Thursday, May 04, 2017

I am what I am...which is a lot

I am Queer. I am on the gender continuum (two spirit). I am an Anglican Universalist Humanist New Thought Christian Pluralist. I am by both accident of birth and full participation an American citizen. I am fully human (this will be news to certain kinds of religious extremists and politicos). I am a person who benefits from unearned white privilege who is trying to dismantle racism (society's and my own). I am a person who has lived with HIV for decades. I am married and there are two Y chromosomes in my marriage. For some reason, TODAY, I felt the need to be crystal clear about all of that.

My Prayer on this National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer is held annually on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952.

Let us pray for the United States of America:

O God whose kin-dom knows no geographical borders, we affirm today that your benevolent omnipresence enfolds and includes all life. And we take great comfort in that truth today; and comfort is needed.

The politics of self-interest which would deny care to some who need it most frightens us, and so we pray - God have mercy.

The politics of division, where large segments of the human family are dehumanized and demonized, leaves us desperately sad. God have mercy.

The politics of domination makes us anxious and concerned. God have mercy.

Attitudes which seek to exclude people because of who they love, how they identify themselves, how they pray, or where by accident of birth they started life seem to run rampant, and so we pray - God have mercy.

Violence is ever with us. God have mercy.

Mistrust plagues us individually and collectively. God have mercy.

Racism infects our hearts and our institutions. God have mercy.

Xenophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and heterosexism all seem to be experiencing a collective and unholy revival. God have mercy.

Our very earth seems to be at risk, and not only of being harmed, but of having that harm ignored for profit. For our earth, our mother, our home we pray - God have mercy.

Mass incarcerations, the threat of war, illness, poverty…there are so many needs to address. For those trying to address them, please give them wisdom and strength and courage.

We know all nations face times of economic difficulty, or conflict, or vulnerability in the face of natural disasters, and we know that you have blessed the human family with resilience and the grace to hope even in the most dire of circumstances, and so we remember today that whatever frightens us will not last forever, but dignity and grace and the possibility of healing will last. We know that faith, hope, and love all endure, and that the greatest of these gifts is love. Let us today embrace the power of love. Let us love ourselves, and our neighbors, and our enemies, and our country, and our world and may this love bring healing wherever, whenever, and however it is most needed.

On this day of prayer, let us also call to mind people of faith: those who embrace Judaism, those follow the way of Jesus, those whose prophet is Muhammad, those who identify as Sikh, those who seek enlightenment as Buddhists, those who worship as Hindus, those who keep the traditions of the native ancestors of this land alive, those whose faith is in human potential, those who place their faith in science, those who faith is unnamed but no less dear and sustaining to them…may our various faiths bring out the best in us and help us see and honor the best in one another.

God bless this country and help us be kinder, more inclusive, more just, more peace loving, and more willing to assure the well-being of all who call this land their inherited or their chosen home. God, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen. 


Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
Senior Minister
Sunshine Cathedral 

As sent out via Constant Contact

Saturday, April 15, 2017

An Easter Reflection

"Easter" is a derivative of "Eostre", the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess. Eggs (a sort of tomb from which chicks emerge) and hares (known for fertility) were not only pagan symbols for life but were also adopted by Christians as symbols of resurrection. Spring celebrations are joyous and filled with hope. As a Christian I am bothered by those who worship violence (crucifixion) and attribute such cruelty to God, but I very much celebrate  resurrection...the affirmation that cruelty and injustice cannot have the last word.

The cross was meant to silence Jesus; it failed. That's the glory and power of Easter. As Presbyterian theologian Delores Williams said, "there was nothing of God in the blood of the cross." But the cruel torture of the cross did not destroy the hope, courage, or love that Jesus embodied. It continues to live. That's the beauty of Easter. 

Death and violence and cruelty cannot ultimately win. Love and life are forever. So every Easter I joyfully proclaim, Alleluia! Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed. It doesn't mean what worshippers of violence say it means; rather, it is the answer to violence and cruelty. Love wins! With that good news, we all are uplifted (risen). 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Heart Thoughts

Heart Thoughts:

The Anglican chamber of my heart values reason as much as tradition and sacred texts (yes, valuing all three, in tension and conversation with one another).

