Opening Day 2021

This poem is sort of addendum to a poem about Opening Day I wrote a few years ago.

This Opening Day is different
A bittersweet in-between
The cloud of viral darkness still overhead
A yet to exhale crowd, socially distanced and dog tired

We’ve been through so much
An endless extra inning affair
Like a marathon with an ever shifting finish line
The umpires call of “safe”, familiar and foreign at the same time

Our cautiously hopeful hands hold our caps over heavy hearts
As we recite Spring’s liturgy once more
As we survey the sparsely seated stands
And as we remember the fear, the smoke, and the loss

Everything has changed
Yet somehow the eternals remain
Gloves will catch and bats will hit
As our destiny remains heaven’s sandlot

And so when we hear this year’s sacred invocation
The Divine’s voice in the words “play ball”
The Logos in the first pitch
We’ll weep with Easter gratitude and Good Friday sorrow

Another year, another team, another season.

A Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13

Last week I shared a reflection inspired by the 13th chapter of Pauls letter to the Corinthian church during the online service for Oak Life. As we wrested with the ramifications of this text for this moment, I was hoping that Paul’s words would move from the sentimental/fluffy context they’re often referenced in, to a call to action in the midst of dark or “mirror dimly” moments. With that aim, and after getting a few requests for the text, here is a paraphrase of the chapter that was a part of the reflection:

Paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:

Love takes a breath before responding, and is a non-anxious presence

Love smiles in empathy and joy at every face it sees

Love is not fueled by ego or insecurity but finds its identity in God’s Love and nothing else

Love is burdened for others, especially those on the margins or who’ve been wronged by the world

Love’s burden for others translates to sacrificial action

Love doesn’t need to prove that it is right

Love does not need its agenda to be accomplished

Love doesn’t hold grudges and does not see people as their lowest moments

Love has boundaries when things or people are unhealthy because loving and being tender to oneself is an intrinsic part of Love’s flow

Love is slow to believe conspiracy theories or emotionally manipulative narratives from on high or in secret and is concerned about the hearts of those who have accepted false realities

Love puts in the work to find out what is true and real and knows that what’s true and real is often messy, complicated, and gray- and love is ok with that

Love isn’t in a hurry

Love does not seek to harm others, ever, and even if others do not understand it- love avoids the temptation and heresy of redemptive violence

Love never dominates or overpowers

Love takes pleasure in knowing and being known

Love bears all things, believes in the best for all creation, hopes all things, will out last all things

Love will win.  On the other hand political parties, tribal conflicts, and even nations will all fade into history.  Even the most charismatic leaders will pass away like clouds passing in the sky.  Right now it might seem like we don’t know what’s going on, that we can’t see the whole picture, but there will come a time that we’ll look back on this and see that God was there all along. 

So in this moment, in this dark time, remember that our faith and hope in God is ultimately that God’s forever love is here and will always be here.

Original Text:

1If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

2020 Reading List

Well, lots has been said about the two thousand and twentieth year of our Lord, so I won’t add anything to that black hole of disruption and still-unfolding trauma. What I will say is that is that I read less last year. A while back I made it a yearly goal to read at least as many books as I had the year before and with the exception of 2018, I’ve been relatively successful. Over the past 12 months I’ve been more sleep deprived and heavy hearted than I have at any other year of my life – mostly because of the birth of our second child, Teddy. Then, add on the additional craziness and it makes for ample excuses not to achieve my goal, which based on 2019 would have put me at 30 books. This year I got about half way there. Even still, as I look back on some of 2020s literary travels, I’m grateful for what I was able to read.

So below is a list of books I read last year. This list is mostly just for my own recording and reflection as a way to stack the odds a little bit more in the “not gonna forget” column of content I’ve consumed (I’m getting more and more forgetful). For an explanation/intro from past years, click here. Also, I used to link each title to Amazon, but I guess they’re sort of the evil empire now, so I’ll just link as an online stores that supports local bookshops.

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
This was my favorite book of the year. When Breath is a moving memoir of a very spiritually minded brain surgeon who’s confronted with his own mortality. With all the dying and grief happening in our world, this book was a beautiful and needed work that helped me tremendously.

Spineless Porcupine, SAY Yang
My friend wrote a book! This one is a fictional story of a porcupine who’s different, but learns to see the uniqueness as a gift instead of a curse. You should go buy it.

After Evangelicalism, David Gushee
Dr. David Gushee is a renowned theologian who became affirming in his theology. This book is an exploration his vision for the future of the American/evangelical church.

Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian, Paul F Knitter
This was a fun exploration of Knitters own journey and how the resonance between these two great spiritual traditions ended up affirming his identification as a Jesus-follower. I so appreciate interfaith reflections that are constructive and humble. So good.

Time and Despondency, Nicole Roccas
I stumbled upon Professor Roccas while doing some reflection on the nature of time. This book fit 2020 as well as anything else on this list and helped me rethink my relationship to time, something all of us are doing whether we like it or not this year.

The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk
This is a very significant and helpful introduction to trauma recovery. I think we’re all going through some sort of trauma this year- and after our church went through a particular event I picked this one up. This is a book anyone in the helping professions (and really anyone who works with people or is a person) should probably consider core curriculum.

Native, Kaitlin B Curtice
This was a timely and reflection on the intersection of Christianity/spirituality and indigenous identity. Essentially the author explores their own journey and faith as person of indigenous ancestry and the ways those forces play out in our ability to connect to the Divine.

The Color off Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism, Jamar Tisby
Such an important work on the ways people of faith have not always been on the side of racial justice (often the opposite side).

Wild Mercy, Mirabai Star
This was a super fun, challenging, and inspiring reflection on female mysticism and some of the significant teachers from these traditions.

Modern Kinship, David and Constanino Khalef
Every so often I get to do pre-marital counseling and am currently working with a same-sex couple. As you can imagine, there aren’t a lot of LGBT+ Christian works on premarital preparation. I’ve found this book engaging and helpful.

Under the Unpredictable Plant, Eugene Petersen
Eugene has been, and still is one of my favorite literary mentors. This book explores the nature of being called into vocational ministry as a pastor. I was so encouraged by this one. I love Eugenes subtle sass and critique of American celebrity Christianity.

Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman
Thurman is a must read for anyone concerned about racial justice and looking for some spiritually enriching reflections. Thurman was an academic, a minister, and I would argue a contemplative. I’m working on one of his other books too.

Stiches, Ann Lamott
A beautiful and short reflection on grief and the messiness of life. Very timely for 2020. Highly recommend to anyone holding loss (all of us this year).

Soul Care in African American Practice, Barbara L Peacock
This one came as recommendation from my friend Gina who recently completed a spiritual formation internship at our church and is training to become a spiritual director. This book was a very accasaable exploration of various “soul care” practices in the historical black church.

The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, William Jennings
A must read for folx engaged in ministry or who are invested in faith communities in these times. Dr Jennings does an amazing job at providing an overview of Christianity’s racist & colonial past and how to potentially move forward. Definitely core curriculum in my opinion. I got to hear Dr. Jennings speak before the pandemic craziness and found him to be brilliant, powerful, and humble. His voice is one I hope can be more prominent in the American Church.

The Best Bookend


You entered a different world than we had planned
A year of gut punches and divine lessons we weren’t ready for
But the first bookend in this section of life’s volumed chronology
Will always be your joyous arrival

As tiny and soft as a stuffed bear that bears your name
And as beautiful as an angelic chorus that we can’t stop singing
You are the marker and sign post of this year
An ever so needy declaration of love’s entanglement in flesh

As our hearts sang your hum with a backdrop of uncertainty and anxiety
The contrast revealed the transcendent 
Like a cosmic explanation point
You have reminded us of love’s victory, eternal and final

Your hawked and flowing hair
Your sky blue eyes, locked on your big brother
Your sweet-roll aroma, a trigger for paternal and maternal giggles
It’s all pure joy, a gift we cold never earn

May the God of endless parental love grant us the ability to hold it all
That we wouldn’t miss a minute of your light
A brightest star in this darkest night
The sweetest tastes in this bitterest of years

The other bookend is yet to be seen
But it doesn’t matter
We get to be yours
And you get to be ours

A toast of celebration with my beloved church family

This toast was shared during a sermon for Oak Life Church on Sunday, November 8th, 2020. Please forgive grammar/typos. For a link to the full service sermon- click here.


This week, after 4 years of political anxiety, stress, chaos, vitriol… after racism and racist rhetoric became normalized in the highest office… after the Jesus I love was used and exploited, silenced and contorted for political gain… after ego, narcism, and prideful, and shameful masculinity… after all this – and all the other crap – was unleashed in a torrent of divisiveness and ugliness into our nation- and in the midst of a once in a century global crisis- including compounding traumas, American democracy seems to have voted for change.  Most of us chose a different path.

To my kids (and all our kids) who will grow up in a world knowing that character matters and that our bullies will not get the last word.  I’m more hopeful today for the world that you will inherit. 

To all the women in my life who have had to live with the heightened anxiety because of our President’s language and demeanor, who have felt fear and been silenced and minimized, and now get to celebrate the history shaking election of our first female Vice Present.  

