convicted am I for celebrating over the graves of my fellow man.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Convicted am I for proclaiming my superiority.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Convicted am I for being still in the face of need.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Convicted am I for holding a grudge—tightly.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

Convicted am I for covering myself in sin, and trying to use it as camouflage.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Convicted am I for my violent words and the verbal spears I throw.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Convicted am I for not stepping out , not speaking up, not drawing a line.


Monday, October 22, 2007

I have several blogs.

One is my main blog where I put anything and everything. It is my first blog, like my first baby. We grew up together in blogging. The first thing I posted on this blog was the first thing I wrote online. I had been writing for over thirty years, but I went world-wide when I started blogging. I have a reader in Ghana, several in the British Isles and one in Australia, at least. This blog and I cut our teeth together. It is the first thing I check online every morning and the last thing I check every night. I am inextricably linked to this blog...Prodigal Aspersions.

I write about abuse and to those who are victims of sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape, domestic violence and especially to those who are recovering from these things. This blog is mostly poetry, but it occasionally contains an essay or links to a news item of iterest to what a friend of mine calls FLU, Females Like Us, although certainly some of us are male. Some of the things I write about abuse and recovery are not pretty, very not pretty. I created my second blog because some folks who read me regularly can't take what I write about those who would do damage to the children of GOD. This second blog provides a buffer between my regular blog and what I see as my mission in speak out for those who can't speak for themselves and to speak to those who wish they could recover enough to feel whole again. I don't apologize for the things I write in support of this mission, this high calling, but I do see that the work is not for the faint of heart, the squeamish, the sensative. The second blog is the closest to my heart and I feel like a parent may feel about her disabled child. It needs me more. I fiercely protect this blog...Dead Daddy.

My third blog is one of the future. I created the page to save the name for the future. There is a book I have been working on for years, mostly in my head. The one thing I know about it for sure is the title I am going to use. I named the blog the same thing. So the blog name is a reminder to me that the space is waiting to be filled. This is a blog of promises...A Thousand Wonders.

You are reading my fourth blog. It is about me, the group of friends I journey with and the things I wonder and think about GOD. It may seem like I compartmentalize my life, that I live an unauthentic life where I am different depending on the setting. I do, I am.

I got to school as my main activity of the week, pursuing the degree that will help me help others to heal through writing. In school, I am attentive, disciplined, compliant. I know the rules and I do my best to abide by them.

I go to church for a number of hours a week and spend another number of hours in communion with GOD, meditating or reading in support of my journey with GOD. I ask lots of questions, I try new things, I listen, I challenge the old ways and look for ways to strenthen my spiritual muscles. I am old in my faith. I know the rules, so I can test the boundaries.

I spend time with family and friends. I am careful to consider them when I act. I am not in this life alone, so I try to keep them in mind. There are not a lot of rules in personal relationships, but there are limits. I don't cross them.

With all the rules and limits and journeying and testing in mind, I realize that I act differently depending on the situation. What is appropriate for watching the Cowboys game is not the same as what is appropriate for my sociology class. I don't talk to my mother the same way I talk to a survivor of sexual abuse. I don't pray out loud at church with the same words as I pray to GOD at night before sleep.

Am I being false when I am different depending on the situation? Am I compartmentalizing myself so that I can act differently with different people?

Am I true to my calling, my faith and my GOD? Are you? ...don't be afraid to ask.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Superman Don't Need No Crown Anyhow

Adrian has had two ruptured eardrums, one on each side.

Once, a rather nasty infection and two airplane rides taking us from Germany to Tennessee combined to release the pressure while we were watching Scarface with Al Pacino in a movie theater. If the content on the film was not bad enough, the resulting ruptured eardrum and ER visit and hospital stay over Christmas certainly was.

The second rupture occurred while he was playing his usual lunchtime faculty and staff basketball game at the University of South Alabama. One of the other players smacked him upside the head and cupped his palm in such a way that the air contained in the cupped hand was forced into the ear and popped the little eardrum.

