kintsugi

I’m staring at my glass of iced tea. Half sweet, half unsweet — a wishy-washy southerner thing to do, they say. Oddly enough, it is so delicious and is covering the heaviness of a day spent running in circles.

There are the people that see right through me. I know they do. They’ve seen me change from quiet to awkward to strong and have helped me pick up more than my fair share of jetsam and flotsam.

I always love that picture in my mind. A shore, with the tide fading, leaving behind the things it decided to discard for a day. Shells and plastic bags and all sorts of shit.

That’s what it feels like.

In my heart there is a forever exhausted thing. That thing reads the news and sees the horrific acts of people.
God, I want to be stronger. Something feels wrong about this stuff just sort of, rolling off my sleeve like it’s nothing. It is actually quite something and it digs into me like some sort of awful animal.

Like anything, it is laced with hope and strong people pulling themselves and others out of the despair and brushing off their pants. “Let’s go again.”

Getting older, those truths are starting to settle in a bit more. My younger days of dreaming to be a wild revolutionary are fuzzy. I am conflicted with my own actions and the actions of those I used to see as heroes.

I am settling in the imperfectness.
The broken belovedness.

We had a tornado rip through a big part of our city a few months ago, and I found myself very close to it — hiding in the doorway of my bedroom and kitchen. It was loud and the trees were cracking and bending around me.

I was lucky, but hundreds were not, and lost their homes and peace of minds and routines.

I sat there and wondered what it might be like to lose my life here. Alone, in a funky green and brown cottage. I still think about it. In a way, sort of gambling. I questioned my life in the midst of a storm and I think that is all it ever actually really is.

Being a human is painful. There are nerves and bones and water. We are always being pulled by someone, somewhere. Then there is that pain of being pulled by a human into the very depths of their soul. It is a heaven and sometimes it is a hell. A pure and good example of human love — and when that love ultimately shifts, that separation can feel much like its own hell.

Love anyone, and you will know this.

So, you take the broken pieces, and put them back together. Never as perfect as it was, or will ever be. Your hopes of keeping this whole piece yours and safe is gone.

kintsugi-12

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of embracing the damage of an object. When cracks are mended, they are highlighted in gold. I’m sure you’ve heard of it before. It is hard to lose a whole piece of something, especially when it’s so important to you.

Sometimes it breaks and you store it away in some dark corner of your life.

And sometimes, you choose to bring it out and examine. The hairline cracks, leading on to the bigger breaks that ultimately brought you to your knees. Repairing an object is acceptance. It is knowing that it will not be the same as it was.

That’s why it’s so powerful. Examining brokenness. Not only repairing, but highlighting. Saying, “THIS! THIS IS HOW IT’S BROKEN!”

You discover that brokenness is a gift that lets others see into your life, that they too can heal and mend and move.

We break, and we become whole again, all the time and forever.

Life and breath is forgiveness and grace.

This is how you are broken.
But your pieces are still beautiful,
forever and ever.

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becoming

The cicadas have been loud lately.
I’m sure some of you have them where you live, as well. To me, they sound like home. I’ve been finding them on the small walk to my car, when I suppose they’ve given all they’ve had to give, their lifeless bodies and empty shells. Their wings, still shining and glossy and helping me to remember small beautiful things.

The acorns are falling as well. I hear them hit the tin roof of my small cottage every five minutes. More so, when there are squirrels rustling about. The perks of living under a giant Oak.

The pathway to my front gate is becoming over grown with things I know not the name of. My statue of St. Francis is still sitting out there — hopefully bidding some sort of peace to all the things that pass. I try to do the same.

It’s the changing season I feel. It’s hard to see where I am now, but I can listen to it. There is a small frenzy of things shifting. Some things are dying and some things are meant to harvest.

It’s always a season to reap what you sow — except now is when there is some quiet respect for what the Earth gives us and I feel the same.

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No doubt, the months ahead have me feeling a little weary sometimes. We are going to be busy at work and we’re going to be missing traditions to help other people hold theirs. Sometimes that’s hard. It’s my job, though — I don’t mind it in this season.

I have put other things on hold — not because I don’t think I can find it — but because there are so many other things I am having to give. And also, I’m doing okay. It might not fit your vision of okay-ness – but that’s not up to you.

Still though, I hardly recognize what day it is. Only now it’s “Who has a table at what time?  When do we have to be there to setup? What’s the menu? Who’s coming in today? Do we have enough celery until Monday?”

Maybe my mind will clear the clutter. Maybe it won’t in this season. Regardless, I am still open to the mysteries and uncertainties. I am letting go more, and more. I am getting to see the darker ghosts of my past disappear and I am shedding their weight.

