Why Is Madonna Making Me Cry?

I mean, she’s good. I remember thinking when I first heard the album that she sounded richer, fuller, and the music was much more diverse and interesting compared to her previous pop offerings. But I’m not a music critic. The quality of the work isn’t what’s making me cry.

I have a friend who would say, “You’re in your feelin’s.”

On this lazy Sunday morning, I’ve got the time, so I’m going to take the time to figure out why I’m in my feelings, even if I have to put Ray of Light on repeat.

The album was released in America in March of 1998. Ruth was 1 1/2 years old. That makes Ben 3 1/2 and Sam 4 months shy of 6.

Those mathematical calculations may be completely off. I have always been terrible with dates and with nailing down the events associated with them. I rely on the kindness of others to correct me and set me straight. But if I’m right, in March of 1998 I was in the throes–IN THE THROES–of wrestling with my sexuality. I was living in fear, and I was scared to death. I was also excited at the prospect of joy.

Unpacking all of that is something for another post (or perhaps a book). But within it lies the answer to why Madonna is making me cry. 20 years later I feel the same way: I’m still afraid, and I’m still exited at the prospect of joy.

If I’m alive, I expect that 20 years from now I will still feel the same. The key is for there to be more joy than fear. When I compare now with 20 years ago, I can say with conviction and gratitude that there’s more joy than fear. While present fear brought to light by Madonna this morning may be the source of my tears, there’s also a healthy dose of joyful gratitude mixed in.

Nothing takes the past away
Like the future
Nothing makes the darkness go
Like the light
You’re shelter from the storm
Give me comfort in your arms
Nothing really matters
Love is all we need
Everything I give you
All comes back to me

–Madonna, “Nothing Really Matters”

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Just Breathe

A friend messaged me this morning and asked me to pray for him. That alone is holy in itself: that my friend would be vulnerable enough to ask (vulnerability doesn’t come easily for him) and that he knew I would pray if he asked.

“I’m about to start yoga,” I replied. “I’ve been stuck setting my intention as inner peace for several days. I’ll include you in that today.”

Things played out differently on the mat, though. Instead of inner peace, I started thinking Love as I inhaled and power as I exhaled. These words felt like they fit the need my friend expressed. They also worked well for me.

As I began breathing and moving through the practice, I was surprised by how I focused on the words and the breath much more than in other sessions. It felt good. 

My mood changed when I started a sequence of poses where I began to exert myself. I started to breathe rapidly. That made the words that were contemplative before (Love…Power…Love…Power) become demanding and forceful (Love…Power…Love…power…Love power). Love power? That didn’t feel right at all. I started to feel uncomfortable with the words even as the flow was making my body uncomfortable. 

Despite the discomfort, I kept going and I kept breathing the words. Eventually I slowed my pace, moved into stretches, and switched back the more acceptable, Love…power.

Savasana, or corpse pose. My breathing began to slow even more. Not long into this restful state, my exhale word became Love, too. Love… Love…Love…Love….

The morning breath prayer stayed with me throughout the day. I thought about how I have to inhale (love)  before I speak. In the space between the inhale and the exhale, I choose what words I will say with the breath that supports them. Will that breath carry with it love? 

The same holds true for an action. I breathe before I take a step, make a decision, react to a situation. Will inhaled and exhaled breath, supporting my actions, be cradled in love? 

What is more powerful than any power? Love. And it took the little death of corpse pose for me to remember this truth. 

Give Thanks

Sister Ann Wenita Morelove

Doug may be feeling poorly, but that would never stop Sister Ann from inspiring joy, ending guilt, and being love.

I’m home from leading the worship service at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville with my Sisters. The church was full of lovely affirming people and I’m grateful they invited us.

I believe a glass of orange juice and a nap are in order.

From Ashes to Glitter

glitterheartA handful of Music City Sisters and Sister Mary-Go-Round hit the bars last night, offering glitter blessings in observance of (Sm)Ash Wednesday.

“It’s Ash Wednesday! May we offer you a blessing?”
“Um I dunno…what do I have to do?”
“Well, first you have to decide if you want it with glitter, or oral only…”
…We’d banter back and forth, laughing together until eventually we offered these words as blessing:

You are a person of joy.

Be yourself without guilt.

Protect yourself and those you love.

More often than not, the smiles transformed into looks of solemn wonder. I heard things like, “Thank you, Sister.” “That was wonderful.” “Wow.”

Near the end of the night, and after having consumed a few drinks, I was winding up a blessing when, on that last line, this slipped out: “…and proclaim….” I stopped short of saying what I was about to say, which was, “…and proclaim the gospel.” I smiled, laughed and recovered to finish the blessing.
As I walked away, I started tearing up. You see, I was a pastor for ten years in a denomination that, while struggling with the issue, describes homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” I was quietly forced to leave that vocation after finally coming to terms with my own sexuality.
The tears came when I realized the slip–up wasn’t really a slip-up at all. As a Sister, I am still in ministry. I am still proclaiming the gospel of love. Only now I get to do it with a cocktail in my hand while looking fabulous.