He doesn't hear well now, as you might imagine. Most folks don't know, because he can't wear hearing aids in church since he plays drums and he can't stand to hear the wind whistle on the golf course and...well, you get the idea that he doesn't wear them much. Not that hearing aids would cure all of his hearing difficulties. Way before his eadrum first ruptured, he was known for a certain hearing difficulty that has been a source of much mirth in the Huddleston household.

Adrian, aside from being a great athlete and good drummer and a very nice guy, is pretty musical, in general. He played several brass instruments in band. He can sit down at a piano and pick around a bit and play the song he just heard. No lessons, he can't play, but he has an ear for music. Well.....except for the words.

Everyone gets some words in a common song wrong sometimes. Practically everyone in the known world got Hotel California by the Eagles wrong. No matter what you thought, it is ..."warm smell of colitas rising up through the air." And there is a whole subculture of misunderstood hymns. Gladly the crosseyed bear. Bringing in the sheets. There are a million of them.

But Adrian has a knack for the best misundertstood lyrics ever.

"She's a brick house, she's my tomahto just lettin' it all hang out."

Theme song from Welcome Back, Kotter: "Welcome back, your dreams where you check it out"
And two things from Elton John's Tiny Dancer that I just can't recall now, but were knee slappers. There have been many more. I should be writing these things down.

The latest is "Superman don't need no crown anyhow" from Sweet Home Alabama.

Now, that last one, that is special.

Of course, the lyrics are:

"Well I heard Mr. Young sing about her
Well, I heard old Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow"

It's a response by Lynyrd Skynyrd to Neil Young's song Southern Man.

Southern man better keep your head
Don't forgetwhat your good book said
Southern change gonna come at last
Now your crosses are burning fast
Southern man
I saw cotton and I saw black
Tall white mansions and little shacks.
Southern man
when will you pay them back?
I heard screamin'and bullwhips cracking
How long? How long?

Of course, that's a little tit for tat kind of thing between white guys, one seeming to condemn all southerners for slavery and calling them to task for it and the other taking great offense at the thought that southerners are the only folks to discriminate and cause social injustice. You! You! Who, me? What about you?

I am southern woman who does love her part of the country. Having grown up in it since 1959, in rural West Tennessee, watching the way folks interacted, I know all the paradoxes. Sunday School teaches me that "red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in his sight." The same church, voted one night in my presence to, "if any black family showed up on the doorstep, looking for a service, direct them to the First Baptist Church" which was steps away and all black. I've seen a woman put her arm around a black friend and laugh like crazy with her at some funny story. I've heard the same woman, when talking about a white man who married a black woman and lost his TV job in Memphis, say, "He thought he could get away with that."

I gotta tell you, I have the heebee jeebees when I hear the Neil Young song on the radio. "Don't they have discrimination in Canada that he needs to address?" I am likely to think. I am also uncomfortable that I am uncomfortable hearing it. So mostly, I try to speak out for injustice and against racism and genocide and sexual harassment and the like and not dwell on Neil Young or his right to take the South to task.

It's not even that I can't watch a movie or hear a song that indicts my people. I love "To Kill a Mockingbird," "A Time to Kill," and "Mississippi Burning." I watch them and cry and take the lesson well.

But if I have to pick a favorite song that cuts right to the heart of the racist history of the South, I have to go with one that I listen to an average of once a week. My copy is by Cassandra Wilson, but it was made famous by Billie Holliday. Lewis Allen (a pseudonym for Abel Meeropol) wrote the lyric as a poem.

Strange Fruit
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

The thrust of the song is to show us the victims of the horror of lynching rather than focusing on the ones who are doing injustice. It draws the minds eye to a scene so horrific that no reasonable person could come away unaffected. How can anyone, I wonder, listen to this song and not feel the absolute horror of it? I must have listened to it a thousand times and it still does the same thing to me every time. I could never come away from that song without identifying with the mothers of the men hanging from that tree.

How could anyone misunderstand that lyric?

