Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver

It was just a couple days before the Buffalo shooting I was debating to read Soul on Ice or the essays of Audre Lorde. I had both copies on my shelf and I went for this one. I would encourage everyone to read more work by black authors. This one in particular has been enlightening. The Buffalo shooting is terrible. If anyone of us is dying because of ignorance and hatred then we are all dying. Sometimes, when I’m faced with it, I’m overwhelmed by our broken world.

Eldridge Cleaver was one of the early leaders of the Black Panthers and was editor of their newsletter. He was convicted of several crimes which resulted in his imprisonment in Folsom Prison—same prison in which Johnny Cash cut a live album in 1968, two years after Cleaver would be released. It was in this year (1968) that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Cleaver was a follower of Malcolm X and was devastated by his assassination in 1965. It could be argued that this event really influenced his activism going forward, his involvement with the Black Panther Party, and his running for president via the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.

📸 wikipedia

“From my prison cell, I have watched America slowly coming awake. It is not fully awake yet, but there is soul in the air and everywhere I see beauty. I have watched the sit-ins, the freedom rides the Mississippi Blood Summers, demonstrations all over the country, the F.S.M. movement, the teach-ins, and the mounting protest over Lyndon Strangelove’s foreign policy —all of this, the thousands of little details, show me it is time to straighten up and fly right. That is why I decided to concentrate on my writings and efforts in this area. We are a very sick country —I, perhaps, am sicker than most. But I accept that. I told you in the beginning that I am extremist by nature —so it is only right that I should be extremely sick. I was very familiar with the Eldridge who came to prison, but that Eldridge no longer exists. And the one I am now is in some ways a stranger to me.”

— Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice, 1968

The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton

“One of Thomas Merton’s favorites among his own books—surely because he had hoped to spend his last years as a hermit.”
I have spent a lot of time in the “desert” or in the “wilderness” this past year. I think many, if not all of us have. But it’s how you move in the desert that can help you come out of it better than when you went in. The desert is a place for healing I think and a place for contemplation. It is a place for silence, prayer, and question. It can be a lovely place if you can see it with the eyes of love and not fear.

Intro to the Anamchara Fellowship Community!

I’m so excited for this journey! I have just joined the Anamchara Fellowship as a seeker for Aspirancy. Anamchara is a religious order of disbursed people from all walks of life canonically recognized by the Episcopal Church at large. It is for people who wish to continue their spiritual journey in a community. Together we pray the same prays each day and meet each night over zoom (the community is all over the US and the world) for evening prayers. The community uses the Northumbria Community book of Celtic Daily Prayer, every prayer in the book is so beautiful and flowing with green, rich Life. Each individual is committed to a certain Rule of Life which usually involves intentional prayer, recreation (exercise, art, music, whatever you love, etc.), meditation, and what I would call ‘gazing’ at God in all Creation—which is, at its heart, the Celtic way. I felt after doing eight months of my discernment course with the diocese that joining a monastic community was what I was called to do right now and bringing a piece of it, hopefully, back to the parishioners of my parish to benefit not just me, but all.

To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue

This may sound strange, but I’ve been thinking of joining a dispersed religious order for people from all walks of life. That means married people like me can join. This would be a great next step for me in that it would give me a community of folks like me who are intentionally doing everything they can to grow spiritually. This is different than a church community. I love my fellow St. Philips peeps, but I think I could learn a lot from a group like this. And the thought of being in this type of community fills me with joy. There are two I’m looking into, one is a Franciscan order and the other is Anamchara, a Celtic fellowship that is supported by the Episcopal Church. In Anamchara they use John O’Donohue’s, To Bless the Space Between Us, as their prayer book, from what I understand. Just having this book in my house is a blessing! From it exudes so much life and lushness and creation and love—every word is so beautifully chosen. So as I’m discerning what to do, this book will help guide me I think into the next phase of my life of perpetual spiritual growth.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

The mystic in all of us…here is an example in a Puritan woman from 1675.

