Look Alive

01 January 2011

TRINITY TALKS: Won Day at a Time

May the Love, peace and guidance of the True & Living Most High God be with us all-ways! By ^faith^, we are healed and wholly equipped to work toward the new things in store
for 2011 and beyond. One step at a time, we place
our hands in the Hand of Victory that holds
the tomorrow we don't know but
He fully understands.
In Jesus' rightful
name, Amen.

31 December 2010

A Meeting in the Ladies Room (The Time is 'NYE'!)

Happy New Year's Eve!

Have I told you that God is wonderful? Did I need to? Nah... but it doesn't hurt! I absolutely Love Life and all the brothers and sisters in it with me! Our struggles achieve the status of beautiful once we know to bring the sheaves of our lessons to the table and share the wisdom. Having been equally comfortable as a solitary and social being, I've often leaned in the direction of healthy discovery: studying whatever harmless thing was labelled with a "no", traveling where not everybody goes, befriending mostly boys because being a girl was something I'd already known.

At this point of adulthood, it's very plain to see that insisting on a counter-everything approach could pose its problems, including simple misunderstanding. Generally speaking:
  • There is a solid foundation to be benefited from by honoring the right "yes".
  • Some corners of the world have no visitors because they're dangerous or uninhabitable.
  • Straightforward with expressing their disappointment and pleasure as I appreciate many of them to be, some guys have absolutely no desire to 'just talk' at any time, especially late at night. 
Getting to really know and love all my girls (even the permanent, internal one) has been a process, involving a moderately-sized room mostly filled with faces that have been familiar since ribboned plaits, expressing our blossoming femininity in jest with silly terms such as "fabulocious" or "sexypocious" and all that! Hills and valleys notwithstanding, by the Grace of God, I wouldn't trade any worldly thing for my journey!

Growing up, my mother spoke so well about a certain two or three she would go to school or the club with. Even if they had minimal funds, food, drink, transportation and safety for everybody was a given. Each made sure the other looked stunning in the bright lights of their own lanes. If something was out of place, girlfriend had your back -- and not on her iPhone preparing to share evidence of a dress hem that made its way into the band of your undergarments with Cyberia, either. The names and notions of the others' men were off-limits unless somehow necessary. The pot-luck was goooood!

My grandmother's best friend may as well have been my trampoline the way I loved and showed her frequent presence in the home since age two. To this day, even after Mama's passing, her metamorphosis into a tried-and-true sounding board made of sweet wood still stands or, more appropriately, sits. Witnessing my goddaughter's excitement after visiting an American Girl shop with her bestie was also a blessing, as it was something they could enjoy together. Finding a doll that looked like them was their only agenda -- and with a spritely adult's help -- they succeeded creatively. It was a moment straight out of the "Darling sisters" playbook on the Cosby Show! What a cherished circle of Life!

For different reasons and in different ways, all those ladies have asked "what happened to the sisters I used to know? Where are they?" I believe the answer is "right here" within each of us! We've always been daughters and students, but we are also blessed to be wives, mothers, professionals! Even if the way we apply the quiet determination those roles develop has gone from making it through winter break without playdate overload and withdrawal to being rehabilitated from an accident, performing a successful surgery or making it to watch night service after cooking and cleaning, there is so much to honor within the responsibilities on and before our paths. To incorporate the phraseology of a talented poet named Universe, sometimes that duty is as simple as being the "keep-her" we would like on our own team.

* Please check back here later for some beautiful "be" footage
once Xtranormal decides to let me type movies too LOL *

Don't just OK anything the (inner) sister brings your way if it comes as blame, undue competition, harmful habits from gossip to overeating to a nasty princess attitude. Bring the Truth to her! Not once, in passing, before throwing her to wolves. Do it honestly and gently or with privately focused fire, if necessary. Do it for your Life and that of any sister out there who could fit a shirt that reads "Me". Do it even by muting the TV when one of the many Hollywood popstars or housewives distorts your vision of reality. Do it for the good brother she will have or already has married; the wellbeing of the home, family and our global community.

You were born fancy because the Lord of All's craftsmanship designed your beauty. Never mind waving at anyone in the 'club' vicinity, "hating" for friends to see. Smile from the heart when they look, offering witness to and reverence of God's glory!
We rebuke the sisterhood of Samaria as Aholah and Jerusalem as Aholibah
under Sodomic influence!
We seal the rift between Euodia and Syntyche with a holy kiss!
We are restored daughters of Zion; a renewed Hagar and Sarah, Leah and Rachel: Loved by our Father and every Mary that decently attends to the Lord!
Fellow "keep-her", we got this!

