Pray With Me

Pray with me

Pray with me
Entwine your fingers with mine
Feel my palms sweat and don't shy from the warmth of my vulnerability
Pray with me not for me
Bow your head with graciousness
Stand at my side, not ahead of me or above me 
Dance to the rhythm of my heart beating feverishly
I want to hear your nervous feet shuffling from side to side
I want to see the imprint of your big toe through your shoe
May our intentions and desires be one.
See, I await anxiously, hoping God will see 
that I really hope
and I mean I really hope 
that the road to hell is NOT paved with good intentions
I intend to make a change in this world 
I intend to give children something good to dream about and chase their nightmares away
I intend to clean the filthy
I intend to give a hopeful beginning to those who just want it all to end
I intend to wake up every morning ...early...and spend an hour with myself 

There is something magical about holding hands with a stranger.

First Calvary Baptist Church (Inwood, NY)

Don't be alarmed as I tighten my grip
I just really needed someone to touch me today
I have desperately been waiting for an answer from God 
Desperately been shining as brightly as I can while filtering through so much darkness 
I have been holding my arms outstretched 
I have been kneeling with white paths on my face that begin where my eyes are and end somewhere between my neck and my chin
Waterways traveled there many times
They irrigate the mask I wear and unveil pieces of all that unravels me. 
Pray with me
Embrace me and let me feel the comfort of your awkwardness 
Let me know you are waiting for something from HIM too
Your are not untainted 
You are also afraid sometimes
You too, wish you could ...everything
Pray with me in the middle of the mess
Not at the end of the day when its quiet and neat and the candle is lit and its convenient
Pray with me, with rollers in your hair or your boxers and your A-shirt on, or with your stained apron that smells of fried chicken and plantain
while the kids are saying "Mommy" 5x consecutively...pray with me.
While the game is on...pray with me 
I need the blessing now 
We need the connection now
The calling is now 
The moment is now 
The answer is coming now

Pray with me because I can't shake the feeling that something heavenly awaits and we don't have to wait till we are at heaven's gate to be a part of something that perfect.
Pray with me because I needed you yesterday and the day before and the night before that.
Pray with me and I'll pray with you and we can glue each other back together.

By: Shaun Liriano




 

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Replenish! #Shutyamouthandpraysundays

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Every Sunday (for awhile) I will ask you to journey with me in understanding of self. A journey in the acceptance of growth. We will build a BS barrier and become more resilient together. I am NO life coach. That is not my aim. I am a writer. However,  all journeys are more fun with company. Most advice you give should also be directed at yourself. Sometimes we need to follow our own instructions. Sometimes we need to diagnose ourselves.
Being relatable is a gift and one that draws positivity.

This Sunday I took the kids to church at noon. We cleaned the house top to bottom prior to that. We ate an awesome breakfast. We danced. We loved. Most importantly we talked. I remembered how important it is to sit straight up, look in their eyes and focus. Listen. Today was a good day.

Day 8 of the self esteem challenge :
Are you comfortable with accepting compliments? Why or why not?
(Courtesy of life and magic in Wyoming at wordpress )
I am not always comfortable. There are things I know are above average and compliments on those assets I graciously accept. You have to believe something yourself before others will believe in it.

Day 9: What do other people say is sexy about you?
This is tough! I have heard different things. Mostly its my command. In a comfortable situation I take full command if a leadership position is needed in order for a task to be completed. I’m resolution oriented. So I just like things to be fixed quickly. I’ve been told my smile is sexy.

What the Heaven Are You Looking At?

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Cookie. “
“No honey, Mommy doesn’t have a cookie,”I whisper.
“Cookie.”
“Be a good girl, we’re in church,”I whisper.
“COOKIE!  COOKIE!!!!!!!!!”

My one year old flails herself around screaming to God himself for a cookie that I don’t have. Her big sister looks at me helplessly watching my brown face turn beet red in embarrassment.  Then she sweetly leans in and says, “You have crackers though right?”

The innocence. 

As I fumble through the diaper bag l glance up and see an impatient onlooker two pews ahead of us. She looks over her shoulder every time one of my children or any child says or does anything! 

Bear in mind, we are sitting in the very last row of the church.  Why? It is simply because I remember being young and single with no kids and shaking my head as I watch a parent provide pacifiers, goldfish, handheld electronic games, or anything short of monetarily bribing their children to be quiet during a church service. I always said I would sit in the back when I have kids.
A friend of mine said they once sang the ABC song during a baptism to keep their little one calm during service.  I thought to myself, “I wonder if that will work. ”

Meanwhile, the baby seems to have built an equaliser in her lungs and a microphone in her throat.

