action healing, Fear, Grace, Growth, Healing, Humanity, jesus, Kairos, NaPoWriMo2018, Personal Experiences, the color of moments

The Path That Leads To…Somewhere Else

What happens when the *Thing* doesn’t work out?

(A relationship, a friendship, love, a job, a career, a career step, something you endeavor to do with great passion…. something you think you’ve been “called”  to) 

What happens when the *Thing*  that’s animated your imagination, given your heart direction, and given your actions a deeper (more far reaching)  trajectory, doesn’t work out at all?

Different from never happening, what happens when the *Thing* finally presents itself as a wide open door of possibility then starts to go very badly, once you’re through the door. And then instead of changing or getting better, it ends. 

When the *Thing* ends it is a painful flail in slow-motion, a stagger into the surreal. 

Color, flavor, light, and movement all drain from the basin of your present reality. 

Days may accumulate into a week of bewilderment. 

And when that one bewildering week turns into two,  you start to see yourself in a way you never have before. 

When the bottom of YOU drops out, and the strings in the knots and in the elaborate weaves you’ve woven for yourself begin not to just unravel, but  disintegrate between your confused fingertips, you start to get real with yourself real quick.  

Illusions tumble away and you really start to *see* yourself. Unclear are your past motivations or reasons for doing anything, but cuttingly clear are the expressions and gestures and missteps and messiness  of the body you see before you in a mirror,  and of course the vivid mess of multicolored shreds and strings piled at your feet. 

That is what happened when my *Thing* didn’t work out.  And now, on the other side of hope—on the other side of all of that animating wonder for the thing that was not to be—I wonder why (at all) the thing took shape in me. Why did the hope or idea take shape with such certainty in me? It is easier to discount the truth—the realness— the validity of the thing into whose arc I threw myself. But along side of the failure, it still stirred up truth, and realness and validity in me and those things leave room for purpose. So maybe doubting the thing is not the way to examine it, or even to doubt at all, but to examine my hope, my certainty of the outcome.  

Many of my most beloved sayings are those that describe exactness in the mess, beauty in the chaos, knowing that life should not be organized but radical, that we are all together fully messed up and are wrecks, and are also fully good. We are not simply “either’s” and “or’s”, but “both’s” and “and’s”. We are things riven, but also beautifully given. 

And so I share this poem by Christian Wiman. Please give it a read. It’s also beautiful  read aloud, so give that a whirl if you will. You can also hear the audio of Christian’s reading by clicking here

“Every Riven Thing”

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made

sing his being simply by being

the thing it is:

stone and tree and sky,

man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made,

means a storm of peace.

Think of the atoms inside the stone.

Think of the man who sits alone

trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made

there is given one shade

shaped exactly to the thing itself:

under the tree a darker tree;

under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made

the things that bring him near,

made the mind that makes him go.

A part of what man knows,

apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.

Atonement, creative non-fiction, Growth, Healing, Heartbreak, Human rights, jesus, Kairos, Personal Experiences, Soul, Spirit, the color of moments

Loose Impressions Listening to Story Corps and, I don’t know what to do with this ache

“Francine Anderson grew up in rural Virginia during the 1950s. It was the Jim Crow South and “Whites Only” signs punctuated the windows of many businesses. Francine came to StoryCorps to talk about one night when she became aware of what those signs meant for her family.

“We were traveling with my father in a car late at night. And there’s a road that was long and dark. And my father did what no black man at the time was supposed to do, is he allowed his car to run out of gas.

He ended up pushing the car, and the only place he could get to was a white truck stop with “White Only” signs up. And he went up to the door and he just knocked at it. And a guy came up, he said, ’What are you doing Negro, get away from here. Can’t you read?’ And my dad, he took his hat and held it in his hand trying to make himself kind of small, ‘cause he was kind of a tall man. And he said to the guy, um, ’I see your sign sir. I’m sorry, I’m not trying to disturb you or your business. I’ve just got my young kids in the car. Can I just buy a couple of gallons of gas?’ And the guy said, ’I don’t deal with your kind.’ And he stepped back and he slammed the door.

