When the heart thumps of longings and lanes…..

In the heat of our culture’s loud and frantic traffic right now,
it’s sometimes hard to find and hold steady to your lane.
The message is loud and the pressure real:

                      ~ you should be doing more to protect your family and community from the virus.

~  you should be doing more to end ignorance and fear,  and to dismantle racism.

~ you should doing more to connect with truth – to navigate the hype and the false
and arrive correctly on the right square.  And quickly.

~ you should be doing more of all the things and also taking more
of a pro-active role in fighting more for social justice
in every arena,  anywhere there is suffering,
(If you’re not quarantined,  say if you are running a small business,
there is a lot of extra to catch up on
once you’ve served your community so you’re just
gonna have to sleep a little faster and go a little harder,  man.)

And,  hey,  if this is all too intense to absorb and process in your 24,
you just need to pick a side.
One of the two.  Pick one wing of this big bird and devote unquestioning loyalty,
then begin to lob insult and venom at the other
(yes,  you’re all on the same bird but don’t think too hard about that
while you bloody the wing you didn’t choose – it’s easier to go with the
good vs. evil narrative.  Keeps it simple.)

Cult Tip:
If you want to keep it super sweet and simple,  just pick a side and then go with
whatever that side is saying about all the issues.  Lots less bother.
You’ll even get a script.

Either way,  the shoulds are clear:
you’re expected to weigh in and raise a flag on every issue.
In every fight.
At every moment.
And whatever work you’re learning or doing already,
you should do way more.

Are you tired already?

                                           One  option:   Succumb to inertia.   Or despair
Better option:
Find and focus on doing your work.

I believe in the work.
I believe that this season is pregnant with the call to dismantle racism,
to require justice for the marginalized, for the objectified,  for the de-humanized.
My heart burns hot for systemic change.

I also believe that we are all many parts
-you have a lane and it’s where you’re made to thrive,
where you’re most productive
and there your passion carries weight
that creates sustainable good.
In your lane,  the riffs your voice makes are not only delicious,
they also help make this planet and her people more whole.
You were born to fill that space – we need you there.

So how do you know that place?
How do you find that niche – your own true north?
Finding and filling it is maybe much of the work of being human
because we want to love wide,  yes,  but where exactly do we put our heft and hands
every single day?

The answers,  I believe,  are rumbling around down there in the deeps of your very own heart.
Always it’s in the heart connection- that God-container –
from which our truest and most satisfying life-living flows.

And what I want to say to you right now is
don’t be driven by the shoulds.
Especially in the loud of this season,
don’t lose your heart.
That still small voice in the quiet of you
– it’s your lifeline.

“There are a million creative paths through compassion work…
That thing that is bursting in your chest?  Listen to it.  Give it energy;  give it life.”
– Jen Hatmaker

My lane,  for now,  is to dive deep to listen and learn and also
to offer up process that helps turn up the quiet and cultivate the listen and know.
It’s been growing in me for years, this way, and it feels to me like
tall trees and big sky and laughing waters
and helps tug the trueness from my often overcrowded heart.
It’s been a slow and bumpy launch because of Covid, and my website is still in the works
because I’m still nose-to-the-ground like a hound dog in a tall meadow
sniffing out the path.
I’ll come back with details soon.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Nelson – I drew your name in the giveaway
and I’m honored to send you an art journal I made.  With big love!

Another giveaway this post.
This time it’s a print – a warm starry night in a Summertime garden.
15 x 20 inches
Leave a comment and you’re in the hat:)

 

When people get brushed off like crumbs….

I’ve been doing some deep dives into the shades of fear and dismissal
that are wrapped in the privilege that came with my skin.
I’m discovering some attitudes that I’ll be keeping
and tossing some been hiding in the basement of my thinking,
like forgotten relics
until the roof got torn off in this storm.

Mostly I’m shutting up and listening,
listening hard for what my ears weren’t tuned by my life to hear.
And I’m loving these new voices I’m feeding on
that sound to my heart like thundering waves and cicadas singing  and warm winds stirring and God.
And even though I’ve been in community with people of color for decades,
I have so much to listen and learn
and so I hush.