Today, on the "Eve" of a new year, let's consider the concept of original womanhood and its best reflections. To every sparkling sister whose 'voice' has been a healing balm or wake-up alarm in this life: know with security that we are Loved by the Source of all Love and need only serve Him truly, sharing that love from here on! He has already calmed the storm. Go ahead and step out!

30 December 2010

The "Stew" in Stewardship

"The passion for setting people right is, in itself, a dis-ease with the self." ~ Marianne Moore

WWJD... For close to a decade, this popular acronym has been asking 'what would Jesus do'. The fact that any of us even need to consider this question before some thoughts, words and deeds is testament to our imperfect tendencies. Even the "elect" (well-versed, maybe even degreed in, Spirit-filled and shouting the Word) err -- often on the side of ego or "easing God out" as a guest pastor memorably quipped last week. How do we ease God out of our lives, especially under our super-anointed radars? Well, that ease can come in the forms of thinking our waking in the morning is courtesy of a Bose clock radio, stealing or slandering when no human eyes bear witness and doubting that the Most High is great enough to brush off that which came from dust, especially after having fallen. We won't even get into the mutual harm of judging books by their covers or the incomplete pages we have read. With the Sovereign Author and Finisher of all our stories, to paraphrase singer Natasha Bedingfield, "the best is yet unwritten!"

In the process of receiving the Holy Spirit's utterance, sometimes overwhelming energy or details of corrective protection are revealed that feel nearly impossible to contain. (Remember Jeremiah from a few days' links and aeons back?) The ecstasy to hear even a Hortonesque 'who' from On High is overwhelming! Factoring in the truth that the Lord knows our faults and yet deposits enough Love in us to better love ourselves and Life-at-large might invite the belief that Grace is exclusive and not for all, if we're not careful. Personally speaking, zealous self-righteousness has done the occasional sneak attack on my mind, sometimes reaching as far as my mouth or fingers, with the intention to fix another. Like keeping the company of strong drink and other lower case spirits, it only tends to be destructive no matter how good the intention.

That being said, I present a new question for that same acronym; hopefully bland enough to avoid heartburn but lightly seasoned to encourage your own thoughts on the matter: why wield judgment daily? After all, judgment is a two-edged sword of immense weight that few, if any, human arms can manage for long. It is true that believers in God are called to admonish and teach each other, among additional duties to humanity, according to His Will and Word. The other factors of when, how, to what extent and so on belong to the Creator, however. We are just here to amplify the Light of God as stewards to each other, not monopolizing our Father but sharing His Truth-in-Love with all who seek it and even some who don't.

On this second-to-last day of the the year "2010", let's consider the many faces and nations represented across the globe to reflect upon all the different types it takes to fill a world. Next, consider the microcosm and the qualities we each have inside that are worth keeping as well as those we could do better without. As we develop in stewardship, let's be sure to add only those 'keepers' to the stew!

'11' preparation tips
Knowledge: Structured plans (aka recipes) can assist almost all forms of development, good, bad or indifferent. We have to know what end result that we want and what we need to achieve it, remembering to guard against 'too many cooks'. If the Lord says we should receive "It", it's time for...

Action: The above, like faith, requires the spark of activity or work to make it happen. The stew's not gonna cook itself, you know!

Vessel: The right ingredients need a place to combine, be transformed and from which to be poured and stored, be it cup, dish, bowl, pot, wineskin or bottle. Each of us are created as vessels; what we choose to contain and release is another story.

Oil: For plant cells, oil is one ingredient that eases movement past the walls and grants access to the nutrients for our bodies' absorption. It also helps our good "stuff" bear the heat required to refine it.

Spices: Since antiquity, spices have been of great value, even moreso than precious gems and metals at times. Their irreplaceable function is to help preserve, make tougher matters tender and impart flavor in ways that are still subject to the unique leanings of the individual! Salt (to taste) is not officially a spice, but it serves similar purpose while amplifying the others.

Meat: Regarding our actual diets, this is optional. Regarding the Word, however, meat often accompanied by...
Potatoes or another root/starch component will solidify and give 'body' to a meal that sticks and fills.

Water: The universal solvent lives in and balances everything. No cleaning and very little cooking can be done without it. The Lord and His Word are the Water that should comprise over 70% of our lives.

Vegetables: Perishable yet fortifying, plants come with healthy properties that often correspond to their true colors. To enhance texture and flavor, prepare some with the spices and add them to the seasoned and reduced meat that's stewing as you will. Many can and should be enjoyed raw, too.