Trying to pick a couple easy paperback reads for our trip through spring break. I love travel stories, but the first narrative in this collection is of Mary Rowlandson who, along with her three children, was taken captive by an indigenous tribe while living in Massachusetts in 1675. The first draft was written in her own hand and it is of a different type of travel story in which she recounts the 150 miles she walked over the course of eleven weeks with her captors. The author of the prologue to her narrative said something very interesting and…can you believe…mystical! They write, “Rowlandson’s narrative, moreover, stands in contrast to the other narratives included in this collection, both in regard to its religious tone and in its significant lack of exterior descriptions. For in her depiction of a Puritan soul who struggles from sinfulness to regeneration, Rowlandson cares less for the surrounding wilderness and focuses instead on a more interior journey.”

So mystical and beautiful! When we struggle we look to our center and focus on that which is God. Rowlandson was eventually returned to her husband. She was not mistreated by her captors at all. However, her little daughter died from injuries she received when she was first kidnapped.

The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

Just started this!! I love St. Teresa of Avila, no one messed with her. If you need human strength, her words can help. I’ve heard this is her book about prayer but as I’m reading it, it seems that it is more about the intentional spiritual journey, the drawing closer to union with God, and the way to ‘perfection’. Perhaps I heard wrong or maybe I’m misinterpreting the book so far, but as I’m envisioning her descriptions it seems to be more of a pilgrimage to the pointing to God, which we are striving to do.

I had a little castle, but I put this appropriately shaped barnacle in the scene instead. Can anyone guess why? 😄 hint: it has to do with the book. Haha 🥸

My book Detroit’s Lost Poletown—sold out already?!!

My book released yesterday and it’s already sold out online at Barnes and Noble, Target and Amazon! This came as a shock to me, but a lot of people told me they preordered it. I hope its success will continue, and it pays honorable homage to the neighborhood and the people impacted by its razing. Thank you to all who preordered the book and plan to get it from their local bookshop! 💕

New Book Release 👉👉👉Detroit’s Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood that Touched a Nation

My work for the last two years has come to fruition…thank you @historypress for believing in this story!! It officially releases in a week!
Available for preorder now!!! Link: http://bit.ly/Poletown

Poletown was once a vibrant, ethically diverse neighborhood in Detroit. In its prime, it had a store on every corner. Its theater, restaurants and schools thrived, and its churches catered to a multiplicity of denominations. In 1981, General Motors announced plans for a new plant and pointed to the 465 acres of Poletown. Using the law of eminent domain with a quick-take clause, the city planned to relocate 4,200 residents within ten months and raze the neighborhood. With unprecedented defiance the residents fought back in vain. In 2004, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the eminent domain law applied to Poletown was unconstitutional—a ruling that came two decades too late.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:18-19)

I’m so glad I am ending my year-long Bible sessions with a letter from Paul. His work is such a pleasure to read, so beautiful and profound. I like Paul’s verse on hope, that we are called to it. Hope is a powerful feeling. It can take us from the depths of despair if we don’t have any to total elation if it is restored to us. Isn’t having Hope then like having God? Is God hope itself in addition to many other beautiful and good things? And along with the hope God gives we must carry gratitude. I think the two are inseparable. When we lay our hope in God’s hands, therefore surrendering our will, we make ourselves vulnerable and equally indebted to God when God delivers us from despair. Thanks be to God!

Thank you for staying with me through this journey of the Bible! Check out my story every day as I post my past posts of the books if you’d like a concentrated look or follow #fridaybiblepost!

The book of James

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters this should not be. Can freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:8-11)

I often make the mistake of talking too much, not so much in large crowds anymore, but in small groups. I know and understand now why monks take an oath of silence. The more I talk the further away from my real self, my Godself, I seem to get. I feel more like myself when I am alone—when I don’t have to react, or entertain, or respond. I remember Joan Chittister said the same thing in her book ‘Called to Question’. I often come away from parties or small get-togethers thinking I must be two different people. A part of me likes to make people laugh and the other part likes silence and is serious and reflective. I often have trouble accepting my funny side, it feels slippery to me–like I say too much to please the ears of people and in these hasty, split-second moments, I seem to disregard God’s presence in my life and this makes me uncomfortable. I guess my conundrum right now is how to be myself and not hinder or stagnate my spiritual growth. And maybe I’m taking it too seriously. I have given up cursing other people, but it’s making a fool of myself that I sometimes regret, even though it makes me laugh. I know there is a way to be a balanced version of both. I pray I’m able to find that balance.