Archive for August, 2011

So this was all beginning to feel like one big build up.  It had been 8 days since I found Kesner dead and each day leading up to the funeral  was filled with some sort of meaningful thing.  Thursday was no different; this was the day of the tree planting ceremony.  Kesner’s brother had delivered ‘Hope’ (our apple tree) to Pete and Mara’s Country House.  We had also decided that we would build a ceremony around the replanting of Hope, this was a way that my church could be involved.

My church members all love me very much and I love them; they wanted to know what they could do, and this was it.  I knew that they would put together a beautiful ceremony and they did.  I only had two requests:  that Psalm 1 be included in the program and that Laura sing and play her guitar;

I would sing “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior.”

That song had been in my head all week, and now I wanted to sing it.  Initially I thought I might volunteer to sing it at the funeral, but mom and Kim didn’t think that was a good idea; so I would sing it at the tree planting ceremony instead.  Angie, another dear church friend, labored over putting the service together and she delivered the sermon.  and Mara arranged all of the onsite details.

The ceremony was in the late afternoon, so in the morning mom and I chose to occupy our time by getting massages.  A year prior I joined a massage club with the intent to get a massage once per month.  I had fallen behind a bit and ended up accumulating 4 massages on my account; this would be the perfect treat for my mom.  I used my credits and treated my mom to a two hour massage and I got one also.  After that we stopped at Whole Foods and got a new orchid for Mara; Klay had stripped the other one of its petals when he drew me a bubble bath the week prior…   And with the new orchid in toe, we were off to replant Hope.

in Hopewell.

In the car on the way to Mara’s mom got a call from her office.  Her office, so moved by what had happened, pulled their resources to buy me a star.  They registered a star with the star registry people and named the star Kesner Dufresne I almost had to pull over, I immediately started to cry.  What a beautiful thought, now I had a star….  and I was about to plant a tree.  Kesner would be with me, by day and by night – how beautiful.

When we arrived at Mara’s, I put on dark glasses and joined my fellow church members who were already gathered there. I didn’t want them to see my eyes, to see how different I looked; that new facial expression that I had.  I joined them at a small table on the fabulous country house patio and we had iced tea and nuts until it was time for the ceremony to begin.

Hope was placed in a perfect spot in Mara’s yard. There were several wooden chairs placed around her for the ceremony.  She looked so small in the sprawling green yard, but she was safe; my heart was content.  We gathered around her and I opened the ceremony by singing “Pass me not, o gentle savior.” Then we had prayer, some Scriptures, and then Angie gave her sermon.

It was so beautiful, Angie’s sermon; she talked about death being a change of frequency.  I liked the thought of thinking about Kesner as a different frequency; not completely gone.  still present, just a different kind of energy now;  I liked that.

Then Laura sang.  “Amazing Grace” and ‘The Serenity Prayer.’  and then I read the lyrics to me and Kesner’s song:  “Beautiful, Wonderful,” by Anthony Hamilton.  Kesner told me that was his song for me, and it made so much sense now.  I wondered what he was thinking about when he listened to those lyrics:

“If I erased all my footprints, could you find out where i went and meet me by the old fence for the day…. a love like ours was meant to be, a sudden change in frequency, beautiful you are to me…”

Wow.  It made perfect sense.  Not only had Kesner left me with amazing memories, and pictures; but I had a tree, a star and a song.

Most moving to me during the service was Andy, another church friend.  That day he sat in the circle around Hope and he wept.  He didn’t have to say a thing, his tears meant so much to me.

It was all really beautiful.  At the close of the service we each took turns picking up the small shovel that Mara had placed by the tree and we each scooped a small pile of dirt around Hope’s roots.  We were replanting Hope. Hope would be safe here.

Me, replanting Hope…

in Hopewell.

On the way back to Qiyana’s, mom and I stopped to get some Chinese food when she got a text from Kesner’s brother: “family viewing of the body tomorrow at 5:30,”  and with that, a plan for friday was set.  We were finally inching towards the funeral.

