The Post Election Blues

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

As a progressive democrat with bordering on Socialist allegiances I saw this year’s election as one of utmost importance.  Affordable access to healthcare, a likely Supreme Court seat, and the war in Afghanistan were just a few of the major policy issues that were at stake.  For the past 3 months I have been praying every day for Barack Obama to win the presidency and for democrats to take control in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  This was unusual for me, for normally I would have prayed a general prayer like, “Lord God, please bless the candidate who is best for our country to win this election,” but this election was so important to me that I deviated from proper prayer protocol and asked for a specific result.

As a person who has been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder politics is a very dangerous road.  Given the capricious nature of politics in general, having definite allegiances to candidates just increases the stress on one’s psyche.  So needless to say, I have been very stressed out in recent weeks over the developments of the election.  In addition to praying about the outcome, I would say mantras to myself over and over again.  I would chant, “No matter who wins this election, I and my family are going to be alright.  No matter who wins this election, the sun will still rise and the night will still come.  No matter who wins this election, Jesus is still on the throne.”  But deep down, I believe that I may have invested just a little too much of my soul in this year’s contest.  I believe that I may have invested a bit too much, because with the exception of the elation that I felt on Tuesday night when the election was called, I have been experiencing acute depression in the days which followed.

Depression is a very mysterious experience.  For those of us that suffer from severe and persistent mental illness, depression can come upon us without warning and can seem to have no apparent cause.  But in this instance, I believe that my depression may have stemmed from a fundamental confusion concerning my relationship with God.  As an African-American politics is very important to my welfare.  Most of the strides toward African-Americans having equal rights in our society have come about as a result of political activism.  From the voting rights acts of 1964-1965 to the desegregation of public schools and public places, to the end of slavery, to equal access to employment, African-Americans have utilized the tools of civic protest and political engagement to fight for our rights.  This legacy is in stark contrast to for instance the legacy of Native-Americans in this country for whom political activism has been less fruitful in securing national rights for Indians and Indian Nations.  But perhaps the lack of success of Native-Americans in the political spectrum might produce a better attitude among Natives when historic elections such as this past election arise.

It seems that during this election, despite my mantras to the contrary, I explicitly connected my welfare as a person directly to the outcome of this past political contest.  The truth is that for me, God is the center of my existence and my strength flows from my ability to rely upon God as a source of sustenance.  Unlike some other people, I cannot count on my moods to be stable or my mind to accurately assess reality at all times.  Rather, I rely on medications and fervent prayer and seeking god as a way to fulfill my duties as a father, husband, citizen, and servant of Christ.  And unfortunately, medication while useful in helping me avoid catastrophic happenings such as a psychotic break, rarely works to stabilize my mood or keep me from social paranoia and agoraphobia.  No instead of my meds, it is the 45 minute prayer regimens that I pray on a daily basis that keep me focused and productive.  For me, as a person that lives with severe and persistent mental illness, God is often literally and explicitly the difference between death and life, darkness and light, and depression and stability. I realize that philosophically, this is true for all people, but for me, my dependence on God manifests in my life as a much more visceral reality given my challenges.

So, in this election, I sacrificed my usual center of God, for the external reality of the election. I dovetailed all of my hopes and dreams into the election outcome.  Unfortunately, politics, while important for a variety of reasons rarely directly informs or dictates my spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and circumstantial welfare.  I readily admit and assert that my life would be different if I did not have Barack Obama’s healthcare stipulations on my side as I deal with chronic illnesses like Schizoaffective, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, but in terms of my level of hope, my level of functionality, and my level of mental stability, politics is for the most part not a pertinent variable.

So in this election cycle, I made the mistake of relinquishing my karma yoga attitude about life and putting all of my existential eggs into the election basket.  The problem with this approach is that it creates somewhat of a psychic catch 22, in which if one does not obtain one’s desired outcome one might be devastated and if one does receive one’s desired outcome one must then contend with the reality that such an outcome pales in comparison to the Universal Source of God as a cause for our well being.  Today, I really tried to regain my center by reminding myself that I am in the same species as I am sure discouraged Republicans and that I need to pray for their adjustment to the political reality that emerged.  Today, I attempted to regain my center by recommitting my allegiance to God more so than a political ideology.  I am not trying to suggest that voting is not part of our civic duty, that advocating for justice is not part of righteousness, or that we should all put our heads in the sand and wait for God to solve all of our problems without our active struggle and participation.  But I am suggesting that as we advocate and that as we fulfill our duty as citizens in a democracy to pursue the end that we have decided to be best for the country, that we need to realize that God is ultimately our source of strength and happiness more so than any circumstance that we experience or political reality that we desire.

