By Rev. Anna Blaedel
My recipe of life, emerging from the wilting and falling and rooting and rising and blooming happening in and around me:
Know your people. Nurture the bonds of kinship that hold you, and hold you accountable. To whom are you accountable? With whom are you committed to showing up, when there is need, or pain, or vision, or dream? Tend to the relationships that nurture your soul, and help you feel alive. For me: queer kin, poets and freedom fighters, ecclesia grounded in collective liberation and intersectional justice, people who are tender and practice vulnerability, and give good (consensual) hugs. Claim kinship with those who hold you and are held by you, through laughter and tears.
Discover your creative outlet. Creativity and imagination and crafting and making connections with the Divine, Creativity itself. Stained glass. Gardening. Putting hands in dirt. Knitting. Quilting. Cooking. Drawing. Painting. For me: Playing with wood. Carving. Sanding. Specifically, spoons. Because queer people are particularly good at turning crumbs into nourishing feasts, and feeding one another. Claim your craft as part of your spiritual practice, your materialization of making a new and more beautiful world.
Claim your spiritual practice. How do you open to Spirit and Truth and Wonder? Prayer. Music. Tarot. Ritual. Hiking. Making love. Playing piano. For me: Writing and reading poetry. Coffee and prayer, first thing, on my front porch. Hiking in the woods. The Next World Tarot deck. Brunch. Gathering at table. Lingering in bed with my beloved. Contemplative prayer. The prayer of examen. Sitting in silence and breathing deep. Lighting candles. Singing songs of freedom and resistance.
Make your playlist. What are you listening to? Music can reconnect us with the song of truth that runs through and reverberates in our flesh and bone. Make your music mix. Your playlist. Freedom songs. Hymns. Power ballads. Songs of resistance and solidarity. For me: Nina Simone. Freedom songs. LP. Indigo Girls. Bobby McFerrin. Florence + the Machine. Michael Franti. Sia. Melissa Etheridge. Sweet Honey in the Rock. Dolly Parton. Utah Philips. Those who put longing into music, and dream to rhythm.
Craft your canon. What stories, poems, essays, pieces of scripture, and books ground and reground you in truth? What can you turn to, and return to, when you need to remember what you already know, or deepen and expand what you know? For me: Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider, especially “Poetry is Not a Luxury.” King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The Gospel according to Luke. Any poetry by Rupi Kaur, or Ross Gay, or Andrea Gibson, or Nayyirah Waheed, or Claudia Rankine, or Joy Harjo. The theological offerings by Adrienne Maree Brown. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Catherine Keller. Traci West. Mayra Rivera. Robin Wall Kimmerer. Emilie Townes.
Because, dear ones, people too will wilt, and fall, and root, and rise, and bloom. And we have only this one wild and precious life to life. And the labor of living, and the labor of liberation, is holy and sometimes so very hard. And if we’re doing work that matters we will grow weary. So we need to know who and how to reconnect, revive, remember what is true, and life-giving, and nourishing for the journey.