That night before bed, I went for a walk alone around Qiyana’s complex.  I deviated from the walking trail and found a spot in the grass by a lake.  I sat in the grass and watched the fireflies put on a show in the dark trees, it was beautiful.  Then I looked up and I saw the brightest star in the sky, that was Kesner’s star.  The star registry people did send me a map so that I could find Kesner’s star, but i didn’t need it.  The brightest star in th sky would always be Kesner’s star to me.

Kesner’s Star

I was not alone.  Kesner was with me.  I had two green angel silly bands on my wrist to prove it, Kesner was with me.

Tomorrow would be an interesting day.  I would have to go to the funeral home and see his body…  again.  And we were preparing to welcome people to town who were coming for the funeral on Saturday.  It would be an interesting few days, but I would be ok.  Kesner was with me, by day and by night.


“Beautiful Wonderful” Lyrics by Anthony Hamilton – Me and Kesner’s song

If we walk this way
If we changed our pace
Will love remain the same… Forever?
If I erased all my footprints
Could you find out where I went?
And meet me by the old fence… for the day?

A love like ours was meant to be
A sudden change in frequency


We could sit by the pale moon
We could sing an old tune
Or I could tell you I love you
In different ways
I could ask you to marry me
Fall asleep and you’ll join me
We could dream for eternity and float away

A love like ours was meant to be
A sudden change in frequency
I welcome love with open arms

Beautiful – Beautiful, Oh Wonderful… Beautiful
Oh Beautiful – Oh Wonderful… oh Beautiful
You are to me
Oh Beautiful… Oh Wonderful… Oh Beautiful
You’re meant to be
You’re the air in my life girl, give me permission to breath
You’re the sight of my eyes girl, an Angel so heavenly
Take the walk of a lifetime… a chance to truly be free –
Let go

Oh Beautiful – Oh Wonderful… Oh Beautiful
You are to me
Oh Beautiful… Oh Wonderful… Oh Beautiful
You’re meant to be
Oh Beautiful… Oh Wonderful… Oh Beautiful
You are to me
Oh Wonderful… Oh Beautiful… Oh Wonderful
You’re meant to be
Wonderful… Beautiful


Reflections: Tree of Hope
Angie’s Sermon…


When we learned our pastor could not be with us this evening

I said “Yes” to the still quiet voice in my spirit

And offered to share my thoughts…..

It just seemed a way for me to comfort Kim,

who has become very dear to us at Montgomery Ministries

But promising to share was easy

Finding the thoughts and words was more difficult

After praying and pondering,

my thoughts and emotions were still racing around and back and forth

Questions raised to God …. And questions to myself,

Conflicting emotions of anger, love, sadness….confusion

And thank God….

Still grounded in Hope and Faith….

On Tuesday this week, I met with a small group of women that Kim is a part of

We have named this group: “In His Steps”

We pray, examine scripture and respond to questions

that help us discover a deeper part of ourselves

and we share with each other

We invite God to help us grow and become stronger in our faith

And more peaceful in our hearts and lives…

This Tuesday,

We decided to forgo the usual format

And just spend some time in quiet contemplation,

Quieting ourselves and centering

I had much difficulty closing out the thoughts about Kim who was not with us this Tuesday

Thoughts of Kim and Kesner and their Tree of HOPE kept coming back to me

And so I just accepted the thoughts and the thought pictures

That slowly flashed into my mind’s vision

Like a power point presentation…..

This is what came with the silent sliding of these pictures into my mind’s vision


I saw the tree….

Young and eager to grow

I saw Kim and Kesner standing close together holding hands

And the Sun shining down on them

I saw their joy in their being together and the Hope flowing through them

And I saw the Hope embodied in the sap flowing through the young tree

The sap of Hope flowing from its roots to the tips of its branches

With their dreams and hopes for the future

I began to have an appreciation for this tree that had already been uprooted

Transported and transplanted from the tree nursery to this new site in Kesner’s backyard

This young tree carefully chosen and replanted, standing bravely in its nice wide hole

Nourished by enriched soil and well watered with a carefully dug little trench all around it.

Then the next picture came too quickly

darkened with heavy clouds moving in

A rush of wind coming closer through the nearby trees

The rumble of thunder and a flash of Lightning

And torrents of rain fell upon the scene….