Heat: Water's activation potential and boiling point of 212°F must be reached and maintained to ensure that invisible, harmful germs are killed and that the chemical bonds of all the above are broken as necessary to yield the desired meal. (See also below)

Live in p(e)ace, using only what time is appointed as necessary. Failure to do so is likely to result in undercooked meat that can pose serious illness. Poor planning or desires for convenience otherwise will require working with extremely high pressure. The choice is yours.

Enjoy the "stew" and be blessed as well as a blessing!

* This post contains elements of the short, "Dinner with Mermaids"

29 December 2010

I Hope You Dance!

On the heels of last night's Kennedy Center Honors including dancer/choreographer Bill T. Jones, my godmother and some of her friends went to see FELA! on Broadway today. My displeasure with being absent from the production includes the power combo of the Afrobeat king's musical story, Miss Patti (LaBelle)'s voice and director Jones' poetry-in-motion was subdued by the humble pleasure of having seen and met the latter on a few occasions courtesy of a mutual collaborator. I glorify none other than the Lord, but the high definition of his physical body, precise inability to miss a beat even while suited and smoking for the stage as well as some of his signature, joint-focused moves' way to evoke the emancipation of marionettes is awe-inspiring, especially all these years after his principal days.

Thriving on rhythm and soul-full movement as Life does, the artform and quickly-change-your-whole-outfit-where-you-stand-if-need-be-before-returning-to-your-place-revealing-nothing-but-no-one-is-so-immature-uptight-or-surface-flesh-focused-to-care-should-an-elbow-be-exposed-in-the-process-anyway culture of dance has always appealed to my senses and sensibility. I'd be lying to profess advanced knowledge of all its pioneers and formal techniques, however. Chalk that up to chubby childhood ballet days that rather welcomed switching to the force of modern and tap the way they better welcomed my frame as well as increasing expenses overall.

Farther along the road, an afternoon whim to treat myself to something nice would indelibly bless my heart with Ailey's "Revelations". Applying that gravitas to the flattened back & foot flexing of African classes [yes, the course catalog descriptions were usually that generic] not only tempered my eligibility for financial aid in undergrad, but made the occasional solo whirl through Lower East Side Jump'N'Funk parties kind of a big deal. Don't get me wrong; we're not talking about some attention-seeking debauchery deal here. My partners felt, looked and spoke like they were having fun too, but my joy was in the universal drum and finally being allowed out to move to it! The party was just about over when adventurously answering an open call for an Urban Bush Women audition showed me that sipping herbal tea in NYC was probably the closest I'd come to being part of that number. Certainly, I hadn't trained and dedicated my life in dance's direction purely enough to deserve or expect any of the above honors. An appreciated privilege eventually became an earned source of fitness and fun. That's all. Now if I could just find those abs...

One of the films I'd alluded to and seen recently was Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. The psychological thriller intermingles themes of light (as portrayed by Natalie Portman's "Nina") and dark (ala Mila Kunis' "Lily") within the arena of professional ballet. Nina seemed insulated from the wild world and what could be described as her mother's bipolar tendencies by innocence and a mechanically perfectionist approach to technique. Pursuing the role of a lifetime as Swan Queen, her nurtured naivete was challenged by company owner Vincent Cassel ("Thomas" of the silent but deafening ssssss) and the edgy, effortless company dancer Lily. Once Nina was appointed the role -- on basic merit, the promise that adaptability added to her work ethic would yield greater worth and merely asking -- harsh rumors swirled amidst the rest of the company, leading the two dancers to forge an unlikely but quick friendship. They were pink and black. Blank canvas and tats. Want to and did that... together. Once Nina's apparent inability to animate the dark side of the Swan Queen's dual role threatened her dream's success, a struggle between unwavering integrity and initiative ensued; within herself and/or with an arguably suspicious Lily. Things Nina wouldn't conceive of before such as illicit drugs and sex, she soon bore (the brunt of, in the form of near misses and severe confusion to put it mildly).

Although the movie teaches that the extremes of one's passion must be explored in order to achieve one's goal, the Word teaches that we should train with the fiery discipline of athletes for the greatest prize of godliness within. Dance is a great vehicle for that energy, as it represents what we do between Life's stations and situations! It responds to victory in battle or acts as a rebellious precursor to demise. It has its own rightful time or signals another's untimely end. Most importantly, dance is for praise, the genuine practice of which will tone the belly, arms, legs and help the heart too. Needless to say, none of us are promised tomorrow. Today, under Grace, we can bear the Most High's Loving law inside with sound minds as we turn, step and leap by faith away from the past into "2011" and beyond. Let us consider healthy goals for ourselves, allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts on the matter(s) and study the Word for guidance as to the Lord's unique answers for our lives. Of what is truly approved, let's go forth with that praise, get what is ordained as ours, keep it sacred and cooperatively share it only per God's will, to His glory!

