Healing the wounds of the unseen…..


I feel so full for my city,
even as a massive wound has been lanced and pain spills into the streets.
Charlotte is bleeding sorrow and anger and frustration and confusion.
over the disease of unseeing.

I grieve for the lives lost and silenced
because of a systemic blindness that builds fearful walls instead of seeing grace.
I feel again the white hot tears that I tasted when my own sons were shoved down on gravel
on an empty stretch of highway while police officers grabbed their tender wrists into cuffs.
They were the right color but the wrong flavor
for the rural tastes of the small nearby town that they didn’t skirt far enough
to join their friends in a field for an air soft game after school.

Their windows down, long hair flying and music turned up high on a lone country road,
my youngest, 14,  twirls his toy gun absentminded in the passenger seat
as a passerby phones in a false alarm.
Within minutes they are pulled by shouting authorities with guns drawn
who mistake my youngest son’s neurology for defiance.
He does not process quickly the clamor and shouting,
is bewildered why they have him on the ground.

In the chaos,  neither of my sons are seen.

I bristle at  the condescending severity of the voice on the line
who asks if I’m a parent who know my kids are carrying guns.
Can’t you even see the plastic orange tip on the end of the thing,  I growl
– of course I know where they’re going and my throat goes dry as I struggle to explain.
I bite down hard the angry stream of words that rises up inside,
fearing for my teenage sons who are still in their hands.

But they will come home to us that day.
No one is shot and I don’t bear in my being
a long history dark that has scarred my emotional DNA
toward badges and the people who wear them.
I know this is only a taste.

We call and arrange a face to face with the officers for early next day
-we want to make them see.
My husband and I sit across a wide table lined with defensive faces.
Their patronizing slowly turns to understanding as our quiet voices begin to paint
what they didn’t see.
We wrestle down our own defenses and lean forward to see the people behind the mistake.
We can feel the vast expanse between us come together
as we let our hearts go wide.
I was proud of us all as we stayed in that place
until peace was made.


And now my heart pulses hot grief for the man who was shot in my city this week.
Maybe plastic orange tips are harder to see when a black hand holds them,
or when a black man is too rattled to comply.
Was he just the wrong color or flavor?  I don’t know.
Won’t pretend to know the whole of his story.
Or of the young black officer who felt pressed to pull the trigger.
But the wound of years of injustice
was opened
I see

~For the man who was shot down and for his family – for the all too many families before.
~For the man who felt forced to drop him.
~For those grieving another officer buried just this week
because he served a warrant to a hopeless man with a loaded gun.
~For those uniformed men who do abuse their authority and act out their distrust and fear.
~For my neighbor whose piercing wail still haunts me
because her son has been shot by a cop who must mow down her boy
because he waves a gun,  wanting to die.
~For the shaking and horrified officer whose job required him to oblige.
~For my black friend who hints that my white life must be charmed
in a way that says she doesn’t see me.
~For the places where racism hides still inside of me – places where I, too, don’t really see.
For all of the wounds of the unseen.

I see you,  Charlotte.
And even now I’m so proud of my city.
Of the healers and seers and helpers and peace-makers
that you won’t see on TV or a facebook feed.
But unless you see them,
you haven’t seen my city.

We are those who protest peaceful and work to see and respect the people behind the badges
even while we show up to let our stories speak.
We are tender-hearted public servants who fight back tears even while standing tall
to protect and keep safe the all of us,
making space for expression of people in pain.
We are many standing humble together to build
more than those who come to tear down,
than the empty-eyed inciters who have traded in their their humanity
to bleed out hopelessness,  like infection,  in our streets.

The healers and seers and helpers and peace-makers are of more powerful stuff,
living antibodies more potent than the poison can survive.
Healing is happening in my city.


“Means we use must be as pure as the end we seek.”
– Martin Luther King

Thank you for coming by to have a read.
For being a witness.
Your company here is bread and wine to me.


  1. Elephant's Child on September 25, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring.
    For you, for your city, for all the lost and fearful.

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks, Sue. We are healing.
      Life is coming from this terrible, terrible thing.
      It’s such a fierce and ugly thing when a wound gets opened.
      But healing is happening in real ways.
      Thanks for your caring, friend.

  2. gotham girl on September 25, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Just when I say there are no words…you express them brilliantly.

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks, friend. That means so much from you.

  3. Julia on September 25, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    It is all so sad. I have no words either…
    Hugs & love.

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Love and care to you in your sadness, Julia.
      Big hug,

  4. Jane Brocious on September 26, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I love the way you tell your story…always..with raw clarity, sincere vulnerability, and words of grace and compassion.

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Jane:) Your words:)
      I appreciate you soooooo much.
      More than you know.

  5. Kimber Britner on September 26, 2016 at 9:29 am

    It seems it is always the feeling of being unseen and unheard in its many forms, that we, humanity, struggle to navigate through, each with our different set of lenses. Beautiful!

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Exactly, Kimber. Thanks for hearing and being a light.
      I appreciate you,

  6. Lisa on September 26, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Jennifer, your words help bring such clarity. I am so grateful for your gift!

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks, sweet friend! I appreciate your encouragement
      and healing way. More than I can say:)

  7. Kathryn on September 26, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    All lives have stories… Love to you, Jenn.

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      Don’t they! And each story calls out to be told.
      Thanks for giving strength to mine
      and living brave your own,

  8. Susan on September 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Tears sprang to my eyes when I read of what your boys went through and they stayed as I read and realized that you are so very good to write about your city and the ways we are all feelng and trying to deal and to keep healing … please never stop sharing your voice.

    • jennifer on September 30, 2016 at 7:33 pm

      Thanks for your bell-like voice ringing across the mountains,
      bringing blue sky encouragement to my own shaky murmerings:)
      I appreciate you so:)

  9. jeanie on October 3, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Every now and then I read something that so knocks me to the ground, that so rips and tears at my heart and soul that I have no words. I need to share this post. It must be read and read by many. The story of your boys, the story of your city, of the neighbor, the friends, and your big heart, bruised and confused and yet so full of love. Healing is so very hard, isn’t it? We just think we’re there and then something tears at the wound once again. No one but you could have ever expressed this so eloquently, with such passion and with such love.

    • jennifer on October 7, 2016 at 10:31 am

      Thanks for your encouraging and engaging share, Jeanie.
      For hearing me. For the way you listen.
      I appreciate you so.
      Much love and thanks,

  10. Barbara on October 8, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    It’s all very sad. I feel for both sides, that they both seem to be targets. I’m praying, praying, praying….

    • jennifer on October 9, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Me too, Barbara. Both sides playing dirty and degrading. It’s an open sore.
      Like you, I believe in the healing power of love and hope big for healing and change.
      From the inside out. Thanks for coming by and joining the conversation, friend.

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