Stories are some of the oldest kind of human magic. By making, hearing, and living out stories, we find ways to resist the smothering effects of society and to embrace the rough, jagged edges of our own lives. Stories show us new ways, illuminate the worthwhile old ways, and help us to imagine futures we might never have dared to otherwise. To bear stories into the world is a sacred task, so be sure to keep the fire at the center of the circle alive and a pen in your pocket. You just never know when you’ll be called upon to speak or to jot something down.
Here are a few of my stories. I hope you enjoy them.
A New Garden of Eden: journalism feature in Faith and Leadership
In 2022, through the efforts of dozens of volunteers and a handful of farmers, the project grew, gleaned and delivered over 14,000 pounds of fresh produce for distribution by feeding ministries and food banks in St. Louis. But the four-year-old Eden Gleaning and Gardening Project is about more than fresh veggies. It is about the restorative work of entire systems through relationship and collective imagination.
The Unearned Gift: essay published in Bearings Online
I never planned to be a transplant recipient. To this point, I’d only considered donor tissue from the perspective of a potential donor. If my own life ended and my body could benefit another’s wellbeing, I’d offer myself willingly. I supposed in a matter of life and death, I would be open to receiving a transplant. But a knee ligament wouldn’t tip the balance on my immediate mortality. One misstep on the dance floor had landed me in an ethical heap: did I deserve to receive donor tissue?
After You Break the Ceiling: hybrid essay published in Bending Genres
For a while, you fall upward. Gravity is weird and different, unpredictable without the constant weight of competition and comparison holding you in check. Your body feels light then heavy then light again. You wonder if you will float forever, maybe all the way to the moon…
Lost in You: Revisiting Garth Brooks’ Alter Ego: essay published in The New Territory Magazine
In November 1999, Garth Brooks hosted “Saturday Night Live.” I tuned in, a closeted Midwestern queer kid seeking my weekly dose of hope. But for his musical performance, Brooks traded his cowboy hat for a fringy black wig and swapped his clear-eyed, clean cut ranch-hand look for thick eyeliner and a soul patch. It was Chris Gaines. As I watched, recognition sparked in my adolescent mind. I knew what it was to exist as two people: one the world wanted, expected, and one who hovered in the shadows out of fear. Here Gaines was, a shadow self, stepping out in public. I couldn’t look away…
A Ministry of Ending: Ministry Lab Feature Essay in Fidelia Magazine
I cried on the drive back to church. And I cried when I told my spouse about the meeting. In a few short months, I’d grown to love the people I served. And I knew that bringing the ministry of this community to a close wasn’t a matter of putting on more adult undergarments. It was a matter of leading an entire community to end. And my job—my call—was to point toward the promise of life nestled even within death.
Remembering Saint Congregations: Featured Blog Post for The Good Friday Collaborative
From its beginning, Christianity has been maintained by saint communities in particular times and places. Every church has begun and ended, whether through the shifting of its members, as human lives gave way to age, or out of financial strain. As I thought about Union, I also thought about every congregation that had come before it, fading, sometimes unnamed, into history. Without Union, I would not be the person of faith that I am, and I realized the same is true of all the communities of faith that came before.
Selected Honors and Awards:
- Finalist, Ruminate Magazine’s 2022 Flash Prose Prize for Creative Nonfiction Flash Essay, “Terrifying. Wonderful.” Announced October 2022.
- 2023 Anne Bent Spiritual Writer Fellowship with the Ragdale Institute
- 2015 Senior Preacher Award, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
One Other Neato Thing:
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