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.

Holding space for air….

camellia
There is a place
in each moment,
a soft space for breath
to unfold slow
and deep
and safe,
where rest enough waits
like a tall glass of lay-me-down
and  whispers welcome
to every lift and settle of my heart.

And there is a stream there,
a place for tired soul to go bare,
glimmering easy songs of here and now
and of a love that fills
and it nourishes and calls
and I can answer if I will

funny valentine

‘Cause sometimes I wreck this heart
by rushing,
wanting to flop down into the finally
of having everything done and wrapped up tight,
and it’s crazy how my mind can wedge me into stories
that steal away my peace
and set me to running from rest
because I get to thinking
that it’s the push and squeeze that saves me.

Yeah,   I can forget to breathe,
to let the soft vapor of life
tend the peace that lifts me
from the weary way I sometimes keep.

It’s braver to breathe.

dearheart
I wish you deep gulps of air in every place where your heart is holding it’s breathe.

“And breathe,
just breathe.
Oh breathe,
just breathe.”

– Anna Nalick

If you’re looking to do something yummy for yourself,  check out this goodness from my big-dreaming friend,   Kimber.