We see you, we love you, we honor you.

To all my friends of color who have had to carry the weight of a nation unwilling to acknowledge it’s racist history and a President who has normalized and empowered the evil of white supremacy May you now get a small chance to breath knowing that there lives matter. 

We thank you for largely being the reason this election went the way it did (cheers especially to you Ms Abrams), we’re sorry we’re sorry, we’re sorry, we love you, we’re learning to be with you.

To all my co-laborers  who have been working tirelessly (often without any recognition) to bring justice for immigrants, for the houseless, for those on the margins and who’ve felt like the last four years were filled with giant steps back and now see some of the fruit of their work –

We thank you, we need you, we wouldn’t be here without you

To my LGBT+ siblings who’ve been on a rollercoaster, especially within the church and maybe now feel a little more sure that their rights are secure –

We love you, we affirm you, and we’ve got your back

To all those who’ve been caged, silenced, torn from family, bullied, belittled, gaslighted, who’ve lost sleep, who’ve lost friends, to all those we’ll never know and all those we’ve chosen to ignore either in omission or commission-

We’re sorry, we’re sorry, we’re sorry- may this moment be a slight breath of fresh air and may God convict our all our hearts and may you find Gods nearness and protection in supernatural expressions.

To Oak Life Church who has consistently been a miraculous, diverse, messy but beautiful, justice seeking church- who would have continued to work for good no matter what happened.

I love you, our world needs you, thank you for letting me be a pastor to you.

Cheers to the repudiation of vitriolic politics which have harmed and divided!

Cheers to the rejection of the white, American Jesus who is a tool of empire, to the death of toxic Christianity!

And ultimately cheers to a new world where we can come together! regardless of our differences to seek the common good and the good of our planet!

Cheers to have Oakland in the White House!

Cheers to you God for continuing to move us forward, for never leaving us, for forgiving us, for renewing us, for being our ultimate hope and salvation, and for giving us the strength to get through these last 9 months and these last four years!

Cheers, Sliante, Amen!

Wilderness Manifesto

2020 is a year of disruption and uncertainty. In many spiritual traditions seasons of wilderness, both literal and metaphorical, are sacred terrains of transformation where the comforts of the city are stripped away and where we’re forced to confront life’s chaos, dangers, and worse. No doubt the current pandemic, civil unrest, and fire season have thrust many of us into the feel like our lives are in a season of wilderness.

My church has been reflecting on these themes in a conversation called “Finding God in the Wilderness” and we recently reflected on the Shema, which has acted as sort of a manifesto for the people of Israel in the their wilderness wanderings becoming a statement of purpose and grounding. With this in mind, we were invited to write our own “wilderness manifestos” and here is mine:

Wilderness Manifesto

In the midst of the Wilderness that we’ve come to call 2020, a season I wasn’t ready for:

Hallelujahs are still sung
Hope still shines
And the tomb is still empty

Kissing and hugging your kids is still ecstasy
Holding your wife’s hand is still a gift
And your family, church, and community are still image bearers of the divine Love

Doom scrolling is still not wise
What you put in your body still matters
And though Gods favorite baseball team is a nice distraction, the love of other humans is what you really live for

No person is less than
Elections are not the end of the world
And 2020 will soon be a footnote in Gods story of redemption

Every day is grace
The world is still turning
and our purpose on it has not changed

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

This year I will continue to choose love
Because love wins
Come what may

Dear Teddy

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Dear Teddy (“Bayba Tedah” as your brother calls you),

My precious son, you were born in peculiar times.  Given all that’s happened these past few months I thought I’d share some thoughts with you.

You were discharged from the NICU and home to us the day before shelter in place orders were declared.  Your birth was six weeks ahead of schedule, and about four weeks before a global pandemic was announced,  ushering in a season of urgent caution which has permeated all aspects of our lives with a murky fog of uncertainty.

Uncertainty is one of the few things we are actually guaranteed in this life.  At the end of the day, we just don’t know what the next one will bring.  If we’re lucky, we’ll live in times of relative stability and be gifted the privilege of worrying about tertiary burdens.   I will say however, that it’s times of uncertainty that seem to chip away the vernier of existence and peel back from our layers of comfortable insulation.  It’s times like this where we bump up against the real, the true, and the things that actually matter.   So in many ways, you are born into an historical moment with a lot less fluff and noise.

I wish with all of my  marrow and might that I could guarantee you a life of safety, but I cannot.  It’s beyond my control.  And so I’m writing to you a message that I believe transcends our current predicament and any that may still be subsequent.  Basically, here are some words I can’t not say.

