"A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear (that results) from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl."
The brutal honesty with which Brenda sculpts the life of authenticity is best spoken of by the character of Granny Younger in the Southern novel, Oral History by Lee Smith,
"I have seed folks come and I have seed them go. I have cotched more babies than I can name you; I have put the burying quilts around many a soul. I said I know moren you know and mought be I'll tell you moren you want to hear. I'll tell you a story that's truer than true, and nothing so true is so pretty. It's blood on the moon, as I said. The way I tell a story is the way I want to, and iffen you mislike it, you don't have to hear."
I call them "Credibility Stats." It's really numerical shorthand to condense a wacky, wonderful, weirdly rich journey through life.
I went to fourteen different elementary schools. I never saw a Christmas tree two years in a row in the same house until I was twenty-six years old. My father was married nine times. My mother was married four times. Three of those marriages were to each other. They couldn't get it right but they couldn't stop loving each other. I have been married five times. My first husband died of complications of multiple sclerosis from Agent Orange in Vietnam. My second husband died of lung cancer. My third and fourth husbands were attempts to find myself and my place in the world. My current and last husband, John, is a great gift and I treasure the richness of our life together.
I'm from a dysfunctional family who occasionally put the 'fun' in dysfunctional but more often just kept paddling for survival. I'm from Evansville, IN but there was never a neighborhood to call home…never a school that lasted more than two years. So 'from' is the multi-operative word here because we were always moving on to another place. Mom would try to romanticize our vagrancy by saying she 'had a gypsy streak' in her and sing "Golden Earrings" in her smooth contralto voice. It didn't help that sister, Bonnie, called this phenomenon "always being the new idiots" which was sometimes compounded with "being the late idiots" because we couldn't seem to get anywhere on time.
While experiencing sexual abuse, physical abuse, instability, poverty, and more than my fair share of grief and loss, my journey revealed abundant blessings along the way. Upon reflection, it's impossible to weigh the good times or the bad times as a better teacher in the quest to live an authentic life.
I asked my mother once if we were just poor or 'poor white trash?'
"Don't ask, honey, you don't want to know."
I guess I got my answer.
On the other hand, my son, Mark, rhetorically asked at about age nine, "Mom, are you aware there is a lot of wasted intelligence on your side of the family."
As far as the future is concerned, this much I know, I will gain new strength; I will mount up with wings like eagles, I will run and not get tired, I will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40: 31 liberally personalized).
Career and Academic Credentials
While an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, Brenda prefers an irreverent spirituality honed in the trenches of life.
Brenda holds a Masters Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communications and a Master of Divinity.
Certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Senior Advisor for Religious Outreach for the Democratic National Committee
Executive Director of the first religious-left political action committee, Clergy Leadership Network, during the 2004 Presidential Election.