Monthly Archives: March 2013

In honor of Marcia Paige

Marcia was my cousin. She was the eldest of all the Thompson cousins. Her death brings my family to a new era of our lives together. I wrote the letter below to the family and friends who gathered on March 30th, 2013 to say goodbye to Marcia and to support one another.  She died on Palm Sunday, March 24th, 2013.  I learned about it at a retreat, and in the blessing time at the end of the retreat I stood up and said something about Marcia: her righteous life, exuberant personality, incredible marketing skills, and powerful testimony.  They honored my sharing by repeating her name back to me together, out loud. It was a very loving moment in this universal spiral of life, death, and rebirth/resurrection.
“I am moved by what many members of the family shared through email and on Facebook.  I regret that I cannot be with the family in person on Saturday.  Here in California, I fasted with others from solid food on the 27th. I will be in prayer beginning at 8am, matching the corresponding time on the East Coast of the wake and homegoing service.

Marcia was the best storyteller I know.  She had the biggest personality of anyone I ever met too. She aimed to do everything at an unparalleled level of excellence, with creativity and boldness.  Simultaneous attention to detail and the big picture characterized her work. She was both no nonsense and hilarious at the same time. I am blessed to be her cousin.  I have tried, and will continue to endeavor to, emulate her characteristics of grace, light-heartedness, wit, and generosity.

Tonight, Friday, I expressed my grief during a contemplative “stations of the cross.” As part of the congregation here I followed the footsteps of Christ through his torturous last days and moments.  It is fitting Marcia’s funeral is on this Saturday. Holy Saturday for Christians is a day of waiting, mourning, resting, comforting one another, sharing our confusion and sense of despair.  After his death, Jesus’ disciples did not know what was happening. They did not know there would be a resurrection.  In our loss, in our Holy Saturday with Marcia and each other, we have only one thing Jesus’ disciples did not have. We know there will be an Easter! We know that death, pain, and violence do not have the final words! We can have faith in the power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and active in us and in the world. Marcia is one with that power now.  Her spirit encourages, uplifts, and corrects us.

Not only will Christmas at the Home Place in North Carolina not be be same without Marcia’s physical presence, but now Passion Week and Easter gain an added layer of meaning for my life.

In closing, as I cannot be there for the ceremony, I want to show my love by helping fulfill the desire of Marcia for her ashes to travel the world. I will gladly and reverently take some with me in my upcoming travels. God willing I will be in Canada and China in April, the Holy Land in July, and in Spain in August.  Marcia’s essence will accompany me. 
I love you all very much, family.”

City of Angels


There are angels everywhere.

This is a picture of me with two dancing angels, Vida and Doni, who taught an Afro-Brazilian and California mix dance class on Sunday morning.  We stand here beside another sparkling angel; their body covered with small, glistening mirrors. I thought that was perfect because then anyone who looks at that angel close enough will see themselves reflected in that angel.Image

From the leaders of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in LA Jails, to the wise elders who spoke at CSUN about Spiritual Activism, to the revolutionary poets in seminars and on street corners, I am surrounded by angels…announcers of (in)tense veracity: messengers of divine warning, encouragement, faithfulness, and love.

In gratitude,

A Constant Guest, by Leonard Cohen


Listening to Leonard Cohen while attempting to do one’s part in making a difference in the world is both soothing and agitating.  He never had a song entitled “A Constant Guest,” but he could have.

This week I traveled north to visit the Monterey Institute of International Studies and to recruit for CPT at their Career Fair.  When I left Ojai for the Bay Area a week ago I didn’t know in whose home I would be a guest after I left Oakland.  I love to travel with this work, and contrary to the English proverb about constant guests, human animals & nonhuman animals make me feel welcome wherever I go.  In the spaces and homes I visit, I intend to do my part to give back in gratitude for their willingness to host me. I don’t always know where I’ll be staying the next night, but I travel with clean energy & renewal resources of interaction: faith and goodwill.888290_711341743637_466819618_o

I wouldn’t have the chance to hear Leonard’s voice waft through from the living room to the kitchen (whence I’m typing here in Monterey) if it hadn’t been for the kindness of a wise radical feminist pacifist nun in Oakland to connect me with one of her sisters-in-the-struggle to stay with here. A quick phone call down the coast at 7:15am and it was all ready to go. Blessed be.

Tonight we in most of the US “spring forward.” Ever wonder what the time zones in Antarctica look like? I grabbed this from Buzz Feed:
Antartica's Time Zones

Getting to know the Left Side (Shabbat in Berkeley and Post-Purim)


Ched Myers mentioned the other day that “if you don’t know the left side, you won’t understand the right side.”  Having just walked in the room as he was speaking this quote at the Bartimaeus Institute about wealth inequality, I thought he was talking about sides of US politics.  But he was talking about the Biblical text. Left side, Hebrew Scriptures. Right side, the Christian additions of Gospels, letters, and meaning-full stories.

Since living in Jerusalem as a budding liberation theologian in 2011, I’ve enjoyed questioning and challenging (and deepening?) my Christocentric orientation through serious time spent with young progressive Jewish, liberal Muslim, and activist Bahá’í theologians.  I learned more about the left side as well as the right side…what’s more, script that build on both sides (e.g., Qu’ranic texts and Bahá’í prayers).  I love it, and feel my faith journey greatly enriched by my companions in other communities and denominational/religious traditions. Here in California, I’m blessed to encounter Buddhist, Hindu, and universalist/spiritual thinkers more closely…happily  waiting for friendship based on our shared seeker status (a claim that there is more going on than just the material world) to form.

Michael Lerner, like Ched, has written a bunch of books and helped spark thousands of necessary conversations about the human journey with God and one another (collective and personal).  It was great to be with the community that gathers in Berkeley, holding the tikkun olam (mending of the world) at the center of desire and practice.


Today we examined the intricacies of the context and community events (e.g. golden calf scenario) surrounding the two sets of Ten Speech Acts (10 Commandments) as detailed in Exodus 32…and various leadership responses in the context of dealing with a distressed people coming off mountain-top-like experiences of liberation.  Old story, yet Very. Applicable. Stuff.  The two sets can symbolize the great yin-yang dynamic of it ALL: the social world’s deep imperfections and simultaneous wholeness, and human invitation to internalize and reflect divine compassion as we encounter trauma.

Ojai Synagogue Art

I love this image of the megillah (scroll). It’s on the wall of the Ojai Synagogue where I joined the tiny congregation for the Purim 2013 festivities (quite a contrast to my first experience of the Purim ruckus in Jerusalem).  I gazed at the emanating scroll and remembered the wisdom Ruhi shared with me last year in Jerusalem with the Jewish renewal group Nava Tehila, as we whrilled our groggers at the sound of Haman’s name read in the megillah. Some congregations no longer read to the end of it where bloody revenge is enacted.  As a pacifist, this intrigued me. One commentator was working with this idea recently in a post over at The Daily Beast.  The article builds on Ruhi’s timely statement that “after the fear of Mordechai was throughout the land,”  the Jews of ancient Persia could have done some serious nonviolent reconciliation work with their neighbors.

Given the violence in the world system, when others around us fear us out of a realization of the power we channel from God, may we stop, think/pray, and then use that precarious moment to do serious reconciliation work…not kill each other. May we all commit again at this year’s Purim to blot out amalek and violent fragmentation at all levels and dimensions of our lives (collectively and personally).

To all my Muslim, Bahá’í, and Jewish theological companions, thank you.  It is wonderful to feel connections and the tensions in the broad range of our shared stories, talking them through together towards a shared future.