I love you son.

You are squirmy, soft, and sacred.

When you breathed your first breath I had none.

Your presence in our lives is like a daily unfolding melody of grace that I can barely keep up with.

Because you came miraculously early (fortuitously wasn’t quite the right world), your mother was only able to hold you for a moment before the medical professionals took control.  Then it was you and I for a while until she was cleared to join us.

You spent about 4 weeks in the hospital gaining strength and kicking butt.  Much of the butt kicking was because your mother tirelessly stayed by your side and gave your body all it needed from hers.  That woman is tough as nails.  Your big brother was getting the house ready and hanging with your grandparents.

We’ve been home for a while now and these days have been the most contrasting combination of mundane, heavenly, hard, ecstatic, tiring, energizing, and holy.  I find myself going between feelings of “not wanting to miss a moment” and feelings of “what’s happening in the world and with my work?”.

So when I think about what I want to write to you, mostly I want to say, welcome and I love you.

Life is worth it in the end.  There is so much to see and experience, even if these times are uncertain.

At some point you’ll learn that a big part of my life is this thing we call ‘faith’.  Faith is a word that approximates a deeper reality that I can’t shake from the deepest parts of me.  It’s synonymous with hope.  Love is in there too.  When those three words dance it’s pretty awesome.

Those words all point to something.  To me, they don’t point to things being “happy” or “safe” or even “good”.  What they point to is that ultimately reality is a choice.  A choice between choosing what defines you.  In the end we do not have much power over whether the future brings prosperity or calamity.  What we do have choice over is whether we will be defined by temporal things or transcendent things.  To me, faith, hope, and love are transcendent- they go beyond and are more real, powerful, and all encompassing than temporary trails.

Son, my prayer is that above all things you would choose to enter into those things in your life.  That you would walk the path of love, breathe the air of faith, and sing the harmony of hope. And that when your feet fail you, the air gets polluted, or the song is drowned out, that you would lean on the faith, hope, and love of others.

Faith is the daily decision to orient your being around a hope beyond yourself.  That there is good behind it all.

Hope is the act of trusting that no matter what comes your way, love is still is worth giving and receiving.  That even in dark times, there is light.

Love is the choice to see all of life as sacred in a way that holds all and bears all.   That when all is said and done, love will remain.   That love wins.

I know that might all sound lofty or imprecise , but those are the truest words I could type at the moment.  Luckily there are lots of stories, songs, and prayers that we’ll share at some point that might help color in the blank spots.

So son, I love you.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for you to play with your brother, throw a baseball, taste ice cream, have tickle-fights, dance silly, sing sincerely, hold loved ones, and experience all that consciousness embodied has to offer.   Your mother, brother, and doggy are so happy to have you join our family.  The days ahead will not be boring, and in the space of one another, there will be (and already is), an eternal joy that I’ll never be able to put words to.

Teddy, you are a gift to us and to this world and any voice that tells you otherwise is a lie.



An honest song for the pandemic (inspired by imprecatory pslams, the book of lamentations, and punk)

My dear friends Say and Charlotte have organized an amazing online/remote open mic community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic .  Like seriously, they’ve done an incredible job.  When it comes to my own music, I usually just sing/write/play for myself as a personal therapeutic/spiritual practice and usually don’t share publicly.  For Open mic 5.0 I was encouraged to share a song so I wrote this.  It’s inspired by the Imprecatory Paslams which are Psalms of “cursing”- essentially songs of unfiltered emotion from their author towards their enemy.  It might surprise some that the Bible includes such raw and emotional prose, but it’s actually one of the reasons I never stop reading the Psalms.  Anyways, here is my addition to the open mic- inspired by imprecatory psalsms, the book of lamentations, and punk rock.  Oh, and I don’t normally wear A’s jersey’s and curve my mustache, but it felt appropriate for the open-mic.
(link here to entire open mic show)
lyrircs below video

It’s been some time
Since I’ve seen my friends
We’re quarantined
Feels like the end
I’m drinking more
And it was already a lot
Just trying to do my part
To support the local wine shop
I miss my folks
I miss my church
I miss Lake Merritt and going out to eat
I miss seeing my kid
Hug other kids (I miss hugs too handshakes are whatever)
I miss my friends
But most of all I miss baseball

Fuck you, Fuck you
Coronavirus fuck you
You’re the worst
And I fuckin hate you
I’m saving water
Showering less
I only clean up
Before the next zoom call
My kids are exhausting
And can’t stop watching the news
Thinking bout death and if I’ll have a job
Racisms back, I guess it never left
Thank God for memes
Can I get an amen
Thank God for memes
And shows like tiger king
I miss my friends
But most of all I miss baseball

Fuck you, Fuck you
Coronavirus fuck you
You’re the worst
And I fuckin hate you
And then the orange man
Gets on TV
Says it’s a hoax
But then says it not
I really hope
He looses in november
But knowing us,
He’ll probably win Huge

God dammit, 4 more years?

