Today I had the great honor of witnessing legendary freedom fighter Ruby Sales talk with Middle Collegiate Church Reverend Dr. Jacqui Lewis in a Q&A entitled “Redeem the Soul of America.” On the docket: Martin Luther King Jr., the SNCC, #blacklivesmatter, the spiritual void of racist capitalism, the colonization of African-American music, and the history of patriarchal white supremacy in the GOP. Miss Ruby took us on such a profound 90-minute journey that it’s impossible to enumerate all her points—she’s against social media-sized reductions, anyway (read books! she said)— but one statement rings in my ears. “I’m not about breaking glass ceilings. I’m about building a new roof.” Listen to this clip of her revolutionary love here.
Two years ago I wept through Christmas Eve services at my beloved Middle Church not because of the love pouring through the story, but because a man I adored chose not to accompany me. Through the holidays that year, he disappeared as was his wont from time to time, and I grew so sick from heartbreak that I rattled whenever I breathed. When I finally healed I promised myself I’d never let a callow lover hold me hostage again–that the serenity of solitude would forever be my ideal way to commune with the universe.
Last year I attended these services by myself and wept only because of the light they shed in the dark–for the brilliance living at the core of every faith’s winter solstice story. It was good. But last night a cabal of esteemed witches came along to share borscht and candles and the big tears borne of hope, not despair. And it reminded me: No matter what we are told, we do not need others to be whole. But we must hold them as sacred as we do ourselves, today and every day. Love and light to you all.
In the last year, I have become a member of Middle Collegiate Church. I have done this despite the fact that I identify as a Jewish person, albeit one who was not bat mitzvahed, never learned Hebrew, has a gentile mother who only half-converted, and admires Jesus and both Marys as profound practitioners of radical receptivity.
Being Jewish feels as intrinsic to my being as eyes that change color and intellectual impatience, but I feel no more comfortable in synagogue, where I’m generally tolerated rather than accepted, as I do in the Catholic and Unitarian churches and Quaker meeting houses and Buddhist temples and ashrams that I’ve frequented in my un-abiding metaphysical thirst. My whole life, I have longed for a spiritual collective that has not felt like a cult and Middle preserves everything uplifting about religion while eschewing all of its exclusionary toxicity. It gives me strength when nothing else does, features beautiful words and beautiful music, boasts a minster who is brilliant and transparent, and a congregation comprised of every possible gender and sexual identification, ethnicity, class, occupation; our only commonality is a wholly and holy positive intent. This is a church in the purest, most unifying sense of that term, and I attend Sunday services whenever I am not working. Sadly, that’s not very often, but I was able to go yesterday for the first time since returning from Cape Cod. The timing was not coincidental. If there’s ever been a moment in which I need extra doses of divine and human compassion it is now. We all do. Continue Reading →