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for better and worse

My husband,
and I
recently took
one last trip to Legoland
before we let our annual passes lapse

(Much as I enjoy
Legoland, I already spend
too much time driving on
the weekdays to drive
more, routinely, on
weekends)

It was Anthony’s birthday,
and I spent much time
that day thinking how
grateful I am that he
was born, and that
our paths crossed,
and that he is such
a loving father to
our boys

There was another
gratitude, too

Recently,
I have seen
what it looks
like
when one
partner doesn’t
like the way the
other is growing
and changing;
the little digs
and pushes
and scowls
that say,
“You’re not
supposed to
be like this. You
are supposed to
stay how I know
and like you,
meeting my needs
in exactly the ways
you always have,
whether or not
that meets

yours

As I watched
Anthony with our boys,
I heard the dozens of
different ways he’s
told me he doesn’t
expect me to
remain the same,
and appreciates
what I’m trying to
change, and
why

He sees the love
behind my sorrow-
fueled rages, and sees
how the balance is
shifting away from
rage and toward
love

He knows I’m changing;
I couldn’t be unchanged
by all I have read
about centuries of
cultivated devastation
driven by colonizers seeing
(and portraying)
“the other” as
simply a roadblock
to obtaining more,
and more,
and more

(He knew
about these things
long before I did)

So he sits with me
as I say things like
,
“Oh, my god, people
in drought and famine
exchanged their kids
because they couldn’t
eat their own;
others, too weak
to fight were carried
off by jackals
and the like,
and it would
never have been
that way if colonizers
cared more for building
structures to protect people
than extracting from them
everything capable of
extraction”

and he hugs me,
and says I should not
forget the beautiful things,
too; that acts of courage and
defiance abundant but too
small individually to
make it into
history
books,
were just as
real, and can be
just as real today
when those things
are celebrated and
cultivated over mourning
that looks like
rage

I am changing;
more than being
passively okay
with that,
Anthony actively supports me,
nudging me back toward
compassion (and occasional
fiction reads, because,
he rightly says,
no one’s life is
improved by
reading all political
history, all
the time)

I see
how it doesn’t have
to be this way; how easy
it is for some to say, “when I
said ‘for better or for worse,’
I meant ‘for,
forever,
exactly
the
same'”

I see that,
and I see
Anthony,

and I am
grateful
for how
the love
of my life
accepts
all of me,
as we grow,
(for)
better
and
worse

After reading this,
Anthony said, “It’s
weird seeing my name
so many times; usually
it’s just ‘Daddy,
Daddy, Daddy'”

He’s half correct:
he is usually
“Daddy,” but never
“just” that

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Joy in a parking lot

December 21, 2016 Comments off

safe

today
i was prompted
to provide written feedback
on a colleague

i, who
have so many words,
struggled to find
nearly the
right ones

i finally concluded
my submission
that i have
almost never
encountered
anyone so safe

safe:
not only
the absence of harm,
but the presence of
encouragement,
kindness,
hearing,
candor,
respect;
the presence
of care as
deserved
not by doing,
but by being

after submitting
my words,
i basked
in the goodness
of getting to
experience this
anywhere, ever

(with my childhood,
this was not
a given)

and then,
then i saw news
of another shooting,
and i thought

these frail human bodies
can never be safe.

thank god our hearts
can be sheltered
by the care of
those around us

our hearts
can be safe

i cherish those
who work to safekeep my heart,
and dream of a world
where all may
someday
know
such
safe

The grace and joy of “for”

I’ve had such a monumental heart-shift recently, it may well take me weeks or months to articulate it.

It will almost certainly take thousands of words. At its core is for: the difference between being for and against, but it runs much deeper than that handful of words conveys.

What a felon looks like. Also, love.

What a felon looks like. Also, love.

A piece of this shift showed up in conversation I had with my friend Ra a couple of weeks ago. I told her how I’d written a post called “I believe you” while she was in prison. I mused aloud about how one piece of that post was difficult for some to grok: the piece where I suggested I was for her, not against him, in sex assault cases. As I wrote then,

It’s not my job to adjudicate. In any case, I’m not interested in weighing his guilt, threatening or cursing him. That doesn’t change anything–not for the better, anyway.

In fact, I believe focusing so keenly on all the details of any one him, speculating about him or castigating him hurts not only you but all of us. We blind ourselves to the whole picture because it’s easier to speculate on one lurid detail: one him. We’re so busy ogling the accident on the roadside, we don’t see the crumbling bridge ahead of us. Nothing gets changed that way because we can’t change something that’s already happened.

