To the Black Sheep

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost

These immortal words written by one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, have been a source of strength and inspiration since the time I first read them. Time and time again, I have taken the road less traveled and it has made all the difference. The path has been vast, interesting, awe-inspiring, and I do not regret following a weeded path with an unclear destination. However, Robert Frost doesn’t warn us that this is the path of most resistance, or so it may seem.

The path of least resistance is comfortable. Easy. It is the path water chooses to flow if faced with any obstruction. Often I wish I was a person that could just go with the flow. Maybe it would be nice. Perhaps I could enjoy the confines of society where I just fit into a world already created for me. A world unchallenged. A world where I am not a square peg trying to jam my way into a round hole. I tried that world, and I found myself alone, and being someone I am not. It turned out, this path of least resistance wasn’t easy at all. I didn’t flow with it, it didn’t feel right.

The other path called to me and so I shook the dust off my feet and began an unknown walk. At first my steps were filled with overwhelming fear and trepidation. Each step into the fog was another cloud I had to confront, another doctrine, another belief, another societal construct, and another realness I was faking. As scary as it was, I didn’t find myself struggling to fit. I found myself struggling to not fit. Unlearning the ways of the path most traveled wasn’t difficult after the fog began lifting. I began to see sunlight poking through the trees, and I began to feel the warmth take over the chill in my soul. This path provided peace, freedom, and  ultimately, strength. The only resistance I feel here are from those unwilling to meet me or understand my travels.

But I belong here.

Throughout history, there have always been the wayward ones. The challengers. The fighters. The ones who go against the grain. Historically, they were threats to the tightly knit fabric of the society they were confronting. Jesus. John Lennon. Nelson Mandela. Martin Luther King Jr. Malcom X. Rosa Parks. Ghandi. Steve Jobs…all of them I have met on the path of the black sheep. All of them fought for ideals that were different from the status quo. Here, on this road less traveled, I have found those fighting for justice, equality, freedom for prisoners, liberation of the poor, and world unity. I have found unconditional love here, those that see a different way, one of grace, forgiveness, and humanity.

So often I have resented being a black sheep. It can be isolating. The daily battle just to simply be the most authentic version of ourselves is often fought with anger and lashing out. Also, we know that leaving behind the other path has hurt those that are still there. However, we must remember that above all else, above our individual emotional struggles, there is a grand plan that we are part of.

We must trust that our calling is correct. I cannot disregard the plight of the underdog. They call to me. I cannot ignore the cries of the sick. I cannot forget the racism I see. I cannot look the other way when I know that others are hurting because of elitist or xenophobic ideologies. I cannot walk away from the pain and struggle of my LGBTQ friends. I cannot walk this winding path under canopies of branches, watching the birds perched above, hear the trickle of a stream nearby, or smell the fragrance of the plumeria and not fight to ensure their survival.

I belong here.

On the road less traveled.

More will be called here, I’m certain. All things will be renewed. I believe the following scripture in Matthew 19:28-30, Jesus is speaking to the last, to the black sheep:

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold,[a] and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

Both paths will become one. No longer will there be two roads diverged in a wood, but one path rather. One of unity, love, grace, and we will all see the lion laying down with the lamb.

Keep following the voice you know you are supposed to follow.

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Winter is Over. Now We Must Inspire New Life With Our Light.

This has been a rough winter for those of us in the resistance. A lot of us have had no choice but to remove barriers of self preservation and become who we really are at any cost. We have risked professional, familial, church and other relationships by speaking out, for standing up for what is right. The anger that has swelled in the last year has not let up, nor should it. We are facing serious consequences for every action right now, nationally and globally. 

Today, let us celebrate the first day of spring with renewed hope as life begins to bud around us. May we feel a rebirth in our spirits, letting go of fear, anger, temptation, and despair. It is so easy to fall into judgement and finger pointing guilt. Why does the other side not see what is going on? This entire year has been a daily trip through the twilight zone watching this disgusting display of the human condition rise. However, I am also watching love, hope, and truth arise as well. Will we gain more to come? Will the light grow brighter and attract others to it? 

I believe the answer is yes.

With the proposed budget cuts it is clear that this administration and the majority of the GOP is completely unconcerned with their fellow struggling Americans. It is clear that they want to keep the poor down. It is clear that the hunger of others doesn’t overshadow their greed. It is clear that the destruction of nature doesn’t matter as long as they profit. It is clear that giving sick people the health care they need is of no concern. It is clear that education is not valued, why would it be? Education is the only way out of poverty. It is clear that women are of no concern or the LGBTQ community. Veterans. Elderly. Sick. Disabled. Children. Artists. 

The list goes on and on at the lack of care for others in this country, other than rich, white nationalists. While it may seem like a lost cause to keep fighting the obvious move toward a fascist takeover, do not allow yourself to be deceived.

LOVE WILL WIN.

We are experiencing a legendary, historic call to act. We can give back to the programs that have been slashed. Use every monetary resource available to you as intelligently as possible. Do I need this bottle of wine? Or shall I send this $12.00 to PBS? We must change our thinking with every dollar spent, at least for a little while. Every small sacrificial act adds up. Develop fundraisers. Volunteer. Let them see that we refuse to be taken down and/or let this greed and suffering arise. 

Maybe if the blind sees what love looks like they will shed away their sin of self importance and resurrect to new creatures. Symbolically, as nature begins to thrive around us with the gift of the sunlight, may we be a gift of light to death as well. 

Just like Jesus calls us to be. The light. 

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If Being a Christian Means XYZ, then I am not a Christian.

If Being a Christian Means XYZ, then I am not a Christian.

In his book, Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts Faith and Threatens America,  Randall Balmer cites Billy Graham’s concern about a marriage between the political right and religious fundamentalism.

Billy Graham warned, “I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.” Parade Magazine, 1981.

His profound warning is exactly what is happening in our current culture. GOP policy and agenda has manipulated good people into succumbing to the perversion of Jesus’ teachings for monetary gain.

Therefore, I resist with a poem:

If being a Christian means I have to deny healthcare to another human being, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to deny equality to the LGBT community, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to turn a blind eye to the suffering of refugees, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to accept building a wall separating me from another human, so I can be privileged, and they can suffer, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to deny scientific evidence of climate change, therefore contributing to the destruction of the earth, our home, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to desire more guns, lack of gun regulations, and believe the mentally impaired should be able to purchase guns, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means that I have to support building an oil pipeline through sacred land of Native Americans, disrespecting them, their land, and the earth, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to deny another human’s entry into my country because they worship differently, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to deny women access to birth control, cancer screenings, and education regarding their bodies, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to call a woman a murderer for having an abortion resulting from rape, incest, fetal developmental abnormalities, or simply because she is in a bad situation, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to believe that God is going to destroy the earth and only save  select Christians from that destruction after a rapture, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to accept that billions of earth’s species fit onto one boat, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to discredit evolution or science, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to deny suffering people the benefits of medical cannabis, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to pledge allegiance to a flag and nationalism, instead of Jesus and his teachings of love, equality, caring for the poor, and fighting for the least of these, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to deny human beings food because they are addicted to drugs, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to believe in the death penalty, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to believe that women should not be pastors, equal in their homes, or professionally, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to believe that others will go to an eternal hell because they were born in a different culture and religion, then I am not a Christian.

If being a Christian means I have to openly accept things that Jesus vehemently spoke against, then I am not a Christian.

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