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I have been meaning to go to a Minneapolis Sing for months. Even though this is so my thing I have always had an excuse. But today I knew I had to go. It may have been because it was “All Souls Day” or because it was held in the beautiful chapel at Lakewood Cemetery. Whatever the reason there was no doubt that I was going. I got there met my friend Pam and others. We went in, sat down and an older woman came and asked if she could sit next to me. I said of course and within a few words she said to me: “I just lost my husband”. I told her I would help her cry and I held her when she couldn’t sing through one of the love songs. During the naming song she whispered to me “is this when I say his name?” She said it, not loud enough for me to remember it but she said it. When we parted she thanked me and said she was so glad she came. Pam said to me “you know this is Minnesota, no one else would have held her.” I said “you would”.

The invitations are so clear in hindsight, when you experience what the invite was for. Now keep in mind the sing was glorious full of divine light, but that’s not why I was invited. Her name is Janet and for some reason she kept calling me Joanne.



We are selling our house, which requires that I have had to get rid of lots and lots of stuff. It was much harder than it should have been because my mom convinced me that all of this stuff at least the stuff her mother collected is what kept us from being white trash. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that the house burned down when I was fourteen. So I purged and purged threw away my grandmother’s Kitchen Aid mixer, her curtains my Aunt’s pink chair.(all of these things were broken) I did good. Today I stood in the middle of the family room holding a grungy piece of plastic which I couldn’t throw out. Why this grungy piece of orange plastic? Because it was part of a plant holder my father made me. He picked this piece of plastic because it was a water picture from one of his trips to the hospital and he thought using it in this fancy beautiful wooden piece of furniture was funny.
So I couldn’t throw this thing away because I was afraid I would forget the joke. But I threw it away and wrote this piece so I wouldn’t forget the joke. The garbage is still in the kitchen so I may still keep it. We’ll see. I don’t want to forget the joke.


I was at the Powderhorn Park Art Fair this weekend selling my jewelry. On Saturday a woman came to reintroduce herself to me. She is the mother of an ex-client of mine, Susan. Susan became my client because three years ago at the same fair I shared a tent with her sister Gail. When I told Gail I was a lawyer she told me that her sister was trying to get a divorce but couldn’t do it herself. So I offered to meet with her for free and coach her to do it herself. Eventually I had to represent her because her ex would not cooperate. So back to the present… Gail and Susan’s mother chatted with me and told me her daughters were doing well. She bought some earrings. She left the tent and walked a fair piece away and then turned around and came back to me in the tent. She then said “I believe that you were meant to share the tent with Gail so you could save Susan. Thank You”. And I said “I do too and it was my pleasure”.

Those things happen to me every once in a while. I call them “Its a Wonderful Life” moments. It’s as if Clarence comes to me and gives me a peak into what good I have done and how little things that didn’t seem important were actually important.

When I was telling this story to my family I mentioned that for a super power I would like to be able to see all of the ways that little things that people did turned into powerful things. They looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I then said “Oh I guess that would make me God. Maybe that would not be such a good idea.” “You think”

So its nice to get to see some of them once and a while.

Thanks Clarence.



God of Redemption;

Of the light that defeats the darkness.

Remind us that that gift is not just for our own personal use.

It is to spread divine love, divine forgiveness and divine healing.

Let us remember that our work for peace and justice is what delivers that gift to us.



        The story is that Reverend Cox from Drexel Park Church in Chicago believed this to be the most important rule of life.   He was my mother’s pastor.  She told it to me when I was quite young and I took it seriously and with very few exceptions have followed it my whole life. I discovered fairly early that its not just that you are saved the guilt of missed opportunities but that doing the “thing you should do” visiting someone before they die, writing the thank you letter or going to the funeral, returns blessings beyond that expected.  Today was no exception.  When I heard that my friend Eileen had the hospital bed moved in and her daughter was talking hospice I needed to go see her.  I know Eileen from church I don’t have a relationship with her outside of church.  But she is someone who is in my heart.  We talk politics before church.  I reassure her that everything will be ok and who to vote for. So I took her daughter’s number Sunday and planned to go this week.  So today was the day.  I made the call and planned to go this afternoon.  As I was driving up to the house the doubts started.  The things that keep us from doing these things.  “This is going to be awkward” “Am I doing the right thing” Etc.

    As I walked into to her room she greeted me with excitement and grabbed my hand,  We talked about politics.  I told her to not worry about Franken and Dayton.  That I would take care of it.  She bemoaned how President Obama was not as progressive as she had hoped.  I reminded her about Oscar Romero’s prayer.  That the Kingdom of God is beyond our reach. She responded: “Oh Oscar Romero… We have had some good Captains haven’t we… and Nelson Mandela.”

   There was something about how she said it, that gave me that “Word of God” feeling or was it the fact that this was a Mathew 25 moment. 