I’d like us to stop talking about any one him and start talking instead about how to help you. How to lift you up in healing. How to let you know we are here for you, listening to you, believing you.

I’d rather focus on building than destroying.

I now believe those words a million times more intensely than when I wrote them last January. A trillion times more, even, or to the infinity-eth power.

I also understand that there are a billion more ways to destroy than I then understood, and that I perpetrate some of them daily.

Listening to Ra speak of prison and parole, I am overwhelmed by the tragedy of all the lives destroyed by the United States prison system. Less and less do I believe we send people to prison for reform, or allow those freed from the physical walls of prison to ever be free.

Mackorah Debenzie 2011

Mackorah Debenzie 2011

Somewhere in my heart of hearts, some part of me used to believe people who went to prison deserved whatever they got, for however long they got it. Then, on a long car trip with my beloved Mackenzie some years ago, she waxed eloquent about how dehumanizing that was. I still dehumanized others after that conversation, but Mackenzie’s insights started me down the path of questioning some of my basest assumptions. (Thanks, Mackenzie. ILU.)

With Ra and Mackenzie’s words in my heart, a quote by Ellen Degeneres then made my heart sink as I thought, “That was me.”

So when I read Ra’s most recent post this morning, I cried. Of course I did. It’s the epitome of what I’m struggling to articulate; it’s for, through and through.

Ra is not against Ellen, but for love. For hope. For books, and literacy. For seeing the inhumanity with which we treat prisoners, whether they are within or outside of prison, and for accepting the humanity of individual prisoners, seeing each as herself instead of one indistinguishable piece of an identical whole. For compassion. For love. For for.

I am for all of these things, and for Ra, and for you. I am for you reading Ra’s post and spending some time today contemplating and then basking in the sweetness of sitting with all the many things you’re for.

opened by your love

Different, but united

oh,
my sweet boys,
so tiny and enormous
at two and six years of age,

i loved you
across the universe
from the moment
i knew you existed,
without
measure,
restraint,
or need
for return

i now love you
bigger than the universe
when i see the smallness
of your physical sizes
and marvel how little that
has to do with the scale
of your love

i will love you
wider than the universe
whether you build skyscrapers
or flip burgers, whether you
build orphanages or
marvelous
daydreams,
whether you
wear dresses
or combat boots
(or both), and
whether you love
women or men (or both),
but pray above all
that you
will know,
and show,
love
abundant Read more…

loveworthy

I haven’t been reading blogs recently, and I miss them. I miss you.

My quiet, though, is a necessary, self protective one. In this greater quiet, I have spent a lot of time thinking more about safety. I have discovered both that I haven’t been a safe place for myself and that I must work–hard–to be one now and for many tomorrows.

Silver Star & Dark Moon 4eva

Of course, even the greatest quiet must include one’s closest friend and Silver Star (aka “Rache”), and we’ve had much to share. One text message exchange in particular lit my heart such that I wanted to memorialize it, to remember the exchange and to remind myself that love isn’t a matter of luck. I wrote Rache:

[Someone] told me earlier this week that I’m lucky to be so loved … but it wasn’t luck, for me or for you or our siblings. Having known great hurt, we are also uniquely equipped to identify those who could or would never hurt us. We have sought those people in our lives and left aside the others. It is not luck that we are loved. It is that we are lovable … that we listen, and we hear, and we love so greatly. Read more…

The postman

I leapt off my couch when I heard clattering at my mailbox yesterday. I hoped I’d see my family’s beloved mailman, R, who’s been away recuperating from surgery for several weeks.

I’ve missed the twinkling in his eyes as he interrupts a phone call to say hello to my little boys and ask how they’re doing. I’ve missed the warmth in his voice and the wave he throws over his shoulder as he continues on to other homes and other hearts.

As a little girl, I excitedly peered out my living room window for signs of the mail truck, hoping I’d get mail from a pen pal or my Big Sister. Since R became my mailman, I’ve been much more excited by who is delivering the mail than what might come in it. R delivers even more kindness than junk mail, which astonishes me when I consider just how much junk mail I drop unopened into my recycling bin daily.

I pushed open my screen door and peeked out. Oh. A woman about my age gazed curiously at me. Read more…

Categories: Love, Personal, Relationships Tags: , ,
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