Mar 262013
 

 

Along with every other concerned parent, I watch Amer­ica’s responses to bullying-related suicides closely. People always seem quite shocked by the cruelty that’s happening in America’s schools. I’m baffled by their shock, and I’m concerned about what’s not being addressed in their proposed solutions.

The acceptable response seems to be that we should better educate students and teachers about what bullying is and how to react to it appropriately. This plan is positive, certainly. But on its own, it seems a little like bailing frantically without first looking for the hole in the boat.

Each time these stories are reported, the sound bite is: “kids can be so cruel.” This is something we tend to say: kids these days, they can be so cruel. But I think this is just a phrase we toss around to excuse ourselves from facing the truth. I don’t think kids are any crueler than adults. I just think kids are less adept at disguising their cruelty.

I heard a radio report that students who are most likely to be bullied are gay kids, overweight kids, and Muslim kids.

Hmmmmm.

I bet that at this point in American history, gay adults, overweight adults, and Muslim adults feel the most bullied as well.

Children are not cruel. Children are mirrors. They want to be “grownup,” so they act how grown-ups act when we think they’re not looking. They do not act how we tell them to act at school assemblies. They act how we really act. They believe what we believe. They say what we say. And we have taught them that gay people are not okay. That overweight people are not okay. That Muslim people are not okay. That they are not equal. That they are to be feared. And people hurt the things they fear. We know that. What they are doing in the schools, what we are doing in the media—it’s all the same. The only difference is that children bully in the hallways and the cafeterias while we bully from behind pulpits and legislative benches and sitcom one-liners.

People are sensitive. People are heartbreakingly sensitive. If enough people tell someone over and over that he is not okay, he will believe it. And one way or another, he will die.

So how is any of this surprising? It’s quite predictable, actually. It’s trickle-down cruelty.

I don’t know much. But I know that each time I see something heartbreaking on the news, each time I encounter a problem outside, the answer to the problem is inside. The problem is always me and the solution is always me. If I want my world to be less vicious, then I must become more gentle. If I want my children to embrace other children for who they are, to treat other children with the dignity and respect every child of God deserves, then I had better treat other adults the same way. And I better make sure that my children know beyond a shadow of a doubt that in God’s and their father’s and my eyes, they are okay. They are loved as they are. Without a single unless. Because the kids who bully are those who are afraid that a secret part of themselves is not okay. To that end, I wrote this letter to my son:

 

Dear Chase,

Whoever you are, whoever you become, you are loved. You are a miracle. You are our dream come true.

Chase, here is what would happen in our home if one day you were to tell your father and me that you are gay.

Our eyes would open wide.

Then we would grab you and hold you tighter than you would be able to bear. And while we were holding you, we would say a silent prayer that as little time as possible passed between the moment you knew you were gay and the moment you told us. And we would love you and ask you one million questions, and then we would love you some more and finally, I would rush out to buy some rainbow T-shirts, honey, because you know Mama likes to have an appropriate outfit for every occasion.

And I don’t mean, Chase, that we would be tolerant of you and your sexuality. If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, Chase, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated. Every person is Divine. And so there would be celebrating. Celebrating that you had stepped closer to matching your outsides with your insides—to being who you are. And there would be a teeny part of my heart that would leap at the realization that I would forever be the most important woman in your life. Then we would tell everyone. We would not concern ourselves too much with their reactions. There will always be party poopers, baby.

Honey, we’ve worried that since we are Christians, and since we love the Bible so much, there might come a day when you feel unclear about our feelings about this, since there are parts in the Bible that appear to discuss homosexuality as a sin. Let us be clear about how we feel, because we have spent years of research and prayer and discussion deciding.

Chase, we don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible was inspired by God, but it was written, translated, and interpreted by imperfect people just like us. This means that the passing of this sacred scripture from generation to generation and from culture to culture has been a bit like the “telephone game” you play at school. After thousands of years, it’s impossible to judge the original spirit of some scripture. We believe that when in doubt, mercy triumphs judgment. So your parents are Christians who study and pray and then carefully choose what we follow in the Bible, based on whether or not it matches our understanding of Jesus’s overall message. Certainly we make mistakes. Everyone does. But it’s our duty to try. We must each work out our own faith with fear and trembling. It’s the most important thing we’ll ever do. Even so, some folks will tell you that our approach to Christianity is scandalous and blasphemous. But honey, the only thing that’s scandalous about this approach is admitting it out loud. The truth is that every Christian is a Christian who chooses what he follows in the Bible.

