The Meaning of 888

For years, a running joke I told was that I was born on Antichristmas—June 25, the symbolic antipode of Christmas Day. And while the season’s greetings I text my friends have become a lot less sarcastic, I am beginning to see a lesson in the turning of that wheel, again & again, and the spiral path it’s made. As a species we seem to be formed by contrast. “Kikhhh,” the Lebanese mother will sound out to the child who has tried to taste something he’d picked up off the ground, establishing his boundary between clean and unclean. If this line … Continue reading “The Meaning of 888”

Christmas Day 2012

The big data notification angels have reminded me of this moment on Christmas Day, 2012, outside teta Sou’ad’s place in that liminal neighborhood called Mar Youssef (St. Joseph): Mar Youssef just happens to be the saint that Pope Francis chose as Patron of the Universal Church for this coming year, in a letter entitled “With a Father’s Heart.” In the spirit of that letter, this photo, and all mothers, fathers & loved ones we can’t be with today, Merry Christmas to those who go unnoticed, yet nurture us with their “daily, discreet & hidden presence,” wherever they may be.

#AdventWord 2020, Week 1

#Tender I’m not ready for Advent this year. Maybe it’s this prolonged pandemic, this extended Ash Wednesday bleeding through page after calendar page—in which case, I’d be somewhat relieved—or maybe it’s my growing familiarity with what goes on behind the curtains as the audience lines up for their caramel popcorn—a very real possibility I must contend with—either way, this year feels a little off, a little “gently out of time,” as one of Blur’s lesser-knowns goes. Today’s word is “tender” but unlike 2 or 3 years ago, this year, I know that today’s word is not tender—I understand the logic … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2020, Week 1”

#AdventWord 2019, Week 4

#Message A few days ago, I reconnected to my best friend from 15 years, whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in about half that time; we’d both moved around since that period when we’d hung out almost daily. We caught up, reminisced, & he eventually asked me if I’m on Instagram; I told him he’d be in for a shock. “So you believe in Jesus and God and all the beautiful things in the Bible now?” Yes. Especially the beautiful things. We didn’t say much after that, but our brief exchange on a profound shift in my life made … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2019, Week 4”

#AdventWord 2019, Week 3

#Turn Today’s the day we talked about “turning” at Epiphany Seattle. We touched on how “turn” is a code word for “repent,” that, yeah, they’re synonyms—technically, in the original languages—but are now more akin in my view to the relationship of “cheese” to “dessert”—they can be the same thing, and in some contexts they are, but we don’t often experience them the same way. We shared what these two flavors of the same idea—to turn, to repent—have meant in our own lives of conversion and change. And since ”turn” is the start of a whole series of words based on … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2019, Week 3”

#AdventWord 2019, Week 2

#Worthy “What is more harmful than any vice? Active sympathy for the ill-constituted and weak—Christianity.” That’s a quote from Nietzsche’s The Antichrist. Nietzsche understood what—& how—Christianity valued, and he vehemently rejected it for that very reason. To his eyes, Christianity is worthless because it values the unworthy. Interestingly enough, Nietzsche didn’t really attack the person of Jesus the Christ; he called Jesus the “only one true Christian.” But he certainly got the Christ he opposed all wrong, & without the doctrine of the Incarnation—without the Advent story—that’s easy to do. With no appreciation of that mysterious move from the infinite … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2019, Week 2”

#AdventWord 2019, Week 1

#Unexpected This color is a dark, grayish cyan, though one website calls it “juniper.” Sherwin-Williams markets it as “peacock plume”; I know this because I picked the paint out myself, using their swatch cards. It covers the walls of an office that I never planned to occupy, but—I think—I was meant to find. Last December, I told myself that I wanted to do the next #AdventWord for a church—to make church my day job. And here I am, taking a photo of the wall across from the desk in the church where I’m sharing words for Advent. There really wasn’t … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2019, Week 1”

#AdventWord 2018, Week 4

#Persist Today’s #AdventWord is ‘persist,’ & the finish line is in sight—two more sleeps & one more word ‘til Christmas. Thanks for sticking it out with me throughout this month; it felt nice to know that I was indirectly sharing that intimate part of my life with whoever took the time to skim through my daily reflections. Today’s sermon at St. Peter’s Episcopal Parish was about accompaniment—those acts of showing up & sticking by others, sometimes with words, but more often, in silent solidarity. The term will be familiar to anyone interested in Migrant Rights or Immigrant Justice—accompaniment in that … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2018, Week 4”

#AdventWord 2018, Week 3

#Rejoice Today’s #AdventWord is ‘rejoice,’ and I’m sharing a snippet of last night’s Christmas concert at Seattle First Baptist, which opened with a song of bittersweet anticipation: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” This classic carol set the tone for the whole night, as bright jewels of the Western Christian tradition were cast against the dark backdrop of current affairs—tear gas at the borders, the words of women made lesser-than, people of color gunned down in the street with impunity. . . This sociopolitical interweaving may surprise some people, but Seattle First Baptist certainly made it sound … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2018, Week 3”

#AdventWord 2018, Week 1

#Journey Today is the first day of the liturgical new year, and the season of Advent in particular. Follow #AdventWord & take part in a crowdsourced countdown to Christmas Day! Today’s word is Journey—take a moment to reflect on Migrant Rights by learning about & the faith communities standing up for immigrant justice in Seattle. #Watch Today’s #AdventWord is ‘watch.’ In this alleyway you’ll find a café that’s been in Seattle for a very long time. There’s a poem across from where I’m sitting, dated 10/10/1992, in which the writer calls this “a place to come together / A … Continue reading “#AdventWord 2018, Week 1”