Day 37? #LintonReflections 2016

Early on I wrote a post about my lack of belief in an afterlife. After that post I received a question regarding how I can have faith then if I don’t think there is anything after this life. It’s a good question and something I’ve wrestled with a lot.

My response could get quite complicated if I let it and if you’re interested in a fuller examination of this question, I refer you to my thesis, which is tabbed at the top of the blog. But I can give a shorter answer here.

Faith, for me, doesn’t hinge on what happens when I die. Faith, for me, concerns what can happen while I’m alive. The payoff, if you will, manifests in life not in death.

Death in its countless forms constantly seeks to encroach on life. In fact, groups of people, certain populations, are predisposed to death because of certain forces and powers at work in this world intent on foreclosing their right to exist. It’s no secret a young black man carries in his body a greater risk of death than my white sons. Death, the threat of death, the mark of death consumes the world’s habitants disproportionately.

My faith says greater forces exist (one could assign them to God perhaps) to resist and dismantle these death dealing powers, to open up more spaces of belonging so the world can work for everyone. The coalescing of things not seen, work done in theory and on the ground, all held together by love and the embrace of radical difference emerges as something to believe in for me.

Now, there’s a lot more to dig into here, I admit. Still, this forms the framework for the way I understand the Jesus story. Perhaps more on that later. For now, living into this way of having faith gives me enough to do in the here and now. I don’t have time or the energy or the urgency to worry about what’s going to happen to me when I die.

Day 30 #LintonReflections 2016

For the rest of the time I’m going to pick a word and reflect on it. There’s likely to be little organization to my thoughts (and they may get a bit esoteric though not intentionally). Who knows? Something encouraging, useful, or inspiring may emerge.


This word doesn’t mean tolerance, simply accepting people without the slightest thought of trying to see them as human or as someone else who can help create meaning within a community space. Inclusivity demands much more.

The idea of being inclusive, for me, hinges on not only making space for someone but also acknowledging and affirming the power accessible to those who occupy such spaces. Inclusivity has no use for silent, powerless spaces; that’s the game of exclusivity. In an environment shaped by inclusivity, all space is acknowledged, seen, heard, gives weight to and against other spaces. They bump against each other, they pull and tug, but they all belong and possess power to engage, inform, and influence the spaces making up the larger space.

Not passively watching on. Actively engaged. Influential. Exclusivity makes spaces, rooms for people but its rooms, its spaces bind to a particular set of biased, discriminating rules, which create dis-empowering norms.

Inclusivity is not about agreement but acknowledging that a disagreement matters. It’s not about seeking sameness but about affirming, even reckoning with, difference.

Inclusivity talks about power, who has it, why, and how’s it’s dispersed. It deconstructs, rearranges, negotiates, and always is becoming an ever evolving disestablishment of unsettled and loosely held occupied spaces of space.

Day 28 #LintonReflections 2016

The world didn’t stop. My heart still beats. Nobody told me they hated me.

After nearly a week of not writing a reflection, not much has changed in the larger picture. Yet I stressed throughout the week over my lack of reflection production. The pressure to perform doesn’t always come from external sources. A lot of the time the source happens to emerge from one’s own imagination.

I’m conflicted about publicly displaying my reflections and the pressure I feel to produce them. Why? What does it matter in the big scheme of things? Who cares what I write? Or if I write?

I know some people have expressed their appreciation. I know art and writing move people and can have an impact. I get it. But I want to get at some of these questions myself.

I’m reflecting today on life as embodied meaning-making and what that looks like particularly for me.

No answers come to mind; only a bunch of questions.

Day 21 #LintonReflections 2016

Today is a voting day where I live. I voted. I hadn’t planned on it at first for a variety of reasons. I gave in eventually.

The mixed feelings overwhelmed me. I didn’t like the voter evangelism I saw flooding my Facebook page. It’s a very important act. It’s sacred. And it’s personal. Don’t tell me to do it. Sometimes I think the folks who hate fundamentalism the most are the most intense fundamentalists. Vote or go to hell. That’s how it felt to me if I’m being honest.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with the message. Voting is a privilege and a vital part of our system. And it’s a way for us to actively make our mark felt on society. It gives each of us a voice (if we’ll but speak up). And it also gives us the chance to speak up on behalf of justice and the voices not often heard. But the process of voting, where one has to vote, the shame accompanied by voting in certain places and standing in particular lines (alone), and on and on are reasons, crucial reasons, a lot of folks don’t vote or mess with it. Feeling the additional pressure from voting evangelists only complicates and adds to the stress of these personal, difficult decisions.