So, as I pull myself out of the post-election blues, I am sober in my understanding that God is and must be my center and that I need to revisit my duty as a Christian to love other Christians and other citizens of this country who do not agree with my vision for a better America.  As I pull myself out of the post-election blues I am sober in my remembrance that this world is not my ultimate home and that I advocate for justice out of my devotion to God more so than a desperate and fearful allegiance to any political outcome.  So thank you God for in your infinite mercy allowing the election to unfold as it did, but more importantly thank you God for being the center of my life and the source of my ultimate joy.

Destination Love

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Recently, I reconnected with a dear friend of mine to whom I had not spoken in 2 years. In the process of sharing our experiences since we had last talked, she intimated to me that recently, she had a near death experience.  During this near death experience, she said that she met Jesus and experienced what she described as “eternity” in which there was “no time” but rather past, present, and future were all simultaneously occurring.  She intimated that being in the presence of the Lord was beyond any experience of love that she had ever had.  She said that Jesus’ love completed her in a way such that she could not think of anyone else in his presence.  She said that in the “eternity” in which she operated, that Jesus was huge and was the center of all activity.  Her authority in communicating this was mesmerizing as she spoke with a confidence that I have scarcely encountered.  I told her that she seemed “transfigured” and that I believed that she had actually met the Lord.  Ironically, another friend of mine was recently telling me about a book that she was reading called, The Prince of Heaven by Eben Alexander, in which an unbeliever had a near death experience and recounted going to a place of infinite love.  Similarly, Wayne Dyer the spiritual teacher and PBS personality had a woman on one of his telecasts who had a near death experience and spoke of a state of being where worry, anxiety, and fear had absolutely no place and were completely muted by the unconditional love that surrounded and infused her.

As a Universalist, these accounts are very affirming of my conviction that all human beings, from the worst of us to the best of us, are eventually destined to bliss, wholeness, and the unconditional love of God.  Even given the idea of hell that some people who have had near death experiences recount visiting, this hell is surely not eternal and is a place of remediation where much needed lessons are learned.  Revisiting the first near death account of encountering an existential condition wherein Jesus is the center of reality and his love is all consuming makes me think of Phillipians 2:5-11 wherein Paul describes our savior as “being in very nature God” and yet humbling himself to be born as a human being and live a life of sadness and loneliness for the greater redemption of all things.  When one considers how big Jesus is in the afterlife, his humility in deciding to live among a people who in many ways did not value his gifts of love and compassion is dumbfounding.  While Jesus had a considerable following in Israel at times in his ministry, he was a relative unknown compared to historical characters like Julius Cesar or even Herod Antipas.  In fact, Jesus was such an unknown to most people that finding historical confirmation of his life is difficult.

There is something about this earthly and natural realm of existence that creates a profound temptation to devalue things that are important to eternity and value things that in the scheme of the cosmos have very little true significance.  It seems that there is something about this experience of human life that inappropriately puts great weight on relatively meaningless criteria such as worldly accomplishment, worldly notoriety, and material gain and that underestimates the truly eternal significance of love, justice, mercy, compassion, empathy, and gratitude.  This world’s problematic value system can sometimes be frustrating if we forget that one day, one fine day, we will be in the presence of unconditional love and the learning experiences, trials, and difficulties of this life will be over.

Some claim that a worldview that seriously integrates the notion of a beautiful and wondrous afterlife will cause the believer in such a hope to neglect practical matters and to become so spiritually minded that they are “no earthly good.” But in my experience, it is my understanding of a wondrous destiny for us all that motivates me to make this earth better and to make people’s lives better.  The confidence that Jesus truly got the victory over hatred, greed, malice, and contempt on the cross and that in some profound mystery secured the destinies of all human beings in that moment of sacrifice helps me work through discouragement and hold fast to hope.  I truly believe that understanding love as our ultimate destination helps one to advocate for justice with more rather than less fervor because one operates in the unflinching belief that righteousness, equality, and love are not just destined to win, but have in many senses already won.  This kind of awareness helps us to persevere when it seems like circumstances in our earthly journey are untenable.  To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this earth will one day resemble that wondrous afterlife where fear and hatred have absolutely no place, is so empowering that it will one day make real what is already real to the angels.  Because love has already won, it will surely win.

