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the love

Monday was a special day for Ra, a family friend. She had lunch with my husband and our sons (among others). She and I met for dinner.

Later, she sent me pictures from the day. I giggled at one particular picture; my 7yo, Li’l D, was tickled how one letter made the difference between “your earwax” and “our earwax.”

But the other picture? It choked me right up. 

A few months ago, I wrote about an exchange with Li’l D’s first grade teacher. I explained how I wanted him to grow in two areas: critical thinking and compassion.

When I saw Ra’s second picture, I saw–blazing!–the one of those two qualities harder to measure on a report card.

Look in those eyes and tell me you don’t see it, too–the love, and the believing that whatever someone is doing, it’s all the very best they can do now.

Categories: Friends, Love Tags: , , ,

The New Jim Crow & the Nightmare River

When I started reading The New Jim Crow a couple of years ago, I felt my world rippling. I don’t mean this allegorically. I felt the smoothness disturbed by something else clawing to be let in.

Before I picked up the book, I’d been floating along on the smooth, clear water of U.S. life. I assumed all was (mostly) good and well straight down to the river’s bottom.

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow‘s author, invited me to stop floating and actually dip a finger into the water. Beneath the thin veneer of calm, her recounting of recent American history informed me, I’d find turbulence and boiling water that was scalding people alive.

I dipped in one finger and discovered she was right. Horrified, I returned my hands to the surface. I set Alexander’s book aside and enjoyed my onward drift.

Over the summer, little burning bubbles began emerging from the water around me. They were uncommon and only a little painful, so I ignored them at first. Why would I go seek out more pain?

But then I saw bigger bubbles roiling below the surface and understood: the U.S. is a world in which only a few are allowed to float at the surface. Others are forced down, trapped in the murky, hot water beneath and struggling to reach the surface for even a moment’s gasping breath.

I understood: they suffer so that I might stay comfortably afloat. “Oh, shit!” I started shouting to those floating near enough to hear me. “People are drowning below us! We have to see the whole river beneath us, not just the sparkles up top, or they’re going to keep on drowning!”

Alone, I saw, I could pull very, very few people up to the surface. If I could enlist other surface-floaters to reach down, though, I knew we could together evacuate this nightmare river and seek out one with cleaner, genuinely smooth waters where all were equally able to experience the river in its fullness.

“Shhh, you’re disturbing our ride,” fellow floaters admonished in return.  Read more…

A heart cracked open

“It’s not about money. It is about compassion,” said a local city council member at a meeting earlier this week. He spoke with such poise and kindness, I  deeply felt the broader truth behind his statement on a local measure.

Over and over since, I’ve come back to his words: It is about compassion. 

Each time I roll them over on my lips and in my heart, I understand better how much everything is about compassion.

Seeing how little is presented around me these days, I’m trying to find ways to show it more in my own life. I feel it often, to be sure, but quiet, held-in compassion does little for someone who yearns to be overtly recognized as human.

This morning, I heard something so overflowing with powerful compassion that I began sobbing. How rare it is to hear something so raw so boldly presented! How wondrous to hear a world in a shaking voice and to understand how compassion connects and strengthens us!

If you’d like your heart to be cracked right open and hear the goodness in compassion (and pain, and solidarity) expressed, please go here. Scroll to 52:40 in “Orange is the New Anti-Black” and listen to the minute of preface explaining why Jeremy Scahill included Kimya Dawson’s “At the Seams” in today’s podcast.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” — Leonard Cohen

Categories: Music, Reflections Tags: ,

Love you well deserve

 

“You both
have so much energy,”
a mom told my husband
as she watched him and me
play with our boys
at the playground
a few weeks ago.

“Yeah, well,
we have fun,”
he replied.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

“It really looks
like you’re having fun
with your kids!” a cashier
told me and my husband
a few days later.
“It’s sweet.”

(“It just comes naturally
to my husband,” I should’ve said,
but didn’t.)

“My mom really
had fun with me
and my siblings,”
I said, smiling.