COOKIE.COOKIE. COOKIE. COOKIE!!!”

I stayed calm. “They can sense your fear,”I thought.

The lady two pews ahead is still staring. 

“What the hell …heaven. ..is she looking at?!”

This is when you will hear non-believers say the church is full of hypocrisy.  It is because of situations like this. A kid is fighting a nap and you are giving a parent a murder one ice grill (my slang shows my age) instead of being empathetic. A scripture came to mind:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
~Matthew 19:14

The next time the woman glanced I smiled.  I simultaneously tuned in to the preacher saying,

“Reach into yourself when it is difficult and be your better self always.  Forgive those you’ve trained yourself to forget because of the pain they’ve caused you.”

I chuckled to myself knowing adults have a hard time focussing in church,  let alone children.  I gave the girls a granola bar to share. I kissed them on the foreheads and we snuck out (towards the end) with stealth while another kid had a breakdown over juice. I silently hoped they enjoyed fellowship and hoped they learned something.  I know I did.

By:Shaun Nickens

 

Its 2013! What are you swallowing?

Happy New YearHappy new year and all that. Hope you’re not the same person you’ve been for all the years that preceded this one.  I hate to be cynical but usually by the time you stop doing this –>  2012    , you’ve already broken those resolutions. Why’d you make them?  What do you have to prove and who are you proving it to? At the end of the day we need to be making a consistent effort to improve.  Your other option is to commit to being the same scumbag you’ve always been, wear your flaws on your fitted hat, be strong and wrong and tell everyone to “Shut Ya Mouth and Call Me Ugly.”

It’s not easy to improve.  You may see old habits creep in.  The stealth of habitual hatred or just the act of being stagnant is clinging and clandestine.  You won’t notice what you do to piss other people off!  I can almost guarantee that! It’s natural to you…its organic.  You won’t know you’ve upset them until they’re screaming or silently sobbing.  For a writer that’s an intense response.  One of my favorite writers in Edgar Allen Poe.  In “The Philosophy of Composition” he says, “Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.”  In plain terms, Poe is saying you’ve succeeded as a good writer when you can make someone feel something, more specifically sadness.  That’s great if you’re a writer but as a regular civilian, I don’t think a lot of people will want to be around you.  You’d be the dark cloud.

I am truly making an effort to change.  I’ve got my Pandora set to Marvin Sapp.  I’m back to my church services and my devotions.  When my schedule clears, I’m diving head first back into my ministries.  I don’t use profanity as much.  I reached out to old and gold friends who’ve always added quality to my life.  I drink more water and all that.  At the same time, I’ve never been a “holy roller” or a “pew tosser.”  I love art and literature.  I am a very passionate person.  I’m a people watcher.  I’m an undercover comic.  Being an artist requires a certain level of “worldliness.”  So where do I stand?  You’ll always have to maintain a balance.  You’re a parent?  You have to be the person you are that was chosen divinely to bring new life into this world. Still you may welcome the time alone when the baby is with grandma and you can listen to Kendrick Lamar, watch Pulp Fiction and have a “77” (vodka and 7-up.)  It doesn’t make you a bad person.  It makes you human.

Leave the resolutions for Lucille Roberts commercials.  Just be your best by bedtime each day.  If you fail, try again tomorrow.  As long as you’re trying, you’re not failing.  Medicine usually doesn’t taste good but it usually heals whatever your ailment is.  Are you only swallowing what satisfies a stationary lifestyle?  Are you swallowing seduction and sex and ignoring love and intimacy?  Are you swallowing stereotypes?  What are you swallowing? 

Happy New Year. Bless!

 

-Shaun M Nickens

Long Overdue … (Shout out to Catholic school, Higher education, and Incense!)

