The wonder, the welcome and the walls…..

It’s the walls I hate the most
as we head deeper into the tangle of briars that is this season
of lines drawn hard and stories and hearts left unpacked in the corners
where we may polarize and hide
because it doesn’t feel safe right now to show our underbellies.
As if we weren’t already lonely enough.

All the sharp biting can make it feel too dangerous to be honest online,
and that fear can spill right across the table in real time where we actually gather.
As if connection may be easily severed.
Un-knowing each other so hard only grows our sense of isolation,
and when you feel unheard,
a deep lonely can set in strong.

I love the way Brene’ Brown describes this experience:

“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve called Steve from the road and said,
‘I’ve got the lonely feeling.’  It’s not unusual for Ellen or Charlie to say,
‘I don’t like that restaurant.  It gives me the lonely feeling,’ or ‘Can my friend spend the night here?
Her house gives me the lonely feeling.’
When the four of us tried to drill down on what the lonely feeling meant for our family,
we all agreed that we get the lonely feeling in places
that don’t feel alive with connection.

My daughter used to call it the Sunday night feeling,
and I think as a nation we’re cultivating it like a well-worked orchard.
Miles of barbed wire and disconnect grow the now-thriving acres of lonesome.
How can we be love in all this crazy?
We work and pray for systemic change in the long game, yes,
but we bring healing into the fray every opportunity we get
during those moments when we find ourselves offended.
Right before the fight or flight kicks in,
each time our soul breaks out in hives
and we feel compelled to slam a door….

…in just that hair-trigger jolt,
before up come our defenses,  our posturing,  our pride,
we can (big breath)
and instead of rising up ready to battle or bolt
we choose to maybe  e-a-s-e  open some space to listen and better know
the human, the heart
and the hope.

We could be addicted to closure,
to feeling clear and correct and certain,
and we humans can make stuff up if necessary – whatever narrative we need to hold –
so that we feel like we’ve got this thing handled
on the moral high ground
and have wrangled into our journey some sense of control
on this huge spinning dizzying ball.

I believe it’s possible to do this season from a more spacious place –
that we can hold our beliefs and opinions  strong and with courage,
examined and curious and unashamed,
and also hold also brave space for connection.
That each time we feel the prickle of offense,
instead of throwing up walls,
into having an awkward sit in that uncomfortable place
of listen-and-slow-your-breath-down,
holding space for: “I don’t see or  agree,
but will work to understand,  to offer acceptance,
and hold space for where you land.
I won’t judge you,  won’t fear you,
will acknowledge your value and worth.
I honor you as more than your affiliation.
You’re included,  you’re welcome,  you’re heard.

Oh God I want to not give my ego what it’s hungry for,
to un-satisfy it’s demand be large and in charge.
I want to choose an open heart,  an uncertain path,  and a big wide love lit bright.
Still baby-stepping and re-learning and willing to change
through the long of this hard day’s night.

“Cruelty is easy,  cheap and rampant.”
“You cannot shame or belittle people into
changing their behaviors.”
– Brene’ Brown

Pride assumes
Creativity wonders.”
– Stephen Roach

Congrats to Lisa Moreland – your name popped up in the giveaway this post;
I’ll be sending your print along to you – with a whole lot of love.
This week I want to give away a new handmade journal
Leave a comment and you’re in the hat!


  1. Elephants Child on July 16, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I cannot change the world. I can (sometimes) change me.
    I choose to focus on beauty. To sit quiet. To listen more than I speak.
    And to thank you (and so many others) for new perspectives.

    • jennifer on July 18, 2020 at 10:31 am

      Yes to the sometimes:) Beauty, quiet and listening.
      Such a powerful place to park in the swirl.
      I’m working on the listening – that’s my climb.
      Thanks for sharing here – I love to hear your heart,

  2. Julia Bourque on July 17, 2020 at 7:46 am

    I love your attitude of sitting still in that awkward place, breathing slow, etc…
    There isn’t much we can do but wait patiently and do the best we can do under the circumstances.
    Have a great day and be safe and well.
    Hugs, Julia

    • jennifer on July 18, 2020 at 10:29 am

      I really dis-like that awkward place – it takes a lot of gumption for me to sit and stay awhile there.
      I’m a fight-or-flight-er from way back:)
      I wrote this post to myself mostly:)
      Always the learning curve.
      Thanks and safe travels through this season,

    • Jennifer Richardson on July 31, 2020 at 3:53 pm

      Also, Julia, I left a comment on your blog
      but it didn’t upload. I tried several times.
      Not sure why.
      I read and enjoyed.
      – Jen

  3. Lisa on July 18, 2020 at 8:53 am

    Aw, so blessed to be receiving one of your prints, an entire meadow of your wild generosity and bountiful spirit. Thank you so much!

    • jennifer on July 18, 2020 at 10:27 am

      Your words are art – thank you:)
      It’s headed your way in a few. Excited:)
      Thanks, Lisa,

  4. jeanie on July 19, 2020 at 7:53 am

    This is so well said, as always, Jennifer. There do seem to be plenty of walls of late that we build around ourselves for protection. Some are fine, benign. Others? They take us to that lonely place you describe. May it be.

    • jennifer on July 19, 2020 at 8:31 am

      Thanks, Jeanie:) I live and work in close relationship with beloved people who are camped in
      very different places politically and otherwise. Lots of diversity. I’m constantly challenged
      to choose connection over walls. It feels like a big theme in my life right now. I wonder if
      this is particularly unique to me? I’m curious – I’d love to find out what’s going on with others
      around this issue. Thanks for sharing here – I always appreciate it so!
      Warm hugs,

  5. Susan on July 19, 2020 at 8:19 pm

    I am so very challenged in this area but I continue to try and I learn from ones such as yourself. Thanks always for sharing your calm, wisdom and strength.

    • jennifer on July 19, 2020 at 8:39 pm

      Meeeeeee too! Oh me too.
      We’re all learning and bumbling along together:)
      Plenty of mistakes allowed:)
      Big warm hugs,

  6. Janet Savold on July 20, 2020 at 6:01 am

    This inspires me to my core! Delicious challenge to “e a’ s e open”! Letting that marinate! Thank you!!

    • jennifer on July 26, 2020 at 7:27 am

      Thanks for all the ways your love and life help e a s e my heart open and often:)
      Big joy and hugs,

  7. Virginia Owen on July 25, 2020 at 10:17 am

    What a beautiful approach to this trying time of division and isolation. Reading your words leaves me hopeful, always.

    • jennifer on July 26, 2020 at 7:26 am

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Virginia:)
      I appreciate your kind read:)
      – Jennifer

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