I think it’s been at least five years since I changed the layout of this site.
Keeping these old posts – the humiliating evidence of a novice writer – and old creations called “new media” create a deep appreciation for the journey of the writer and artist. It is always humbling to see yourself a few months ago, a few years ago.
I considered printing off this blog and removing it from online eyes. Erasing the evidence! But I decided to keep it up for now. I think it may retire, somewhat permanently in 2016. Or some kind of radical change to signal a new era. 2016 will be 10 years of My Ecdysis.
When I began, I was a restless 20 something feminist wondering how I would meet the world.
And now I write this with two sleeping kids nearby and a window peeking into the lights of New York. Times have changed, to put it mildly.
It isn’t really about the Charleston massacre, it’s about race. It’s about racism. It’s about White supremacy and knowing what it means for a White man to murder nine Black people inside a church known for Black resistance and liberation. Knowing this, I wonder how to make others in my life understand that ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is the determinant and companion of racism and violence. There may be many who think like Dylann Roof, but there are millions who don’t even give it a second thought. That mass of folks is where I tend to focus.
The only way I know how to convince others to care is to love harder. Activists often claim the fight for social justice means resisting and fighting against the “system.” The system is clearly a part of it, but that’s not the fight. The fight is against complacency, indifference. It is against the docile citizens standing guard at the fence protecting their blissful ignorance. To love harder means loving the suffering even more and [trying to] love the indifferent with bravery and speaking against their fastidious hold to passivity.
I have fallen in love so many more times than I can write. The communities and homes I have built with other people have allowed me to fall even more deeply in love with others over the course of my life. The deeper I declare this love of Other, the more distant I feel from complacency. It is impossible to be complacent if you truly love another human being impacted by social inequality. Love requires the danger of losing oneself. It is not a romantic notion. It is a fact of social justice. Love is so much more dangerous than peace meetings.
I keep thinking of those church walls that held the last breaths of those nine lives murdered last night. I think about what may have been said in that last hour of bible study; in the exchange of faith, hope, and words of transformation, possibly liberation. And in that space of studying, personal reflection, and likely rumination of one’s own life, the anti-Black sentiment showed it’s evil face. What other than the word evil could explain the impermeable heart listening for an hour before slaying a spiritual community? How could so much hate build in such a short span of 21 years of life?
When I worked as a minister, I tried to always end a presentation, session, program, or visit with a vision or word of hope so others could hold onto that afterward. I pray to God that those murdered last night were somehow held by a last thought or word that had been exchanged in love. I know that it’s unlikely, but I pray that somehow they were able to hold onto that, and not the hate that killed them, in their last moments.
If there was ever a time to love harder, it would be now.
I remember when I blogged for sanity.
I remember when I blogged to find a community of like-minded people.
I remember when I stopped blogging.
— And now I’m back to my site, here. A lot of things have changed, and I’m returning to sharing the personal as a political act.
Not only am I here, but I’m in many places – my own website, tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.
I think someday I will learn how to keep everything in one place, until then though, I’m going to be in many places.
But this will always be home. HOME.
Sometimes the road feels like home. The shoulders of highway feel like walls and the yellow dash line feels as familiar as the handrail going up the steps to the bedrooms. Sometimes the car is my couch. That’s how 2014 has been spent. Traveling. Being uprooted, splintered weeks where a Wednesday feels as uneventful as Sunday. When the days run together and all I’m checking in on is the weather: bliss.
In the midst of Nick’s ever traveling job, he meets up with us wherever we are in the country. The past few weeks it’s been Norfolk International Airport. Visiting my folks and then family vacation in the Outerbanks, Isaiah and I have been little beach bums, kicking sand off our sandals in our drive from the south all the way to Philadelphia for a wedding, and finally headed home last night.
I’m home, but the house is emptying as we ready for the New York move. It’s home, but not. It’s too clean to be called home. The walls too bare, the floors too shiny, the simple decor too obviously minimized for strangers to be home. Yet we’ve never been happier, healthier, or pleased. We have so many tomorrows unfolding and life is too short to be spent in anything but gratitude. Right now, I’m just enjoying that I have two homes: the road and this house with a small echo.
Today we’re off to Russia. It’s a surprise. Ron, my father in law, is retiring from the job he has had for 40 years. 40 years! We’re sneaking in to surprise him on his last day of work after four decades of service.
What a privilege to have that kind of security, to move into your late years with security, pension, and pride of accomplishment. I remember as a young adult thinking that the word “retirement” was one of the most depressing words in the English language. Now? I think it’s a word that drives me into a state of wonder. Celebrating not only retirement but the man who sacrificed many things to stay in that one place in his whole life; for family, roots, and belonging. I am so proud of him.
I’ve been reading and writing more lately. Trying to establish the habits that I will surely need in my MFA program. I’ve found that I need to do something else to balance my literary heavy life. Photography came back into focus. I haven’t picked up the camera in a long time but I was reminded why I love it so much, how I feel the artistry of everyday came alive in small snapshots of the environment around me.
Although flowers are cliche, I am constantly reminded of how beautifully detailed they are, and how often they are ignored in the busy rush of the day. Part of spirituality is to notice things, not for the sake of beauty, but for the sake of wonder. Wonder is the output of a spiritual awakening.
Find what awakens you. Keep coming back to it.
As I read today’s reading I’m thinking about condemnation and what all this means about judgement. I’m still absorbing the news about Elliot Rodger who killed six other people in his self-loathing and misogyny.
He already was full of self condemnation, there is nothing further one can feel when already filled with self hate. Even after everything he has done to those poor families of the murdered, I cannot ignore the level of self hate and rage he had, so much that he emptied it out onto others.
I sometimes wonder if people forget that hell isn’t always a burning place after we die. Some are already living it here already.
The reading this morning is especially powerful but the same line always renders me confused: Ask for whatever you want and it shall be given.
He must mean something more than just this simple message because the human comprehension of it isn’t true. Not everything we want is given. Is there something more?
Yesterday a dear friend of mine began chemotherapy after finding stage 4 colon cancer had spread to her liver. What is is that I want, what have asked for? I ask that she recovers and lives a longer life with her daughter. That is my desire.
If she dies, what becomes of this prayer? What are we to make of the prayer that went seemingly unanswered?
I never looked at prayer in terms of asking or even requesting. Spiritual mentors have always guided me, reminding me that prayer is not about God withholding something unless you ask for it. The act of prayer, a reflection upon one’s inner world and inviting God to be a part of it, is not a constant Christmas list, but a clarifying process of true desire. What is it that I truly want? Who am I in this desire?
The words that stay with me are not the aforementioned quote but the part that reads, “remain in me.” This passage urges me to stay a part of the vine, to grow in God, remain a part of something larger. Perhaps when we do this our desires change and that is how all we seek is given to us. When we turn away, drift, alter our connection by severing our ties to the Vine, then what we seek becomes artificial and thus unattainable. What plant rooted in the rich soil asks for astroturf?
So my prayer life remains curtained in mystery. These morning pages are my prayers. I find them circular sometimes, almost bizarre and directionless. I don’t really know where I’m going in prayer but I know that it always leads to something deeper, unearthing a presence that I wasn’t aware of prior to the prayer. I realize in that moment that I am connected o the Vine, and my prayer reminds me of that. And I feel full. And with that fullness, I am able to go out and face the possibility that my friend will not survive this cancer. That she may die soon, or she may live three more decades of joy. I don’t know. But my prayer reminds me of how precious life is, how dear she is to me, and coming into that clarity is not the same as her cure for her cancer, it is a antidote to my fear.