But I’m feeling it strong to say something
when exposed to the deep black pain that groans
every single time someone twists the knife with the words
“but all lives matter”
because the sting of having deep pain minimized,
well,  for that I have something of a grid.

~  ~  ~

I’m swept back some years into a living room lit dim as women gathered
to explore how to embrace the courage to shed our shame
to learn to process and share the hidden pain,
because shame gathers strength sitting alone in the dark.
I’d held back,  wrestling to say the thing that made my throat close down
and my lungs fold over tight.
When I finally stacked my awkward words on a ledge and pushed them off,
I held my breath as they fell into the light.

During the sharp quick moments after my words
tumbled to the ground
in that space where I longed for someone to hold them with me,
or say “oh Jen” or come alongside to help breathe just one next breath,
there came the brisk sweep of dismissal that felt like a broom
sweeping up some chips I’d just spilled.
Brushed away quick by the leader
who hopped over my share
as if I’d sneezed into a crowd.

I felt humiliated.
I packed my entrails back up
and held it all tight between my un-cried sobs until I could get to the safety of my car.
The sounds I cried in the bathtub that night
didn’t even sound human and it scared me hard
to hurt so guttural and exposed.
I felt banished in that someone had seen the soft underbelly of my experience
and showed no empathy.

And then when I called the leader on it,  privately,  and asked was this was a safe space for me
she was defensive,  dismissive,  deflective,
and minimized all the feels.
And then struck out how dare I “attack” her so vicious.
I’d never known pain like it. Or since.

~ ~  ~

Bearing a wound and carrying the pain unacknowledged,
(especially from leadership)
is a gut-wrenching and isolating place.
When the black community hears over and over
our protests – “but all lives matter”
I want to scream “stop it!”
Just. stop.
Can we sit with our brother and sister
and share the next breath they need to take
alongside of them?

Can we just squeeze their collective hand and say “I’m sorry.”
“I’m here.”
“Keep talking”
“We’re listening.”
Can we just hold some space for the hurting hearts out there?
Without rushing to dismiss
because it’s way un-comfy
and from our little white bubbles we don’t compute.

Can we please grow our repertoire of tools.
Accept our lack of empathy and focus in on learning to listen,
to becoming the humans we hope to be
– can we stop with the defensive posturing
and let black lives be heard?

If someone sobs and rages because we slam a heavy door on their hand,
can we lean in to see and serve the crushed fingers
instead of chiding them for being unruly in their pain.
We’ve crushed some things.
In sitting with this we will suffer.
Are we willing to do the work of humility
to hurt with the hurting
until a fierce tide of healing rolls in?

Oh God grow our empathy.
May we not leave a single soul alone
in their pain.

“Empathy is simply listening,  holding space,  withholding judgement,
emotionally connecting,  and communicating that incredibly healing message
of you’re not alone.
– Brene’ Brown

Congrats to Linda Mann – your name jumped up in the drawing and I’ll be sending
your package in the mail post haste.
Another art journal up for giveaway this week – leave a comment
to have your name in the hat.
And thanks – always thanks – for coming around.
I appreciate you big.

When silence boils over and tears catch fire…..

 

Sometimes the grief sits so low in my voice
that I can only lift one finger slow to say thanks
and I must,
must let it twitch breath enough
into the heavy
until my heart starts to rise
to meet the moment
so that my life,
doesn’t close down
in a silence
that can
sink
me

if
I
don’t
grab hold the line
that the gratitude tosses me.
It’s in the thank you that the wind begins to fill me again,
gives me fresh eyes to see again the kind heart thumping grace into places grown thin.
Here I’ve landed tonight and I want to share this safe place I’ve pulled into for my soul to park
while healing prayers rise.

Feel free to share the space and rest here with me
giving thanks for

~ the big rip – the yanking off of this social band-aid
in not allowing us to cover over the wound any longer
with our hasty bandages,
grateful even for the howl of pain that shakes us to either look up and deal
or acknowledge that we choose to diminish
a bleeding human heart
(multitudes of them).

