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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: , ,

Weekend Coffee Share: Ladies and gents, my husband!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I was sorry for having to cancel so many coffee meetings. The last month or so has been … different. I wouldn’t even bother trying to explain. It’d take too much time, and I’d rather hear what’s going on with you, anyway.

(You could find hints of it here, if you were curious.)

For my part, I’d sip sparkling water and tell you I had two terrible nightmares this last week. It’s been a long time since I had nightmares I remembered for more than two seconds after awakening, but both of these were ones I doubt I’ll ever forget. One was horror-movie terrifying; the other, me-at-37 terrifying.

I’d tell you how another friend asked why I’d have a job-related nightmare when my new job is so perfect for me. I’d explain how I smiled and said, “I think maybe it’s my subconscious’s way of saying, ‘You can let it all go now.'” Read more…

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