“I believe in God.  I believe in Zen.  I believe in Karma.  I believe in myself…”~ My Daddy

I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I have prayer templates.  Template 1:  “The Telegram Prayer”  (i.e.  “Thank you Father for waking me up. Amen.”  “Bless this food. Amen” “Stop me from smacking this idiot. Amen”  Template 2: “The Bargain” (i.e. “Dear Lord, if you get me through this I promise I will never _________________”) Template 3: “Begging” (i.e.  “Dear God, please let me get home without this car breaking down. I know the gas light has been on for 2 days but payday is tomorrow.” )  These templates are that of a lazy/”lukewarm” Christian.  What is a “lukewarm” Christian, you ask?  It is a term, I find offensive but one that I must admit describes me from time to time.  Scripture speaks of the “lukewarm” Christian quite often but the bible quote I never forget is the following:

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would rather that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

~Revelation 3:15-16

When I was about 16 yrs old my friend who lived down the block from my house was having an argument with her mom.  Her mother was always a firm and somewhat serious woman.  She was thick and German with a slight accent.  When she was angry, thunder couldn’t compete!  I don’t remember what my friend did but I vividly remember her mom saying, “I have had it with you.  You are hanging from my throat and I am going to spit you out!!”  I had never heard a parent say anything like that before.  It stunned me.  My friend was unaffected  but I was crying!  All I could think to myself was, “Damn!  That’s some hurtful s*%t!”  So now as an adult, when I do something wrong, I imagine the Creator saying that to me.  I imagine being discarded by God.  It’s a scary feeling.

Why am I “lukewarm”?  Probably because I’m still “finding myself” (that location cannot be found on google maps but for those of you who made the attempt…thank you.)  I’m 27 so if my calculations are correct, I’ll probably find myself around age 89.  Cool with me!  As long as I have a legacy for my children, as long as people still say “Shaun’s deep”, and as long as at least 1 person sort of kind of gets me…I’m good!  Why am I “lukewarm”?  I was a baptized practicing Catholic up until age 19. I am soooooooo grateful for that foundation but I wasn’t encouraged to ask questions about FAITH and DELIVERANCE in Catholic school.  In fact, I will be bold enough to say that compliance, obedience and fear are the fortified teachings of my adolescence.  My favorite part was confession because to me it was like going to a therapist for free and I was an odd child so I had a lot to talk about.  Also, they would always burn incense after you said your assigned number of hail mary’s.

   Why am I “lukewarm”?  Blame higher education.  My first year at Pace University, I had  a tree-hugging,incense burning, bike riding,emotionally  damaged, hippie!  To date, he’s the best professor I’ve ever had and he challenged me to read more, become a more open-minded person, appreciate everything I have in life, and never judge a book by its cover!  That year, I read “Assata” by Assata Shakur, on my own free will.  I studied Emerson and Thoreau (if you don’t know who these people are then its time to do yourself a favor and hit the library.)  I read, “The Forest People” by Colin Turnbull and I swear I wanted to wear loincloth and live off the land like the pygmies!!  

The things I learned led to me becoming more “worldly.”  Good church folk know that being “worldly” is frowned upon in Christianity.  By definition it means you are “contrasted with heaven or spiritual life” (dictionary.com) but the second definition is “experienced, knowing, and sophisticated.”  I was a walking oxymoron!  I went to church every Sunday, had sound Christian values, and knew all my prayers and old negro spirituals just as my mother taught me.  On the other hand, I wanted to learn about other cultures, history, I respected other practices of Faith and knew that it was ok to be different.  I couldnt ignore the obvious similarities between Greek mythology, Egyptian history, Native American Proverbs, and The Bible.  We are all so different and yet we are all the same.

“Lukewarm” isn’t good but its the most comfortable temperature for most people.  I wash my hair in lukewarm water.  I take a lukewarm bath because hot baths hurt and dry out your skin.  I like my food lukewarm.  However, I am well aware that walking the fence doesn’t produce impressive results.  The most successful people are those who make decisions and step outside of their comfort zones.

In conclusion, I’m still “finding myself” but I’m getting “warmer” in life’s game of hide and go seek!  I converted to the United Church of Christ in 2004 and I have some uncompromising beliefs.  I started this post for a completely different reason though.  I kind of went on a tangent (sorry.)  I started this post because I have some  template prayers to address:

  1. Thank You God for curiosity.
  2. Thank You God for a significant other who tries to understand me and relate to me and love me no matter how hard it must be.
  3. Thank You God for my family.  I’ve seen other families on TV and I know you gave me a good one. 🙂
  4. Thank you God for my health.  The hardest thing I dealt with this year was Memorial Day in the ER for Strep Throat and that’s not too bad. Plus, I really like those hospital socks!
  5. I promise to use my love for writing more often to profess your grace and favor.

Are you “lukewarm”?  Do you have any template prayers to address?  Leave a comment….share….follow me on twitter @shutyamouthnow or email me at :Shutyamouthandcallmeugly@gmail.com

~By: Shaun M N