~ For leaders who get down on their knees
to scoop up the tears of the brokenhearted
and walk alongside to protect their voices,
even when those leaders must rise to protect the peaceful
in order that their voices not be
de-legitimized
by those who’ve gotten lost in the pain.

~ for voices that heal,
that respect our humanity even at our most broken.
Who refuse to demonize, to de-humanize – who hold fiery prayerful vigil in their hearts
for the right,  for the left,  for our leadership,
for people of color,  for people who are white,  for the oppressed
and for their oppressors.
For those who will not hate even though it cost them.

~ For those who keep a loving foot on each side of the political chasm.
For the bridge-builders,
the peace-makers
who perch that brave spot of tension
and reject assumption
in order to deeply listen.
Who are breaking up with being driven by agenda.

~ for
“I don’t know.”
“Help me understand.”
“Tell me more.”
”  Keep talking.  I’m not going anywhere.  Still here.  I’m listening.”

~ for every prayer rising
for leadership,
for solution,
for healing change.

~ For every heart that refuses to stop breathing hope
even when you lose it again and again.
God,  it’s so brave to hope again.
To defy disappointment and
take on hope
like a boat going down
in a storm of mercy.

And while I’m grateful also for wildly green ferns carpeting the forest floor
and the first little cucumber sliced warm into my salad
I will keep this back right now in this space
and sit instead with my white heart open to listen and learn
what my privilege may have not let me see.

“Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men.
It is the refusal to defeat any individual.
When you rise up to the level of love,  of it’s great beauty and power,
you seek only to defeat evil systems.
Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system,  you love,
but you seek to defeat the system
…..inject within the very structure of the universe the very strong and powerful element
of love.”
– Martin Luther King
(from his sermon “Loving your Enemies”)

Barbara Shallue, your name came up from the hat – big grin to send you some love.
One more giveaway this week – fresh new journal to share
Leave a comment and your name is in.

Riding sweet wild holy air…..

During these days of strange things
I’ve fallen deeper in love with creativity,
with that thing that draws us into collaboration with God,
for the way it goes like flutter and flight and drift and wings
that spirits through the fingers of strangling things,
to that free-at-last feeling of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g out cramped ways
been folded up tight too long.

That there’s no bottom to this bucket,
no scarcity to this well,
that it’s endless flowing fountain
even when we’re blocked or can’t seem to tap in,
it’s worth wooing,  worth investing in,  worth cultivating wholehearted
until it bubbles up and breaks through as we lean in thirsty
and wait with open hands.

I’m learning more to be tender with my creativity, as if with a bird on my shoulder
that I’m mindful not to fluster or fritter away
on worry or numbing or energetic drains
but to respect,  to steward like this amazing inheritance
that I dare not waste on catastrophizing or blame.

These are days to re-imagine,
to deep-dive to see what may could be
and I feel as if I’m turning the whole weight of my being into wooing
this costly friendship with Spirit
to go a little more weightless in that place where solution gets born
where unfettered things set their wings
and ride fierce and soft and surrendered
this sweet wild holy air.

“That cannot be.
Unless it could!”
– from Alice in Wonderland

Big grin to Gwen Lily that your name jumped up in the drawing;
go on over to my etsy shop (on sidebar) and pick out a journal and I’ll send it right out to you.
I want to give another away this week – these are turning out so much better now that I’ve
ironed out some glitches and I’m loving the making!
I hope the sparkle I felt while creating them lingers long on the pages:)

Leave a comment and you’re in the hat for next week.

(Every page, for me,  is poetry and prayer
that solution gets born in fierce and freeing ways
in leadership for change in every nook and cranny of this world)

Like sea glass on the sand…..thank you notes

Heart thumping grateful for the light bouncing potent off of these shards of beauty
like hard-buffed sea glass on the sand:
As the storm storms on….

~  Thank you farmers and makers and artists and shakers
for collaborating with God to keep us nourished body and soul.