On my way to St. Paul, I took University Avenue and passed all of the shops near Dale.  Out in front of one of them was a small Hmong man with a giant machete clearing the path from his shop to the street by chopping at the snow bank.  I was reminded again that without diversity in our lives we are far from the divine.  Just as those of the Jewish faith believe you should not write the word God because God is beyond our imagination I have a hard time conceiving of a true picture of the divine.  The best that I can do is think of it as multi colored piece of woven fabric.  The kind that by its contrast of color becomes more beautiful and majestic than single threads alone would be.  If one looks at humanity as the weave of God you can see how our contrasts magnify our individual beauty.  When someone expresses their intolerance for one group of people or another I think how sad it is that they have chosen to not see the immense beauty of the divine.  Why would someone chose to ignore the full picture of creation?



For those of you not up to date:  On February 4th the DFL caucus, which was held at the Brian Coyle Center was shut down because it broke out in violence.  Specifically a young woman who was supporting one candidate was assaulted by supporters of another.  She was taken to the hospital and treated for a concussion and sprained neck.

Now if that is all you knew about this you would assume that the following has happened:

1.  The incident has been investigated by the police, the party and each campaign to determine whether violence was committed and by whom.

2.  Once the investigation was complete the individuals who committed physical assault were charged by the police, sanctioned by the party and expelled by the campaigns.

It has been sixteen days and none of this has happened.  How is this possible?  Because it didn’t happen in South Minneapolis or in the Northeast.  It happened in one of the Somali Precincts.  Admit it a click just went off in your head.  “Oh of course”. 

What has happened?  Leading members of our party have treated this as if it’s a problem in the Somali community.  They have said both sides are to blame; it’s due to a language problem; our beloved mayor RT gave a speech to the community saying you’ve come too far to let this happen.  Then when the caucus was reconvened and resulted in the election of delegates these same people call it a victory for democracy.  A VICTORY FOR DEMOCROCY?  The candidate whose supporters committed the violence ended up with more delegates than they would have if the first one had not been shut down by their violence.  Sounds to me like democracy lost.  So how is it a victory for democracy?  It is only a victory for democracy if it was an open question whether this Somali precinct could successfully hold a caucus.  Why couldn’t they successfully hold a caucus?  Because of their language? Their country of origin? Their skin color?  The only question that should have been open is whether these same individuals chose again to commit violence.  Seems unlikely when all eyes are on them. 

HAVE YOU GOTTEN MY POINT YET?  Any leader of our community, the police, the party or the candidates that treat this situation as anything other than a criminal act of assault are letting their inherent subconscious racism color their perception.  (And yes I believe anyone who was raised in this culture is racist.  The question is what you chose to do with it.)

We need to see this.  Not because of how this affects the Somali community but because of how it affects OUR COMMUNITY.  ALL OF OUR COMMUNITY.  Because this is not about the Somali community it is about us.   

If you are interested in the facts please review this excellent piece in MinnPost. 


I pride myself in doing a lot of free legal work for people who need it.  I can get quite arrogant about it actually.  I have one client who I met at Homeless Connect.  I gave him my card just in case the documents we drafted were not enough.  I was very proud of that.  I probably even said “nobody else would do this”.  Then when it got really complicated and I still did the legal work and felt even more proud of myself and bragged.  But then he became like other client’s, he began to complain.  Complain about the Judge, about the process and about how long it took.  And then I started to complain, but still being proud of myself that I was doing this case for free.  Then it came to me, real generosity is not easy its not clean.  If its not an inconvenience its not real.  Then the story of Jesus made sense to me.  And I thought that when Christianity isn’t morphed into an excuse to Judge others its a pretty powerful story.  So next time I get all full of myself I hope I remember a couple of things.  One of them being “don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing”.  Then I will try to contemplate the deeper meanings of the faith path I have chosen. 


I was shopping today and the cashier kept looking at my necklace.  I was wearing one of my charm necklaces.  I told her I made it and she couldn’t believe it and kept saying how beautiful it was and then said, there is something very special about how you put the beads together.  I said yes I have kind of an asymmetrical pattern.  And she said no that’s not it..  I write, I write music.  There is music in that necklace. 


I went to Ken Tilsen’s funeral today.  Ken Tilsen was a human rights lawyer.  He was lead counsel for the criminal defense for the Wounded Knee prosecutions.  He provided representation for the Minnesota Eight (the draftees who broke into the draft office and spilled blood on the draft records).  He provided representation for the Honeywell protesters, and the list goes on and on.  He did this in a relatively selfless way.  Let me just say this.  At the grave-site service in the middle of the day today in addition to family, judges and lawyers there were more than a handful of radical lesbians from back in the day and what is left of the Lakota Elders giving homage.

It was a beautiful service.  But I think what made me unable to stop crying was the thought that this was my last hero.  Arthur Kinoy is gone.  Hayward Burns is gone.  Rosalie Wahl is gone.  Where are my current heroes.  I think of Keith Ellison as a compatriot but in ten years he will probably count.  But I can think of no one who rises to the level of these great heroes. 

Is it because our generation has dropped the ball?  This makes me sad.  So I think the only solution is to really up my game.  I’m not completely sure how to do that, but I have to do something.  I cannot live with the feeling that all of the heroes are gone.