Drenching all three…..Kim, Kesner and the Tree of Hope

Soaking them in its downpour of rain tears

After a time

The picture slowly faded out

and a new one gracefully slid into view….

I saw the warm sun quietly emerging from the clouds

Yet the rain continued and this time in gentle steady droplets

So gentle….. so in slow motion… so fragile…

It seemed like a wet veil,

with the sun glimmering through the tiny wet rain tears

A kind of quiet peace that invites one to just be within it

Allowing the rain to completely drench your clothes and skin and spirit

The next picture emerging gently in my mind:

Was a glimmering, VIBRATING rainbow of unimaginable hues and colors

These SHIMMERING glowing multi dimensional rainbow of colors

Moving in an out in its arched Rainbow of Hope

And along with the vibrating tremoring colors

Came a subtle fragrance of fresh rain and spring blossoms

And then

A soothing cheerful chorus: the chirping of little birds

As they began to shake off their wet feathers

And with many songs yet in heavenly harmony

Began to embrace the fresh new moments after the storm….

And then …..

the little chime on Gina’s watch brought me back to reality

Sitting in my chair,

hearing the cars and loud noises of the trucks on Rt 206 just outside our windows.

Shocked somewhat to be back in the reality of distracting traffic noise

And back to our people world of our everyday reality.

Yet I sat there in awe

still contemplating the pictures that had come

And I was grateful for the sense of peace that still lingered…

Thoughts: Hope …. Transplanting…..Transformation

I am hoping that this contemplation will remain as a part of

The Memories of this gathering

As we remember Kesner…. each of us in our own way

I am hoping that

We will also REMEMBER the HOPE

which God has placed in each of our hearts

This young tree has already been transplanted twice

Perhaps even three, possibly from a potted plant container

To a neat little row in the safety of the nursery

Then chosen by Kesner and Kim for its special spot in Kesner’s yard

And now to this beautiful site in Hopewell….

This tree does embrace its name of HOPE given to it by Kim and Kesner

This tree in spite of its uprootings will….like HOPE…

PERSEVERE …..spread out its young roots and ground itself firmly here

This tree will reach out its young branches towards the LIGHT

This tree of HOPE

will grow inch by inch with little leaves coming in the Spring

And tiny little blossoms budding into little balls of green in late Spring and Summer

And then into little apples slowing turning in color and in uniqueness of taste

This tree like its name HOPE

will grow and bear fruit and the first of these is Faith

We are all like this tree….

If we are rooted in the Hope and Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ

No matter how many storms and how many transplantings….

We will continue to grow in Hope and Faith and bear the fruit of God’s Purpose

Kesner like this tree named HOPE

is now in a New Transplanting and has a “New Frequency”

I see him in my soul spirit….

experiencing a joy and peace I can not even imagine….

and I believe that Kesner is NOW rejoicing in all the ways a spirit being can have joy…

I see Kesner in the Abundant Great Orchards of God’s Beloved Children

I see Kesner in his “New Frequency” with vibrant wholeness and peace and joy

And we are left, ….

We are left here in the life of NOW….

In our earthly realities…… filled with sadness and questions

Yet, we too

We too ….are in a new transplanting here in our earthly environment

We are grieving yes,

Yes, we are sad

Sad for Kim’s loss and for the loss of Kesner

Even though we had only met Kesner once

We at Montgomery Ministries felt we were coming to know him

Through Kim’s wonderful joy she shared as they discovered each other.

We learned that some Sunday mornings they read scripture and prayed together

What a blessing to pray with a dearly beloved one….

We learned they talked for hours and hours on the phone

And when they were together…

Because Kim so generously shared her joy

We shared her joy

And now we share her sorrow…..

And we sadly wonder why this has come to be….

Yet, even in this great sadness

We live…….secure in knowing that we are not alone

“I will not forsake you…”

“Lo I am with you always”….

We are left here to continue to grow and be nourished

We are purposed to be here still in this life we were born to

Yet there is a difference….


Now…… we are in…. a new transplanting of Life

A transplanting WITHOUT the earthly presence of Kesner….