And I saw my dad turn and walk back to the car. And I knew that my dad was afraid. And he got in the car and I can remember asking him questions: ’Why can’t we go? Why won’t he give us any gas?’ And he wasn’t answering. It occurred to me as a little kid, we’re in real trouble.

And then the door to the place opened and another man came out. And, uh, my dad stiffened up and this guy got to the passenger window and said, ’I don’t know what’s wrong with that guy. I’m going to go get you some gas, ok?’ I remember my dad was real grateful and saying, ’Let me give you these few dollars.’ And the guy would say, ’No, no, it’s okay.’

And I guess I felt ashamed at that moment for my dad, you know. Not because he’d done anything wrong but because I felt like he had been made smaller in my eyes as a child.

But now when I talk to people about that story, if I talk to whites about that story, they focus on the man and how kind he was. And he was kind. But at the same time when I talk to blacks about that story they’re more focused on the fact that it wasn’t illegal for him to deny us gas. That was the law of the land. And had my dad been defiant, that’s a risk was that you could be killed speaking up for yourself. So it’s the first time that I realized that there was real danger there. I was five years old.”


You just read the transcripts of a story told by Francine Anderson who told her story for NPR’s Story Corps  

You can listen to the audio here:

I’m feeling a lot of hate.. and ache.

It feels like it belongs and doesn’t belong in my body.

I feel it moving within me, graceful, fluid, like a dancer underwater–it twists, and turns, and poses–pressing and extending outward.

It’s a particularly keen kind of hate.

Like the deep tilts of love, it takes my breath from me.

As I listen to this story my imagination unfolds the scene.

I see a father, stranded on a gravel road in a back wood. He and his family are out of gas. His children are in the back seat. Their eyes are bright with questioning. Like most children, they are expectant that their father will amend the situation.  In that moment, they are unaware of their keen vulnerability.  I see this father walk to a nearby sundry shop that sells gas and milk. He needs to buy a little gas to get his family home. On the outside of the store a wooden sign is slung from an open window and says,

“White Only”.

The man from inside the store not only denies the father the opportunity to buy the gas, but he shoos the father away like a dog, in vulgar spats.

It’s the kind of hate that aches for the man and his family. It aches for the miles he’s walked and the muscles he’s worked to push the silenced car. It aches for the sweat on his face and his humanity that is rendered inhuman, daily, in the eyes of others.  It aches for his loss of control. There are over 31 million seconds in year. And if you think of this one particular moment, and the millions like it that occurred in the 31 million seconds of every year of our country, well–it begins to tear at the fabric of our imagination… and at our nation’s soul.

It aches to lash out at the kind of humans who sling signs that say,

“White Only”

It raises in plumes–this body of hate like a dancer underwater, now, stretching and posing, now tangled in silk.

My eyes burn.

I don’t know what to do with this ache.

Kairos, love, NaPoWriMo 2017, Personal Experiences, summer, the color of moments, vignettes

Leaves Of Night

Our sentences hung suspended in the summer air

We’d been there for hours on the driveway,  nursing beers that had long lost their chill,  hoping to outwit the wind of time

But the moment arrived, as it always would

I’d said so many things so many times

We’d had so many nights to hide-and-seek, and chase our friendship, like children chasing lightening bugs in the dark

We’d had this thing catch in our chests before

But tonight, it was different

A time was coming

The moon illuminated your profile the way it always had

And you turned to me, an expression breaking over your face, the way it always had

And the sweetness that pushed from out the full blue of your eyes did the same, mundane thing of leveling me, of clearing everything out of me, making only this moment new, the way it always had

There wasn’t any more I could say

And there was so much more, but the things were huge

The things that I carried in my heart for you were huge and there wasn’t anything else I could say without leveling us both, clearing everything out of us both, making only this moment new

And you knew

And we sat very still, in the chairs that I’d pulled out for us

The breath of us both lifting into the stars

But the night held its breath

And then from out of the dark surrounding yards someone yawped

A drunken yawp–loud!! Like a ship’s slug horn, breaking into the night then withering to an end

It startled us both, our shoulders jumped

Your eyes widened and searched the dark

My heart quickened and then felt warm with adrenaline, and laughed… loudly

And you imitated the sound

And then we both laughed, comforted by the interruption

And I thought, right then, that we’d be bound  forever by the hours of this night