Recently there was some talk in my Bible study about homosexuality being sinful. I quoted Mother Teresa and said, “When we judge people we have no time to love them.” I was immediately reprimanded for my blasphemy by a woman who reminded me of 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. But I was confused because this woman was speaking. In church. And she was also wearing a necklace. And I could see her hair, baby. She had no head covering. All of which are sooooo totally against the New Testament Bible Rules. And so I assumed that she had decided not to follow the parts of the Bible that limited her particular freedoms, but to hold fast to the parts that limit the freedoms of others. I didn’t point this out at the time, because she wasn’t a bad person. People are doing the best they can, mostly. It’s best not to embarrass anyone.

Much of the Bible is confusing, but the most important parts aren’t. Sometimes I wonder if folks keep arguing about the confusing parts so they don’t have to get started doing the simple parts. So a long time ago, your father and I decided that if a certain scripture turns our judgment outward instead of inward, if it requires us to worry about changing others instead of ourselves, if it doesn’t help us become better lovers of God and life and others, if it distracts us from what we are supposed to be doing down here—finding God in everyone, feeding hungry people, comforting the sick and the sad, giving whatever we have to give, and laying down our lives for our friends—then we assume we don’t understand it yet, and we get back to what we do understand. Chase, what we do understand is that we are reborn. And here is what I believe it means to be reborn:

The first time you’re born, you identify the people in the room as your family. The second time you’re born, you identify the whole world as your family. Christianity is not about joining a particular club; it’s about waking up to the fact that we are all in the same club. Every last one of us. So avoid discussions about who’s in and who’s out at all costs. Everybody’s in, baby. That’s what makes it beautiful. And hard. If working out your faith is not beautiful and hard, find a new one to work out. And if spiritual teachers are encouraging you to fear anyone, watch them closely, honey. Raise your eyebrow and then your hand. Because the phrase repeated most often in that Bible they quote is Do Not Be Afraid. So when they tell you that gay people are a threat to marriage, honey, think hard.

I can only speak from my personal experience, but I’ve been married for ten years and barely any gay people have tried to break up my marriage. I say barely any because that Nate Berkus is a little shady. I am defenseless against his cuteness and eye for accessories. He is always convincing me to buy beautiful trinkets with our grocery money, and this drives your sweet father a bit nuts. So you might want to keep your eye on Berkus. But with the exception of him, I’m fairly certain that the only threats to your father’s and my marriage are our pride, insecurity, anger, and wanderlust. Do not be afraid of people who seem different from you, baby. Different always turns out to be an illusion. Look hard.

Chase, God gave you the Bible, and he also gave you your heart and your mind, and I believe he’d like you to use all three. It’s a good system of checks and balances he designed. Prioritizing can still be hard, though. Jesus predicted that. So he gave us this story: A man approached Jesus and said that he was very confused by all of God’s laws and directions and asked Jesus to break it down for him. He asked, “What are the most important laws?” And Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love others as yourself.” He added that every other scripture hangs on this one. So use that ultimate command as a lens to examine all other scripture. And make damn sure that you are offering others the same rights and respect that you expect for yourself. If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

Chase, you are okay. You are a child of God. As is everyone else. There is nothing that you have done or will do that will make God love you any more or any less. Nothing that you already are or will become is a surprise to God. Tomorrow has already been approved.

And so, baby, your father and I have only one expectation of you. And that is that you celebrate others the way we celebrate you. That you remember, every day, every minute, that there is no one on God’s Green Earth who deserves more or less respect than you do, My Love.

“He has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”—Mica 6:8

Love, Mama

PS. We thought we should mention, honey, that if you’re straight, that’s okay too. I mean, it’d be a little anticlimactic now, honestly. But your father and I will deal.