No matter how bleak things seem in reference to the mass incarceration of the poor or lingering racism or homophobia or worldwide violence or ethnic cleansing we have an existential guarantee that evil and suffering must and will fade to be replaced by the perfect love that is all around us but often times not acknowledged.  The truth is that misery, suffering, and pain are ephemeral and it is joy, love, and peace that are eternal.  The truth is that this earth’s destiny has already been decided and in spite of global warming, over-population, and the unconscionable hoarding of wealth that seem to be defining our reality that this planet’s destiny is ultimately good.  We who stand for love truly cannot fail and those who stand against love will soon be converted.  For our journey is blessed and our destination is love and no worry, pain, anguish, sorrow, bad choice, or adversity can ever change that.

The Edge

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

The woman steps out on the balcony of her high rise apartment and among the buildings and streets and stoplights witnesses a fulcrum, an edge.

An edge, the edge, the intersection of beginnings and endings,

The moment when crops are ripe for harvest.

The edge calls to us and invites us to forsake what is known,

The edge calls us to test the limits of our understanding,

And step into an abyss of possibility,

Sinking down into relaxed awareness of beauty,

The edge awaits us.

The edge, where race no longer matters and neither does popularity,

The edge, where souls delight in the magic of music,

The edge, where souls revel in the power of seasons to change and of death to beget life,

The edge is the precious moment where we are neither disappointed at what we have not done or anxious that we will not continue in doing,

The edge is where we can see a life, a leaf, a soul for what it is without a biased back story of prejudiced contrivance,

The edge is where babies go when they are awakened in the womb,

The edge is the horizon where sunrises and twilight take our breath to the height of admiration,

For only God can make this atmosphere to shine just right as the sun and moon dance their dance of gratitude,

The edge is what I wish for now and always,

The woman steps out of her house in the mountains and among the stars hidden in sunshine and premature butterflies hidden in billowy leaves on trees she witnesses an edge, a fulcrum.

Where divinity and gratitude explode in the praise of creativity and the worship of life anew.

Edges, edges where comfortable platitudes have no voice and ignorant assumptions are ostracized,

Come quickly edges, come quickly and embrace me.

Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting?

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Born into tragic reckoning,

We understand that all the bliss we have is but a moment in Creation,

Elation and tragedy come to nothing beneath the last breath our body takes,

And death opens wide to swallow us into that great mystery.

Born into tragic reckoning,

We try and create a memory that lives beyond our present breath,

But that memory is hollow compared to the touch of loved ones,

We grow and live knowing that someday we will lose our parents and friends to that dark dominion,

And yet does death still sting as before?

Born into tragic reckoning,

A man lived in sorrow, hoping and reaching for a better tomorrow,

Born into poverty and oppression,

A man refused to accept the limitations of his age and grew to become like no manner of man that has ever existed.

Born into tragic reckoning, a man grabbed the hand of God and demanded life,

And when it was his time to die he embraced the abyss,

Three days later he rose from death’s clutches and said, “I am that I am.”

The great dream of tomorrow beyond the sting of loss is real and it is rather the sensation that things end which is mistaken.

For there was and is a man, who will ensure that tragedies are transformed into triumphant reconciliation.

For there was and is a man, who guarantees that even in the height of despair there really is no end and all mysteries give way to beginnings of blessing.

Oh Death, because of a man who was, who is, and who will be where is your sting?

Or sorrow where is your victory?

For death can rule no soul.

So into the great beyond, go with courage dear sister, go with courage.

