Uncaged

Will you come with me

into the evergreens?

We will tiptoe like birds, just a crackle through the bushes,

which have died with such radiance, now dried and partial bodies folded, some still hanging by a tiny forest thread

With a whir of wings when we need it, we will ascend

you there, me here

lifted by the wind and whispers

that flutter with the myth

that we are uncaged

yellow bird

 

 

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Posted in love, Poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

In a heartbeat

Warm mud squishes through my toes
I am walking through sand and shells, tide flats
and the narrow channel of the Swinomish river
which pours itself into Puget Sound
IMG_5610
It is September 10, 70 degrees
a shelf of clouds dissolves into pristine blue
while the air exhales blackberry pie
 ~~~
I hear
the hilarity of mud ducks
A cadre of seals –
arguing with with the gulls who scatter
as the shadow of an eagle falls across
the shallow water
Crustaceans
appear in bubbles
popping under my toes
while occasional conversation echoes down the beach
IMG_5712 (1)
I do not deserve this perfection
 ~~~
I have rarely lived well
on the earth
I have tiny courage and an insatiable desire
for love and loving; for knowledge and comfort
Fear drapes over my head like a scarf and
I have hurt loved ones mindlessly and intentionally
in ways for which I will never forgive myself
 ~~~
I do not deserve this
 ~~~
While I sit glowing…
right now
good people are smacked
with uncontrollable wind and surges of water,
their simple homes are blown apart
board by precious board
 ~~~
In a heartbeat everything can change – and does
None of us deserve
what we have
More than another
Not in the universal law of disproportional blessings and curses
 ~~~
Death rains
everywhere
 ~~~
like it will here in a few short days
in sheets and mist and droplets
in between the incandescent colors of autumn
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Posted in fear, Inspiration, Poetry, prose, sound of rain, Uncategorized, water | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Moonset

I watch the moon set behind the rainforest, it is a 6am

commute into the city, OctoberMoon set October 2017

Humming and warm, I drive on concrete past cedars skimming a mile of water, with just the hum of the wheels and car noises

Nearly whole and bigger than the sun, it is

cool and expansive and startling

like swimming in the lake felt last August.

-It was a terrible week-

the kind that makes you shake your fists at the sky, go for a second cup of why,

and demand recompense and justice and a complete metamorphose of reality

Another man with a weapon unloads on the innocent

 and the country free falls into suspicion and denial and a startling lack of accountability

the troubadour disappeared into the great wide mystery,

a loved one’s cancer diagnosis.

~~

Sister moon, you have visited me before in your rising

but never as you dip west toward “the east”

never as a new day is peeking in

reminding the world – and me – that the risings and settings of life shifts across the earth

sometimes witnessed, sometimes covered, and that we must offer ourselves to the world regardless.

Thank you, friend,

It’s been a while.

 

Posted in justice, nonviolence, Peacemaking, prose, women | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The voyage west

IMG_4800Six days ago I loaded a residual of earthly possessions (an espresso machine, musical instruments, hair products, and some clothes) into my CRV and began driving north, then west. Destination: Seattle.

After four years in Louisville, KY, I cried crossing the Ohio River while taking in a last long look at the skyline of bridges stretching into southern Indiana. I passed the goat milk farm, grieving insufficient or nonexistent good-byes to those I thought were friends, and settled a little as I peered through squinty eyes into Illinois and Iowa and a kick-ass thunderstorm. Thanks to family, I had a landing place, but no job. “What am I doing?” I screamed at the universe. “I mean, really? Haven’t I had enough for a few years?”

I had left the PNW when I was called to a fantastic justice job with my (Presbyterian) denomination. For over 3 years I met with global partners, workers overseas, and U.S. supporters and invited them to deeper work stopping violence against women and children and called them to deeper and more systemic work. As those who read the job description told me, it was a perfect job for me. It brought together my peace and justice work and my creativity and people skills. After 3 years, the position was eliminated and within a few months, my entire department. I could say more about that but will save that for another post.

As I began my “land voyage west”, I crashed the first night with friends who indulged me with kindness, bourbon, and sweet potato hash. It was the right beginning and I felt “sent” by them and those who made it possible for me to leave on time. A pod was en route to Seattle on it’s own time frame. IMG_4824

On day two I remembered some earlier coping techniques, intermittently scribbling observations of my surroundings and feelings. I drove through more corn miles than any nation should have, was swept up in gorgeous clouds and fields that emptied into the bewitching prairies of South Dakota.

I wanted this trek to be the primary transition I needed, longer (and more affordable) than a one-day flight. Something in me shut down when my job ended, even silenced. My work was gaining traction and had mobilized people. But now it was over. I took an interim job but continued to feel like I was wearing a corset around my heart and soul. Anger, grief, anxiety, and fear have a way of settling into my body that seems to take a while to unravel. The last 6 months, anger became my deferral emotion. This was something quite new to me.

