why i'm here.
here we are. in the bloom. i thought i would begin by sharing why i have created this alternative space for doing my public work. it’s been a long time coming to a place of honesty and vulnerability, and so i write these words in the spirits of celebration an exhalation.
some years ago, i began working in ministry at a very large, highly visible church. when i started at this church, i knew these things. but, i had no way of knowing all the beautiful and complication implications that came along with them. on one hand, it provided an unparalleled space to hone my voice as a preacher, and my heart as a pastor. i met a mentor who changed my life forever, and whose words and spirit continue to illuminate my path from her place in the realm of the ancestors. in this church, i felt a sense of family and support that carried me through one of the most formative seasons in my life.
i enjoyed the recognition and opportunities that came from being on staff at such a powerful church. all of this was new and humbling, but it came with the unexpected pressure that comes along with such visibility. the pressure was mounting. somehow, i’d been selected as a leader of my generation of clergy-activists, and i didn’t know how. but, somewhere in my mind, i began to concoct these images and ideas of who i should be, how i should behave, and how i should carry myself in order to maintain and grow in this identity as a “leader.” what resulted was years of
smiling when i didn’t feel like it,
being nice and taking the “high road” when i knew i’d been done wrong,
suppressing my truth because it had proved to be too costly to tell it,
silencing my voice because “preachers don’t say things like that publicly…”
crafting an image of myself that was far too narrow to be true.
over the last two years, i’ve come to terms with this pressure and have realized that it has caused a significant amount of anxiety, stress, and vocational dissatisfaction. i’ve also learned that the anxiety isn’t worth it. a growing leader who is committed to their authenticity will find that even on their best days, there are still critics and haters. i am learning that being who you are is the only way to sustainably and honorably lead. i’m glad i’m getting this lesson, because the truth is that i’m in another very visible and highly demanding position, and i feel the pressure daily. but, it looks like i will be in this position for some time to come, and that i will continue to soar in my vocation into my future. i will never be able to answer God’s call on my life by obliging so many external opinions and expectations. in other words, i want to be healthy, whole, and free in the pursuit of my divine purpose.
i need this space because i need to be honest. i need this space to tell the story as it is unfolding. i need this space because, even though i’ve worked hard and i have the credentials to show for it, i don’t want to be an expert at everything. i need a space that is safe to experiment, to fumble the theological ball, to be wrong, and to recover. i need a space to tell the stories behind the sermons, because they are often the Words that i need to hear. i need a space to be silly, to cuss, and to talk about things other than ministry and theology, because (newsflash!), my work is only one part of my life. i need a space to gush about how much i love my incredibly sexy partner, and how i’m becoming a better human being because of his love. i need a space to talk about how much i love my friends and family, and how happy it makes me to see them all growing and thriving. i need a space to share how excited i am about my latest purchases from Zara and the amazing food and spirited beverages i enjoy when i dine out. i need a space to share the experiences on my spiritual excursions to foreign countries. i need a space to be human. not Rev. Dr. not Dean. just me.
the challenge with social media is that it doesn’t allow for the type of honesty and transparency that i desire to embody. there, the pressure to be perfect and to be a thought leader can be a lot. no matter the platform, i have a general anxiety about sharing. i’ve had my words and my thoughts stolen without citation. i’ve had my photos screenshotted and reposted without my permission. i’ve had complete strangers come for me in my comments and in my DMs, because i don’t live up to their ideals, as if this is supposed to be of some concern to me. it’s too much.
but what’s even more “too much,” is the idea of journeying alone. over the past ten years of ministry, i’ve met some incredible people who have encouraged and supported my journey. so many people have taken the time to write me, letting me know how my ministry has positively impacted their lives. this is precisely what makes the work worth it. i needed to find a way to remain in touch, to keep the community going, and broaden our interaction into a greater sense of connection. we need that these days. i need that these days.
i also want to share my journey as a coffee entrepreneur. i’m currently growing my coffee passion into a business. it’s called Black Girl Black Coffee, and it is the creative and entrepreneurial outlet that my soul has long craved. i’m learning a lot in this process, and i want to share it. i don’t want to “present it” when it’s complete, i want to share it as it is coming into fruition. i’m certainly standing a vocational crossroads. i’ve long seen myself as more than just a minister, and now i get to flesh this out and explore all of my callings. all of my gifts. all of the passions. leaving nothing on the field, because this one life is precious and it’s all i have.
all of this being said, i want to share the meaning of my title, '“the bloom.” when one is manually brewing a cup of coffee, such as on pourover or French press, you’ll pour your hot water over your coffee grinds a number of times, usually between two and three. the very first pour is called the “bloom pour.” to me, this is most important pour. when hot water first hits fresh coffee, beautiful bubbles magically appear as the coffee is releasing gasses — and aroma. this process is called blooming, and i often liken it to the coffee coming to life. elevating. expanding. becoming something even more wonderful and delicious than it already was. last year, when i competed (and won!) in the GlitterCat Barista Brewers Cup Digitition, i learned that the bloom pour is critical to developing a coffee’s sweetness and to drawing out its fruity notes. the longer the bloom, the sweeter the cup. it’s a lesson in slowing down, enjoying the process, and letting the process work its magic.
this is where i’m at. i’m blooming. my life is changing by the day. i feel it. my thoughts are shifting. my heart is healing. i feel like Spirit is speaking life over me, and that i’m in a season of re-membering who i am and creating the life and future that i desire. i’m open to love in all of its expressions. i’m re-engaging my hope of being married, and preparing my body for motherhood. i’m planting seeds for a flourishing financial future, even as i’m circling back to some of my favorite childhood practices of playing, dreaming, and creating. i’m re-learning how to walk in my truth, even if it takes me away from the path that i had planned. this is scary, beautiful, wonderful stuff.
i’m here, in the bloom, because i am writing my way through my journey. i would love to have a community of fellow Bloomers, to share the journey with me. substack is cool because it allows for some supporters to follow along for free, and some to follow for a minimal cost. free subscribers will get all the sermons, poems, prayers, and coffee stuff. paid subscribers will receive all of the above, plus my love notes, where I share some of what i’m learning through my romantic partnership. you’ll also receive the intimate stories behind my public work and other exclusive content. at all times, you all will be the first to hear of upcoming engagements, projects, and the launch of Black Girl Black Coffee! we’ll see how it all “blooms.”
thanks for being here.