FYI: Rant ahead…
Peculiar, I think, the lack of (or my perception of the lack of) social media engagement around our son joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both B and I are standing back in amazement, actually, as close family members like and love and even repost the announcement and NOT ONE of our friends or vast community of connections SAYS ANYTHING. OK, is this a touchy subject?
And, if our other son continues in his area of passion and follows his heart and intellect right into the RCMP, and we announce that with love and excitement (and yes fear and trembling) will we be met with like SILENCE?
It’s not that we need approval. It’s not that we need much at all. But if these friends of ours, these hundreds of connections of ours, care just a wee tiny bit about us, about our family, and know anything at all about the vast wilderness of parenting that includes directionless kids, confused kids, depressed kids, kids that are kids and yet adults, kids that move away and come back, kids that love you and reject you as they are becoming themselves, then surely they know what a BIG DEAL it is when your kid finds their thing, aside from all the fear and trembling and wondering at what that thing is, and just FOLLOW THEIR HEART into SOMETHING BEYOND THEMSELVES.
You don’t have to sign a petition, agree to a set of statements, promise anything at all. You aren’t saying yes to war, or rumours of war. Really, you aren’t! You are just being a supportive and loving friend to us. To me.
Surely this matters? Do I hear an amen?
Or, is it like everything else these days, everything is polarized, under tension, fraught with fear of taking a stance or offending the easily offended. So much so that even liking something may give someone the idea that this inherently means you are agreeing with a philosophy or a world view or something gigantic, when all you are really doing is LIKING your friend’s happiness, joy, sense of relief that their kid is becoming something new. Right?
I don’t know, maybe, like always, I’m just looking for the meaning beyond the matter. I’m wondering WHY?
And I just do, I do feel, like the rest of you maybe also feel, a twinge of hurt, when others are silent.
My son has signed up, signed on, agreed to some pretty heavy stuff that falls under that heading of the greater good. He’s heading to boot camp in less than 2 weeks. And I’m just processing all this as a mom (seasoned with a big dose of mama bear!!). I’ll be processing it for at least the next 5 years, maybe more, because with his decision we become “Military Family”. So your support matters to me, perhaps more than it should. I’m hearing the silence speak, perhaps where it isn’t saying anything at all. Yet more edges on me that require some honing!
As my grandfather used to say, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!
Hairline Cracks in the Porcelain
I come from a long line
of born-again porcelain cleaners.
I am a tidy-bowl expert,
know the brush and flush, polish and rub,
I am a woman, well trained by her Mother.
I tried to put girlhood aside,
leverage being eldest
to escape wrinkled finger tips,
upright vacuum white-noise,
dusters made of outgrown undershirts.
When I failed, I glared out bungalow windows
at my brothers cutting lawn and raking in the benefits
of shared manliness with Dad.
I had no choice. I was taught
to bake and sew and clean proficiently
as an outcome of my femininity
and with all this evidence to the contrary,
one day my Father says to me,
“All things are equal.
You can be ANYTHING you want to be.”
So fast forward to University
and what appears to be a level field, free
from reference to my body’s ability
to bleed, grow breasts or hips or, God forbid,
bear children. Sex lives, no, thrives
in residence rooms fuelled by pub crawls,
still what we do does not define our gender.
I earn my degree, my idealism, my zeal,
I am a self fulfilling prophecy
with EVERYTHING I want. Until…
Fast forward in circumstance, when Providence
unleashes a mind-boggling-paradigm-shifting-revelation
of upside-down proportion,
all my notions of equality expanded
yet reduced to this…moment…
I am pregnant!
I have to choose?
He and I choose together, and my body
blossoms in maternity, my mind
rises like a phoenix
in blazing pride at this innate ability
to create and birth new beings.
Miracles… of possibility
through pain of labour, first one,
then two boys arrive…my joys.
And then…SHE becomes unexpectedly.
SHE is something else entirely.
SHE unearths renewal in me.
FEMALE…we share more than DNA,
SHE is somehow hope and legacy,
SHE is the epitome of another chance
at THIS…AND…in feminine form.
But who am I to say…
I step back and let her find her way,
that dance, step in only when she asks.
Fast forward with my growing girl
my grateful orbit of her world. She says
“I might get married one day” and with a smile
“maybe I won’t have a child…”
Together we unleash our wild “I AM no man.”
I watch her unveil her spirit, truth,
and the beauty of no shame,
strength and intellect, all hers to claim.
She is powerful in her personhood.
(pardon boasting like I did something good)
Now she is gone from me,
like I knew she would be, eventually,
and we both thank Skype technology
for staying close with video chat.
I ask…I breathe one thing for her constantly…
that SHE finds space enough to BE,
to hold everything, all possibility,
glorious, wide and open…
Lesley-Anne Evans 2016
You are turning away again,
you know you are.
Call it what you will –
balancing the check-book, work,
sock-matching-sock tucked one inside the other,
there, there, almost done.
You check your email often,
tell yourself surely there is more,
something else that needs tending.
Meanwhile, right there,
just outside the glass and
watching with shy eyes from the shadows
of the old yew that needs cut back again
to let in the light, there is something –
asking to be looked at,
asking to be spoken.
It will not be revealed without tenderness.
It will not scream for your attention
or grab your knee like your brother used to
creeping down the stairs
and crawling under the Yamaha while you
repetitiously practiced scales.
This will be a slow unveiling.
Stand very still.
