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)


  1. Julia on March 16, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Jennifer, I’m reading this story and I can’t find words to describe the feeling I get as I read your truth. It almost feels like I’m entering into a magical forest with fairies sprinkling fairy dust in your sentences. The words you use to describe your story seems to be a step above other authors. It is so beautifully written. Maybe it’s the colorful collages you create to convey your feelings along with your story. I can’t put my finger on it but it really stirs my heart as I read. It feels comfortable and I needed to say this.
    You truly have a beautiful gift.

  2. Kimber Britner on March 16, 2017 at 11:29 am

    So so beautiful, your truth telling.

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Hey Kimber, thank you:)
      I appreciate so much:)
      Big hug, Jennifer

  3. Elephant's Child on March 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring.
    Today and every day.
    PS: The kangaroos in my last post are not in captivity, but free. Which is as it should be.

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:56 am

      Kangaroo love and thanks for your here-ness:)

  4. Jane on March 16, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    I’m still here, listening, learning, loving!

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Hey Jane:) Glad thanks:)
      Love, Jennifer

  5. ladyfi on March 17, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Even when you write of painful things, you weave such magic with your writing.

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:54 am

      There is such beauty in the pain, isn’t there.
      Always. Waiting to be discovered.
      Thanks for your kindness,

  6. Kathy on March 17, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I can identify with a lot of this. You put it so real, so well. Love to you💙💚

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:54 am

      Love to you, too, Kathy;
      thanks for coming along for the ride:)

  7. Lisa on March 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    I bathe in all your words but the brilliant description of dichotomy, nurture and restrictions coexisting, so many of us have such a journey. It makes sorting out our authentic response more challenging.

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:53 am

      So true- such a common journey.
      That’s where I’m going….to the ways life wounds us all.
      So so grateful for the medicine:)
      Big joy to you,

  8. Barbara Shallue on March 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    “… as if I was taking off ill-fitting shoes and discovering inside little rocks that I could dump.” You have an amazing gift of bringing experiences and feelings to life in ways we can all understand. Painting pictures with words is an understatement! Bless your for your courage and openness that helps so many!

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:28 am

      Thanks for your encouragement, Barbara:)
      I appreciate your friendship. Just so much:)
      big love,

  9. jeanie on March 20, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Dear Jennifer, I hardly know where to begin. I am so deeply moved by your words, your open heart, your unabashed honesty. We all have stories of the times that shaped who we were and who we are but those can sometimes be hard in the telling. I am in awe with your skill in language and equally, your fearlessness. We are along the journey path with you. Deep, heartfelt thanks.

    • jennifer on March 22, 2017 at 7:20 am

      Your encouragement is priceless, Jeanie – thank you.
      The gift, for me, is in the wrestling through to find the words that work
      because there is so much healing there. As if my heart goes lighter
      with each scoop of story. Grateful for the grace for the telling:)
      Big hugs to dear you,

  10. Anne Camblin on March 22, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Kinship group. What a wonderful, healing place for me, too. My story began in such a similar way, and you painted such a clear, true explanation of how that lie comes in. Keep it coming!

    • jennifer on March 27, 2017 at 9:36 am

      Those years there were a hospital for me.
      I love our stories and our growing freedom from the lie.
      Thanks for being such a true-blue traveling companion.
      Big love,

  11. Susan on March 22, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    I see here so much more that we share, the southern baptist upbringing, that little bit of hellion, feeling a bit different and with a mom who brought her own young pain and boy, do I remember that scratchy Sunday best!
    I’m so glad you found your safe somewhere and I’m so glad you share your brave, sweet heart so truthfully and openly.

    • jennifer on March 27, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Your words:) I love each one of them and send thanks:)
      xoxoxo back,

  12. Sharon Leaf on March 23, 2017 at 8:52 am

    I’m along for this journey. Raised southern Baptist by loving parents, I’m relating to your living words. Leaving me breathless as I’m walking with you, step by step.

    • jennifer on March 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Breathless and breathing….I so get that:)
      I could name this chapter of my life just that.
      Thanks for your loving words.
      Much to you,

  13. Robin aka on April 10, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    I read this twice and my eyes slowly went to the very first comment from Julia. I couldn’t add one single word to what she wrote.

    • jennifer on April 12, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks, Robin. I love the way you are:)

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