PPS. As Daddy read this, I watched his gorgeous face intensify. He teared up a little. Then he slammed the letter down on the kitchen table and said emphatically and without a touch of irony, “DAMN STRAIGHT.” Which, when you think about it, is really the funniest thing Daddy could have said.

Mar 262013
 

Friends, the Carry On, Warrior tour begins next week.

You know, Thoreau helped start all of this. I love Walden Pond, which is a book Thoreau wrote when he retreated from the world, built his own house deep in the woods, and did nothing but think and read and write about the world he’d left. That sounds so wonderful to me. As a serious introvert with a deep need to connect, I’m always playing tug-o-war with myself. I want to run far away from the world – I want to sprint – open armed – toward the world. I want to retreat from people – I want to melt into people. I need escape and immersion simultaneously. This tug-o-war is what led to my fascination with monasteries. The idea of dropping out from the hustle and bustle to read, contemplate, and practice living peacefully in community with other quiet thinkers –  well –  that sounds heavenly. So I made my own retreat here – a place to think and write and read with other thinkers. A place to practice peace. A place where I could hide AND come out of hiding at the same time. A Momastery. YAY art! Thank you, writing!

The thing is that if your writing actually does connect with people, sometimes (not usually, but sometimes) the next step is that you must go from being a writer to being a PUBLIC PERSON, a speaker, a real-life-shower-upper. Mostly, writers become writers so they don’t have to show up anywhere. And so this progression is as natural as if, say, a baker had a little success with a certain pastry – people really liked it- and so word got around and the next morning someone fancy showed up at her bakery with a helmet and camouflage pants and said “CONGRATULATIONS ON THE PASTRY, BAKER LADY –  YOU ARE NOW A NAVY SEAL! PUT DOWN THAT (what do bakers use? Spatulas?) SPATULA, YOU’RE HEADED TO THE FRONT LINES! CONGRATULATIONS!”  And the baker was like, um, okay. But I like my cozy kitchen. It’s like that, a little bit. And so it’s taken me a bit of time to get used to this real-life-shower-upper/FRONT LINES idea. You may have noticed.

But I’m okay now. I’m not nervous anymore. This is a bit of a miracle.

You see, I’ve been clothes shopping. By myself, because neither Sister nor my mom nor my best friends (who usually help dress me) live in my state. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to dress myself and I never have. For the past ten years this has not been a problem, because as you’ve seen- I wear yoga pants all day, every day. Old ratty ones at home and newer – less hole-y ones for special occasions. So when I went out Book Tour Clothes Shopping for the first time on my own – I ended up buying a red lace tutu. I thought it was pretty. A little “ice skater-ish” maybe – but pretty.  Celebratory. However, when I got home and proudly sent a picture of myself in my tutu to Sister- she wrote back with just this: Ha. Very Funny. What did you really get?

She thought I was joking.

I wasn’t joking. And I’m wearing the damn tutu on opening night of the tour. On publication day in Mclean, Virginia, as a matter of fact. Like I’m Katy Perry. Or Michelle Kwan. Play along, please. By the way, since words build the house we live in, I choose mine carefully. And so I have decided that I’m not a bad dresser, I’m just an extreme dresser. Yoga pants and hoodie or TUTU. No in between. Go ridiculous or go home.

But after the tutu incident, I did buy some sensible dresses and what Sister calls “pumps.” It was hard. This figuring out what people wear and finding those things has been the most brutal part of being a writer thus far. But it’s also been helpful.

Because last week, as I stood in a fancy-for-me store and looked at my grown up self in my new clothes in the big, huge mirror, I thought immediately of one of Thoreau’s warnings – “beware of all endeavors that require new clothes, but not a new wearer of the clothes.” I think about that one often. I like it.

But this time – as I considered his advice- I took a deep breath, exhaled long, and smiled at my own reflection in the mirror. Because I realized all of a sudden, that I am a new wearer of the clothes. And so I’m not afraid of this tour anymore – because for the first time in my life- I know exactly what I’m doing. I know what I’m doing. And I know how to do it. I know my job well.

