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The Bad Sower

I look for God’s activity in my life through the very mundane things that occur each day. Today was one of those days.

I looked down at my cell phone when it rang. It was a number that I was familiar with. Whenever this number pops up, I have to make a few quick decisions: Do I have time to talk? Do I have the energy? At the most, it’s a 10-minute phone call.

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Dance to the Music

Poor Isaac, dying in a state of deception, betrayal, sorrow and loneliness. Yes, in our reading we encounter him comfortably ensconced within his mother’s tent, basking in the early hours of love at first sight, but things go very wrong by the time we get to chapter 27! There, the family of the patriarch is divided as rivals, Isaac and Esau on one side of the breach, and Rebekah and Jacob on the other. Can such soap-opera-caliber mess be the fruit of God’s plan for Isaac’s family: brothers at war over inheritance, Mom and Dad playing favorites among their children, lies, trickery, and deceit? In the end, fear leads Isaac to give his beloved Rebekah over to another man, an act that mimicked his father’s failures. Despite the moment of love and contentment we see in our reading, it seems this patriarch is destined to continue in family tragedy and community chaos, and to die in sadness and regret.

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Missional Hospitality: Blessed by Grace

Our Gospel reading this week draws from just three little verses at the end of an incredibly dense Matthew 10. The chapter is full of missional directives, which are bookended by the topic of missional hospitality we find in verses 40-42.

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Whispers in the Dark

Jesus whispers in the dark. As this week’s text suggests, it’s his preferred mode of communication. These covert conversations deal with the elemental essence of things; in that sense they are life-giving, world-changing and, yes, quite dangerous. The whispers are dangerous because they uncover secrets that have been “hidden since the foundations of the world” (Matt. 13:35). These secrets are killing us, which is why Jesus says, “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known”(v.26).

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Breathing With The City

Lenny leaned securely against the darkness of the night. His jet-black figure perfectly matched the evening’s moonless flesh. It was much too late for socializing but there he stood, on 6th Street, gazing toward Ferry Ave., as I made my way home after dropping guys off from midnight basketball. After three hours of ball with fit and speedy teens, my legs and back showed my age; I needed to get home quickly for rest and pain relievers…but there was Lenny, poised in the solitude of the dark empty street. My reputation could not survive the slight of passing without shouting out to him, but I feared being dragged into 6th & Ferry’s continuous drama. Risking a delay in my homeward journey, I lowered the window of the well-worn ministry van and yelled, “Yo Lenny! What up man?”

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The Great Commission(s)

The command to “go” and to “make” disciples has defined Christianity for centuries and has probably been one of the most formative parts of our Christian narrative. We are supposed to share our faith. We are supposed to lead people to Jesus. We are commanded to “go and make.” Period.

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Commencement

For many in the United States, the end of May is full of graduation parties for aspiring high school seniors — a transition into a new life as adults. While exciting, for student and parent alike, the season can also be filled with fear and doubt.

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The Crime Scene

Imagine the victim of a violent crime asks you to return to the scene of the crime-a crime that you were (in part) responsible for. Now imagine that this experience becomes the animating center of your life, which, despite your dread, fills you with great joy, and clothes you with a power that transforms you and the world. This is the miracle we celebrate in the final week of the Easter season as Jesus ascends into heaven.

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The Promise of Presence

Since my father passed away some years ago, I’ve had a fascination with the last words and days of a person’s life.

My father struggled with lung cancer–breathing was a chore. Every breath he took was measured, had meaning, and was intentional.

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The Queen of 8th Street

With a quick glance at Taina’s bushy hair, one knew they had entered a wholly unique experience. As other students sat awkwardly on secondhand office chairs, Taina perched herself high against the opposition, sitting like an 8th Street Queen, atop one of the secondhand computer desks. The African, the Arawak, and the Taino all met at the center of Taina’s cute, baby-like face. But one should be warned that her charm and her bushy ponytail belied her true nature as a warrior queen. Taina was determined to stay one step ahead of a system determined to vanquish all within her realm and to hold them under the grip of common ghetto oppression.

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Shadowlands or Pastureland

Street Psalms leads a collaboration of 13 training hubs (UTC) in cities around the world; together, we seek to develop incarnational leaders who love their cities and seek their peace. We have a strong sense of what UTC Hubs are called to do on a communal level. But, we can sometimes lose sight of where we, as individual leaders, are guiding people to on a personal level.

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Open Our Eyes to the Stranger

Here at Street Psalms, our most transformative experiences have happened while walking the streets with urban leaders (“on the road”) and fellowship around a meal (“breaking of the bread”). This week’s lectionary text highlights both the road and the table as gateways to Gospel sight.

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From Back to Front

The Christian story begins at the end, at the resurrection. It is by the light of the resurrection that we begin to see what’s really happening. Until then, we are shrouded in what T.S. Eliot calls “hints and guesses.” It’s only when we see through the eyes of the risen Christ that we begin to make sense of Jesus’ life and our own.

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Maundy Thursday

It’s Maundy Thursday. We are entering the passion of Jesus by way of the love Jesus shows us today: a love that frees us to fail, desert, betray and still be called friends.