I was saddened
by the exchange,
but not sure why.

I kept stepping.

Last week,
someone told
my husband that
our seven-year-old
is just the sweetest.

“He said, ‘You can tell which
kids are so, so very loved,’
my husband relayed. Read more…

Share that light!

I’m an introvert.

I once used stick figure drawings to demonstrate this.

bubble 4

There’s a bubble of space around me I don’t like people invading. I’ve often gotten downright cranky when people have tried.

bubble 3

Even more recently, I’ve come to see a different kind of bubble.

Long before I realized it, I was in a bubble of light. It was mostly warm, and cozy, and illuminated by lots of other friend-filled bubbles around me.

Then Ferguson caught my attention, and I caught glimpses of darkness out beyond these bubbles of light.

I explored. I spoke. And, finally, I moved on, exhausted.

I soaked up the light and forgot my fear of the darkness I’d seen out where light couldn’t–or didn’t–reach.

As the Democratic primaries neared conclusion, I saw darkness again.

I reoriented my bubble so I could no longer see the darkness.

That only worked for a little while. The darkness began peeking through no matter which way I turned.

So rather than fearing its seeping in, I held my breath, clenched my fists, and stepped out into the darkness.

I soon learned that very, very few people are permitted cozy bubbles of light. Their–our–bubbles were purchased by others’ pain.

I learned that my country’s leaders have, for decades, spread the darkness for impoverished people they haven’t (yet) killed worldwide. They have done this for corporate gain.

I discovered my comfortable bubble was paid for by genocide.

“I can’t fucking believe we’re committing fucking genocide!” I roared in agony to friends.

“Mind your language!” they retorted.

Now I see how many lives depend on light breaking through all that darkness.

I’m ashamed I spent so much time in my own bubble. I’m ashamed I tried to hold that light in and keep it just for me and those the very, very nearest to me. More than that, I’m committed to standing outside my friends’ bubbles and encouraging them to burst those bubbles and share their light. To penetrate the darkness and illuminate the world for everyone.

Burst that bubble!

Share that light!

The light outside will be much dimmer than what you’re used to, at first …

… but to many who’ve never had any hope of ever affording their own protective neoliberal bubble, the light may well be blinding.

Please read my sister’s impassioned post
from earlier today.

It may hurt. It may be scary.

It may also well be part of your path to letting
your
light
shine.

If you’re willing to take the journey outside your bubble,
we’ll be overjoyed to walk that road with you,
growing all our strength in solidarity.

rache me mid-80s

Proud to be you

June 6, 2016 Comments off
Catherine, Peeper, Littler J and me last summer

Catherine, Peeper, Littler and me 

Catherine and I met over ice cream when my younger son, now two, was only a few months old.

I’m sure the ice cream was great, but I don’t honestly remember it. What I do remember from our meeting is the feeling of being free to be exactly as I was, all the good, the bad, and the messy, without fear of judgment or admonition.

In fact, if Catherine were here, she’d tell me I’m not actually a terrible mother because I snapped at my older son for not giving me just-three-for-the-love-of-god-three-little minutes to write a teensy-eensy post without being harangued.

This isn’t supposition, either. Compassion for ourselves as mothers is something she and I have discussed across many blogs. (See, e.g., this related post she inspired.)

Please visit me over at Catherine’s place today, and stick around to see why the very thought of her makes me smile. Why this particular love letter could only have been inspired by and shared in a place of such compassion, wisdom, and love.

 

Sweet Deborah

Sweet seven-year-old Deborah,

You never deserved
to be beaten, or
to hear your
siblings’ cries
as they were beaten.

You should never
have had to memorize
catalogues of warning cues:
dangerously heavy footfalls,
the angry set of a mouth,
the escalating tension
in the voice of a
parent about
to snap.

You shouldn’t have had
to walk on eggshells,
wheedle, or cajole
when you saw
(and heard)
the warning signs.

You should never
have had to
expect
abuse.

Recently
I have noticed Read more…

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