28 December 2010

ON... Anonymity and 'Anti-social Networking'

A funny thing happened on the way to enjoy some music and check my inbox! There was a 'random' response of questionable intent directed specifically to me based upon my appreciation of an instrumental track. I have no idea who the individual behind the account really is. Maybe, s/he doesn't really know me or the fact that I'm allowed to like the wordless song and another commentor's open rebuke, however worldly, of some digi-fighting matches that seemed to have ensued between some listeners. Truth is, though, the person might also just enjoy unique applications of language and could have meant well by the unfamiliar symbol they used. Also, this represents one of enough situations where I should have been more prudent to keep my enjoyment inside or at the equivalent minimum of "yes and Amen". Unfortunately, no one is exempt from slips or their repercussions, so should, could and would ain't good! That, too, has has passed, though. We need to seek and offer forgiveness while doing better as we go forward.

While I believe every day is a day that the Lord has made, in John 14 this era was already written to have been sublet to another. Regardless of where your faith lives, one look at your nightly news or daily neighborhood will prove that the Love, community, honest transparency and accountability that can accompany a direct, visceral experience is pixelating into a blur. To quote a generational favorite, singer Mary J. Blige, sometimes men and women (attempt) to "do something behind [one's] back and then try to cover it up", especially when relationships of any kind are involved. Profiling, in either law enforcement or slang, can denote any prejudicial or otherwise false act that would make us look sideways in disbelief. Further, as inferred from Paulo Freire's seminal work, it is an odd but common response of a victim towards those who are suffering the same plight or trying to help as a way to prove they still have the 'it' that an unfaithful, negligent or domineering partner/authority figure devalued.

In these instances of self-empowerment, extra personnel are usually required to try wrecking what would otherwise be very beautiful; the commitment to personal reckoning of how hurt and pain beget the same then closing the circuit with Love proves too great. Because such a cycle does not promote Life, it must die to itself -- as all seeds do -- albeit with no light of the Sun, no water of added emotion, no nutrients, no hope for further growth. The digital realm does offer great outlets of faith and "edutainment" even though some outlets and users often pride themselves on profiles that bear middle, pen or other nicknames along with images of anything but the account holder(s). How ironically hilarious is it that a 'bee' with a 12-letter name would express such things! Please join me in Emoticonese now and LOL :) That may be a bit basic in the scheme of things, but the former English teacher in me is not too fond of the way our (youth's) fitness, penmanship and personal development are compromised with current social networking and ancient methods of subversion. At times, it's almost anti-social.

Before or as you point at me, possibly to the dismay of a Wilhelm Reich-type, accept my extension of a peaceful hand to explain that my semi-anonymity actually began as assistance. Somewhere exists someone who needed to be seen and heard instead of me to the point of hacking my former accounts. Life, limb and my love for socially just expression are unscathed, so it was all essentially harmless. Sooner than place family or close friends in little on-screen boxes, with whatever contact resources I have, I prefer to honor what trustworthy rapport we establish in our calls/answers/visits/sharing/overall Love while we have Life and reserve web tools to organizing and directing the constructive, professional. Sure, I may allow some avatars or comments where said inner circles, interests and work intersect. Fine-tuning that process, or the decision to leave crazy 'nings' alone, has its challenges though.  

To think any of the profile types discussed in this piece can tell us all we need to know is a grand lie. Alfred Hitchcock's famous visage alone says nothing of his hobbies. Determining a baby's gender with the naked eye trained on the pregnant woman's profile in the third or ninth month will not always produce accurate results, even if old wives insist a certain navel protrusion or set of the stomach say otherwise. Many public figures are different off the magazine page, screen and stage. All things Wiki must be subject to additional verification and, naturally, our Father didn't make me a bee, although I am appreciating the lesson of being about His business grows daily. 

From typing the title and first sentence then pressing "publish post" instead of "save draft" to the completion of this post, I enjoyed the additional peace of reading some of my favorite devotionals. One, in particular, whispered something I wholly agree with. It is our responsibility to ensure that the messages we transmit along our paths be edifying to God and each other as the network of His original design.

* This post contains elements of the short, "Datkham".

26 December 2010

LEVI(RO)TATION :: To Day, Jah View

As the season's first major snowfall brings some of the East Coast to cleansing stillness, this is for the beautiful "Vanilla Child" from Santa Monica, CA born Mary Christine Brockert a.k.a Teena Marie (March 5, 1956 - December 26, 2010) who especially sweetened my musical enjoyment and aspirations since the days of sneaking the radio into bed with, if not instead of, a teddy bear.

Lots of Love, few words & what I receive as a soulful reminder from "Lady T"
to let go of all sin