But here, through middle America, under the wings of expansive skies and clouds that many only fly over, I took to the hum of the road. Prairies, whether farmed or free, have an exhaling quality to them. They breathe, in a way one can identify even driving 80 mph with headwinds.IMG_4880

Somewhere along day 3, I forgot that I was leaving somewhere I had called home for over 4 years. I was simply driving, breathing, taking in spectacular Wyoming, pushing myself to drive further. I wasn’t thinking so much about either coming or going and it gave me some peace.

The death of a dream is hard to get over. There is no significant closure – it is more like a divorce with dangling threads of connection. I was jerked out of the most meaningful work I had been part of and thrown to the wind. My dream wasn’t over. My work wasn’t over. But my position there was.

It took 6 days to make it Seattle. Montana fires, entertaining prairie dogs, voluptuous hills, and mountains that remind me why Seattle-ites have confusion about what qualifies as a mountain.rainier-fm-lk-washweb21

Wherever we are in our soul journeys, reinventing ourselves is always at work if we are to grow. It is not just for those in an unwelcome crisis. So, dive in, friends. Dive in.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Calling, family, God, happiness, Peacemaking, Reflections, travel, wisdom | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Aging and snus

It astounds me sometimes that I come from snus-chewing, John Deere loving, gun-toting rednecks. Not that I don’t exhibit a bit that charm still, lucky you. We all grew up with strange and inappropriate colloquialisms that we do not realize are truly awful. Until one day we say out loud and then think: “OMG, THAT is so no appropriate!”snus

I spent over a week with my dad last month and let’s just say with our best southern accent,  “Sweet Jesus, who raised him?” As we age, our boundaries become a bit less stringent, and sometimes – perhaps – it would be better to be politically correct. I truly feel like someone who came from different parents. I suppose we all do.

My grandparents, dad’s folks, would have been – and likely were – appalled by his inappropriate responses, except for the racist ones. Perhaps this gave him a tiny degree of power in a family that was stringently Christian and all for “spare the rod, spoil the child”, and “President Reagan is our 6th cousin!!”  as if that was a thing. My dad has memories of being beaten regularly just on principal.

But now he is likely in his last decade and struggling through various health ailments. He has not lost his crass, embarrassing, and sometimes silly sense of humor. Thank God. I pray that will follow him to the very end. Even though it can really offend me. His life and living aren’t about making me comfortable. This truth is so hard for me.

Funny memories from those few precious and painful days:

  • I drive off 10 boxes and bags of magazines and newspapers to recycling – with permission from Pops (hallelujah!)
    • Day after:”Where are my magazines??” (from Pops after I did indeed dump them.)
  • “Where did you put my car keys?” (I show dad twice, tell him 3 times where they were. At the time he says, “great – I probably won’t need those for a while. No one has cleaned in that cabinet for 7 years!”  
    • Text from brother 2 days after I left: “where are dad’s car keys??” O.M.G. Really?
  • Recently from dad: “I need to drive again.” Me: “yeah, I bet!”  Dad: “I let my driver’s license lapse. Do you suppose I could get an international driver’s license?”
    • Me: “hard to know.” Translated: no possible way.
  • A day or so ago: “Since you cleaned out the cabinets, I need to go buy some more food!”  I say: “why don’t you eat what you have and then buy some more?” I text him a photo of the 1 cabinet of canned food I have. Silence.

As a kid I felt like I was “of another tribe”. Farm life stressed me out. I hated working there. No air conditioning and dirty old trucks with mice living in them. My poor philosophical, Jesus -loving mind and heart did cartwheels in on itself. My parents drank and smoked. Later I learned I was the only kid who realized at the time that it was probably not the healthiest. (So, yes, if that was the definition of super-sensitive, count me in.)

But I loved walking through the fields with my dog (one of the 14 we had growing up, may they rest in peace). I loved riding bikes to meet Jill at the bridge and picking wildflowers (ie. allergen weeds) for bouquets. I loved learning in a small high school where I had opportunities to not be a “brilliant child”.  But still smart, focused, and heart-driven. I loved my friends, my mom, my music teacher, my little evangelical church, and Shakey’s pizza.

We lost mom 10 years ago. And now dad is on the downward slope. His heart, vascular, lung, kidney, and sugar functions are a big mess. Any one of them could get too out of shape and we would be planning a funeral.

In the week I was with him, I attempted to help him dig out of the stuff he couldn’t seem to get rid of. Magazines from 2013. Food from 2011. He had over 20 “cheater” glasses in the kitchen alone. SMH.

And I attempted to make an emotional connect with him.

Dad is a sweet guy, but not so able to think beyond himself. He lived through a volatile father; The Depression; and developed a tiny problem with collecting (cheap) shit. He attaches to pieces of wood and plastic and clothing like they hold his life in them. Sometimes it feels like, without the “things”, he thinks he would evaporate (at least to himself.) Perhaps if he expressed this as a “missing of people or times”, it would make more sense to me. But he doesn’t have the ability to talk about his emotions that way. At least not with me.

I don’t know exactly why I am writing this, except to give myself a place to tell my story. Anne Lamotte says that is what we are here for, to tell our story. (Thanks Annie.)

Aging is tough work. It is spiritual and emotional and life work. Just as our early formation, there are themes and developmental needs, and processes that need worked out. And I suppose that is why I write.