Autumn Sunshine

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Sometimes in the fall, the sun becomes red like a royal crimson fireball,
One Friday night in 1997 I asked a woman to marry me and we made love,
9 months later, I stared into my wife’s eyes and saw a mixture of relief and ecstasy,
As the midwife showed her the fruits of excruciating pain and endless love,
On March 3rd of the year 1998 I met God and he gave me a gift for the ages,
But as he placed her into my arms he sternly advised,
“This gift is someone you can never own, but if you protect and serve her, you will see my face.”
Ever since then, from time to time, God shows up and says hello,
Sometimes he is dressed in punk rock regalia and other times in beautiful Sunday dresses,
And one time I even saw him in my parent’s back yard trying to bounce a tennis ball with an over sized racket,
Sometimes God will try and hog the car radio and force techno down my throat,
But always he says the same thing, “My son, this is your daughter Autumn and in her I am well pleased.”
One Friday night in 2011 I went to Marshall Middle School and heard a young teenager sing a song by Katy Perry,
When she finished, I knew that there was no stopping her and I felt a gratitude to my creator against which no bad memory could stand,
I felt gratitude for a gift that I do not own, but through whom God has said, “I love you” in a thousand phrases and smiles,
Sometimes when I have had a bad day I think of a precocious two year old trying to bounce a tennis ball with an over size racket and I reflect on the woman she is becoming,
Sometimes in the fall, the sun becomes red like a royal crimson fireball,
My daughter is named after the fall, her name is Autumn and she is my sunshine.

Come Glory This All Hallow’s Eve

By:  Woodrow Odom Lucas

As I drive by the end of days I see a pumpkin and a happy witch on the doorstep of my joy,

As I pass by my four year old’s awe toward friendly ghosts down the street of nostalgia,

I am reminded of Saints gone home and good souls on their penitent journey,

Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Paul Robeson and the poets of my past,

Hendrix, Morrison, Michael, Louis Armstong and the Sounds of my testimony,

Prince and Wynton Marsalis, Miles Davis, Amadeus, Earth, Wind, and Fire,

Saints living, saints dead, souls vibrant, souls sad in the darkness of regret,

We are a glorious symphony on this, this all Hallows Eve,

The eve of that day when I celebrate the muses of my sacrifice and the foundations of my epiphanies,

“Halloween is here” my youngest daughter exclaims and I am reminded of many a night spent scavenging for sweet things and expectant laughter,

Tragic kings like Edgar Allen and Charlie Parker, souls with so much pregnant genius that the world was too much for them,

It is our celebration dear friends that will move the mountains of discontent,

And so in this season of harvest, carpe diem calls me to absorb as much love as I can as the sun sets on purple leaves and gorgeous corn stalks,

And in mother Africa, the ancestors dance like their Celtic sisters who fused the worship of our Lord and the glory of mother Gaia,

And in mother Africa the land recovers from the grief stricken sting of rape,

And in mother Africa my sisters and brothers celebrate the saints gone forward into that great mystery,

Tecumseh and Black Elk I celebrate the brilliance of your aptitude,

And I cry with you in triumph for the resurrection of a people forsaken but not defeated,

Come Glory,

On this All Hallows Eve, I celebrate the beauty of a journey full of confusion and catharsis,

For the reality is that we truly cannot fail,

As our cloud of witnesses sing to me of the victory that awaits,

Tonight, adorned with the fashion of merriment,

And the subtle chill of October wind reds our lips,

Come Glory and Glory be to the faithful departed,

Happy Halloween!

Who Can Find A Virtuous Woman?

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Who can find a virtuous woman?

She is worth far more than rubies.

She is not a possession but a partner.

She is a fantastic conversation starter.

My wife found out that her brother drowned and that she was pregnant with our first child on the same day.

My wife had a husband lose his mind and her father shoot himself in the same 3 months.

Who can find a virtuous woman?

My wife rarely complains, walks clothed in love, and has a sexy smile like Sophia Lauren.

My wife giggles and laughs at stupid jokes out of sheer hilarious kindness.

Who can find a virtuous woman?

Women turn to my wife for advice and direction.

Men turn to my wife for encouragement and affirmation.

She is not a possession but a partner.

She is a fantastic conversation starter.

With her I will grow old.

With her I will travel back to the innocence of my childhood.

Loving her has not been easy as obstacles have come against us from day one,

But when I think to faint or run I dream of her soul and find strength.

Who can find a virtuous woman?

Her children arise and call her blessed;

Her husband also, and he praises her.

My wife’s love for our children manifests in busy days and restful nights,

And through her love my children never doubt the presence and reality of God’s affection.

My wife sees the best in me when others can only see frivolity and failure.

My wife beats back adversity with a conscientious smile and perspicacious laughter.

My wife knows God but does not flaunt her holiness as if it is on display for the world,

And my wife’s motivations are purer than the running water of mountain tops.

I seek not to exalt her to a place of codependence where all of her humanity is crushed beneath the pain of my subjective worship.