May we find comfort in the words of the prophet Isaiah

ISAIAH 40:28-31

“Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the Everlasting God

The Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired and weary

And his understanding no one can fathom

He gives strength to the weary

And He increases the power of the weak

Even youths grow tired and weary

And young men stumble and fall;

But those who HOPE in the Lord

Will renew their strength;

They soar on wings like eagles;

They run and not grow weary,

They will walk and not be faint.

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011

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The Paradox of Prayer…

There was a man that lived in a cave by a shore.  Day and night this man would howl and cry, and his cries echoed through to a village close by.  This really freaked people out.  And not only would he howl but he would cut and injure himself with rocks; he was isolated and tortured.   

One day a boat docked on the shore close by,  and out walked Jesus.  In an instant the tortured man ran to Jesus and bowed down before him and begged

“Please don’t hurt me!!” 

Jesus said “What is your name?”

He said “My name is Legion, for we are many.” A Legion in the Roman army consisted of two thousand men; this man was posessed by 2,000 demons.

 Jesus told the Legion to get out of the man and they did.  Instantly that man was restored to sanity, and he returned to community.  The Scripture actually says that he became “clothed in his right mind…” 

This is the story of the Demoniac of Gerasenes; it can be found in the Gospel of Mark, starting at Chapter 5 – verse 1.  I was preparing to preach a sermon on this text on the second Sunday in June, 2010; but then Kesner died, so I didn’t.  But I have always been fascinated by it; fascinated by the Legion in the man’s head.  Many believe that the Legion were 2,000 demons….  

I think they were 2,000 thoughts.

You know how your thoughts can keep you in isolation? 

The Demoniac

Thoughts about the past that stir up regret and shame; thoughts about the future that stir fear.  Thoughts and judgments about others that cause division, and thoughts about the self that are destructive.  These all come from the ego – that thing in us that thinks it is in control; that thing inside us that thinks it is more powerful than God. 

I think ego – the need to be right, the need to control, the need to judge –  is what keeps us isolated; close to community but not fully present in it.  And our self centered thoughts, 2000 or more, are like those stones that cut us.

We torture ourselves, just like that man in the cave.

But what I really like about this particular story is that Jesus heals by asking the man his name.  The man couldn’t answer right away because he didn’t know it.  he said ‘we are Legion…’  

And Jesus wasn’t asking for his government name. By name, I think Jesus was asking “who were you created to be?”  “Who are you at your core?”  “What is special about you and unique to you, beyond the masks that you wear…?”  

What is your name, do you know it? 

And I didn’t fully realize it, until I sat in that worship planning meeting at my church on June 8, 2010, that I had been actively searching for my name since I joined my sweet small church the year prior.  I felt like that man in the cave; struggling with ego and trying to unlearn so much. And my church, 12 people small and bursting with Christian love – special, sweet, wonderful – was the community with whom I was healing.  

Soul Friend suggested that I try this church; I needed a different experience.  “I’ve bounced around from one large Black Baptist church to the next,” I told her.  “I need my expectations of “church” to be violated; I need a different expereince.”  I love the Black Church, but I’m used to it; I needed an experience that was new to me…

“I think I’d like to find a predominantly White church, with contemporary Christian music and the Acoustic guitar…” I told her.

Soul Friend suggested that I try Montgomery Ministries; she knew somebody who knew somebody who worked there once… 

I took her advice and I went to the Montgomery Ministries website (www.montgomery-ministries.org).  Immediately I  loved that they referred to everyone as a minister. It didn’t matter if you preached or brought food, or if you sang or cleaned up; everyone was equal, every gift was celebrated. This had not been my experience with church in the past, I wanted this…

Over the next few months, Montgomery Ministries overwhelmed me with love; and right away I came to realize that it is a church that sings in tune with God’s song.  And in that community I began to grow spiritually and began to live intimately and honestly with others; sharing my preaching gifts for the good of the whole.

And in that community of love and equality, I searched introspectively and opened myself up to the idea of deliverance….

I asked God to take my Legion….


But after Kesner died,  I understood what that man from the cave must have felt when he ran out to Jesus and bowed down saying

“please dont hurt me!”  

If I had known the price of my deliverance, would I still have asked for it? 