The Humanist chamber of my heart affirms human potential, goodness, and the need to respond to human need.

The Universalist chamber of my heart sees something sacred in every culture, tradition, and sincere endeavor to commune with the holy.

And the Mysticism chamber of my heart trusts that all life is connected and therefore our attitudes, habitual thoughts, and purpose filled words can influence how we experience life and can even influence many events.

In these days when reason, compassion, diversity, and hope are under constant attack, my heart with its many spiritual components struggles to maintain its highest ideals, to celebrate its most treasured truths, and to remain courageous enough to resist cruelty and injustice without sacrificing what it holds most dear.

#ConfirmedEpiscopalian #OrdainedProtestantMinister #OrdainedNewThoughtMinister #SelfDeclaredSpiritualHumanist

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Healing Prayer

I need to say that I believe in healing. Not just the body's natural impulse to strive toward wholeness (though that is pretty amazing), and not just medical procedures that ease pain and prolong life (thought that, too, is fabulous!), but in something more mysterious.

I have prayed for decades for people to experience healing, and so many have. Often that healing includes remission or cure, other times, the healing looks like courage or peace or restored relationships or a quality of life that defies circumstances or a gentle release at the end surrounded by loving hearts. I don't get to choose how the healing shows up, but I've witnessed it in many ways, and each of them are profound, beautiful, and even magical.

I've experienced healing in my own life, from living decades with a chronic (and once considered fatal) illness, to living an active life without surgery in spite of spinal birth defects (lots of massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, and the occasional aid of a cane have been been part of making the active life possible), to a seemingly miraculous remission of cat allegories and asthma, to having a retina reattached that over time (and a couple of surgeries) left me with better vision than before the detachment! There have been some biopsies along the way as well, but so far, so good. I must admit I always get a little anxious when those come around, but somehow the anxiety passes (and isn't that a great healing?!). I have also battled depression for most of my life, but even so, I have known great joy. The depression returns, but it has learned it will not be allowed to stay uninterrupted (not as long as I have insurance and a pharmacist!).

There are also the "rare" instances we all hear about...the person who comes out of the extended coma, the person for whom there are no more treatment options who somehow survives, the person who was never supposed to walk again who somehow does at last, the spontaneous remissions that can't be explained. And even though these "Lourdes"-like cures and second chances may be rare, that they happen at all seems to give us permission to hope that they will happen again, and again.

I'm sitting with these thoughts of healing because so many people are facing health challenges right now, or maybe for personal reasons I am particularly aware of them right now. And so I have been praying a lot for people in need of healing. As I said above, I don't get to decide how the healing shows up, but I trust that the energies of prayer are carried on currents of compassion that do reach those for whom we pray and that our prayers make a difference. When I know someone is praying for me, the comfort is as real as it is indescribable.

I have prayed for people and marveled at their recovery; and I have prayed for people and grieved that their situation did not improve as I had hoped. And yet, I trust that the loving energy emitted by prayer was a gift every single time, and that somehow, in ways I may never know, something was better because I took the time to wish someone well and to affirm possibilities that might not be obvious to everyone.

I believe in healing, even when I don't see it, even when it happens in ways that I may not recognize, even when it comes in ways other than I would have chosen if the choice were mine to make, I believe in healing, and I am stubborn enough to hope for miracles.

During my AIDS ministry in the 90s, I learned that it cost me nothing to summon hope for someone. In those days my promise to people was, "as long as you hope, you can trust that at least one other person is hoping with you." I am resurrecting that promise for whoever needs it today. If you are trying to summon hope, I will hope with you. I can't promise any particular result (I don't sell snake oil, but hope is free and I will cling to it stubbornly on your behalf).

I really do believe that hope, compassion, and prayer make a difference, and at least sometimes, that difference may even seem miraculous.