Wishing you all extra mercy for yourself and your loved ones as you walk through the stages of life. Stay in touch.

 

Posted in family, farm, God, happiness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Welcome to the island of misfit toys

Life is juxtaposition. Anxiety and fear are interrupted by beauty. We may experience deep love and also painful disappointment and even hatred toward someone. While a child is being born, someone else is passing away. 2016 has been particularly intense for me, and the juxtapositions are haunting me a bit as I peer over into 2017. 2016 has been like a cask-aged bourbon, concentrated, uncut with water. It has kind of knocked me over, actually.

A long planned and anticipated trip to Eastern Congo to learn from and partner with women victims of war crimes was cancelled 2 days before departure; I was laid off of the most wonderful and life-giving job I could imagine; the country elected a demagogue who is and calls out the worst in human privilege and hatred. I have created no art. None. Two of my closest women friends moved out of town. And frankly, I have pretty much given up on any deeper connection and friendship with men, perhaps with one or two exceptions. At least for now. I miss male companionship, but it is easily complicated with inconsistent expectations and game playing. I am too old and honest for that. I started wearing a ring on my finger to create a boundary. I don’t want to think that deep friendship with men is not possible at my age, but there it is.

I feel like I have grown tight and restricted. I feel adrift. Dislocated. Ungrounded. I have referred to myself this year as “A shepherd without sheep”; feeling like “I am on the island of misfit toys.” And have resorted to some unhealthy coping techniques to ward off loneliness.

No. Me. Gusta.

And yet so much good is afoot. I was offered a temporary part time job at the right time – and subsequently asked to stay on full time for a season. I have had some lovely times with unexpected friendships and felt deeply loved by a few precious ones. My table is full and my home inhabited by a ridiculous dog. I instituted “music and bourbon on the porch” on Sunday nights this summer which was a big hit. I have enjoyed travel, times with my family, especially my girls, even though we all live in different parts of the country. I don’t have cancer. My relationship with my former husband has blossomed into a comfortable and loving friendship.

Still, I feel like I am living outside of my real life; kicking around the fringes of meaning making and relationship. I am ready to be launched into what is next. But I don’t know what that is or how to create it. Some days I have a sense of urgency that is almost apoplectic. I am not comfortable in my own skin.

So here I stand, knowing that much waiting probably remains. I am in this space and owe it to myself and those who love me to be present to life. So this New Year’s Eve, if you think of it, hold a little space for those of us out here on the Island of Misfit Toys. The company we keep in the waiting makes all the difference.

island-of-misfit-toys

 

Posted in Calling, justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Delusions of goodness

The thing about marriage is that eventually, your beloved sees what a jerk you are. And they tell you about it. (Insert Snoopy disappointment noise.) Research indicates that we consider ourselves far more kind and benevolent than we are. I betcha if you asked Hitler if he was a good, loving guy, he would say, “Ya.smoke-by-a-window-in-a-pub

As a young person, I didn’t express anger very much and I certainly didn’t take it out on anyone! I was too nice for that. My parents loved me, but didn’t do me any favors by not arguing in front of me. I knew they had tensions. The drill went:  mom would be upset. Dad would try to figure out how to deal with it. This usually happened in the kitchen with both of them chain smoking. (They were excellent smokers). If you walked into the room, you cut through a veil of it with your body. Under 11 foot ceilings. You have to admire that. Then… I would go up to my room on the 2nd floor and blast some Barry Manilow to drown out the possibility of anger and rage, which, only twice to my memory happened.

I don’t know if I really let loose with anger with my spouse until after I was married. But marriage and seeing myself as I really was, in all of my selfish, whiny ick was troubling. Hey, I was voted “most inspirational musician” in high school. I was one of the good ones! There must be something wrong with him!

And if course there was. We are, all of us, wonderful disasters. But my job is to figure out me, not him.

Having a delusional sense of my goodness was not actually so good for me. It put a curtain (not unlike that smoke veil) between me and myself. And between me and others. It took a lot of years of life failures for me to become freer. Spiritual perfectionism can make you as crazy as being outraged over your favorite pen moving from it’s assigned spot. (Both of which happened in our family.)

I am on a different path right now. I don’t buy into a lot of jargon I hear that feels like an effort to keep people hanging onto systems of oppression, including and especially in churches. I feel freer to speak now. I am less delusional about my own goodness. Living deeply in one’s life forces that upon one. But I also don’t hold onto a theology or philosophy that I am “lower than a worm” –Thank you, Job, for that one.

Some days I am an intentional “imperfectionist”. I have said this before, but it still feels partially right. Don’t go expecting me to be perfect or I will intentionally prove you wrong, just so I can breath a little. What I want to be for myself and for you is honest, wise, generous, empathetic and joyous. Perhaps that is partly what I want from you too.

snoopy_and_woodstock_camping

 

 

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