 If I just could have seen what was coming around the bend, perhaps I would have begged and pleaded also, crying:

 ‘PLEASE DON’T HURT ME!!! please dont allow me to experience that kind of pain, the pain of finding Kesner dead. The shock. The horror. God, PLEASE!!!’ 

But I couldn’t see what was coming, because at the end of the day I am powerless.

 That is the paradox of prayer, I suppose.  I asked to be made strong and I was made weak.  I asked to be delivered and I was delivered, but not without a price…

But  – alas – as much as I would like to go back in time and be with my beloved Kesner,  I would not be who I am today if I had not expereinced the pain of losing him….

Thank You, Very Sweet

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011

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How do I talk about the incredible men of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated? Im not exactly sure how to capture in words the esteem in which I hold them. Oh how i wish this note had a soundtrack, it would definitely have “Pretty Boy Swag” on it….    and “Set it Off!”

My first orientation to the men of Kappa Alpha Psi was in college. My college roommate’s long time boyfriend was a Kappa at The University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. On more than one occasion a bunch of us would pile up in the car and make the three hour drive to Tennessee for a Kappa party. There was definitely something special about these guys, they had swagger. I remember how they would enter a party: cool, smooth and crisp, party walking onto the dance floor while set it off played in the background….       They were tall, and handsome, and distinguished, and…


At the time I was not a Delta. I’d wanted to be a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. since I was a little girl. My mother and grandmother were members of the Sorority and so I expected that I would become a member in college.

That didn’t happen. I tried at Spelman College and I didn’t make the cut; that was traumatic. I felt like I’d failed the women who’d come before me. I decided to dismiss Black Greek sorority and fraternity life after that; this all made my mom very sad.

Soon I graduated and moved to New York City and within a year I became a Link. I thought this would make my mother happy; my grandmother was a Link, my mom is a Link and I was now a Link.

But my grandmother was a Delta, My mom is a Delta and I…         was still not a Delta.

“I don’t think you’re trying to connect with a local chapter,” Mom would say; she had encouraged me to reach out to the graduate chapters in each of the cities that I’d lived in after college. “You don’t want to be a Delta anymore, do you?” she said.

That wasn’t quite the case, it’s just that there was a scar there; I knew that if I were to pursue membership in Delta again, it would have to feel right. It would have to be the right place and the right time and the right chapter….     it would have to click.

I was getting ready to graduate from Princeton Seminary in 2008 when I met a nice undergraduate Delta Soror from Princeton University. I asked her who her graduate advisor was and she introduced me to a woman named Sandi B. Sandi B. was from the Trenton Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta and she sold me two tickets to a fundraising event. She also told me that she would keep my information and reach out to me if they were taking in new members in the future.

Sandi B. and I only met once, but she didn’t forget me.  A year later she reached out, it was time; it clicked.

I became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated on April 24, 2009. I was made by the Trenton Alumnae Chapter with 23 other amazing women.Our line was called 24 Karat Gold. I was number 22 and my nickname was Sunshine. Our process was special and our bond is special. I was meant for this line at this place in time.

"24 Karat Gold"

The summer after we crossed over into the Sorority was the most fun. My social calendar in Trenton went from zero to hero and my line sisters and I must have supported every greek (and non greek) event in the city; there was always something…. and we showed up, party walking. We were happy to be new Deltas. I think we would have party walked in the grocery store if there had been enough of us.  And we got a lot of love from the other Greeks in the city; it all felt like one big welcome hug. We especially got a lot of love from the Kappas..

The Kappas in Trenton are an incredible group of guys and my associations with them have made Greek life whole for me. They are actively engaged in community service in the city and they sponsor great events. But more important than that, they demonstrate authentic brotherhood. They really appear to look out for each other, like real brothers do; it is refreshing to observe.

Trenton Kappas – Kesner is second to the right…

I found myself at Kappa events almost immediately after I crossed. And I was at one event in particular, the Kappa cookout, when I met Kesner. It was July 2009 and I had been seeing this guy since May, at different events here-and-there. The cookout would be the first time that we would have a conversation.