(Durrell Watkins - prayer companion, dealer in hope)

Monday, March 06, 2017

An End of Day Prayer During Turbulent Times

I worry that environmental protections are being rolled back, but I assume and hope that such myopic actions are temporary and will one day be corrected.
I worry that dictators may try to take advantage of an unprecedented lack of experience in the executive branch of US government, but I hope the judicial and legislative branches will intervene to keep us safe.
I worry that hard won victories for marginalized and vulnerable people are being targeted and attacked, but I trust that Justice will have Her say and that ultimately, fairness will prevail.
I worry that xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and transphobia will destroy human lives, and even cost lives, but I also hope and believe that human kindness is indomitable and will eventually save the day.
And, on top of these "big" concerns, I am aware of people who are hurting, who are facing loss, who are dealing with great personal challenges, whose futures seem uncertain, and for them I wish comfort, strength, courage, and the sustaining power of hope. I wish them peace of mind, and even a miracle or two.
My concerns are many tonight, and so it is that I invoke grace which is equal to every need to enfold us all. Amen.

(Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Liberal? Left? Lovely!

Left of center, liberal, progressive...I hear these used as insults, but I embrace them and hope they are true of me. Here are other synonyms for those words that can be hurled at me without my objecting one bit: high minded, thoughtful, compassionate, fair, inclusive, generous. I never tire of being "accused" of being a good person. I may not always live up to the estimation, but I appreciate it nevertheless.

Not Liking the News Doesn't Make it Fake News

News is news. If something happens, or if there is strong evidence to suggest something may be happening, and it is reported, that is not "fake" news. Now, commentary about the news can be biased, leaning to the left or right, and it can be verbalized in a way (with "dog whistle" words) that is meant to stir interest or even emotion in certain groups, but if a thing happened and it is reported, that is simply "news."

To try to discredit the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, MSNBC, PBS/NPR, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera English, The Guardian, The Independent, or even Fox (whose commentary I detest, but if they say a plane landed or an earthquake occurred, it probably did...when they say it was all a liberal conspiracy-that is commentary we can call b/s, but the news part is just news) as "Fake News" is ridiculous. Calling major news outlets "fake" is just a way of trying to keep the populace ill-informed and ignorant. Let's not fall for it, please.

By the way, there is "fake" news...they are tabloids (Enquirer), racist blogs, YouTube videos that any dweeb can post, etc. If they lie about a thing happening (pope runs prostitution ring out of Sistine Chapel, Big Foot top donor to the Clinton Campaign, Pat Robertson considered for Ambassador to Heaven)...then that is fake news. But those with long histories of journalistic integrity are not fake news, even if what they report isn't to (y)our liking.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

I Am a Product of Public Eduation

#proudproductofpublicschools

My graduate schools were all private (Goddard College, MA; Union Theological Seminary, MDiv; Episcopal Divinity School, DMin), but my success in graduate school was made possible by my public school foundation:

Carver Kindergarten
College Hill Elementary School (1st grade)
Liberty-Eylau ISD (2nd - 12th grades)
Texarkana College (public community college)
Henderson State University (BA)

Additionally, my parents were graduated from Arkansas High School (my dad was an alum of both Henderson State Teachers College, later known as HSU, [BME] and Louisiana Tech University [MAE])...all public schools.

My grandmother was graduated from Wickes High School, Magnolia A&M College (later known as Southern AR Univ [Teaching credential]), and Arkansas State Teachers College (later known as University of Central Arkansas [BSE])...all public schools.

My dad taught public school music for 7 years, my grandmother was a public school elementary teacher for 36 years, and her sister, my great-aunt was also a public school elementary and special education teacher.

My husband's MDiv and DMin are both from private seminaries, but his K-12 years were also in public schools.

Both of my brothers and all of their children went to public schools (one brother went to private school for a few years but graduated from public high school).

My entire family benefited from public education.

Additionally, my education has been enhanced by PBS/NPR (just saying).

None of this may matter to the billionaire class oligarchy in charge right now, but it has meant the world to me.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

A Prayer for Healing in the Time of Trump

A prayer as I end a long day:
Another day is coming to a close. There is so much anxiety, so much uncertainty, there are so many attacks on dignity, truth, liberty, and on the norms of civil discourse. May the "better angels of our nature" guide us through this time of chaos. May grace sustain us. May wisdom, peace, and courage conspire to keep us safe and well and focused on what is good; may the good prevail. May the forces that threaten the welfare of children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, the marginalized, and the unfairly despised cease their troubling and may Loving Justice and Courageous Mercy bless us and keep us and bring healing to our fractured, fearful, and increasingly forlorn land. In the power of hope and with the assurance that "weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning" I release this prayer to the perfection of divine right action. And so it is.  