~ Thank you,  creation,   for being beautiful in complexity and paradox.
You can be gorgeous beyond belief and also mean and merciless
and still
the realer reality
of strong Compassion
sweeps over you a healing tide
and restoration can happen like the morning

~ Thank you for “I wonder where the storm will take us.”
For those who can sit with the unknown.
I appreciate more than ever you who will hold space for uncertainty.

~For the stars and moon so talkative some nights that it’s hard to sleep
and for brand new days for our tired old ways,

~ For heart-claps and joy that gives mad strength,
joy that isn’t pissed away by “what about this.”
Joy that trusts defiant,
that prays brave and surrenders it fierce,
whatever can’t be fixed or found.

~For the just right blend of beauty and bounty and broken and wisdom and whiskey and weird
for my cup of tea.

~ Thank you,  those who release life-giving prayers into the heavens,
how those prayers rise the way the wind kisses dunes with salty breath,
or like the birds who seem to be born out of mist
and fly into the burning sun.

~ Thank you,  pain and pressure and perplexities.
For how “we never know the wine we are becoming while being crushed like grapes.”
(thanks,  Henri Nouwen)

~ Thank you paypal and Vinmo and all of the things;
you do make the clockwork run a little smoother.

~Thank you flowers and Spring bloomers for how ya’ll keep talking up a hopeful storm,
making music like the birds who just keep singing.

~ Thank you,  steep and slippery technical learning curves,  for being just barely do-able.
Eventually.  Like climbing a greased pole.  Or a violently swinging rope.
You’ve brought my jagged edges to the surface for some needed polishing.
And brought me to Pepcid AC.  And an entire box of cherry blow pops.    Thank and #@*~ you.
But mostly thank you.  Really.

~ Thank you, fluff on TV,  for not satisfying.
For leaving me feeling “meh” and hungry for the pure raw presence of realer things.

~ Thank you,  Amazon,  for bringing the supplies,
for helping makers make the things we’re making.
I’m thinking you were born for such a time as this.

~Thank you,  biased journalism,  for playing so openly the political blame game;
you’ve goaded us to deep-dive for wisdom and discernment
because sanity can’t thrive in the confusion you’re selling;
thanks for overplaying your hand.

~ thank you also to the orchestrators of conspiracy theories
for making the media’s agenda look,  well,  less crazy than the one you’re hocking.
For oversimplifying the complex by trying to sell us a house made of tinker toys
when we need to build safe shelter.

(You both make me appreciate the beauty in the gray – the strength of both wings spread strong)

~ Thank you to the builders to the ones who know they see only in part.
Who know that their knowledge is incomplete.
Thanks to you,  humble ones,  who get that their perspective may be off,
who listen deep and long and well.
Cheers to the listeners – I celebrate you.
You are bright beings in dark places
and we need you big.

~ And thanks to all the servant-leaders doing awesome jobs
in homes and communities,  taking initiative in beautiful and creative ways
– for listening and leading in Love,
for being stability
in this thing we’re all doing for the first. time. ever.
( whoever and wherever you are…in whatever capacity,
your influence is light).
To you,  gracious ones,
Thanks for the space you’re holding for our differing levels of fear and uncertainty,
for not being terrified into verbal violence.
Like one of my favorite hearts wrote,
“Moral outrage is the opposite of God.”
(Gregory Boyle)

Thank you for not demonizing human beings.
You help keep our sails mended so that when the wind rises
we all rise and meet the waves together.
You are our ticket for safe passage.
Healing balm for broken hearts.
And you make it safe to step into the arena
where solution gets born.

~ Thank you,  dear Comforter,  for drawing near to anyone who asks,
that your response to tragedy and loss is always to share the pain,
to offer deep friendship.
Tearful thanks for your sweet presence;
that we are held.

“What good is a half-lit life?
You can burn me to ashes as long as I know
we lived a life alight.”
– Tyler Knott Gregson

Thanks for reading my thank you notes – it’s been a soothing way to process the
weight of the weeks.  And to draw out the bits I want to save forever
up against the warm thump of my heart.
Another giveaway again this week!
One of the art journals from my etsy shop on sidebar.
Whoever wins the drawing can choose:)
Next Thursday,  May22.  Leave a comment and you’re in the hat!