Swinging doors and celebrate me home…..

So why,  in the wild, wild beauty of this sweet breath of God,
is church even a thing?

I remember the way my soul drew up taller when the couple climbed from their car
to meet us in the field where we used to play like banshees until the organ began to play.
They were our Sunday school teachers,  and had arrived to be here on a Saturday afternoon
for something that I don’t now remember.
It didn’t matter – they had come and we were together,
all the other kids and I,
and when the husband grabbed my hands and swung me playful like a ragdoll,
the music of that smiling gesture landed
firm that I belonged.

Here in this place where the music rolled out rich like Sunday dinner to call us all inside,
I felt more than bone and birthday and bottom lines
to the One who threw open doors that let me tumble giggling on the lawn.
We were -all of us – invited and so the belonging ran deep
like a river running through
and  i ran free for as long as believed it.

To have once belonged like this is a treasure stored and I hold it dear
even as the welcome mat seemed sharp withdrawn from the place where i felt my truest
and I have it always, the option to stay mad and serve up blame and why couldn’t they see
that my bad behavior was a howl of pain
and not a slot marked “damaged” where I felt neatly filed.

But I couldn’t see my own truth so how can I bring the gavel down.
The whole,  “So what if i don’t fit;  I still belong,
would take me decades to learn to hold.
Maybe they never held it for themselves,
and in the end I found the door and safer pasture.

Many doors later,  I find myself drawn still to those dotted,  grazing hillsides
for the very and only reason that I love the whole community thing.
Really,  really love it when it works  – when it’s inclusive
and supportive and accepting and come on in – the stuff of home
and togethering and chairs pulled up close around the table and celebrated joy
and circle the wagons in our grief and,  yes,  dysfunction because it’s family,
but fumble on and forward fall and figure it out because we’re for each other and we’re what we’ve got.
And there’s shared hilarity in even this.

Yeah,  it’s the shared part that I love,  even as my love for independence dances rowdy
on the graves of ways that have died.
To be curious together.  Vulnerable together.  Knitted together strong
and yet each thread celebrated
for it’s own unique flavor and shade.
This is the stuff of riches.

So i haven’t given up on “church” because I love so hard the hope of a local community
that is bigger and more diverse than anything that I could build alone.
The risk it seems I have to take to go there – to move toward connection,
is worth the pounds of fear I have to lose each time
I draw near and get real.

“A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.”
– Mary Karr

“There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family.  Or more happy.
Or more exasperated.  Or more…….secure.”
– Jim Butcher

If you follow along and read the words I write down here,   you have my everloving thanks!
I appreciate the time you take and hold that dear.
Thanks for coming along this Summer on this journey of a small-ish series.
I appreciate your company so:)

A little video I made for you…….

 

Love letters and the long way home….

024
Shame is a psychopath with a fake badge.

Guilt – it has some value.
Guilt says,  “hey,  that was a bad call.  So not you.  Go apologize.”
It’s crisp.  Clear. Put things right because you’re not gonna want to haul this around.
“Acknowledge. Own. Forgive. Learn. Grow,” Guilt counsels.  Go clean off and get back in the game.

Shame doesn’t care about you or what you carry.
It serves no redemptive purpose;  it’s there to punish you for being.
And it will use whatever raw materials it can sieze from your untidy life
to assault your sense of worth with trumped up charges about your circumstances
until it hijacks what it’s after:  your identity.

I send Allison several letters and packages that first year and don’t hear back.
Edith assures me that this happens sometimes.  A testing period.  To see if I’ll stay or leave again.
This idea stings deep,   not because I don’t understand,
but because it escalates the beatings my heart’s been taking for years,
blungeoned by a single blunt word:  Abandonment.
There.  I said it.
I remember the first time it was used to describe what I’d done.

It was the Summer after.
I’d turned in an article to a little publication and was eager to read my words in print.
I wanted so badly to write and this editor had contacted me,  interested in teen pregnancy stories.
I froze as she skimmed through my copy and slowly stabbed,  “wait, you gave your baby away?”
I could barely remain inside my skin while she red-penned my heart in disapproving silence.
I’d felt fried in hot oil by “your baby deserves better than you,”
and now here was the  flip-side:  “who abandons her child?”
A shame sandwich.
The girl I used to be gets snuffed out in the squeeze.

027

In the years that followed I would put away my typewriter and pens and wordy dreams
and decide I didn’t fit with the fresh faced girls at the beautiful college campus where I’d won a second chance
with an essay and a visit to the dean to explain why my high school transcripts
bled with red pen as well.
I found my place instead in the world of nature and greenhouses and flowers and fields,
places that didn’t look too hard beyond the dirt and clay of me.
I would build a life with my limp and keep to the edges,
always a little on the outside.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Now It’s March 2010 and I’m driving to Greensboro through the slushy white of a rare late snowfall.
I hold on my lap a birthday gift for Allison that I’ll deliver to Edith in person this time.
I need to walk through those doors and put my eyes on the voice at the other end of the line,
on the one who reads and approves and mails off my packages to Amanda.
This is the voice that has assured me that she still welcomes my offerings,
doesn’t find them intrusive – I’ve asked and Edith says keep writing.
She relays Allison’s gentle words of thanks.
She is still not ready to respond.

I’m learning to keep my palms up and the openness hurts like a wound un-bandaged
but something free is happening in these wild and vulnerable places,
coming back to life as I unpack my love for her and these shards of my soul shut down.
Each time I dive down to find another pearl to send her,
I recover a part of myself as I pick up my pens again and really,  really write.

And as I pull into Greensboro,  I’m looking for something that I can’t define.

Edith meets us in the parlor and and I find myself searching her face for traces of Rose’s.
I ache to see it.  A picture?  Something in her file?
It’s been over two years and I haven’t heard back.
I wonder what I thought I might discover by coming
and pull some air back into the hollow of a powerful heartache
as I realize I won’t find it here today.
I’m still knocking.

I want to come inside.

048

“You thought you’d left it all behind
You thought you’d up and gone
But all you did was figure out
How to take the long way home.”
– Roseanne Cash

I won’t leave you here,  I promise.
Thanks for coming along for the ride;  this summer series is setting something loose in me.