#SevenGratitudes is a weekly gratitude practice for the enlivening of my soul, a deepening engagement with the world, and simple encouragement for anyone who stops by.
Thanks for being here.
This week I am grateful…
For good conversations with both of my parents this week.
I thank God for the very different folks who raised me. I am grateful for the chance to hear these people as the individuals that they are, to release expectations and receive, instead, the authenticity of their stories.
It is a wonder to realize that one’s parents are not and cannot be the salve and savor of life. They get to be people, then, instead of demi-gods. And people are marvelous, dynamic creatures. Fun to get to know.
Parental love comes to mean something new when it is not taken for granted, or when it is not taken as an elixir for the holes in your heart.
It becomes a gift.
I am thankful to be growing older in the full-spectrum light of my parents.
That the most dreaded test of my seminary career…
Was actually alright! And that it is over!
Christian Ethics at Wake Div has a reputation for taking no prisoners. It is, uh, definitely a deeply focused class, for sure—but it is also proving to be one of my favorite and most meaningful experiences at divinity school.
The midterm exam, one of two grades in the class, was yesterday morning. I did not realize how much it had been weighing on me until after it was done.
And it is done.
What’s more is that I think I did alright.
For a car that gets me where I need to be, even though it is slap falling apart.
Both of the Coyle-Carr vehicles are a little janky, but they are paid off and still run reliably for the most part. The car I kept with me in NC—The Burgundy Mule, as I call her—is the most spent of the two. Goodness gracious. Her air conditioning gave out two summers ago and I cannot even begin to tell you what all she’s hauled hither and thither. One of the doors only locks manually and the interior lights quit working on their own.
The Mule smells a little. I smell a little when I ride, too (no AC, ahem).
She runs, though!
But, yesterday, when I had just launched my journey to the Charlotte airport, the left side mirror pane came off right in my hand. As I was going 60 down the highway.
Thankful that I caught the durn thing.
Y'all got any superglue?
For hot soup—free lunch!
Y’all know I love thwarting the systems that want me to believe that I have to buy my way to happiness. Y’all know I celebrate creation over consumption, and that I have been working toward patterns of living that empower me to choose the lasting joy of cosmic communion over the cheap-but-costly thrill of momentary convenience.
Well, yesterday I figured out a way to carry a hot lunch to the airport: I had a picnic in the car!
I carried a lunchbox full of snacks for my trip, plus a thermos for coffee and a reusable water bottle. The hot soup I ate before catching a shuttle over to the terminal.
For once I was not tempted by the alluring sights and smells of Bojangles and Chikfila—because I was full of homemade lentil-veggie stew!
Which was delicious. Tasted like triumph.
For The Red Tent.
The last time I was home Aaron and I swung by the library to return some things and, behold, there was a great used book sale taking place! I picked out a Barbara Kingsolver book and Anita Diamat’s The Red Tent, only to realize that I had zero cash for this cash-only event.
No worries, I thought, If I really want to read these I can borrow them sometime, surely.
Well, I honestly cannot remember the title of the Kingsolver book, but I have not been able to get The Red Tent out of my mind sense that sale. I took this as an invitation to track down a copy for my travel reading this weekend.
Oh. My. Goodness.
I have been blown away recently the ways lessons and insights seem to wind themselves around each other, how themes that I wrestle with in one arena come to bear in another. Told from the perspective of Dinah, the daughter of Leah, The Red Tent is a tale that imagines the world of the women in some of our most beloved ancient texts—it rounds and layers stories and myths of Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, and those that the androcentric Old Testament forgets.
One of the greatest aspects of my labor when it comes to interpreting the Bible is hearing the "whispered word," hearing the women and slaves and other unmentioned folks behind and between the tellings we have today.
The Red Tent is a fictional read, but that does not mean that it strays from the Truth.
Here’s an excerpt from the prologue, the paragraph that hooked me for every page after.
“There was far more to tell. Had I been asked to speak of it, I would have begun with the story of the generation that raised me, which is the only place to begin. If you want to understand any woman you much first ask about her mother and then listen carefully. Stories about food show a strong connection. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows the details of her mother’s life—without flinching or whining—the stronger the daughter.” (Diamant, 2)
That my college friend was also my awesome Delta Flight Attendant! For a lovely layover of catching up and being present to the people we have become.
When I boarded my first plan yesterday I froze. Standing there in the flesh was Ashley Brannon Hall, a colleague from college and fellow renegade Baptist. We hugged. She rained gifts of pilot’s wings and airplane snacks, and then we got to spend my layover together doing the work of women catching up.
I am thankful for our chance meeting, but I am most grateful for Ashley’s hospitable gumption—that she took time out of her day with me, bought me coffee, and shared the dips and swells of her life with me in that hour or so at the Hartsville-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
For being home.
Signing off now to enjoy these hours at home with my man. And our community here in Dallas.
But mostly him.