All of this calls to mind the way that some people use parts of the Bible and other holy books to say or support their positions in direct opposition to the positions of others. History tells us this Bible preached from pulpits all over the country during the 1800s. Some voices said the book tells us we are all brothers and all valuable in God's sight. Some voices said that slaves should obey their masters, so slavery was God-approved.

And I am sure every person who picked up the Bible on a Sunday and quoted scripture thought they were speaking for the intentions of God. They still do it, only now the likely targets are homosexuals.

You know, I'm not sure we even need the Bible. I am most grievously convicted that all men and women are of worth and equal to any other of us every time I hear Strange Fruit, or see the picture that inspired the poem or read the words. I just feel in my soul what is the right thing to do. Don't you? If there is any doubt, pray to God...

...and don't be afraid to ask.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Best Thing You Will Never See

They cancelled John from Cincinnati over at HBO. I could explain why I loved it so much. I could tell you the premise and explain what my theories are on the parallels between John and the Gospels. I could relate the funniest parts and tell you how parts of the show cut so close to me that, for a few minutes on some particular Sunday night, I was laid bare in the dark of my living room. You could have actually looked straight inside.

There are just some things that never come about, never catch on, are never born, don't get picked up. Potential is left to lay too long like balloons too many days after a party. The streamers still look ok, but all the air has just slowly, inescapably escaped. For a few days, you see the balloon and smile. Then you kick it out of the way. One day, it just looks shriveled and pitiful. You take a pair of scissors or a knife tip or your teeth and cut a little hole in it. Mercy killing for an artifact of a celebration that has just lived past its day.

I am a poet. The words I use are so carefully chosen, culled out from the hundreds or thousands it would take to write an essay. I could write for years on the scene of Hiroshima, could look up the pictures and document each sight, each bit with its own chapter. Writers have, writers do. If you need to know the details and hunger to learn every horrible fact, it is good that they do. I could interview the last remaining survivors to hear their own words and translate them into paragraphs.

Sometimes, I write long. But deep in my heart, I am a poet. And poets offer something different. Poets use few words and try to convey the shiver that ran down the spine of the first person to look up at the planes and see them for what they were. A poet puts the grit between your teeth like the grit in the teeth of the only survivor in a neighborhood, under rubble, waiting for rescue and, holding the hand of her dead child, prays it won't come in time. A poet takes you up, up into the air just below the gills of the mushroom cloud, lays her finger alongside of your cheek and pushing with the weight of the world, points your eyes to see what has become of a city. The poem I would write is like this...


Because I don't preface my poems like I did just now, many times, many, many times someone will look at one of them and think, "myahhhh, I don't get it." The poem lays there with such potential. I wrote about those poems once...

I watch as it gathers a crowd to cheer its antics
or stand alone with it, my hand on its shoulder.
There, there, I say, there, there.

But there are the times, yes there are, when just the right eyes fall on just the words for just the moment and sparks fly. I am a poet for those moments.

As I write this essay, I struggle for meaning and weigh the words for their impact. I edit. I diagram. When I write poetry, there is none of that. The words shoot out of me like sparks from a roaring fire, not caring where they land or whether they set fire or fizzle. I don't write for the times of the conflagration, the bright campfire or the warming of cold fingertips. That is beyond my control. But sometimes, I set a fire.

People have such potential. They come into the rooms of our lives as babies. "Welcome," we say. Check that Apgar. Clean her up. Someone, if only the delivery room nurse is glad to see Baby. If Baby is lucky, she is loved as much as I loved my daughter. Or she is not, and then she is not.

Sometimes, Baby is hit or belittled or ignored. Sometimes her potential goes unnoticed and she spends her days being less than. This is a lot sadder than a cancelled TV show. Ever so much.

When GOD writes poetry, the little people poems are born with such potential. People are created to point out a flower petal or smack us up side the head with a truth to get our attention. Sometimes, the rest of us say, "myahhhh, I don't get it." We overlook the poetry of those around us all the time.

When GOD writes poetry, it is worth a second look. My Father's words may be hard to understand...

...don't be afraid to ask.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

GOD and My Major Appliances

I hear from GOD through the refrigerator.

