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Everybody Has a Pulse

I wrote this after Pulse, early on the morning of June 13, 2016. I was at an Annual Meeting of the MN Conference of the United Church of Christ, after a national gathering of affirming and mostly queer clergy.


I heard the words at 15

Called across a crowded hallway

Dyke, Fag, Tomboy, Queer.

Words turned into bullets – shattering

Drumming into my head and rending my soul

Words have power.

I heard the words at 44

Gay, Immoral, Evil, Different,

Shouted into microphones

By politicians who call for violence

and then pray for their victims dying in crimson pools.

Words have power.

My heart lays on a street in Orlando

Will we remember the names of those lost or

is it only their murderer who gets to grab immortality?

My heart lays on a street in Orlando

Pride in their dancing, Pride in their survival,

Pride in just being alive.


My heart lays on a street in Orlando.

Orlando is my place.

It is my refuge.

Orlando is where I go to recharge and renew my soul.

I know the pathways and back roads.

I have shopped at Kroger and dined on

fresh Florida rock shrimp.

I have smelled the orange groves and

danced through the afternoon rain showers.

I have had breakfast with Mickey and

visited the sorting hat after supper.

Orlando is me and I am hurting today.

I am angry at all we have lost.

I want to scream.

I want to punch something.

I want to tell the entire world off.

I am not sure how many more names my

heart and soul can carry.

I am not sure how to tell Brandon and Gwen and Matt

that they need to move over, make space

because we have lost more friends,

Friends who were our sisters, brothers, children.

Friends who could have been us.

I am not sure how to tell the people

lost years and months ago that we have failed again.

More people are dead and we get to keep on living.

My faith comforts me, sustains me.

How can I share my faith with people

who preach for my death?

My faith nurtures me, the familiar passages

embracing me with infinite love.

Those same words empower others to hate me for who I am.

How do I comfort others when I just want to cry?

After Sandy Hook, an American minister

was sanctioned by his church for praying.

He joined other faith leaders to pray for dead children

and his religion teaches that they alone

know the right path to God.

He apologized for praying.

He kept his job.

A person of faith did not kill in Sandy Hook and

a person of faith did not rain bullets in Orlando.

When are we going to realize that being faithful is to demonstrate peace/love,

not reward messages designed to separate us from each other?

Words, just words.

But words are never just words when they are said

to target, to harm,

to take away another person's


kfr, 2016

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