the pen

If I could give you anything,
anything at all, it would be a pen.
One you wouldn’t lose, no matter how hard
you seemingly tried to do so.
I would give you a pen which wrote in any
color you imagined at the moment.
With this pen, with any words you put down on paper,
you would feel heard and understood
and not so alone–
with those words sitting there all lined
up in your favorite color du jour,
reflecting your very thoughts,
you soul would tell its story.

By writing it all down
with this pen
your heart would be glad and
your mind would be eased
and peace would come to you.

That peace that comes from finding another
who says, “me too”
and echoes what weighs on your very being,
baring itself and revealing
your own beauty to you,
shining back in your eyes
and you can’t help but love her
and you

and in that moment
you will be free
and soar above the wreckage that
tries to pull you
down

write your words
and know
you are
never
alone

and
you
are
loved

it is written
and so it is so

Italian_quill_and_ink

“Italian quill and ink” by Clementina – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Making Room for What Is Coming

So it’s Lent.

A season which is confusing at best.

For me, anyway.

My first exposure to Lent and the longest lasting impression of the season for me is one of giving something up.

That was in college when I had a friend who was Catholic.  So we all gave up something. (Ummm, in most cases, I think it was chocolate.)  It was interesting too, because there was the debate of whether or not Sundays counted as part of Lent.

After college, I found my way back to the Episcopal church, where Lenten traditions were observed, and yes, we gave up something, and Sundays did not count.  I gave up sweet tea (clutch my pearls and gasp), which was VERY significant and a challenge for me.  Rather than keeping the tea in the house, on Saturday afternoons, I would ride to town and pick up an extra-large (read half-gallon or some ridiculous amount like that) of sweet tea from Dairy Queen (closed on Sundays) and tote it back home and keep it in the frigidaire until Sunday.  It lasted me all day.  Oh my land,, with all that sugar it should have lasted me a week.

Then there were years I gave up chewing gum.  Another nail biter.  But I made it.  Then there were years that I gave up eating meat during the daylight hours.  That was interesting, especially when I’d go to Mama’s and she made her “green pizza”–spinach quiche with bacon on top.  She would either make me one without the bacon or she’d pick the pieces off my slice.  Mama was like that.  Supporting whatever I had going on.

It was important that I did something each day to focus on the season.  In more recent years, I’ve struggled with healthy eating.  I found out during a book study where we limited what we ate that, while I do not have an eating disorder, it’s best not to mess too much with my eating habits.  It’s a rocky slope.

And so I don’t.  I enjoyed reading the thoughts of a friend about Lent (it’s a must read–you’re welcome), as in we need to create space for what is coming, much like a bird does with a nest.  That I can get on board with.  That is exactly what I need this year.  Creating space.  Quieting my spirit.  My mind and my heart open.  Yes.

A work  in progress, but I’m embracing it.

Some folks are taking the forty days of Lent to get rid of 40 bags of stuff.  That’s ambitious, and I’m impressed.  It terrifies my pack rat, semi-hoarding sentimental self, but for those of you attempting it, you go!  I’m proud for you.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished emptying out a storage unit of things from Mama’s, and then we cleaned up a LOT of stuff (read “we only had a path from the door of the garage to the door of the house” *ack!*) from our garage.  So Imma have to rest on my laurels from that one for a little while, realize I’m okay without all of that stuff, and then I’ll be ready to tackle another pile or closet.  But it  probably won’t happen during Lent.

And I’m okay with that.

The thing about cleaning out our homes and our souls is that a lot of it is trash, isn’t it?  So often it’s not really anything anyone else can use, even though we surely want to recycle it and pass it on.  Sometimes deliberately (with a sad, tired pair of shoes or that Chia pet we never opened) and sometimes not so much (passing on the ugliness and hurt we’ve been feeling).  But it’s still trash.

Nobody wants that Chia pet.

I’m just saying.

Or that hurt and pain either.

Let it go, folks.

Hugh Hollowell shared about some things that had been “donated” to Love Wins, “a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC.”  (Chia pet included.  I can’t even.)  His friends and folks who cared commented, sharing things that well-intentioned people had donated to their missions–expired food items, used bars of soap, used underwear, torn up furniture.

Y’all.  For the love.

So as we clean out our hearts and minds and spirits and closets, let’s remember to let the trash go.  All the brokenness and broken things we’ve tucked away and can do without, so can everyone else.  I’m all about sharing the joy and hugs and encouragement and items in gently-used condition (I love me some thrift shops, y’all know), but sometimes folks are better off if we just toss it in a bag and take it to the dump.  Literally and figuratively.

Others, especially those hurting from their own stories, shouldn’t have to deal with our rubbish.

