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.

Gifts from a song-bird…..

I want to share some birdsong I’ve been grooving on,
some sweet shots of sanity
that sift  the kool-aid to the top
so truth can skim it off and toss it,
leaving clearer waters inside.

Because, geez, this world gets noisy,
so much hype and clatter
drummed down harsh on living things
and we seem somehow to reserve the cruelest prattle for ourselves.

Into the thick of some sludge and syrup,
God sent me a bird.
Mandy Bird.
I want to share some words from her perch.
Because maybe you need her healing music just now,  too.

“Something very beautiful happens to people
when their world has fallen apart:
a humility,
a nobility,
a higher intelligence
emerges just at the point
when our knees hit the floor.”
– Marianne Williamson

To this rich quote Mandy responds,
“This is the blessing of huge struggle……
don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is bullshit.
Putting on your big girl panties usually means avoiding your grief.
Those statements are designed to shame you for being so beautifully human.
Tell shame to kiss off.

Don’t fall for that numbed out bravado.
Let’s actually learn to be heart-awake and emotionally intelligent.
Be courageous by keeping your heart open.
Now that’s big courage!”
– Mandy Bird

I know,  right?
And this.

“Don’t lessen your intensity to make others feel comfortable.
Don’t pour water on the fire of your heart.
The world needs your fire and passion.
Tell shame to kiss off.
Be you.”
– Mandy Bird

I’m in the thick of writing and writing and more writing
so I wanted to share Mandy with you this week instead.
Because her voice is one of the ways I listen for God above the fray
and I love her humor and heart and way.

You can find her on Instagram @bird_mandy

“The Ocean says ‘quit pretending to be clear.
That pretense keeps you from receiving what I can give you.’ ”
– Rumi