I arrived at the cookout over dressed. I am not sure why I was so dressed up but iI had on a black and orange floral print halter dress and 3 inch platform heels. I needed to sit down, I was doing too much.

Me at the picnic that day… all dressed up and party walking

I hadn’t been sitting very long before one of the brothers came over and told me that Kesner wanted to meet me. I  met him at a picnic table. We sat at the table and had a brief conversation that ended with us making plans to go to his church the following Sunday. I wasn’t interested at the time (I had a budding romance brewing with the guy in my building), but Kesner had invited me to church; can a minister really turn down church? I agreed to meet him the following Sunday in the vestibule.

Kesner that day at the cookout…

What I didn’t know then was that our conversation was a result of an earlier chat that he had been having with his mentor and fraternity brother, Drew. (Who will here on be referred to as Drew/Angel). In prior conversation, Kesner had expressed to Drew/Angel that he was looking for a different type of woman, one with whom he could settle down. Drew/Angel told Kesner to make a list of 10 qualities that he was looking for. On the day of the cookout, when I sauntered in (all dressed up) Drew/Angel pulled Kesner aside and said: “You know the woman that you are looking for? There she is.” He was referring to me. Kesner said “How do you know?”Drew/Angel said he just knew.

… So the Kappas have been involved in me and Kesner’s story from the very beginning; and when Kesner died, they took it upon themselves to gather around me and my mom for a visitation.

When a loved one dies, it is a custom in the Black community to visit, bring food and sit with that person. Typically fraternities and sororities will organize a visitation if a member has lost a parent, spouse or a child. I say this because it is beyond the custom of protocol to officially gather around someone who is not a member, or the spouse of a member. I was “just” Kesner’s girlfriend, after all.

But the Trenton Kappas didn’t seem overly concerned about protocol; instead they just came in droves. They showed up; some who I knew and others who I was just meeting for the first time. It was as if Kesner had whispered in the ear of the Polemarch and said: ‘Take care of my woman.’ They knew that he loved me, so they showed me love; a great expression of brotherhood, even in death.

It was all that I could do to keep it together that night, we had the visitation on Wednesday night at Talithea’s house. My hair was done, I had on a little makeup, and I was wearing a simple tan dress and sandals. I sat in the corner of one of Talithea’s couches. I knew I couldn’t do too much talking or moving around or I might loose it. I didn’t want to expose the rawness of my pain, so I just sat still and worked really hard to keep it together.

I’m not sure how many guys came, there were so many. And a handful of my sorority sisters came also. Mostly people just socialized. I think it was pretty hard for everyone to talk about Kesner, it was all so painful. Nobody really talked about him to me except Drew/Angel. He came and sat by me on the couch. He reminded me of that day at the cookout, about how he’d pointed me out to Kesner. I didn’t cry while he was retelling me the story; it was hard, but I didn’t.

The remainder of the evening was spent watching everyone engage with my mom. My mom has a special ability to hold court; she can literally have a room of people enthralled in one of her stories. She’s funny, and she knows a lot about a lot; so I sat in my corner of the couch and watched her engage the crowd, making her convincing argument about why she didn’t think Lebron James would leave Cleveland.

Lebron James left Cleveland…

One of the brothers leaned over to me and asked: “what does she do?” I just laughed. I was happy to share my mom with my community; I just wished it were not under these circumstances.

All in all it was a special night; we had a special evening visitation with the Kappas. They came with food, fellowship and Love, and I felt special. I felt the way that I know Kesner wanted me to feel. I was beginning to heal – a little bit. And I was clear that the gesture was not for me, it was all for Kesner. In his honor. because that’s what brothers do.

The Incredible men of Kappa Alpha Psi.

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011

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I had lunch one Friday in December with a woman who’s husband fell 2,000 feet off of a cliff and died in his early 40’s.  He had gone out for a hike with a friend that morning and he never returned home to his wife and two small children.   Her  name is Elaine Pagels and she is a professor of religion at Princeton University.  After her husband died she decided to write a book about Satan; she wanted to talk about how Christians deal with adversity.

Elaine, my friend.