The trees aren’t the only things that lose those heavier things. We do too. And sometimes when they fall, they are meant for different things. Things you may not ever see in your lifetime, but they are there and they are growing.

Do not fear the moaning and growing because that is all that life will ever be.

Letting go. Moving on, and growing ceaselessly into your own becoming.

treasures.

It is something.

All of this.

I push inward to what hurts. I tell myself not to think or write about it anymore, because the idea of peoples thoughts and opinions always seem to oppress what I’m feeling.

Sometimes, it is lonely. And I fear people get angry with me when I complain. That it’s my fault I have defense mechanisms and am afraid of wandering into another universe.

Perhaps your universe. Perhaps navigating my own.

Mine has been so safe. I toil here and there. Adjusting a picture when it’s slightly off. Leaving a few dirty dishes for tomorrow. Or the next day. I guess these are the things I can control. It is a luxury and is also a heavy loneliness.

But it isn’t a lonely where I feel sorry for myself. It is merely the self-awareness that I am moving quite singularly among people who live closely with one another.
In the softest places of my heart I miss it so, so much.

That love was a great gift for me. Even when we are quick to turn folks into enemies for what they’ve done — there is some kind of residue left behind of memory and little treasures.

I am okay to be messy. As much pride as I take in keeping my shit together for the people I see and do life with most, there is a burden of something unfair. An unfair expectation I put on others because it’s what I want. That is the raw thing that is tender and sore.

It’s how I love proximity and vulnerability, but push away a person because I so love to be free to move and stretch and maybe at times fall asleep with my hand in a bag of popcorn.

It’s the realization of sacrifice — of wanting it all — but understanding that you have to give up what you’ve built for yourself, in your own little universe.

9-Trust-the-Universe

I’m okay with losing it again.

I’ve never been one to close my heart off, and I find myself more often than not having to make decisions that hurt another person’s world. Never anything physical — but perhaps toying with emotions and feelings. Pulling them in and not being responsible to who they are: real people.

That is it, really. Navigating all of these uncharted territories like I know what I’m doing.  Most of the time, I just want to wrap myself up in some ridiculously healthy form of myself and exist. But I can’t. I have the bits of space and time that’ve been pulled into my universe and they are mine.

Spinning and tilting. Each showing some light as to what they’ve been to me. It is all this beautiful gift that involves nothing short of tiny miracles and mercies beyond me.

And as messy as we all are to start, we are working it out every day.

I am working it out every day.

I welcome you to it. My mess. My imperfect universe of treasures.

I keep them close,

and I give thanks.

mosaic.

Mr. Roger’s always said to look for the helpers.

I was a Mr. Roger’s kid. Maybe it was his kindness — his softness.

I can say now, as an adult, I value those words even more. Yet again we are left with a bunch of painful stuff. As Anne Lamott would say, “we gather bits of broken mosaic” — and that together it makes something altogether different.

This is a mosaic kinda place. So many times, broken into millions of pieces and put back together again. Maybe a few more awkward pieces to fit in — but it works, again and again.

I’ve been bursting at the seams to write this week. I’ve gotten to see so many faces and have been so many places. I again step into old worlds where I used to feel so desperate and clingy — to a place of great hope — and back again to my home where I get to gather up them pieces.

We have a hard time touching pain. “Show me where it hurts?” No. I don’t really want to, because you’re going to want to see it, maybe touch it, maybe tell me what to do with it. Sometimes you should. Other times, you just need to sit in it. Sometimes you need dig yourself out so that the sun shines on your face again.

This is where we all come in — this part right here.

Reaching our hands and arms in to that darkness; struggling with; hurting with.

Ultimately loving, but it takes us a while to understand intentions. It’s not that easy to be with someone or something that hurts. It takes our own skin and heart and bone. Do we really want to drag ourselves into it?

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Lately people have been asking how I’ve been doing. Words like great, good and ‘not bad at all’ come to mind. I am so lucky, first and foremost to have those words fresh on my tongue. Because truly, I’m doing well, to my knowledge.

And this is my season. There were my times where I broke down a lot. Questioned some deep and spooky parts on my soul and I still see them, from time to time. I still see some darkness. It is always there. Like I’ve written before, I am not strong enough to keep it at bay. Instead I’ve made it a point to embrace it like that old friend. It sits with me and we will devour pain and sadness together.

Joy arrives abundantly. Swiftly. Like the way a walk-in feels after a hot rush.

That is how it works. This is how I move. Which I do, quite often, from place to place.

