“Home is such a slippery concept,” writes Bayo Akomolafe. “She misbehaves. She shrinks and then vanishes in the tightening grip of your efforts to own her. Maybe there are no words to finally rope her in…Surrender to the journey – in the ways only you know how to.”
2022 brought a number of longed for transitions at enfleshed, the most exciting of which was welcoming Robert Monson to the team and our internal shift toward a triad of co-directors. One of the many gifts Robert brought along with him was the posing of questions of ‘home.’ What is it and isn’t it? How can we be a part of co-creating it – with whom and for what? These questions not only opened delightful ways of entering into collaboration together but also lead us into the new year with curiosities and challenges for the kind of ‘home’ enfleshed hopes to practice in 2023 and beyond.
In looking back, being present to what is, and leaning into futures still undecided, home beckons us all to release, resist, and divest from that which steals ours and/or others belonging. May we seek, nourish, protect, and celebrate that which enables every body – creaturely, human, collective – to find home among the just, the soft, the sacred sites of shared belonging and flourishing.
welcoming Robert Monson, co-director
Robert (he/him) joined the enfleshed team in September 2022 as co-director of financial development, liturgy and content, and Black liberation theology.
Robert is a runner, musician, and a Black theologian committed to softness, contemplation, and liberation for all. As a recent seminary graduate (with distinction), Robert studied in depth the intersection of Black Liberation Theology and womanist theology. Weaving together these two strands of liberation have been important work as well as other liberation based theologies. “How can we help facilitate community and provide answers to a hurting world that is reeling?” remains an important question in his work. While in school, Robert’s scholarly work was recognized and presented at various national conferences/outlets. Podcasting (two shows – Three Black Men and Black Coffee and Theology) and writing remain important aspects of his daily life as well as marathoning the latest Star Trek show(s).
Get to know Robert with a little Q&A below.
Tell us some things about who you are as a person
I am unapologetically Black. The layers of that one word are still unfolding for me as the years continue. I am a soft man committed to my own softness and seeing people attend to the softness in one another. I love seeing people smile…
What are three things that support you in staying soft in the world?
-a chronically pained body that demands that I listen to it
– being a watcher of people. I like taking in beautiful interactions between people.
– nature, I take time to regularly situate myself around trees and sunlight.
What and/or who have been some of the biggest influences on your spiritual life thus far?
Ooh, how much time do we have? My father…I never would’ve thought this would be an answer for me with all of the dysfunction. But, he at first showed me what COULDN’T be in the Divine and now as he slowly softens, and healing work has started between us, I see the ability to change against all odds. Also…James Baldwin. Toni Morrison. Ella Fitzgerald. Howard Thurman. Lucille Clifton. Audre Lorde. Henri Nouwen. All of these names have brought something to my life and spirituality.
Tell us about something you recently learned or unlearned
I am constantly unlearning the very toxic male need to be right. To situate oneself as the arbiter of truth of any given situation. I am constantly learning how to lead my life with honest curiosity. Letting wonder shape my interactions with the world around me.
What’s one principle, value, or affirmation that shapes how you orient to the world?
I have a value for beauty. I genuinely believe, perhaps naively so, that there is so much beauty in this world. I look for it. I ache for it. I constantly pray this prayer: “help me to find beauty in unexpected, hidden places today.”
What’s one thing you’re excited about for 2023 in your role at enfleshed?
Ooh, I could cry considering this. I aim to have genuine connections both within the enfleshed team and with those who engage with us. I want to sit with people how they are, who they are, and where they are.
creators and collaborators
enfleshed is compromised of a multitude of contributors and collaborators. Some are with us briefly. Some have been with us since the beginning. We delight in the changing nature of ‘who’ we are and celebrate the ways every person who makes a contribution to enfleshed shapes our practices, culture, and resources.
In 2022, (co) founding executive director, M Jade Kaiser (formerly known as M Barclay, but returning to their given last name) transitioned to part-time work and the position of co-director. Co-founder and former ‘theologian-in-residence’ Anna Blaedel transitioned to co-director and remains part time. Together, M, Robert, and Anna make a team of co-directors who support the daily operations of enfleshed.
This past year, we also welcomed Damon Garcia (he/him) to the Liturgy that Matters writing team as a monthly contributor. Damon worked with us as a guest writer prior to the year’s start and we are delighted to have him contribute more regularly. In 2022, Damon also published his first book! You can order ‘The God Who Riots’ directly from Broadleaf here.
Last but certainly not least, we also welcomed an incredible new team to both the creative council and working board of enfleshed. These individuals make critical contributions to the life and breath of this work from budgets to dreaming up new projects to drawing us deeper into community together. You can read all about our team here.
in the depths: seven weeks of contemplative practice
Last spring, every Friday we gathered virtually for seven weeks to engage in contemplative practices of Examen and Lectio Divina. Recordings of the guided meditations remain available at the link below.
behind the scenes
Just a few of the things we’re always up to behind the scenes:
- writing liturgies to add to our free liturgy library. A few examples of this year’s additions include a non-religious baby blessing ceremony, Praying to the God Who Dwells in Darkness, eco-beautitudes written for GreenFaith’s sacred season for climate justice,” and a blessing for when a beloved pet dies.
- teaching, podcasts, consulting, and workshops – highlights this year include participating in Rev. Brooke Scott’s ‘Divine Audacity‘ podcast, participating in a panel on trans centered care at the 2022 American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Assembly, speaking on LGBTQIA inclusion at Hope College, speaking on practices of rest and care at the Missouri Harm Reduction conference, and others…
- creating our annual contemplative wall calendars – this year features the theme “we make home.“
- Continuing to host our bi-monthly column, Moments for Common Nourishment, featuring anna blaedel and a guest writers each month like Rev. Taj Smith, Olivia Kamil Smarr, Holden Cession, and Layton Williams.
- being an ongoing partner with others like Showing Up For Racial Justice’s “The Word is Resistance” podcast, Faith In Harm Reduction leadership, and board member cassidy hall producing “contemplating now” podcast.
- curating near daily bite size bits of spiritual nourishment on social media (connect with us on facebook, twitter, or instagram)
enfleshed simply would not be without the support and contributions of so many different people. enfleshed is the web its contributors and partners weave. writers. artists. board members. those who support financially, who help spread the word about our resources, who encourage and challenge us. we could not be more grateful for every person who makes this collective work possible.
if you have found enfleshed meaningful or our resources have companioned you or your community through this year, please consider making a one time contribution or becoming a monthly supporter of enfleshed. there is so much more we hope to bring into being in 2023.