Dr. King's Widow's Words Ruled "Impuning" a Senator to Silence Another Senator

Coretta Scott King had this to say about Sessions (Senator Warren was silenced by Sen maj ldr McConnell because she was going to read this into the record):
"I write to express my sincere opposition to the confirmation of Jefferson B. Sessions as a federal district court judge for the Southern District of Alabama. My professional and personal roots in Alabama are deep and lasting. Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship. I regret that a long-standing commitment prevents me from appearing in person to testify against this nominee. However, I have attached a copy of my statement opposing Mr. Sessions' confirmation and I request that my statement as well as this be made a part of the hearing record. I do sincerely urge you to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Sessions." (Coretta Scott King)

It's Apocalyptic But To Be Fair It IS What He Promised

So here's the thing: Yes, the current (US) regime is filled with white supremacists and oligarchs, yes they plan to destroy the Dept. of Education, yes they are coming for your/our social security and medicare, yes they are actively trying to delegitimize both the free press and the judiciary, yes they are shamelessly in bed with Christian Fundamentalism (which is all the reprehensible things named above masquerading as faith) even while 45 has not a pious bone in his body, yes they think the government should control women's bodies, and yes they are flagrantly trying to discriminate against Muslims, immigrants, and gays...it's all true. BUT, it is also what they campaigned on.

They said they would do this. And some of us said that was fine, or even good, or not so good but there would be more good to balance out the evil, or that they didn't mean any of that because it was too horrible to be true and so they supported this bloodless coup or they stayed home and said, "let's see what happens." It's scary and it's ridiculous and it is the downfall of our nation as a significant player in the world, but it's also what they promised. Yes, they lie so much as to make the average politician look like truth serum in shoe leather, but their promise to usher in autocracy and oppression they meant and they are delivering on that promise wtih BLITZKRIEG like speed.

I now recall the slogans that were used to make this dystopia possible:
"He speaks his mind."
"He'll shake things up."
"He'll make some real changes."
"He can't do worse than the ones before him."
"All the candidates are really the same."
"Benghazi."
"Emails."
"Make America Great Again."
"He's all bluster. He dosn't mean that hateful stuff. Once he's in he'll behave properly and do some good things."

Those of us who believed him when he told us he was a horseman of the acopalypse take NO PLEASURE in being right. I, for one, hoped to highest heaven that I was wrong. I am devestated to realize how right we were. But, when you're social security is a third less and you are almost 70 before you can draw it and your kids' schools are lagging behind every developed nation in the world and your loved ones are suffering or broke or dying because access to health care has been eliminated and we are drinking poisoned water and breathing contaminated air, at least you can admire the beautiful "wall" (that we will pay for) and be grateful that the Flat Earth Society is leading prayer in your kids' algebra class.

It's a horror show, but it is the exact horrow show we were promised. Now, God help us all.

Angry With Non-Voters

IF the election had broken down like this: 65% voter turnout with those who voted supporting Trump 51%, Clinton 47%, Other candidates 2%...I would still hate the current administration's agenda, but I would have to accept it. I would have to admit that a narrow but signficant and legitimate majority wanted this and that's democracy, that a vision different from the one that inspires me prevailed. "Suck it up and make the most of what I believe is a bad situation" would be my advise to myself. BUT that isn't how it broke down! Instead, about HALF the electorate stayed home, the person who would be swown in as the 45th POTUS got 3 million fewer votes than his opponent and only 27% of the country actually voted for him. Gay rights, women's rights, voting rights, the dignity of immigrants, hope for refugees, the environment, PEACE, the arts, public broadcasting, education, and safety and dignity for the majority of seniors are ALL in jeaporday now - Not because 27% of the country voted for a vision I detest, but because about half the country didn't vote at all. And in all honesty, I'm still struggling with that. It was civic malfeasance for which our whole country and possibly most of the world will be paying for years to come. The people who "won" are just people I happen to disagree with; the people who didn't care one way or the other what happens to the lives of the people who make up this country are the ones I remain angry with...I will forgive because my sanity depends on it, but I'm not there yet.