I don’t know how people handle a situation as terrifying as that. With weapons and that kind of hate mixed with that kind of violence. A deep, deep wound by wounded peoples all over the place.

It should be noted that I am writing from comfort.
I can hear my heaters hum and I am sipping on hot coffee.
But I can say that two hours ago I was doing this on and off again teary/snot-coming-out-everywhere thing.
Thinking about my grandparents.
The places in the world that are picking up pieces.
Remembering all of the things.
Feeling all the feels.

The pieces you help pick up are part of that bigger thing, ya know?
So we need you keep picking them up. And I will too. Okay?

It’s never finished and nothing ever has the final say. Thank God for that.

And thank you for being there for other people and baking them casseroles or listening to music with them or scratching their backs. You are healers and all angel-like.

We see you,
and with that deep and still place,

I want to say thank you.

rock slide

I live my life in a lot of forgiveness.
I suppose we all do.

And there’s so much that I want to say about that. I don’t quite know if all the words are in me now, but maybe someday, I will tell you what it feels like.

There is a point where one is responsible for their actions and thoughts. They are responsible for themselves, in that way. I know there is a difference in being responsible to and for. Generally, you are responsible to others for various reasons. A teacher. A parent. A friend. A caretaker. This is your job as a human being. You are responsible to the human race and probably animals like cats and dogs, if they’re your pets. Maybe a little pig, if you’re lucky.

But, you are responsible for yourself.

I can’t blame why I do what I do on my parents or their parents. I can’t blame it on the media or my neighbor. I am responsible for me. That’s a lot of pressure as a human, yeah?

I think this might be why we break into millions of pieces, sometimes. It is hard when the two get jumbled up and we are left with a gaping hole in the earth below us.

What I mean to say, and what feels heavy right now, is that there is a lot that hurts right now. Mostly inside me. I can’t say what I want to say because I know people will argue and “respectfully” disagree. The fact that there aren’t many good answers in dealing with hard social issues is problematic for me.

Like how I’m afraid of guns — not because I don’t know how to use them, but what I might do with a gun. And I’m afraid of what you might do with a gun even if you were raised with them and hunt with them and you are happy with your life.

That’s why I don’t own a gun. That is why my views on gun control are so conflicted, because I know so many great, wonderful people who have them and don’t seem like a threat.

And like you, I have every reason to have something completely random and messed up happen. I think what burdens me is how scared people are. There are so many reasons. Where you grow up. What you grow up in. The messes we find ourselves in. Even the privilege of being raised in a place where I hardly ever saw crime. That is my backpack, though. It is very light. Maybe, ten years from now when and if my situation changes where I feel having a gun keeps me, and helps me feel safe, I will change.

It is not now.

rock-slide

Changing is so radically important. It is so hard. Having a person change their mind is a revolution in itself. Perhaps enough to pull a gun away from someone’s direction. Or those who hold on to this Southern flag for reasons of racial pride and “heritage” without really feeling the depth of what it looks like to the other fifty percent of the population. If what you are doing is hurting another person, think about it.

Even as I think about the people who make my clothes and grow my food,

Which is why I am here to say that I am glad to live in forgiveness.

I’ve been able to move through my life, thus far, relatively lightly.

Overly-senstive. Quiet. Unassuming. But hopefully kind and thoughtful in between. This doesn’t go without my kitchen persona in the heat of a moment where I might snap at you for complaining too much or slamming pots and pans.

Another reason for forgiveness-stuff.

Moving was really hard. Losing my best friend and partner was excruciating. Losing anything is hard. But in those moments, so many things change. I lost some things I needed to lose. Some of my beliefs were challenged and it settled a bit. Sort of like a pile of rocks sliding, and adjusting to their new position for another twenty years. Until the earth moves and they tumble again.

That is what it feels like to change.

So I won’t stay quite settled. My reality is often shifting like loose sand.

I know myself enough to understand that now, I am responsible. For bills and being a good person and moving along in my part of the world, hoping to leave it better than I found it. For me, that looks like questioning things that hurt people a lot. I realize fixing this problem isn’t a reality, but I can cover it in some grace in hopes that more of it works its way on down, into the cracks of the icky things we hurt for.

Forgiveness-stuff.

That is what change is all about.

bit by bit.

We need helpers today.

People who can pay it forward and have an extra 10 minutes of patience with their kids, to show them a little bit extra. I can’t say for sure why I feel like this is important today.

Like you, I take a small look at the news and immediately throw my hands in the air. (In the not-at-a-club-dancing sort of way.) It is discouraging to see so much bad. Conditions getting worse in already war-torn nations, I am heavy hearted with the kids who have known nothing but conflict.

