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It’s National Poetry month and all month long I will be sharing some of the pieces that I have written over the last few years. First one up is a piece I wrote last spring, called Close.

I always thought I had to be perfect to approach you
That I had to be on my best behavior
Mind my p’s and q’s
Be certain of everything i was taught about you
Never doubt and always hope

So in knowing you, I learned to fear you
Figured that with every mis-step, I would be cast aside
Fall in line so that I didn’t lose my place in the long line to heaven
A place reserved only for the obedient
For the chaste, for those who fit the mold of what a good Christian girl should be

Knowing you like this felt like a burden
Instead of sugarplums, visions of hell danced in my head
Preoccupied with where I was going after I died
I stopped living, nervously trying to walk the very narrow road laid out for me
A road that at any moment I could fall off

The day came when I finally breathed
I am not sure how or when but I finally exhaled
Perhaps it was in marching, protesting
Or in sitting in coffee shops, living rooms, and community spaces, listening to my elders speak
Or in studying your Word as I engaged your world, finding that the you that was prescribed to me, isn’t you at all

For you ain’t no schizophrenic for one, changing your mind about us and where we stand every second, of every moment, or every day

Neither are you some sadistic judge, waiting to destroy us for swearing, blasting Hip Hop or sweating out our freshly twisted hair on the dance floor as we twerk a bit

And you are not aloof or far away, circling around the very real chaos in our communities as a result of police violence, hurricanes, and war, like Bush after Hurricane Katrina

No, you are a God who is unafraid to get your hands messy
You don’t hesitate to engage to worst of us while calling out the best in us
So much so that you were unafraid to turn up at a party, supplying wine to all the guests
That you would sit and do life with sex workers, tax collectors, those so despised in your day that the religious institutions had cast off

That you would enter the homes of the dis-eased
Let them touch you, kiss you, be so close to you that you risked their stuff rubbing off on you
That you would descend so low as to go to where they could not
That you would take on death, hell, and the grave face to face, risking your own eternal dwelling place

A God who does all of this is not the picture of the God I became acquainted with
A God so willing to be near and enter into all of our messiness is not the same neurotic figment of my imagination that I prayed to countless hours and hours, trying to keep myself from being tainted by a world you willingly engaged

No, you are near
You are right here
And you won’t cast me off 

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