May we all find something wonderful–joy, a smile, kind words, a pair of gloves, or a much-loved, still lovely blanket–to share with another today.  It’s all about building that nest.  To have room for what’s coming.

Love to all.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

Letting go of the rubbish, to make room for something better.

 

Belonging With

Tonight I took a few minutes to catch up on the “news” on Facebook.  I saw yet another post from Humans of New York.  Remember I told y’all this photographer is travelling around the world on a UN World Tour?  Are you following Brandon and his adventures?  Oh, the lives he is touching with what he is sharing daily–and I’m one of them.

Earlier today Brandon the photographer shared that he would be at a park in Delhi this afternoon if anyone wanted to meet up with him.  I had forgotten about that invitation until this evening when I saw a picture he shared of a big crowd of people, some holding up signs and all looking happy to be there.

Brandon captioned the photo with these words:

Thanks to all of you who came to the meet-up in Delhi. It went about as well as a spontaneous meet-up could possibly go. Amazingly, we were able to have a pretty organized, calm speech. Until the very end, of course, when we ran from the police. Coolest part for me was when the police were looking for someone to blame for the crowd, and asked: “Who is he with?” And everyone screamed in unison:  “All of us!”
You can see the post for yourself here.
As I read those words once, twice, I looked at the joy in the picture.  I was moved.  I imagined what it must have been like for Brandon to hear those words said by everyone there–“All of us!”  He belongs with all of us.
Wow.
A couple of days ago, when I wrote my letter to Disney, one of my friends shared it on her Facebook page.  She prefaced it by saying, “Yes!  What my girl just said!”
That humbled me and moved me to tears.  “My” girl.
It’s what we all really want, isn’t it–or is it just me?  Don’t we all want to belong with someone?  To be claimed as one of their own?
The word “with” is powerful–belonging to and belonging with are two totally different things.
With is alongside, with is a partnership, with is taking care of each other and sharing the journey. With is having a place, a spot.
With is belonging.
Is there someone who needs to hear that they belong with you?
Tonight I’m thankful for Brandon’s journey and all of the stories and photos he has shared.  They have opened up my eyes and heart to so many stories I never would have known before.  And I give thanks that he and all of his friends in the park today helped me recognize exactly what it is that my heart and soul needs to feel so very much–to belong with, to be claimed.
May you all have someone who, when the world asks, “who does this person belong with,” raises their hand and calls out at the top of their lungs–“ME!”
Love and belonging to all.

Sometimes It Has to Fall Apart Before It Can Get Better

I have a really cool blender.

I have turned in to one of those people who can and will accept cool kitchen gadgets and the like as a gift.  But this one I got for myself when I had to change my eating habits all around to take better care of myself.  It rocks.

Why?

Because it’s easy to clean.  That’s how I rate things in my life these days.  How easy is it to clean?  It’s possible I even like my children more right now because they can bathe themselves.

Okay, just kidding on that one.  Ahem.

So I’ve been enjoying smoothies every other day or so.  I’ve worked on perfecting my recipe.  Those things make me forget I can’t eat just anything I want–one of the reasons I love them so much.

Today I was getting ready to make my smoothie (“it’s smoothie day” are joyful words around here), and I realized I needed to wash the blender first.  The blade comes out of the bowl completely, so those two things were a breeze to clean.  Then I tackled the lid.  It has a lot of grooves and crevices.  I am good about rinsing it right away so it has never been hard to clean.

But today I noticed something didn’t feel right.  I dug around and started trying to get into those crevices.  The more I scrubbed, the ickier it got, until…..this happened.

 

The gasket and lid from my awesome blender.

The gasket and lid from my awesome blender.

The gasket came away from the lid.  I had no idea it would even do that.

And suddenly, the ick and grime were so much easier to see.  And to get rid of.  I had it cleaned and ready to go in no time.

I find this to be true in matters of my heart and soul as well.  I go through my daytodailies thinking I’ve got this.  I’m smiling at strangers, I’m kind to animals, I speak softly to children (okay, most of the time), and I try to return library books on time.  I tell the baggers at the grocery store and the clerks at the drive thru I appreciate them and I wave to my neighbors.  I’m doing all right, right?  By the standards of many, it might could even be said, “she’s a good person.”  (There are always some who would argue, and a few have lived or do live in the same house with me.)

But when I get down deep, and I do some real soul searching–something that I try not to let happen much anymore, I realize that I have some ick and gunk in there.  Some attitudes and thoughts and grudges that need to come out.  And unfortunately, like with my blender, something usually has to break before I can get to the really bad stuff and work it out.  I mean, the blender worked fine even with the ick in the lid.  On the outside, I never noticed it.  Same with me–from the outside, it all looks okay.