My job for the next month on tour is the same as it was yesterday and last year and it is today. My job is your job. It’s everybody’s job. Our job is to try to stay open to the people and experiences that approach us – to allow them to soak in and shift our perspectives. To drag us a little further out of our ruts and fears and prejudices and isolation and pain. Our jobs are simply to:

  1. Show up
  2. Pay attention

The way we do this is to believe that we are worthy of taking up some space, of arriving, and then when we arrive we are to try to treat each person who also arrives with reverence – whether it’s a celebrity or child or cab driver. Because arriving, anywhere at all,  is brave. And because everyone is worth exactly the same. That’s all and that’s everything.

That’s my job out on tour. That’s it. Just to remember that I’m a student of life, and every person and every moment is my teacher.

I did an interview yesterday and a reporter asked me:

What’s next for Momastery? Where is all of this going?

And I said, “Oh, I’ve never known where all of this is going. I just know how we’re going to get there.”

Okay, she said. How are you going to get there?

“We’re going to do the next right thing- one thing at a time. We’re going to take good care of ourselves and each other. We’re going to keep our collective sense of humor. We’re going to be kind and brave. We are going to remember that We Can Do Hard Things and that We Belong To Each Other and that Love Wins. We will do the right things for each other and that way – wherever we land- we’ll have no regrets. Our means will justify our ends.”

She paused and then said: “Glennon, Do you consider yourself to be a leader?”

And I swallowed hard and fought the urge to giggle dismissively and say: Ummm, NO (we must stop doing that) and instead I held tight to the corner of my kitchen counter for support and said steadily into the phone:

Yes. Yes, I do. I consider myself to be an accidental leader of thousands of other leaders. At Momastery, I lead quiet heroes who are already the love leaders of their families, communities, and countries. They are the ones who make the world go ‘round. It’s a ridiculous, amazing, sacred honor.

Then she said, “What is your definition of a leader?

And I said – “Leadership is joyful service.”

That’s my job. My job is to show up, pay attention and serve women. And I’m included in there. I serve myself, too. First, usually.

Some mamas serve dinner, I serve women. Including myself.

And I know how to do that. It’s what I was born to do.

So I’ve spent months thinking about how to best serve you, my people, my women while I’m out and about on tour next month. Because we all know that I just can’t spend the next month slamming you with pictures from the road and promotional stuff for Carry On. I just can’t.

Carry On, Warrior - she’s my baby, and if you knew how much I really love her you might be alarmed. I created her, with God’s help, and like every parent is called to at some point –  now I’ll let her go into the big, brutiful world and I’ll pray every day that she’s handled with care and that she leaves each person who’s kind enough to hold her a little more relaxed and cozy and connected on this Earth.  I’ll pray that she finds great adventure and great love.

But I won’t sit around posting pictures of her all day. I mean, she’s my FOURTH baby. And we’ve got things to do here. Still . . . this is a SPECIAL month for me. I hope for all of us. And I decided that the best way to celebrate our special month is to do what we always do, and more of it.

So this month, we will celebrate and serve women. This month, the month my book comes out- I will offer my gratitude to the world by celebrating other women writers.  Writers who have not so much changed me as changed the way I think about me. For me – that perspective shift has made all the difference. Writers have convinced me in a million ways that maybe I’m not too sensitive to live in this world. Maybe I’m just sensitive enough to change this world. I owe writers my life. And so I have gathered some of these women writers  – many who are New York Times Bestseller and others who should be – and I am going to share them with you over the next month. We will call this series Momastory, and every Monday and Tuesday one of these Love Warriors will visit us and tell us her story. Her story of how being a woman connected to other woman has made all the difference.

Remember that moment when I was looking in the dressing room mirror at myself in my new clothes and smiling?

This is how I knew I was a new wearer of clothes. This is what I realized at that moment:

In that moment, while I was looking at myself, I was thinking about my new friend Claire who wrote one of the most brutiful books I’ve ever read in my life. And it hit me that I was as excited to introduce you to my Claire and to the other writers in the series – to make those sacred introductions –  as I was to introduce you  to my book.  I realized that that’s how much I love you.  I care more that you are well-served and well-loved while I’m on the road than I care about being on that road in the first place.

Because you are one of my families. After thirty years of searching, I’ve finally found a group to which  I really, truly feel like I belong. Not because we’re all the same, but because we’re all so different, and that’s okay with us. 