Not really, but when I tell folks about this, I like to start off by saying that. It is marginally true.

Most of the time, GOD and I are in a very comfortable relationship. We have known each other a long time. I have talked, GOD has talked. We have been through a lot. GOD used to be there in my bedroom at night when I would hear my father break into an alcoholic rage and beat my mother. My sister, Julie, was not able to comfort me, but GOD stuck right in there. Most friends would run if they heard Daddy start up. I really appreciate someone who sticks around. We went to countless Sunday School and Training Union classes, even Wednesday night at church. No one will go to church with you on Wednesday night. I don't care how much they like you.

I really pitched a bitch, as we used to say, during my late teen years. By sixteen, I was drinking like I was my Daddy's daughter and smoking dope. By eighteen, I was having a lot of sex that didn't mean as much to me afterward as it seemed to promise right before. I blame the guys. ;) Hard as I tried to ignore GOD, I am humiliated to say, GOD was right there. Yipes. GOD is a sticker. GOD sticks.

By twenty, I had attempted suicide twice, been raped once, and had started to come around from the last wild years. I went to nursing school, graduated first in my class, left home and joined the Air Force. GOD went with me. I only own a couple of things from those years...a gossamer-thin gold cotton coverlet from India, a ring, some poetry, a few pictures. I left most of it behind, the rest was meaningless and got tossed. I tried my very best to ignore GOD. I stopped going to church, worked hard, played hard. I think GOD was wrapped in the fibers of that coverlet. Hidden among the scarlet and crimson paisley print, GOD could hug me as I hugged the coverlet. I was none the wiser.

Sometime after that, I met my husband, who was also in the Air Force. We married and grew up and had a child and GOD was welcome to hang out again. GOD and I went public. I talked about GOD. I prayed to GOD in front of people. I worked at Chapel on the Air Force base in Montgomery in Education. I told kids about GOD. It was the easiest job ever, talking to kids about GOD. All kids know GOD. They just do.

It was about this time that GOD and me and major appliances started being a thing. I was very open in communication with GOD, just like when I was little. Only now, the coversation expanded from pleas for help to how to help others. I was washing clothes when I received my first epiphany of the major appliances. It was pretty personal, so I won't divulge. Life went on. The second time was at the refrigerator. My husband had come home at lunch and just told me that he turned down a job at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio because he knew I didn't want to leave. He was right. I liked the area, loved working at Chapel and life was good. I turned to open the refrigerator and I just knew we should go. We did. Good move. We are still in the San Antonio area now.

Folks have asked me, after hearing about my Major Appliance revelations, what GOD sounds like. I still struggle to say. I definitely don't hear a booming voice like in the movies or a "still small voice" like in scripture. It's more the same way I hear my own self talking in my head as I am typing this tale. At MCP, Lexie once asked me how I know, if it sounds like when I am thinking myself, that it is not me, just saying what I want to hear.

Complex question. Simple answer. It sounds just the same as the voice in my head that said I would be ok while my daddy was beating my mother.

There are a lot of theories about the nature of GOD. I like to ponder them just as much as the next person. GOD is energy? GOD is in the bit of us people call the soul? GOD has an actual body and exists in some real place? Maybe GOD is magnetic waves and large appliances bring in the signal. Smirky grin here.

I don't know. I do know that when someone treats you well, even when all around you people are not treating you well and you are not treating yourself so lovely either, then you trust that. It's what I do.

My washing machine is seventeen years old. It has the knob broken off, so that you have to grab the leftover stub to turn it. Last night, it refused to spin. I had to bail out the water and put the dripping clothes in the tub. Then, I dropped the lid down with finality. ...and it started to spin. Several tries gives us the theory that the little switch that is pushed down when you close the lid is defective. If you smack it. It works. Whew! It is not only that I do not have the two hundred plus to replace it. That washing machine and I have history. We have been around the block and across the country together. It has seen my undies. And I was holding on to it when I heard a pretty startling thing from GOD. You just don't toss out something like that. I, as I said, appreciate someone who stays around. God talks...

...don't be afraid to ask.