“We all need someone to blame”, she said.  “That helps us avoid feeling what we really feel which is absolute and utter powerlessness.”  Yes! – I thought.  That feeling overwhelmed me in the days after Kesner died.  That was the feeling that I felt when I was doing that crazy woman walk down the Princeton hiking trail.  helplessness.   This had happened – Kesner was dead –  and there was not a damn thing that I could do about it.  I didn’t blame satan, I blamed God.  I kept saying to my mom:

“I feel so humbled.  God has humbled me.”

It would normally be a bit of stretch to call Elaine my friend, except I think we crossed over into that threshold during our moment at lunch in December.  She invited me to dine with her at Prospect House on Princeton University’s campus.  It is a mansion that used to house the President.  Now it is reserved for faculty use and it has the most lovely dining room with windows that overlook a garden, and the university campus.  My only other encounter with this place was during my days as a Princeton Seminary student; I would pass by and wonder who eats in there.

Prospect House

And there I was with Elaine, at the best table in the room, crying the ugly cry.  Oprah says there are two types of cries:  a composed cry and “the ugly cry;”  typically you cant control the ugly cry and it usually involves snot.

The composed cry

I felt the ungly cry coming.  On my way to Prospect House on that Friday in December, I passed by the University Art Museum and I remembered a date that Kesner and I had there the previous spring.  This was post-falling in love, when everything was beautiful and all was well in our world.  We walked around, Kesner and I, appreciating the art and flirting with each other.  I might be looking at a piece and he would come up behind me and put his arms around my waist and kiss me on my neck.  I loved that.

Seeing the museum was a trigger; and almost as soon as I sat down with Elaine, I began to tear up.  “I’m feeling emotional today..” I said.   And sure enough, by the time my pumpkin soup arrived, I was deep into the ugly cry.

I kept apologizing, I mean we were in this formal dining room and I was crying this horrible cry.  She thanked me for crying; she said she was honored.  She even cried a little too.

She said that when her husband died she didn’t cry at all.  She was afraid that if she cried she wouldn’t be able to stop. So she held it all in her chest and she got pneumonia.

Even though I felt that my lunchtime cry might never end, we did manage to carve out a very rich conversation about God and Jesus and The Holy Spirit.  We also wove in our stories about our loves and listened intently to each other.   “You cant turn it off like a faucet,” she said, “your love for that person who died.  Just because they’re gone doesn’t mean that you stop loving them or that you don’t still feel like you’re in a relationship.”  she made me feel less crazy.

And it was an interesting thing that she was saying about blame, that blaming someone or something makes you feel powerful.  Or at least a little less powerless.

Theological conversation has always been like food for me; particularly meaningful since Kesner died.  Yet, in the immediate days after his death,  I avoided speaking to clergy like the plague.  I just couldn’t.  They all called , texted or reached out in some way: Rev moss jr, Rev moss III, Rev colvin, Rev miller…   and those who didn’t call reached out on facebook.  I just couldn’t talk to anyone who represented God, unless they were among the ministers that are in my circle of close friends.  I didn’t want to hear that ‘God has a plan’ and I definitely didn’t want to hear that ‘God is good.’  I didn’t think God was good, at least not my definition of good.

Great Preachers reached out..

The only two that got through were Rev moss, jr and Rev colvin; this is because they called my moms phone.  My mother held the phone to my ear and made me talk to them.  I made sure to tell both of them how angry I was.  But as badly as I wanted to, I couldn’t escape God.  God was all over me, everywhere; with, and through, all of the Love that was around.  Holding me up.  And another thing began to happen, my old sermons began to preach to me.

I had experienced a wave of relatively frequent preaching a year  prior. As a result, I had an inventory of sermon topics stored in my head.  I even had the audacity to preach Job during that season.  what on earth did I know about life??  The title of my Job sermon was: ‘Do we serve God because God is Good, or do we serve God because God is God?’

Well damn, I thought.  I guess God doesn’t have to be good.  My old sermons would continue to preach to me as the summer went on.As I finished my lunch with Elaine on that Friday in December, she quoted Soren Kierkegaard, saying: “Life is lived forward and understood backward…”

Soren Kierkegaard

Yes, I thought.  For sure.

© Copyright Thank You Very Sweet, 2011

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