So in that mirror moment, I wasn’t smiling at my new clothes. I was smiling at the new wearer of the clothes.

THIS IS THE HOLY GRAIL TO ME. I have been so desperate to smother my ego and replace it with love. It’s happening. In the words of another lady I love, Penny Lane: it’s all happening.

I wanted to be a Server of Women, and I AM. I am READY. I know I’m ready because I finally believe, down deep in my bones- that I can stop grabbing, because there is enough love, enough attention, enough success and joy to take care of us all. I finally believe that when she rises, I rise and when you rise, she rises and when I rise, we all rise. That has nothing to do with me – it’s just the way of the world. So I can relax. And I can spend my fifteen minutes – or however long I’m in the spotlight –  catching a little light and throwing it around to as many women as I can illuminate. Because THAT is the best use of me.

Whether it is from my playroom behind this computer screen or at a book signing or on the television – It is my DREAM and honor to serve you.

Love -

G

Mar 222013
 

 

 

 

Please read this message from a fellow Monkee and then re-read it and re-re-read it. Allow what happened at this Maryland grocery store yesterday to sink down deep into your bones and remind you that always and forever  – the Truth Is Love.

 

**********************

Dear G:

Today is Nicholas’ birthday. I went grocery shopping deliberately in a low income part of town, and bought the person’s groceries behind me as a birthday present to me and my big boy (inspired by Monkee See – Monkee Do).  I left before the woman behind me in line knew I had paid for her things.  A few minutes later I saw her climb into the driver’s seat of her car, put her head in her hands, and weep.

I was so nervous trying to explain to the cashier what I wanted to do that I left my phone in the store. When I went back to get it, that same cashier told me that the woman behind me had been buying all of that food for a domestic violence shelter.

Our Sisters Warriors. Amazing and Full of Grace

Love, Meghan

************************

 

I’ve read this story twenty times now. I’ve got the movie in my head.

I can SEE that woman finding out her groceries were paid in full. I can see her eyes and heart try to understand.

I wonder…why was she working at a domestic violence shelter? Had her life been touched by violence? Was she healing herself by healing others?  Was she trying to prove to herself that despite every shred of evidence to the contrary – Love Wins? And was she paying for all of those groceries herself? Could she afford them, or did she take a leap of faith? Did Meghan catch her before she hit the ground?

And yesterday, is it possible that God lead Meghan to THAT grocery store in THAT moment because God wanted this warrior to know:

 I am watching. I love you. Trust me and trust your sisters. SERVE your sisters. Expect miracles.

Whatever God’s message was- it seems to have been received. Weeping in her car. Healing, I think. Experiencing a real life miracle – as a direct result of serving her sisters.

ALL OF US – Warriors.

Meghan - for not just feeling but DOING compassion. For being brave and different and bold with her love.

The sister behind her.  Creating and receiving a miracle.

The warriors in the shelter, working towards the life they deserve.

The cashier who witnessed the whole miracle.

Our Sister Warriors. Amazing and Full of Grace.

All of them. All of you.

Happy Friday, Love Warriors.

 

PS. Here’s how Meghan pulls off her grocery Love Ninja Move, in her own words:

For me, remaining anonymous was important..,I wanted to give, and sort of didn’t want the receiver to be responsible for giving the “right” reaction. To that end, store cards are easiest. You can buy them at customer service and loop the manager in. In that case you can just point out who you want the card to go to and leave and the manager gets the fun of the delivery. I have also just left the gift card in a very obvious place in the cart. In this particular case, I saw the woman right when I went in, there was no one at customer service and I didn’t want to lose her. There was only one clerk open, so I explained when I wanted to do and the clerk was in on it. I got back in line behind the woman and the sneaky clerk let me swipe my card and run (hence lost phone). I was fully prepared to out myself and say “it’s my sons birthday and he already got so many gifts, we would like to pass one on to you and pay for your groceries.” On Lucy’s birthday the woman I picked would NOT let me, so I had to spend a long time picking someone else…the gift card is by far the easiest.
PS. I found inspiration for the above picture here: http://radicalxstitch.tumblr.com/post/18938821564/today-we-made-a-revolutionary-raspberry-garden. LOVE!