Of hiding and hunger and a low sound humming …

I was born into the anxious airbrush of a disapproving religion
and I was born into love and welcome arms and really glad you’re here.
Always the two danced together,  as they often do in an uncertain world
where life is fragile and being is messy and only rules seem safe when nothing else does.
Born to good people who wanted only goodness for me.
They’d been raised severe,  my parents.  Especially my mom,
whose own dad kept court with a southern baptist smoulder that could singe
the tender parts of curiosity and joy
until even they trembled fearful in the corner.

They were unmarried and in love and in college chasing dreams
when I came to be.
They packaged my presence in a lie
–  already they’d married.  Secretly.  Months before.
Now that I was on the way they quickly wed
and so began the family into which I shortly arrived.
The appearance swept clean,  we tidied up pretty good
except for the disease.
Deep running through the fault-line of all that I received
was this message of dark shame
and what we do to hide the beast.

I was a lively sprite of a child and this unsettled the conservative core of my parent’s sensibilities.
Oh we knew love and laughter and joy in our days,  especially after my little sister arrived just 13 months later,
but I was less compliant,  more boisterous,  willful and impulsive and sometimes “a little hellion”
which fleshed out my mother’s darkest fear:
that I had let a little hell in.
The chill of her childhood left scars that made my deep-feeling curiosity seem dangerous,
and this hung cloudy over me,  the child of her shame.
I felt it long before I knew it’s name.

And there was goodness and I’m grateful for the village that was my childhood and church,
rich with stories and friendships and music and meetings that sometimes felt like bright stars.
But I felt different from the other kids,  like I was somehow less;
all my hard-trying didn’t cover up the dark and don’t of me,
not even my scratchy Sunday best.

Into this hot lonesome came a sweet, sweet Love,
like a tall glass of acceptance to my apologetic heart,
healing balm for the shame I’d feel burned by
for the slightest infractions and failings,
not served up by my parents – please don’t hear that.
They were young and on my side.
The voice I heard was the sound of the lie
hissing over us all that there was something dark to hide.

I hungered to know more
of this God that loved the wild of me
and I began to travel roads less stained-glass and steeple’d,
looking for a safe somewhere
where my truth wouldn’t have to get dressed up,
a shelter where Love kept shop and togethering happened honest,
all the whosoevers and ragamuffins,
unguarded and at peace.
No fighting for scraps of attention.
No competition for who would love who.

I was a smooth bundle of nervous contradiction as I plopped down onto throw pillows
on the living room floor where I first learned how to be seen
in a way that soothed the hiding child of me.
Kinship group,  they called it,  and with the first soft strum
of the guitar humming low,  a lifetime of tears began to flow
as if I was taking off  ill-fitting shoes and discovering inside little rocks that I could dump.
I’d been holding my breath long and didn’t know.

 “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness
the astonishing light of your own being.”
– Hafiz

(this is second in a series I’m tugging loose….come along for the ride,  if you like;
I’m always so glad you’re here)

Of sinners, saints and seagulls…..

(Gosh,  I almost put out a cold tray of leftovers for you here again today
because I’m scared silly to wrangle free the words stuck inside.
But here goes.
Because a bad beginning is better than no beginning at all)

My life is a small one,
as lives here are generally measured.
My jobs have been many and unsubstantial and not even the measuring kind.
No fancy credentials.  No letters after my name.
My time here on earth unimpressive,
a barely glance-worthy resume,
if I had a resume.  Which I don’t.
If I were to muster one up,  it would be underwhelming.

And yet mine is hardly a wasted life.
In fact I like my weird little journey,
even when I trip over messages that I’m such an underachiever
that my time here barely registers on the value-meter.
But I’ll wrap back around to that later in this series.
I think I’m stalling:)

What I really want to start tugging my words loose about
is my Christianity.

There.  I said it.
Did your skin crawl just a little?
I understand the shudder.
Because we generally freak people out.
Christians even unhinge each other
unless we’re cut from the exact same strip of cloth
and sewed up tight and exactly like the next.
Which nobody is.
So it can be prickly business,
which is tragic since I think God is the least prickly being ever.

A few months back I brushed my words light across the story of my heart’s dance with God
and it was life to me to pour it onto paper.
Those were the easy pages.  The sweet beginnings and where I’ve landed.
I want to go exploring through the come-to-Jesus years,
the messy in between
because I’ve grown more curious about this thing called “Christian,”
how it’s tossed around and flashed and fought over like scraps flung to seagulls.

“How can you call yourself a Christian and……..”
Many of my people don’t even use the word anymore.
Somehow it’s come to name a hurtful thing.
I want to go exploring.  To tell my truth.  And maybe discover healing along the way.
Because healing is only ever what I’ve always wanted to offer
and I’m one of them,
odd though my flavor may be:)

So come along or wait this one out.
I’ll be back for the next however-many weeks digging up old stories,
looking for buried treasure and sharing it with you here.
With all the love I’ve got.