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Ishmael, Isaac, and Palm Sunday

Between 1979 and 1981, twenty-nine young black people fell victim to a serial murderer in Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t know any of their names. I do have the name of JonBenét Ramsey indelibly sketched in my mind. Unlike the black children in Atlanta, JonBenét was a white American child of promise; thus, obsession with the drama surrounding her murder swept the nation in 1996. As news ratings soared, and reporters gained new levels of fame, those of us in ghettos across the nation pointed frustratingly to the contrast in the coverage of these two tragedies.

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Freedom from Fear

We trudge along this Lenten season towards the horror of the cross. Just two weeks away, Good Friday marks the day when the shadow of death will completely shroud us in darkness and despair. As the body of Lazarus lies entombed, wrapped in the grave clothes of death, we find ourselves also shrouded in darkness, wrapped in the grave
clothes of sin: fear reigning in our hearts.

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The Judgement of Mercy

The story begins with the disciples speculating theologically on who is to blame for a certain man being born blind; they are convinced God is punishing him. Jesus refuses this interpretation and heals the blind man…an act that “divides” the unstable community; he robs them of their scapegoat. Blinded by their own dim judgment, and in an effort to preserve the status quo, the community “drives out” the healed man from their midst.

Jesus follows the exile to the margins where the two of them establish the possibility of a new community, one founded upon mercy, not the blind guide of sacrifice. This is the “judgment” for which Jesus came into the world-the judgment of mercy.

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Why are you talking to me?

This is what I thirst for-bold proclamation that Jesus’ interaction with those who are marginalized, including women, is on the front edge of God’s Kingdom work. Worshiping God in Spirit and in truth includes telling the whole truth about a God whose conversations begin in the margins. Jesus empowered a Samaritan Woman to do this “telling” of the Good News.

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The Transfiguration of a Skinny Geedy

Geedy was just one word in the neighborhood’s descriptive lexicon for crack cocaine addicts. Sometimes called fiends, geezers, crack heads,…

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Wilderness Wander – Setting out from where you are

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1-11 After an…

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Don’t Speak Until You’re Spoken To*

After the brightly lit meeting on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, where Jesus is transfigured, he orders the disciples…

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Becoming Perfectly Human

I use to think that the Sermon on the Mount was easy and beautiful. I use to think, “yeah Jesus,…

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A Happy Baptism

Denise stood nervously at the edge of the deep end of the Herman’s scandalous inground pool. I saw her out of the corner of my left eye, never imagining her plans.

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Salt and Light

This past Sunday morning I attended a unique worship service with some friends. It was called “Street Church;” all the…

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The Inauguration

We are told that the three most important words in real estate are: Location! Location! Location! I don’t think God…

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What About Church Out Here?

One Sunday afternoon, I was driving through the neighborhood with a car full of local kids that were a part…

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What’s in a Name?

I ask people, especially young people, about their names. I fill up with joy when Maisha tells me her name…

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The Word in the Temple

We’ve had a week to digest the Nativity Feast. The magic of Christmas finds its way into even the most…

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The Word Revealed

  Joy is the purest form of gratitude, and gratitude is the most genuine gift we can give to God….

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The Word at Home

We began this year’s Advent series by exploring The Waiting Rooms of Christmas. We waited in the Apocalypse and peace…

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas – Public Disgrace

We began this year’s Advent series by exploring The Waiting Rooms of Christmas. We waited in the Apocalypse and peace…

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The Waiting Rooms of Christmas – Prison

This year, during Advent, the Gospel of Matthew invites us to sit in what we are calling The Waiting Rooms…

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The Four Waiting Rooms of Christmas – Wilderness

This year during Advent the Gospel of Matthew invites us to sit in, what we are calling, The Waiting Rooms…

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The Four Waiting Rooms of Christmas – Apocalypse

  40“Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left…41Keep awake therefore, for…

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The Way of the Cross?

“Build that wall! Build that wall” “Go back to where you came from.” “Pack your bags! Pack your bags!” On…

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Stone by Stone

This week’s text is difficult. It is the reminder that peacemaking is not for the faint of heart. The text…

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Children of the Resurrection

The Gospel not only empowers us to see, but to see from a particular vantage point-through the unconstrained eyes of…

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Zacchaeus: A Wee Little Man Was He (Not)

This week’s Gospel text is a narrative some people grew up singing in Sunday School: “Zacchaeus was a wee, little…

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Superhero Spandex

Superhero movies are all the rage recently. I’m sure there are a variety of reasons why…such as an affinity for…

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Faith from Below

This is a familiar parable Jesus uses to teach us about the nature of prayer. The widow shows us what…

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Becoming Human

This week’s text is a difficult one. The disciples want Jesus to increase their faith, which is the very thing…

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Not Even Abraham

This week’s text is the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man lives a life of plenty,…

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The Gospel Hustle

In my neighborhood, this would be called a hustle. I see it every day. This parable sounds like a contemporary…

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The Math of Mercy

Fifteen years ago this Sunday (9/11) something awful happened, and I do mean aw-full. Most of us were filled with…

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Invitation of Love

Throughout the course of life we often engage Scripture through the lens of present circumstance. In my case, the engagement…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 6

As we mentioned four weeks ago, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead,…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 5

As we mentioned four weeks ago, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead,…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 4

As we mentioned three weeks ago, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead,…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 3

As we mentioned two weeks ago, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead,…

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Sabbath Prayer: Week 2

As we mentioned last week, each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead, we…

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Sabbath Prayer:  Week 1

Each summer we take a Sabbath break from the Word From Below reflections. Instead of writing on the Gospel lectionary…

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The Mystery of Mercy

We can manage moral purity from the “other side” of the road, but mercy “comes near” and gets involved in the mess of life.