I want to be inspired to vote. Don’t tell me to vote. Tell me why you voted. That’s what ultimately convinced me to not throw away an important chance to speak up. People vote because they have a voice, it’s their power, and they feel like they’re doing what they can to shape the future world they’re going to inhabit. To me, that’s powerful, that’s inspiring and a reason to drive well out of the way to join the thousands of others making their mark on the trajectory of history.

Tell me to vote. I’ll stiffen my stubbornness.

Tell me why you voted. I’ll drive us both to the booth.

Day 19 #LintonReflections 2016

It’s harder to fill Lent with a new habit than it is to drop one, in my opinion. I’ve given up things before, but adding a practice for 40 days is difficult.

That’s why I find it worth it. I’m not always writing everyday, but I’ve written and reflected and slowed down more the last 19 days than I have in a long time. I’ve given thought to some emotions and stuff in my head needing some serious attention. I am experiencing a spring cleaning of sorts as it relates to my mental health.

Giving up the practice of giving something up has been good for me.


Day 17 #LintonReflections 2016

I’m thinking about all those things weighing on us, tugging us in multiple directions, demanding the attention we don’t always have to give. These things sap us of life even if the life we live depends on our attending to them. It’s a good thing we don’t have to remember to draw a breath every time our body needs oxygen. There’s already too much to do, to think about, to deal with.
Yet to stop and consider our breath is an extraordinary thing. We breathe. Never thinking…in…out.
But coming to an awareness of our breathing reminds us we’re alive, we’re still here, death hasn’t consumed us just yet. And when life is sucking the life from us, sometimes to pause and focus on the breaths we take may be the only moment in a day where being alive seems like something we’re meant to be.

Day 15 #LintonReflections 2016

Reflecting through the Lenten season, I’m learning I need to apologize better. And maybe you do too. I don’t know. But if you’re looking for some ways to fine tune your apologies (because it’s not if you apologize that counts; it’s how you apologize), then check out how I plan to say “sorry” better.

  1. I’m going to admit I was or did wrong without excusing it in any way. I will own it. I’m not going to say, “If I did this or that…” or “If you think I offended you…” or “I know I said this, but…” Instead, I’m going to say, “I was wrong for offending you” or “I did this and shouldn’t have. It was wrong.” Then I’ll say, “I apologize.” Period.
  2. I will refuse to minimize my reason to apologize by offering general stats on how lots of other people do the same thing. I will recognize and acknowledge that the apology attaches to me and me only. I won’t ask other people committing similar offenses to share the load with me.
  3. I won’t delegitimize a person’s charge by explaining how whatever I did wouldn’t have bothered me or by suggesting I wouldn’t have taken it that way. If a person says they didn’t like something I said or did then it’s true. They didn’t like it. It hurt them. They were offended. It’s real. I need to apologize; no caveats allowed.
  4. I will apologize for the specific offense. I’m not going to avoid confronting the real reason I need to apologize by serving up some half-baked, watered down generic apology like “I’m sorry for being overbearing at times,” or “I apologize for letting my words get a way from me,” or “I’m sorry for messing up.” These can be fine introductions to a good apology as long as they’re followed by enough expressed detail of the offense so the person deserving the apology knows I know what I’m apologizing for.
  5. Another person will not have to pull an apology out of me after I recognize I need to apologize. Finding the courage and decency for me to apologize is not anyone else’s work. It’s mine.
  6. All apologies, as much as it’s possible, will be face to face, eye to eye.

What are some ways you could make your apologies better?

Day 14 #LintonReflections 2016

So there’s a choice for me to make. I can beat myself up about missing the last three days or I can move forward, finding my way through the rest of the reflections.

I choose to move on. If a religious discipline causes more stress, more anxiety, and more self-loathing then it misses the point. It ought to be given up.

So I hold my Lenten commitments loosely because that’s how I have to do it. I think life trumps Lent; it must give way to life. Certainly Lent can enhance life, but it can’t trump it.

Day 10 #LintonReflections 2016

I need noise.

I’m not a particularly outgoing person, but I need to be around people.

I’m not good at being alone with myself. I am naturally reflective but enjoy contemplation in busy settings or when I’m with others (which ends up coming off like I’m ignoring people or stand-offish).

Lent challenges me to find the courage to embrace solitude, to welcome quietness. It’s also pushing me to think deeply about the reasons I have such difficulty with these things. I don’t have any real thoughts about it right now other than to say I’m starting to appreciate the questions these Lenten reflections are forcing me to ask myself.

Day 9 #LintonReflections 2016

You never know when the moment is going to occur. The moment when everything you understood as your life changes forever.

A loss. A terrible accident. A lucky break. Wrong place, wrong time. A tumor. In the time it takes to exhale, your world could turn 180 degrees.

Lent takes us to the precarious edge of these possibilities. And through the journey of Lent we ought to become less anxious the closer we wander to those edges.