so much of my work has been on being present with my pain. hearing its knock. inviting it inside. offering it a seat. and some tea. sitting in silence near it. with it. speaking to it. listening. letting it teach me.
it’s almost as if i got too good at being present with pain. too intent on keeping eye contact with it. too focused on hearing every last word, that even the silence — the waiting — was too loud for me to hear another knock.
but my son has learned to open doors. and he hears joy. he hears joy so loudly and easily that he comes running. shaking even. when her presence is near.
like meeting an old friend at the mouth of the river.
he opens the door. collides into her and his laughter bubbles over. i am not as in tune to her presence as he is.
but i am in tune to him. and his presence is enough for me to break eye contact with pain. and his presence is enough to invite me to see joy. to feel. taste. experience. her.
and before i even catch myself, we are dancing around the dining room table.
me. my son. maracas and tambourines in our hands.
joy. and pain.
because if i know that i know that pain is a great teacher. then i must have faith enough to believe that joy is too.
because my son — my son has taught me that joy and pain are traveling partners. never going anywhere without one another.
so come in, old friends. sit down. have some tea. you can make yourself at home.
This was my New Year’s Resolution for 2014. I had never written a resolution before that year, and I have never written one a new one after. Because this one — this one sums it up for me. Over and over again.
I resolve to believe
that humans are hurting, hopeful beings
And that being human deems us worthy of relationship, grace and love
And that being human deems us worthy of sharing meals together, teaching and being taught by one another, seeing and being seen…
I resolve to believe that I am worthy of being seen
of being known
I resolve to believe that you are worthy of being seen
of being known
I resolve to share more meals with you
I resolve to believe that god is love
And that love is kind
And that the sharp edges of the religion I was raised in is just that
— the edges
and that the core, the depth, the intent, the body (and the god) beyond the edges is stunning
I resolve to believe that friendships come and go
and like the ocean, ebb and flow
and like the ocean, I have no control
over their tides
I resolve to trust gravity
and who it pulls towards me
and who it pulls away
I resolve to believe that my body
and all it’s slight curves and edges
and worthy of good food
and good exercise
I resolve to believe that love is victorious over death
and that resurrection has come
and is coming
I resolve to wait in the empty space that death leaves
and know that parts of me will die in this space
and that parts of me will come to life in this space
I resolve to believe that my darkest days are behind me
and still to come
I resolve to believe that my best days are here
and still to come
And that healing comes slowly
and all at once.
I resolve to believe
in our hurting, hopeful humanity
in our god.
the tides turn.
the waves settle.
and we remain.
it is christmas morning. maybe some of you find yourselves beached on the shore, wondering how you made it back. it wasn’t that long ago that life ripped your footing out from under you and the rip tide of grief pulled you under. you remember flailing. calling for help. or silently surrendering to gravity. you remember losing strength, breath, and the will to keep swimming. you remember closing your eyes and giving in. it wasn’t that long ago you were drowning.
or maybe. some of you still are.
and then there’s some of you, your nerves remember the undertow. your eyes remember the sting of salt water. from your own tears or god’s. your skin still soft from the texture of sand. and. the texture of hope. you remember. and. even still. somehow. you catch yourself laughing. unhinged. you catch yourself captivated by moments you would have otherwise missed. colors you would have otherwise missed. people you would have otherwise missed.
yes, there are some of you — who were once drowning in grief and beached by exhaustion — standing in awe of how kind life can be. how kind god can be.
wherever you find yourself this morning. drowning. beached. standing. may you know may you know may you know that you are not alone.
the tide turns. the waves settle. and we remain.
merry christmas, friends. you are so easy to love.
The news is filled with men like you.
Men in power who prey on women.
Men who were once boys.
Boys who prey on girls.
And yes it’s been triggering as the headlines open wide the door to uninvited guests in my mind.
You are the most unwelcome here.
And yes it’s been empowering. Because the news is filled with women like me.
Women who know their power.
Does it frighten you that I am finally so keenly aware of mine?
Does it make you nervous — scared even — that I can drop your name at the drop of a hat and then sit back to watch the hills surrounding the valley of our hometown crumble?
When you wake up in the night do you think about the power in my pen and how the single syllable of your name might just be on the tip of my tongue?
Do you drink so you don’t have to think about how your tongue once held the power of my silence but now my tongue holds all the power?
The power pumps through my body like fear of you once did.
The church tried to gag me with forgiveness, but watch me clear my throat with this rage.
You stole so much. They call you a sexual abuser and I call you a murderer. Murdering who I could have been.
I once believed you took all my body’s beauty, all my body’s power, all of my body’s knowing.
Love came and I consented.
Love entered me and life was born out of me.
New life came from the same body that once knew only your death.
Because despite your attempts to steal my power and call it yours
Buried in the dirt, only to take the shit and till it into fertilizer.
Because my power?
— It is limitless.
Because I can do what you will never and could never do.
I can create life in my body.
Tend to it and grow it.
I can break open to birth it.
How petty your orgasm becomes when compared to the power of my womb.
How petty men like you — boys like you — become when compared to the power of a woman.
So tell me, are you nervous?
— scared even?
Trigger Warnings — Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Assault.
The sexual harassment and sexual assault news headlines have unearthed in me the stories I bury and dig up over and over and over again – just to make sure they are still dead. Just to make sure that I am safe, that I am no longer that little girl being abused. That I am no longer on a red-eye flight with a stranger’s hands on my body and tongue on my neck. Sometimes I wake up in the night and stumble my way through our dimly lit house and have to remind myself that I am not stumbling my way down the aisle of the airplane trying to get to safety. Safety can be hard to come by 39,000 feet in the air. Then again it was hard to come by when I only stood 4 feet 8 inches in the air.
Safety is hard to come by.
I want to process it. To hold the soil from the cemetery of my worst stories in my hand. To feel it. To sift through maggots and mud and try to discover the texture of hope.
I am so tired. So tired of being in cemeteries full of women digging up the dirt that was never ours to touch. So tired of men touching what was never theirs to touch. Their hands are the ones that are supposed to be dirty. And yet. We are the ones with dirty hands. Digging. Sifting. Dirt becoming mud as our tears hit the ground. The cruel irony of digging in the dirt trying to convince ourselves that we are not dirty. If only saliva stained our skin like trauma stains our bones. Maybe then the world would notice. Maybe then the saliva in your mouth would match the stain on my skin and the world would notice; would know. Who among us is guilty. Even if their hands look clean.
My hands? Full of dirt, they hold his name on the tips of my fingers like a loaded gun ready to type, ready to fire, in the name of self-protection. And. I do not know his name. I have forgotten his hair color, and could only describe him as the middle aged man who smelled of alcohol and was the last to board the flight. The one who has a white fluffy puppy that he couldn’t wait to get home to. I know your name. And. I do not know your name.
If only saliva stained.
Like trauma stains our bones.
Like toxic-masculinity stains our divine femininity
Like mud stains our fingernails until they have grown long enough to be cut.
Like scars stain our skin where we have been cut.
By the knife of our worst stories.
They will call it self-harm but if saliva stained
They would know who did the harm.