Michele Minehart

words & yoga

A need for stitches

I sliced open my thumb cleaning up some broken glass. I took one look at it and thought I had a hole in my hand. I immediately called JJ and declared a need for stitches. Seven of them, to be exact.

I’m amazed with the body’s ability to heal itself. The stitches won’t heal me. They hold things in place so the two sides of the same skin can begin to recognize itself in the other. Then, together, the skin will create new cells that fill the gap the cut divided.  With a little bit of rest, keeping it clean and covered, in 10 days I’ll go get these bad boys out and see wholeness in my hand.

Friends, this is very good news. Not just because humans are clumsy when it comes to cleaning up sharp objects, but because our bodies frequently reflect our human nature. We are designed for healing. Restoration. Oneness.

This election has been ugly, but we’re almost there. Here’s what I propose: we take some time on November 9 to heal our gaping wound. We remember that the ones on the other side of the divide are made of the same stuff, even if they don’t think, believe or vote in the same way. I believe we can create something new to fill the gap.

We need something that will tie us together, but please remember: the work of getting stitched up will hurt like a Mother. I came off the table with that shot of skin-Novocaine. This is going to hurt. But you often have to work through pain to get to the healing.

Yesterday I took my van to get fixed, and sat in the waiting room, where CNN filled the airwaves analyzing  the previous night’s debate. I braced myself for either awkward silence or combative arguments. After a commentator made another sensationalized statement, I couldn’t resist laughing. We all laughed. And then we broke the ice. We started by agreeing: this election is terrible.

A rich white dude, an older black man and myself, the young-to-middlin’ female, we all agreed. It’s terrible. We’re tired of it. Then, we shared our hopes. Perhaps something better will be on the horizon. Perhaps we’ll collectively learn our lesson.

“I’m most scared of blind allegiance to either candidate.” Yes, me too.

“I wish there was less sensationalism around their personalities and more talk of how either candidate plans to address the actual issues.” Yes, me too.

“I’ve done more watching and reading for this election than any before it, starting with the primaries.” Yes, me too. 

Instead of criticizing “the system” for all its obvious imperfections, perhaps it’s time for the real work to begin:  we, the people need to reflect on what kind of citizens we want become before 2020. I think it starts with more “yes, me too.” All of the “them/they/their” talk will only keep the divide deep and long.

So here we go, friends. Our chance to pull it together. Brace yourself, because healing hurts. But it’s possible and necessary if we want to move and live in the way we were designed to function: together, as a whole.

Sing to the River

When growing up, Ghostbusters II  regularly rotated into my cinematic soundtrack (along with Can’t Buy Me Love, Troop Beverly Hills and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun).  We would watch these flicks on repeat, except it was the 80’s and we had to rewind the tape.

Do you recall the River of Slime that coursed beneath New York City? That pink ooze, which Veckman figured out they could shoot from the proton packs? In one scene, several of the Ghostbusters, soaked in the stuff, argued to the point of wanting to quit their ghostbusting gig. Then, in the next moment, they hugged one another, sappy in love.

After an experiment with a toaster, the Ghostbusters discovered that the slime could be used to influence people for good or evil. When supplied with hatred, it emitted hatred. When given lovingkindness, it was returned. The secret to the river- was it good or evil? – was in feeding it. 

So when the evil  Vigo tried to incarnate the baby (the mythic allegory is abundant) while trapped in the museum covered with a pink slime jello-mold , the Ghostbusters use the slime to animate the statue of liberty. Because, of course they did. And what saves the day and the baby? The Ghostbusters managed to get all of NYC to sing. The slime river running beneath them changed from feeding on foul-mouthed rudeness to Your love keeps lifting me Higher and Higher.

My love for movies – even cheesy 80’s flicks- lies in how art brings to light a truth we cannot understand otherwise. I’ve experienced this river – though I choose to see it as a clear river of living water rather than pink slime – and its effect on my life. I notice that when I feed it anger, my own anger will boil over. And when I sing, life sings back. 

Friends, there is a river that runs through us all, and connects us all. It will return to us, and those around us, what we provide it. So sing. Sing to it. Remind the river, the world, and your own soul that everything started with goodness.

Now, excuse me while I go ask Netflix to help me relive my childhood.


(Image above via Wikipedia)

Forgiveness for Whom?

I try extremely hard to not speak on behalf of God. Instead, I’m inclined to report on what God didn’t say. The ways that holy scripture can be twisted for personal benefit is endless, especially to an audience who has such little understanding of the culture to which it was originally written (a BFD, in my opinion).

So when prominent Christian leaders make big public statements, I hold my breath. On the one hand, we need their wisdom. I have my own personal favorites and when she or he speaks, I listen and absorb. I try to filter and use my own wisdom, but I know I’m never perfect in that regard. Sometimes I trust because I’m not at the point of being able to sort it for myself. And that’s okay. But Big Christian Leaders may not always keep this in mind. In fact, sometimes it is exploited.

Now that several Big Names have asked the Christian public to forgive Trump, I feel compelled to offer a warning; a reminder about what forgiveness involves.

Forgiveness is rarely about the offender. It’s about the offended. To be clear, Trump hasn’t asked for forgiveness. He doesn’t feel he did anything wrong. So we’re not offering reconciliation because his heart has softened and he realizes the error of his ways.

Often, forgiveness arises as a means of freedom for the one forgiving. It’s a weight you don’t have to carry anymore. Sometimes, we have to forgive and forgive and 10 years later you find you’ve picked up that same baggage and accidentally started toting it around with you again. It’s a conscious decision to set something aside for the sake of your own heart.

Jesus challenges to us to forgive in a limitless supply, because in forgiving others we lean into our own forgiven state – and vice versa. Often we feel more compelled to forgive once we realize our own forgiven-ness. Freedom begins to define us, rather than the smallness we feel with guilt and hatred. And the more you forgive, the easier it is to forgive again.

When you forgive someone, you’re freed from their actions defining you. This does not give license to the person to continue to hurt you. You can forgive someone, set that weight aside, while not inviting the behavior back into our lives.

The church has a terrible, nasty history of using forgiveness as a means of holding its people in situations that are unhealthy. “You need to forgive” – especially when in context of Jesus’ words that we will only be forgiven to the extent we forgive others – are weighty words. No one wants to feel un-forgiven, so the threat of a heavenly withholding can push people into corners.

Church leaders have used this logic to keep women in unhealthy and even dangerous relationships. Some pastors have been quick to tell the woman that her job “as a Christian” is to forgive – and while forgiveness is a godly goal, it is not synonymous with staying. Forgiving doesn’t give him a right to do it again. You can leave, and forgive. 

So when these leaders are pleading for a man’s forgiveness, let’s be clear: it’s for the sake of their own conscious. They’re looking to rectify their hearts with what they know to be wrong.  It is not synonymous with staying. It doesn’t require we go back.

If Trump followers want to forgive and move on, that’s the work of their own hearts. And it’s a good work. Forgive away, because the world needs more of it. But please don’t be convinced that such work requires you support the continued work of the forgiven, especially when the forgiven person has made no indication of change. There’s no evidence that it will be different next time.

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