No, my wife is no God and she is constantly forgetting to lock her car,

But when I think of King Lemuel and his question for the ages,

When I think of King Lemuel and his somewhat chauvinist question,

Who can find a virtuous woman?

My response is always the same, I can!


But There Are Stars

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

One day a father’s father died.

He wept and walked with his son that night.

As they walked, his son asked, “How do I become a man?”

The father responded, “Follow me to a cross and I’ll show you a


“Who is he?” the son asked.

“He is the king of kings.”

“How do you know?” the boy questioned.

The father told his son to look up and answered with tears in his

eyes, “night sky is dark, but there are stars. Bright orbs of light that mock the night. And life is dark but there is Christ, he quenched the sting of death and brings blind sight.”

“But Why?!” the son demanded.

“There is no why, just what!”

“Believe and know why night can’t stop sun’s light.

Believe and know why death can’t sting God’s might.”

Believe and know why sorrow cannot last and suffering must fade.

Believe and know why broken hearts are best, yet hearts of steel can’t rise.

In these dark days of doubt and lies.”

My son, in these dark days of doubt and lies.

Just know, night sky is dark but there are stars, bright orbs of light that mock the night.

And life is dark but there is Christ, he quenched the sting of death

and brings blind sight.”

He is the author of truth and craftsman of joy.

Confidant to whores yet sovereign master over strife.

And soon he’ll come to judge the dead and rule the just.

He’ll set things right.

But now my son, right now just lift your hands, let his love grab

hold, and let nothing in this sordid lie of life distract from that embrace.

In these dark days of doubt and lies.

Believe and know why night can’t stop sun’s light.

Believe and know why death can’t sting God’s might.

He is the author of truth and craftsman of joy.

He steals the sting of death and brings blind sight.

Confidant to whores yet sovereign master over strife.

He is the king of kings, the Christ.

Believe on his name, my son, he’ll make you a man.

Believe on his name and live forever.

The Most Magnificent Miracle

By: Woodrow Odom Lucas

Imagine for a moment the reality that we are truly spinning around in a dark universe.

Imagine for a moment the reality that we are truly stranded perhaps on an island of beauty in a perilous solar system, inhospitable to our humanity and only generous toward man made motion.

Imagine for a moment the reality that we are truly spinning around in a dark universe, with black holes and dead stars and asteroid belts and planets that we cannot yet inhabit with human skin.

Imagine my friend, the utter mystery of our condition and the unknowable and unfathomable questions that result from knowing the nature of our DNA.

Imagine for a moment the mysterious reality that all life on the planet earth is some combination of four molecular bases of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.

Now extract yourself from any idea of God saving any of us.

Now extract yourself from any notion of what happens after we die or whether or not God forgives us for our sin.

Now extract yourself from all self-centered notions of your own success or individual happiness.

Now imagine for a moment, a Jewish man born in Bethlehem and raised in Galilee.

And imagine for a moment a Jewish man, full of doubt and fear being told by his mother that he was the savior of all mankind.

And imagine for a moment that this Jewish man tried to live a life worthy of his Holy Father’s confidence.

Now imagine that this man faced peculiar opposition from most people as he made his outlandish claims about being the Son of God.

Now imagine for a moment that violent death according to some leaves the soul of the perishing in a suspended state of torment.

Now imagine for a moment a government that engages in the hideous practice of crucifixion as a strategy to maintain order and dominion.

Now imagine for a moment the hideous experience of anyone enduring crucifixion by having their hands and feet nailed to wood, there abdomen pierced through, and their legs ultimately broken.

Now imagine a man, who knew very little violence, being subjected to this violence.

Now imagine a man, who for the good of his people voluntarily embraced this hideous violence.

Now imagine this man who died violently actually coming back to life after he had been dead and buried.

Imagine for a moment the reality that we are truly spinning around in a dark universe.

Imagine for a moment the reality that we are truly stranded perhaps on an island of beauty in a perilous solar system, inhospitable to our humanity and only generous toward man made motion.

Imagine for a moment the reality that we are truly spinning around in a dark universe, with black holes and dead stars and asteroid belts and planets that we cannot yet inhabit with human skin.

Now imagine that we are much more than human bodies with skin and that we are meant to live eternally in bliss.

Now imagine that man, that man who died violently on our behalf and rose in the greatest mystery known to man, giving birth to infinite possibility.

Now rest easy because God loves you and your destiny is miraculous to say the least.