Two trees growing up in the garden…..

I’ve heard it told of two trees growing up in a garden,
two filters,  two perspectives,  two ways;
one a driven religion to be right and know,
to category and label living things.
Superiority feels like shelter in this system
and it demands that those who eat it’s fruit conform.

The second tree is freedom from this judgement,
instead it holds both the dark night cold and the clear sky blue
without fearing the colors and range.
Doesn’t demonize or categorize but
a spacious system supple enough to let people be where they are
until they aren’t.
This living-tree pulses powerful with compassion and grief
while the knowing tree draws from roots of punishment and shame.

These trees can be felt everywhere
like a river running through.
You can feel the slap and shove of the knowing tree when you
question,  when you try to listen open,
when you draw back from the fast food it’s selling.
It has no patience for growing and preparing food for thought,
no tolerance for the slowness of God.
There is a quietude to the living tree
because it doesn’t bristle,
controlling and scared.
 The knowing tree rages at this living tree’s generous way
because it fears the living,
doesn’t do the messy,
of living things.

And humans are hard to get to know
without a lot of time and trust and conversation,
especially if your goal is to narrow down the wide
into piles of evil and good.

Perhaps the human heart was never meant for dissecting at all.
Knowing someone can take a lifetime
and the knowing tree has no patience for this mystery.
It wants cliff notes filed through fast
instead of a novel to discover and digest.

Humans are bewildering to the knowing tree,
often simply problems to be solved.
So the way people are wired is a conundrum for the knowing tree
which likes to keep a tidy god,  well-managed and contained.
Left brained or right,
liberal or conservative,
religious or secular,
engineer or artist
– an impossibly ridiculous (and unnecessary) range.
This unholy mosh must be cooked down into a self-same stew
because there is no rest for those in the stranglehold of this system
if it can’t get a vice grip handle
on evil and good.

It has to be one or the other,
which is likely why the fruit from this tree
has such a harsh and bitter bite.

It will say,  with authority,  what it “knows”
as if it’s perfectly and positively true.
It scrambles to this knowing without question
and ascertains the motives of a heart,
what’s gonna happen next,
what someone meant by what they said or did,
and,  especially,
what God thinks and feels about
pretty much everything.

And this tree thrives because we humans have a powerful low tolerance
for looking stupid
so if we’re gonna live from a freer place
we have to make peace
with looking a fool.

Yeah,  the knowing tree has mastered the art of mocking.
Of the side-eye,  the eye roll,  the mic drop and the sneer.
And it offers up what Anne Lamott calls “snappy explanations for suffering.”
The knowing tree has it all figured out.
Oversimplified.
You can check your gut at the door and simply pick up your pre-approved script.
(to be continued…)

“There is nothing you can’t prove if only your outlook
is sufficiently limited.”
– Dorothy Sayers

(this feels like storytime with Jenny and I’m loving the telling,
my heart especially needs it now to hear.
I aim to come back next week with another portion;
I need to write this,
especially as I fall deeper in love with the living tree
and also grieve it out, all the unholy knowing that I’ve done.
~ thanks for your always generous patience
in my working it out.)

To celebrate the living in the tangle of these times,
I want to give away a bundle.
A signed book,  some art,  and some handwritten love
from me to you.
Leave a comment and your name goes into the drawing:)

Barbeque grace and the words I couldn’t say……..

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 Shame.
It wants to shut you up,  close you in,
set your peace on fire.
And it won’t be hushed until it burns your courage down.

I lean into the turn of the year with a hungry hope and my walking-forward shoes laced up brave,
I’m going looking for some shelter in this storm
but it becomes a hurricane
as I pull out into traffic in some group work and wreck my heart instead,
my past and present colliding with such an explosion of pain
that I’m propelled through the window injured,
but land soft in a healing place.

Edith calls to tell me she’s retiring and we speak warmly –
will she please mail the birthday package I’ve sent;
she’s not sure where Allison is right now; I tell her bold where
and she doesn’t flinch or freak and I hear smile in her voice.
We part well and I feel a chapter end.
This will be the the last gift sent where they will comb through my words to approve.
The training wheels off,  I’ll be able to look up her address and send love on my own
and this freedom is bliss to me.

I plan a heart trek to her hometown but pull up the day before
because I seefrom the cloud,  that she‘s there visiting right now
and feel it sure that this would somehow cross a line.
I couldn’t be that close and not run to her,  I know,  oh God
I want to go, but I watch instead from just hours away
as she togethers with the ones she loves and welcomes,
and I feel the thud of my un-belonging
and ache an ache that I can’t wrap words around.

Weeks later,  March 2016,  I’ve got a wilding to drive east tomorrow
to put flowers on her mother’s grave.
I’m headed uptown to a favorite barbeque place to make a foodie Friday gift
to our hardworking peeps and as I sit waiting for my bag of lemon pepper wings,
so near the street where she used to live,  I grin at the walls covered
with years of signatures and happy graffiti.
My eyes swim over to a map of our state and I feel my feet moving slow
from where I’m googling her hometown for tomorrow’s travels.
My eyes lock onto her name printed bold and pink,  right over where my google map points.
It feels like a sign and I take a picture,  kiss the wall,  pick up my takeout
and wonder at the bigness of this grace that’s holding us.

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Her mother is two years gone this day and we travel there together,  my husband and I,
to at last be in this space and it feels a sacred journey as we pull into her town
and I roll the window down because I need to breathe the air and I cry somewhere inside
because it’s happening at last to feel the where that welcomed my baby home.
It’s a really good house,  the sixteen year old of me can see,
and we eat lunch down the street at the local barbeque place
that has served the community for decades and I taste friendly food
and the neighborly way and everywhere I feel the whispers of her face.

The woods hum stories as I stand beside her mother’s grave
and see how my fistfull of daffodils look a small drop in this space so wide
that I wonder can Allison ever hold space enough for the both of us.
Her mama loved her,  I can feel it.  I honor her that and as my fingers trace
her name I tremble  thanks for the home she made and the legacy that is hers.
If I could hold this woman’s  hand I’d squeeze it now and breathe peace,  nothing left unsaid.
I get up and wish we could stop at their house, climb out of the car,  knock on the door
and be invited inside.

But there is gift in the parting and I feel it at last
in a wrenching place where I stand with my arm draped around the girl of me
in front of the spacious yard where my daughter played football
with her people just weeks ago this day
and finally I know it right down to my atoms and cells
that I did not abandon my child.
There’s a roaring that climbs from my spirit inside to a courtroom false where I’ve often been dragged
and I see it as clear as the sun that sets in her hometown now
that abandonment was not in my heart,
but beauty and bests and safe pasture and love,
and yes,  shame,  that I wasn’t the one who deserved.
But I’m done buying into this sense that I’m less because I’m outside and not welcome in.

And as we drive back in the after of a powerful day
there builds up some brave to get ferocious with shame
and I feel a holy fury rumble up inside my soul
– where the winter wounds had closed me I feel my breath becoming whole.

(In the weeks to come there’ll be roller coaster waves
but I’ll crawl no longer beneath the dull weight
of all the words I couldn’t say.)

goodnight raleigh

“It is unearned love – the love that goes before,
that greets us on the way.
It is the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left,
when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking
and most charming charm have failed you.
Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze
that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others
who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”
– Anne Lamott

So you see I’m telling our story – that part of us that aches to belong,
to be welcome,  to be seen and invited in.
In the only way I know, I’m dragging our shame into the light
and offering “I know” and “you’re okay” and “I’m with you and we’re alright”
Just a few more twists and turns through this, our season of the night.