Especially those kids who feel lonely and feel the need to act out in violent ways, often times to their own bodies. Loneliness brings us to do a lot of things, just to feel or be touched. After all, if we’re looking to change the world, we better start with the kids. They keep watching us screw things up and we haven’t yet told them that they will be in charge of our messes. Our debts. Our ever-changing climate and our exhaustive food methods.

I guess I see so much hope in the human race at times. I know we want to help. I know we want to be good.

I reckon’ there is something to be said about “I get mine first and then we’ll talk about your needs.” This is something I struggle with. Especially lately as my needs have outgrown the needs of others. I shrug my head and say sorry.

I am coming back to this place that I have left for a while.
Mostly because I can only indulge myself for so long before I start to realize the need of people to be bigger and stronger and braver than ever before.

We are suckers for hero movies because they are willing to die for us. Yet we are not necessarily ready to die for our neighbors. And I’m not saying I am, either.

I suppose when things hit the fan, we are in shock. But there is a saying to “look for the helpers” — those people who are there picking up folks off the ground and sticking their fingers into main arteries to stop the bleeding.

We are all exhausted this time of year. The weather can be dreary, we are cold to our bones and the bad guys are still going to be bad. They are still going to leave you with a great weight on your shoulders. They will care about themselves and take and take and take.

I realize we do what we can to absorb some pain, and give it some space. It is how we digest most things, given that we have the time to do so.

Take it bit by bit.

Hold some pressure on a wound.

Basting Stitch

I am reading a book by Anne Lamott called “Stitches” — not only is she one of my favorite writers, but her latest book focuses on pain and taking it all in ‘stitch by stitch’. Quoting C.S. Lewis on forgiveness, it is best if we start with something easier than the Gestapo.

She drops another beautiful line, quoting an influential spiritual mentor as saying, “We’re all just trying to walk each other home..”

I just love that.

There is too much pain here. As she says.

But there is so much goodness too.
And I am not saying anything new, by any means.

Today though, I want to be better than I have to be. I’ll try doing it again tomorrow. Instead of saying something shitty behind another person’s back, I will build something a little stronger. If not with them, then with myself.

Peace starts slow, and builds upon itself even slower. We have to move this way. For the sake our future, and the future of the ones smaller, and more precious than we will ever be again.

Let us move.

bit by bit.

 

what makes you strong.

I feel like I need to put some stuff out there, to get it out of my head and off my plate.

I don’t have too much room for jetsam and flotsam.

There are some things I’ve been learning that have been helpful in dealing with my day-to-day barrage of anger, confusion, love, greed and acceptance.

I call them tools.

I don’t actually own any real tools. The kind a typical dude should own. I have a hammer in my car. I don’t know why, but I like that it’s there.

These other tools I’m referring to are inside. They allow me to fix some things. They help me get stuff in order. I can adjust them like nuts and bolts and screws.

My first bit of help came from my sister-in-law, who is an endless fountain of simple wisdom, even if she denies it. She told me that the voices we listen to will always exist. It’s okay to notice them, but we don’t have to listen to them. Whether that’s a voice that says you aren’t good enough, or attractive enough or strong enough. You can acknowledge the fact that some external pressure is putting this on you, but you don’t have to let it eat you up. You get to choose what you want to listen to.

There is so much power in this, you see?

You can listen to people, but at the end of the day, your voice is the one that matters most. Move in that.

Move with your voice and let it take you to that place where you feel strong.

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Another thing.

I stumbled upon some words my friend Jodi shared. It was about about welcoming all things that might come your way, and letting go of any desire for change or security or survival. Then, open yourself to Love. Whether that love comes from God, or a stream, or whatever name you call it. Let that presence fill you up.

This has been hard for me. I tend to see my days as good or bad. I find myself in good and bad things all day long. So it wasn’t about that.

What this is teaching me, is that all of these things that enter in my world on a daily basis, are part of the healing process. And I will never know how long it will take me to get there. I’m not sure if it’s even about a final, polished product. A favorite writer of mine coined this phrase, “wounded healer”, and maybe that works for me right now. It’s not about the finish point. It’s about getting there. You will never see yourself as a finished product.

Getting a flat tire is a bummer.

Getting in the weeds when you’re cooking on the line, is stressful.

But, those sorts of things don’t define a bad day for me anymore.

Look at each day as an ellipsis into the next.

I guess I just want to say that you and the great things that live inside of you are important in all of this. For whoever reads this. Or for whoever just is.

You have something inside of you that flows like a spring.

Let us see that.