Tonight at Evening Prayer we talked about some words from the Good Book that talk about just this sort of thing.  The breaking down, clearing away, like with a bunch of trees, leaving only the stump.  But in this story in the book of Isaiah, there is promise and hope–the seed that will later become a shoot that begins a long line leading to Goodness is left in that stump.

A seed of hope.

When the gasket came out, it looked like the blender lid was broken.  As I pondered whether it was or not, I cleaned it anyway.  Carefully and slowly and diligently, not scrubbing all haphazardly as I had been before.  Methodically.  Round and round until I was sure it was clean.  And when it was, it went back together as before, only better.  Cleaner.

It’s the same with me.  There are times I have felt broken.  Overwhelmed by the ick and the chaos.  There have been times I’ve been so wrapped up in what was going on around me, I didn’t realize all the brokenness I had going on inside.  But when I sat down and really listened to my own heart, my thoughts, my soul–I realized it was there.  And it took breaking down to be able to see it, and only then did it become easier to make the changes I needed to.

And then things fit right back together as they did before.  Only better.

Because there was a seed of hope tucked within.

Tonight I give thanks for hope in the brokenness and for friends who walk alongside, helping plant that seed in what is left after the breaking down.  I give thanks for those who listen and those who share and for finding myself today in the ick of the lid of my blender.  Sometimes this living life thing can be just that messy.  And it takes falling apart to get it all cleaned up.

 

Wishing you friends with pockets full of seeds.

Love to all.

 

 

Thrown in the Deep End

This morning didn’t start off so differently than any other day.

I got up, got the littles’ breakfast, and sat down for a few minutes to catch up on my day to dailies and the like.

And I came across this.

“A Declaration of Life – legal document to convey your wishes,

that should you be murdered,

you do not want the perpetrator to receive the death penalty…..”

The original legal document can be found here. 

I’m not here to debate the pros and cons of the death penalty.  I’ve stood on both sides of that fence actually.  It was in 2011 in the case of Troy Anthony Davis, a man not quite a month older than me, that I revisited my stance on the death penalty.  My husband was deployed, my Daddy had just been admitted to Hospice, and a man was on death row with lots of questions still unanswered.  On the night of September 21, 2011, I found myself sitting on the side of my bed, willing that life take priority somewhere in the chaos that my life seemed to be at the time. The execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. but delayed as the Supreme Court reviewed his case.   As I thought about his family, I felt compassion.  I knew what it was like to watch someone you love die, and I knew what it was like to walk through what seemed to be a hopeless situation.  When word came down that Troy Davis had indeed been executed at 10:53 p.m., my heart broke and I wept.  For someone I’d never met.  For all of us. Hope drained from me that night.

So I guess it was that night that I began to rethink my position.  In reality it is easy for me to say, “Oh yes, I’m against the death penalty.”  Forgiveness, allowing second chances, giving grace, praying for a change of heart–all of those can be wrapped up nice and neat and seem so…..full of grace…..and loving.  And lovely.  What a lovely, non-angry thing to say.  To be for life.

But when I read about this document for the very first time this morning, I felt like I’d been thrown in the deep end of the pool when all I was expecting to do was wade along the edge peacefully. With my clothes on.  I wasn’t prepared. I felt overwhelmed and unsure of myself.  Of what I believe.

If I believe what I say I believe, then it should be a relief to me that a legal document exists that I can print out, sign and have notarized and tuck away with my other important documents, right?  (And I’m not debating the document’s legal merits either–if I were to move forward with this, the first person I’d talk to after my Aunt–oh there’s good news, she’s thinking–would be my attorney.)  Surely if I am against the death penalty now, I should be against it after I am gone.  Even if I am the victim of a murder…..well, huh.  I hadn’t thought of that.  Or what if the victim was someone I loved more than life itself?

I don’t have the answers, but as I’m figuring out, the older I get, life tends to give us more questions than answers, so I will attempt to work through this one just like many others. Maybe without ever finding the “right” answer.  But I have a point that has nothing to do with which side of this fence you are on.

When we state what we believe, so adamantly, so full of certainty (as I have on occasion) that this is what we believe and it is right–we might be treading water in the shallow end of the pool.  I think that if we were thrown in the deep end, surrounded by the actual reality of issues that get folks riled up, like the death penalty, abortion, gay marriage, legalization of medical marijuana–oh, the list goes on and on–we might not be so certain of our stance anymore.  When it becomes personal, it might just seem a whole lot different.  When it involves and affects us and the people we love, we might not be so certain anymore.

And so maybe what we are called to do, instead of judging others for where they stand, is to keep a check on our own position.  Keep ourselves educated and always being willing to admit maybe there’s something out there we didn’t know, we hadn’t thought of.  And being open to change.

And perhaps, when it’s all said and done, that’s the most grace-filled and loving position to take after all.

Still figuring things out…..love to all.