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First Say Peace

“First say, Peace to this house.”

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Family Matters

In this week’s text Jesus turns toward Jerusalem where he will confront the brutal reality of sin head on. On…

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Seized By Fear

The man in the tombs we see in this passage is tormented by demons that will not go away. They…

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A Gospel Turning

The Gospel is alive and well, but there is an exodus from the Church in North America. My hunch is…

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Tita felt led to lead weekly prayer walks

Clash of Crowds

A collision at the city gate!! A crowd of death is leaving the city while a crowd of life is…

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The Marvel of Saving Faith

There are only two places where the Bible tells us that Jesus is amazed. In our lectionary text this week,…

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Love in Motion

This week we celebrate the Trinity. Cynthia Bourgeault describes the Trinity as “love in motion.” Love in motion is the…

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Pentecost Unity

This week we celebrate Pentecost, which some call the birthday of the church. The Spirit is “poured out” on all…

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Unity Without Enemies?

My favorite scientific experiment is the one conducted by Mark Twain. He placed a cat and a dog in a…

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Do you want to get well?

As we approach the sixth Sunday of Easter, we are continually being challenged to see life by the light of…

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Seeing the New Jerusalem

The poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “That only which we have within, can we see without.” If we see hope,…

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Dis-appointment?

Have you recently been disappointed by someone, or have you been the source of their disappointment? In a week’s time,…

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What It Means to be Eastered

“Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.” These are the words that English Jesuit…

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Resurrection Sunday

Christ is risen! This week we have tried to recover some of the shock of Holy Week and the truly…

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Holy Saturday

Today the world falls silent. The psalmist says there is no speech and there are no words. And yet in…

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Good Friday

In the Beginning, on the sixth day, on the very first Friday, God created humanity and called us “very good.”…

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Maundy Thursday

The result of these next four days ultimately becomes the hope of the world. But today, just today, I want…

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The Gift of Shattered Expectations

Laying down cloaks was an act of homage for royalty. By riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey,…

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Inventing Scapegoats

We are approaching the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Things are heating up. This week Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume….

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Scandalously Wasteful: The Prodigal Dad

We continue our trek this Lenten season toward the Cross and our journey this week takes us into a very…

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Towers and Trees

“God hates me!” wailed Reba. Her outburst was a result of losing her husband of 40 years. Just days before…

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A “Hens and Chicks” Spirituality

Jerusalem was in trouble, and she didn’t even know it. Jesus’ prophetic words here in chapter 13 are dripping with…

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Symbolic Universe

Friend and mentor, Dave Hillis, president of Leadership Foundations, tells the story from his days as a camp counselor when…

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Who is this?

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…. -Hebrews 1:3 When my daughter…

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The Mystery of Incarnation

Last week we heard Jesus’ first sermon. This week’s lectionary text keeps us in the same passage, but it focuses…

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Anointed for What?

Last week we witnessed Jesus’ first miracle (water becomes wine). It ends well. This week we hear Jesus’ first sermon….

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Water to Wine: Saving the Best for Last

Water to Wine: Saving the Best for Last

It is no mistake that Jesus chooses the vessels of ceremonial cleansing to become the containers of liquid delight.

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Given in Love

Kingdom not from here.

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Mercy or Sacrifice?

Whose sacrificial system is it?

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The Widow’s Might

A marginalized prophet gives all.

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Joy

Beyond the spiritual flowchart.

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Saper Vedere

Learning from a blind man how to see.

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Brigands of the Lord

Three dimensions in a two-dimensional world.

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Good God

Is there enough good for all of us?

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The Gift of Losing Control

Manning the gates against children.

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Scandal

The real threat that Jesus exposes in this text is the hidden envy brewing in the disciples’ hearts.

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Child in the Middle

…of danger.

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Who Do You Say That I Am?

Too far for comfort.

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The Smell of Grace

A wink of the eye.

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Meditations on (Un) Cleanliness

Undermining Jesus’s call to love.

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The Stranger, Revealed

We too are blind.

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Bearing Witness to Goodness

Table waiters to all creation.

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Induction to Reality

Remembering the body of Christ for a hurting world.

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Liturgy of Life

Taken, blessed, broken, given, spoken.

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Among So Many

Eucharistic abundance in the Meal from Below.

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Come Away

Risking vulnerability through boundaries.

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Pawn of Desire

A young seductress or victim?

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Vulnerability and Authority

Rebirth of mission.

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