At least theres Fauci
Peace be upon him
I miss my friends
But most all I miss baseball

Now you might say
Baseballs just a game
But to me it’s not
Just a metaphor for this song
It’s resurrection
It’s family memories
It’s how I learned
God roots for the underdog
So what’s your baseball
What have you lost
We’re in this together
We’ll get through this together
I miss my friends
But most of all I miss baseball

Fuck you, Fuck you
Coronavirus fuck you
You’re the worst
And I fuckin hate you

A Prayer from the NICU

Day ___ in the Neonatal ICU
Immersed among clinical miracles and embodied angels
Lights and alarms holding us like loving arms
These rooms tell tales of new life too soon arrived

Heaviness in the faces of those walking by
Mothers and fathers caught in this purgatory place
A liminal lounge of hope and loss
Between a lifetime and a life without time

Plastic tubes and sacred portals
Bringing resurrection rays to the most fragile limbs
Oxygen flowing through days old veins
Nourishing souls with miraculous compounds

Screens and numbers signifying safety zones
Every life we’ve ever known
Exists between these invisible membranes of
Too high or too low, Too much or too little

Lord, give us patience, diligence, and faith
As we’re leashed to the clock’s call for the next nursing
And anxiously awaiting discharge orders
But only as soon as breath will sustain

This sacred waiting space
To gather strength and collect care
Prepares us for all that’s next
A world of unknowable highs and lows

The journey is love, the fabric of our existence
Before consciousness and preterm births
And beyond legacies and lineages
Love lead us on forevermore


Dear Son

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Dear Son,

We can’t wait to meet you!

They say you could come at any moment.  I’m not sure we’re totally ready, but at the same time, you sort-of feel overdue.  Life is full of paradoxes like that.

Seriously, we can’t wait to meet you.  You have an older brother who’s been pointing to your mom’s belly whenever we say “baby brother”.  He also kisses you sometimes.

Your mother is amazing.  Like, you should be sure to thank her at some point.  She’s beautiful, caring, hard working, faithful, hilarious, loving, and true.  She had to take off work early because you seemed to want to come out way before your due date.  I’m glad we have medicine to keep you growing in there.  You’re really blessed to have her as a mom, trust me, I’ve watched her over the past couple years.

And then there is our dog Sonny.  He’s been a good doggy brother to Elliott.  Elliott is your older brothers name.  We haven’t picked your name quite yet.

We’ve got a room for you and a home that I really love.  Though we’re hoping you’ll share with your brother… We moved here last year knowing you might be joining our family some time in the future.  I guess that’s now! There is a small backyard, a great view, and tons of trails nearby.  I’m really looking forward to taking you on lots of jogs and for our daily “bye bye sun” moment.  Elliott’s got a ton of toys to show you too.

There is so much to see in life!   Over the years I’ve come to see that it’s all a gift.  Highs, lows, and everything in between.  Your existence is a gift and you’ve got a family full of love awaiting you.

I can’t wait to see how you and Elliott get along.  I can already picture the two of you running around giggling.

I can’t wait for you to taste ice cream.

I can’t wait to hear your voice- especially you say “Mama”, “Dada”, or “Elliott”.  Oh and “Sonny” too.

I can’t wait to take you to the zoo and to ride with you on the sky-choo-choo.

I can’t wait to take you to an A’s game.  As I said with your older brother, we’ll support you in life no matter what- as long as you’re an A’s fan.  The same is true for you.  Family rule.

Seriously though, life is great.  It’s not boring.  And even the hard stuff has beauty in it.

As we’ve been waiting for you, we’ve been praying for you.  Prayer is a concept we’ll talk about at some point. It’s sort of a hopeful trust in, surrender to, and communication with the ultimate benevolence of reality.  It comes from a part of our world that is a big part of my life, faith.  Faith and the things we’ve created around faith reflect the best and sometimes the worst of us. I actually think we’re all people of faith and for me, my faith is in Love. Which is another big topic. We’ll get there. There are some pretty amazing stories that will help.

Anyways, we’ve got lots of time to talk about this stuff.  Until then, keep growing healthy and strong.  We can’t wait to meet you.

Here we go!

I love you already,

Your Dad