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I am no stranger to therapy. I’ve been in therapy on and off since I was eighteen. My therapists have been a series of incredible, skilled women. First, there was the young, compassionate, funny, engaging redhead who skillfully navigated me through long-delayed grief over my father’s death. Then, the incomparably empathetic, wise, and tender older woman who helped me say out loud for the first time that I did not want, or invite the trauma I was carrying from my 20’s. And my current therapist, a fierce, badass, incisive, profoundly caring, authentic, and deeply curious woman who has saved my life countless times in the last three years (particularly 2020). …


Slow Down Where it Hurts: Grief and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Thirteen years ago this year, on December 23rd, I made last-minute plans to fly home to Upstate NY on the busiest travel day of the year. One leg of my flight canceled. I got rerouted through LGA. I had to run between multiple gates and got on the tiniest plane in a tremendous winter storm. There were maybe thirty seats on the whole plane.I spent the entire flight relatively sure I was going to die.

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I got off of the plane in Syracuse, NY. As I exited security, my cousin’s tiny toddler (having just turned one) toddled around the corner to meet me. I promptly burst into tears. My cousin spoke the words I already knew: “it won’t be long.” As the rest of the world reunited with family to celebrate Christmas, my beloved grandmother lay dying in a hospital bed about an hour from the airport. The next day, I would kiss her forehead, thank her for all she was to me, say goodbye, and wait for the call that she had slipped quietly to be with my grandfather. …


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Photo Credit: Shachmut Photography, my ordination at Old South Church in Boston, MA

Today marks my fifth anniversary of ordination to ministry. I have been called to ministry for over half of my life. I can hardly remember a life in which this thing that has pulled me, and shaped my heart for so long did not have a grip on me. While I have served the church for much longer than five years, I have been reflecting on what these five years of ordination in particular have meant to me. They have been harder, more humbling, more beautiful, more tender, more holy, and more painful than I ever could have imagined. They have been everything and nothing like I thought they would be all at once. …


“Why does it feel like they hate me?” I asked.
“It’s Femmephobia,” she replied. “It’s rooted in the idea that all Femmes are vapid and self-centered.”

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Photo: Pastor Elle Dowd (she/her/hers), edited by Valerie Evelynn

And there it was.

I had spent days trying to figure out how to let go of an exchange that had left me feeling bruised, and tender. I couldn’t figure out why it got under my skin so deeply, and there it was. Intentional or not, this particular piece of feedback and criticism was sitting squarely at the intersection of Femmephobia and fatphobia.

This isn’t new territory for me. I navigate the world in a body that is protected in one way by my white, cisgender privilege. I am often traditionally feminine in my appearance (though it is queerer than the outside observer would realize on first glance). I am also unapologetically fat. …


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When I was doing my clinical training in a major, Level I trauma center in Boston, I remember acutely a day that I broke down sobbing. I felt like I was simply immersed in death. One of my dearest patients had finally died, and I had a heavy case load.

One of the older, wiser, more experienced chaplains took my hand, and said: “I need you to remember that this is not normal. The rest of the world is not immersed in death. Go outside and be reminded there is life, and there are promises of good things to come.” …


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Dear loved ones who voted, and/or will vote for Donald Trump,

Y’all, I tried.

I wanted to believe after 2016 that you weren’t endorsers of white supremacy, racism, homophobia, sexism, and more. I wanted to believe that you at least cared about me (despite ignoring our sobbing tears on election night and literal fear for our family). I wanted to believe that you did not fully appreciate the harm you would cause. I wanted to believe your sexism did not run that deep despite myriad “but her emails!”

White supremacy culture taught me all of these things. It told me such pretty lies about how you just couldn’t be people whose need for a white man to save you would trump my personhood. It promised me you wouldn’t be people who minimized my feelings of fear and pain on social media the day after the election. It told me that our love and care for one another would outweigh your darkest secrets, the racism you enacted in the voting booth. …


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It started pretty early.

Sometime around early March the memes, the tweets, and the thirty second soundbites began.

“I’m so jealous of my friends without kids.”

“Life in pandemic must be so much easier for y’all who don’t have kids at home.”

“I wish I could spend pandemic baking bread and binging Netflix.”

“I mean you really don’t have anything to complain about.”

The lines had been drawn, and the implications were clear. The only experiences that mattered were those of parents with young children at home. …


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Dear White male colleagues in ministry, and white men in the church,

It’s time for a come to Jesus.

I found out yesterday that y’alls favorite progressive poster boy, Shane Claiborne, has deemed himself subject matter expert on abortion. He is planning to write a book dealing with, among other things, the question of “when life begins.” There is to end to the number of topics on which cishet male opinions should be centered apparently. When asked if he would be including women’s voices, he replied “I have some female friends with whom I will be working as I craft the sections on abortion.” Female friends of Shane, y’all best make sure he gets your names out of his mouth, or gives you some credit. …


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Run, do not walk, if you do not own both of these books. Thank you Sonya Renee Taylor, and Nayyirah Waheed. You are extraordinary.

I feel certain some of you already know who I mean. You are already harkening images of inspirational quotes, rooms full of crying white women, and more. In my clergy circles, white clergy women in certain age brackets love us an inspirational white lady. Brene Brown has nearly been Canonized into the White Clergy Hall of Saints. You get the idea. White progressive Christian women have a lot to say about the racist, prosperity Gospel train wreck of the Rachel Hollis empire (and there IS a lot to say), but less about the women who are their own sacred icons. My Femme and co-conspirator, the Rev. …


If you are anything like me your social media feeds have been full of articles talking about surviving the coming winter. It feels daunting for even the most well balanced brain chemistry. A full winter, a full cold and flu season tainted by pandemic, uprising, and unrest. We are likely not to leave the house for long stretches of time. Our kids may or may not be going to school. Whiskey me, Jesus.

But I confess more than a little irritation at some of those articles. My often off-balance seratonin levels have a word for pieces insisting twinkle lights and fuzzy blankets will help us survive. Who knew y’all? All we needed were some sparkly lights and soft blankets to cure 2020. …

About

Heidi Carrington Heath

The Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath (she/her/hers) is a preacher, teacher, activist, writer, holy mischief maker, and proud queer femme.

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