“As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do,  what we have,
and what other people think about us,
we will remain filled with judgments,  opinions,  evaluations,
and condemnations.
We will remain addicted to putting people and things
in their ‘right’ place.”
– Henry Nouwen

On sails of celebration…..

I’ve been a quiet sort here lately,  haven’t I,
my soul long squirming to stay still and startled grateful as the stillness found me instead.
I haven’t wanted to stir the deep quiet
because it’s been feeding me something I didn’t even know I was hungry for.

I do a little creative challenge each year and this time I’ve been sharing my daily
over on instagram  (jenniferripplespeak);  it seems to be fueled by the bit of juice
that I usually cook with over here
so I forget that I haven’t actually been blogging regularly.
I think I want to change that.
So here again I am:)

I’ve got another little series steeping in my heart
but it’s not strong enough for sipping yet
so I’m letting it brew.
Until then,  a celebratory snippet to offer up to you:)

~ “Let me keep my distance,  always,  from those who think
they have all the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say,
‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment
and bow their heads.”
– Mary Oliver

“Every day I see or hear something
that more or less kills me with delight,
that leaves me like a needle in a haystack of light.”
– Mary Oliver.

(thanks for being gracious to me about my gone-time;
i love and appreciate you big)

 

To be wowed and watching…..

Keep being wowed,
heaven blowing often kisses
and because you’re watching,
you catch and let them woo you

keeping palms up and heart open,
your romance with living alive.

Keep showing up to the table,
going soft to miracle and mystery,
to all the mundane glory
winking and whispering tender
from a place
of only love.

“Look up more than down.   See more than say.
Listen more than speak.
Hope more than dread.
Believe more than criticize.
Yes more than no.  No more than maybe.
Laugh more than cry.
Love more than hate.
See.  More.  See.”

– Tyler Knott Gregson

(A little something from the archives
because i think it fits easy and that we all need some simple right now)

Of hope and healing and hullabaloo…..

I don’t much care for riding buses.
There was one year of my life when i rode one every day to school –
my peers and I bused,  with the 6th graders in my city,
to an historic old building in a crumbling part of town.
What I remember most was the bus ride.
Having only ever walked to school before,  it was an uneasy adventure.
I loved the sense of going the same somewhere as everybody else,
always having craved community and it came built in this way – we were a little tribe.
I liked that.

But there was the whole being driven thing.  Going along because I was going along.
I wanted to belong but I also wanted freedom
and felt much freer putting my feet to sidewalk and taking it all at my own pace and pleasure.

Often I joined in enthusiastic with the hullabaloo at the back of the bus,
loving the camaraderie,
but I hated  it when someone was cruel,
taunting passers-by or a more vulnerable rider.
(usually the older-looking boys disrespecting a slower-grower).
It felt oppressive then to be “us” but not really.

Since then I’ve avoided buses.
and, to my sadness,  much of our country seems more and more
to be filing crowded onto two of them.
There are dearly loved ones of mine embracing both sides,  those I hear and respect,
but when I step inside each I feel crimped tight for air
and the sound bruises my sky-loving heart.

I love my country and her people.
I hunger and pray for a world where no one turns a deaf ear to any being in distress.
The Horton in me hears the Who’s of us and I wear my sleeves rolled up
to help create a place where we’re all welcome and safe to be.
I’m pro voice.
Even as the disrespect being voiced on both buses rakes sharp across my senses
and injures something inside,  I love the voices still.
But much of the rhetoric being hurled scalds my tender,  listening parts
and I have to pull aside to hear the whispers above the roar.

It’s what I’m seeing  through the smoke that gives me hope,
that winds of healing are coming,
releasing healers who will step across party lines and release love into the fray.
Healers, budding now,  like a field of wildflowers getting ready to sing.
Those deeply wounded by racism,  by exclusion,  by rejection and indifference
and misogyny and injustice…….these will the healers be.
The ones who have felt wicked the pain are the ones who seem to carry the medicine
once life gets some healing done.

The healers are being made even by the judgement being hurled at them now.
From both buses they’ll come,  those who bring the balm that creates the change.
Not blinded to context or played by their pain,
with a billion different faces of the unseen authority they’ve gained
to go into crisis and confusion and bridge division and bring solution.

They’ll release truth and kindness in a way that holds weight and shifts invisible things,
won’t hold in contempt or make assumptions from across the aisles
but will listen unfiltered and draw up solution from deep wells of grace.

I’ll hold this hope gentle-strong as these next days unfold,
trusting that each unkind voice will become one that helps heal us someday.
To both buses and also to those of us that walk a little on the out,
may there come wild surprise by the grace outstretched from each side
to bring healing to We the People,
each of us becoming conduits of generosity and justice
in ways that we don’t yet even dare to see.

I believe our best days are out in front of us still,
that we won’t mock or condescend to get there.
Grace to you wherever you are,
exactly as you are.
With the whole of my you-loving heart:)

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image
when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
– Anne Lamott