musings of a lover… of … yes… that, too…

She expected to hear a voice when she prayed.

Sometimes, the Voice sounded like her. Sometimes indistinguishable from hers. Sometimes it sounded like a man, maybe her dad. But when she sit still after making her requests known the Voice would speak. And never cryptic, even if she didn’t understand its meanings. “Go to the playground at King Elementary,” the Voice had said in prayer. Never why. Or what to look for. Only this instruction.

She crosses Jackson Street, then Hawk’s Down. She had never paid attention to Hawk’s Down Street. Who named it that? She imagined the hawk that must have landed down just in front of the person who named it. She made up a whole story about the naming of the street. Lost in that story, she missed her turn onto Douglass Avenue and had to circle back around. Then the growing since of excitement as she approached King Elementary. She was scared but didn’t know why. She was keenly aware that she was being led to something serious. The Voice returned. “STOP!” She wasn’t accustomed to a shout; it was usually a whisper. She was startled and so stopped abruptly, causing the driver in the car behind her to swerve and curse. She waved her left hand in an apology, but from the frown and expletives she could tell it was not accepted it. Oh, well, she thought.

She parked to collect herself. “Look at the swings,” the Voice said. She squinted, trying to take in the landscape. Oh, the swings were behind the slide. She got out of the car and started walking. The dread in her stomach got heavier. She squinted harder as she walked toward a little girl on the swings, clasping the mettle links and sobbing. Her heart quickened with her footstep.

“Oh, baby,” she said, as she scooped the child into her arms.

(January 5, 2013 installment posted late)

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The New Year always tempts me to take inventory, to see how I’ve come on the things I promised I would do. And usually, I am extremely dismayed at my inconsistencies. It’s the usual list: did I lose the weight I wanted to lose? Did I exercise as much as I intended? Did I drink water? Sleep well? Did I make amends with the people with whom I am estranged? Did I nourish my older friends? Make new ones? Have I lived in balance? I’m very personally satisfied with how the answers land to most of these questions. So, while I’ll probably continue to “take inventory,” I’ve decided to try something new. I’m going to try making a decision in the morning and assessing how I did at the end of the day. If I’ve over-committed, then I’ll reassess for the next day. I’m going to try not beating myself up. Tomorrow, I may decide to combine my two blogs into one. But I’ll decide that… tomorrow.

 

(Late January 6, 2013 post)

You should see your face, he says. He stands over the stove scrambling eggs and her mind at the same time. She never knows what he’s gonna say that will make her head hurt. This time it’s a simple thing. He say: people don’t like you like you think they do.

What fascinates her is that she never thought people liked her at all.

He says, People just know you’re gullible like any jackleg preacher. He snorts laughter as he lifts the steamy eggs on a plate next to the toast and hands it to her. The butter has congealed on the cold toast. She wants to warm it up or toast another piece. Instead she puts the eggs on it with strawberry jam and folds the bread over. He puts sliced cantaloupe on the table, then a glass of pulp-filled orange juice. He has a system whenever he makes her breakfast and in all the years they’ve sit at this table looking out the back window over the garden, he has never broken the ritual. She knows the hot coffee and a glass of cold water will follow in five minutes. That is the way eleven years of breakfasts that he cooked always proceeded.

I have come to this morning praying and meditating and resolved to live into this day by being impeccable with my words, not taking it (any “it”) personally, not making assumptions, and doing my best, whatever that is today. I awakened aware of my own sins, foibles, frailties, and faults. I am not despondent, only resolved to be the woman I dream about and the one my bio and reputation says I am, that is, to live with integrity. Love is my calling card. I want that love will infuse me this day from inside out and that I will wear right action and behavior, love’s most glorious garments. I lean into this life, praying with my feet and my actions. God help me, is my earnest prayer. The human project continues.

Making a decision to write something. Anything. Today.

Done.

It’s the “happiest time” of the year, right? For people who suffer from clinical depression and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome, it may be the most debilitating time of the year. I never know how to talk about all the challenges I face and depression is one of those things. As a Christian and a minister, I really get tired of the way people talk about depression as if it is a “lack of faith,” as in “snap out of it; if you REALLY believed in God you wouldn’t get in this place.” Or variations on those themes. But my friend, Carla Jones, figured out how to write about it and it in exquisite. I’m including the link here, because she deserves to be read on her own site., For Colored Girls.

Here are some nuggets:

“Beloved, it makes me angry when people think that being suicidal can be remedied by talking to ‘everyone’ or ‘someone.’ If the listeners were actually available to HEAR us when we’re talking about what’s going on and what is leading us to consider suicide in the first place, then perhaps that suggestion might work. It is utterly offensive to me that people think that simply finding ‘someone’ to talk to will solve the problem.”

“The darkness surrounding suicidal thoughts is thick, consuming, frightening and overbearing and most ‘friends’ can’t handle going there with you for fear that it might leak off of us and consume them too.”

“We don’t want to talk to you people! Do you know why? Because you treat us like we are children with a scraped knee instead of like the triage cases we are at that point. Hello! I don’t have a scraped knee. I have a severed limb! And bless your hearts, you try your uninformed best with your ‘get over it’ or ‘cheer up’ (and my personal favorite – ‘I was depressed last week too’ – No, YOU had a bad day! I have an illness!! But we can’t say those things because they’re considered inappropriate) and after hearing that repeatedly (from loved ones who are closest to us or who claim to know us best) we simply decide to stop talking to people who say stupid shit (excuse me, I mean well-meaning but useless words). Do you seriously think we haven’t tried talking to people?”

“Those who have never been there think we are selfish. You’ve got to have a sense of self to be selfish.”

“I survived because I was forced to get medical attention because this thing was bigger than ‘talk’ and I was out of words anyway. I survived because I had people holding me accountable for taking the prescribed medication until such time that I did not have to use it anymore.”

“It sounds harsh but it’s like when Malcolm X told the white girl there was nothing she could do for the movement. It’s bigger than your well meaning heart’s desire to “help”. Helping is usually more work than people imagine when they “sign up” for the committee. Life saving is long hard work and you have to be built for it. It ain’t for everyone. And believe it or not, we won’t hold it against you if you can’t sign up for the tour of duty.”

YEAH…. it’s THAT informative, brutally honest, profoundly painful, and raw. You should go over to her site and READ the WHOLE THING: For Colored Girls. Thank you again, Carla. And for everyone who knows this pain, I am praying with and for you. I hope you survive the blight.

Way Opens

Today I am thinking about the many gifts and dreams I don’t want to die inside me before I die. I am thinking about poetry and preaching, consulting and team building, I am thinking about dancing and laughing well into the night. I am thinking about love. And lovers.

Life isn’t a straight line. I don’t know where I heard that phrase first. But my own history tells me it’s so. Sitting here staring at the approaching end of 2012 (where did the YEAR GO???), I am struck by the constant yearning in my own heart not to waste time, to be useful on the planet. I want my life to have counted for good. To have changed and grown more and more in love. I want to be Love in the earth. To leave Love as a legacy. I want Love to be ablaze on my face and afire in my body. And for everyone I encounter to know that she or he has encountered love, a kind of god-with-skin-on encounter.

And so I am attuning my heart to the way/s in which the doors to yearnings fulfilled are opened/opening. And I am leaning into the acting toward all the possibilities of passionate living. The Quakers say that the way one knows that Way Opens is that Way Closes. That is, doors shut in and around us and we begin to look for New Ways and New Possibilities. That”s where I am today…. leaning into Way Opens and I hear the shutting of old and creaking doors.