Wait. Listen. Ask.
Maybe now you will say
warm breeze, or good morning,
or sunshine on opening tulip. Then slowly, tenderly
you might rename each thing, one by one by one,
a crescendo of words pouring from your lips, glorious and unending…
and there will be no pain as your heart rips open.
Maybe it is time
for nothing more
than watching the sky for songbirds
who, sensing change in their bones,
and photoperiods measured without measure,
navigate the darkness, gather
in murmurations over dawn’s grain-fields,
lite in your backyard Katsura
just as buds are breaking
They know this garden, this tree,
though they are fledglings
and have never been here before.
They will stay and build nests
without the terror of forgetfulness. Each time
you will feel their arrival like a revelation,
like the severing of marrow from bone.
You will watch
as they brood over curved shells
impervious to their own weight.
You will listen
as young emerge
with their long and relentless questions.
Maybe you are waiting
for this impossibility; small travellers
who do not ask why
and take to the air for weeks,
You learn 40-60 percent do not survive.
You imagine their soft bodies dropping
like bombs onto roof tops, highways, into rivers
and gardens like yours, muscle memory
fading in their folded wings,
their last thought of the lights
they hurdle toward.
My intention is to continue unpacking what I began yesterday, talk about it, bring it into the light, consider what it means, consider how being at this juncture is where I’m supposed to be.
Today I opened The Good Book, which led me to a commentary by Alexander MacLaren, and there I discovered his wonderful essay about Jacob wrestling with…a man…an angel…the divine presence…God!
Alexander Maclaren (February 11, 1826 – May 5, 1910) was an English non-conformist minister of Scottish origin. “Called the “prince of expositors,” Alexander MacLaren was a renowned preacher of the 19th and 20th century. [The published collection] Expositions of Holy Scripture brings together many of the sermons over his fifty years in ministry.”(https://www.ccel.org/ccel/maclaren)
Here are some highlights from MacLaren’s commentary on Genesis 32 :
So this failure of natural power is the turning-point in the twofold
wrestle, and marks as well as symbolises the transition in Jacob’s
life and character from reliance upon self and craft to reliance upon
his divine Antagonist become his Friend.
How interesting to land on this particular story, and these particular insights now. Spiritual formation study and practise have been part of my life for over ten years. My recent studies have led me to the teachings of Contemplative Christianity (Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Margaret Silf etc.) with distinctions between living from the false self vs the true self. I am beginning to understand my longing for authenticity and integrity, and my unique place as an artist/poet in the world. I have begun to look at The Enneagram as so much more than a diagnostic justification of identity, rather a starting point toward spiritual transformation, balance, and healing. These teachings are rich, impacting. I continue to sense the draw toward this way of being.
And yet, ironically, I find myself wrestling with certain fundamentals of faith…and perhaps wrestling is what is required of me to continue on The Way with God. Do I truly desire to be transformed? Do I?
Further highlights from MacLaren’s expository on Jacob’s encounter with God (bold text by me);
God desires to go, if we do not desire Him to stay. He will go, unless
we keep Him. Then, at last, Jacob betakes himself to his true weapons.
Then, at last, he strangely wishes to keep his apparent foe. He has
learned, in some dim fashion, whom he has been resisting, and the
blessedness of having Him for friend and companion.
The desire to retain God binds Him to us. All His struggling with us
has been aimed at evoking it, and all His fulness responds to it when
evoked. Prayer is power. It conquers God. We overcome Him when we
yield. When we are vanquished, we are victors. When the life of nature
is broken within us, then from conscious weakness springs the longing
which God cannot but satisfy.
And God prevails when we prevail. His aim in all the process of His
mercy has been but to overcome our heavy earthliness and selfishness,
which resists His pleading love. His victory is our yielding, and, in
that yielding, obtaining power with Him. He delights to be held by the
hand of faith, and ever gladly yields to the heart’s cry,’Abide with
me.’ ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me,’ is music to His
ear; and our saying so, in earnest, persistent clinging to Him, is His
victory as well as ours.
This is far from being tied up with a bow. I will continue to lean into what is revealed…in word, deed, circumstance, and the world around me. I don’t yet know what it means…this seeking and longing for…answers…peace…justice…love…God?
I continue to read and consider the the new name “Israel” that Jacob receives from God after morning comes and wrestling ends. I admit there is a teeny shift for me when I read MacLaren’s words;
To impose a name is the sign of authority, possession, insight into character. The change of name indicates a new epoch in a life, or a transformation of the inner man. The meaning of ‘Israel’ is ‘He (who) strives with God’; and the reason for its being conferred is more accurately given by the Revised Version, which translates, ‘For thou hast striven with God and with men,’ than in the Authorised rendering.’
A true Christian is an ‘Israel.’ His office is to wrestle with God.
An encounter with the Divine…
Wrestling as worship, leading to transformation…
This is me taking a risk. I doubt that I am alone but it sure feels like it right now.
Thing is, I recognized yesterday that I am wrestling with something fundamental and HUGE. I admit my biggest struggle is what I will do with Jesus, The Christ. Jesus, the centre, the hinge of Christendom, and I am wrestling with what it means to say yes to the entirety of the Trinity – The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, three-in-one.
My heart has been troubled with this question for some time. Oh, I want to believe. I do believe, many days. Still my guts churn over what I perceive as the exclusivity of Jesus, his life, his death, his atoning sacrifice that right sides me with God, the Father. Because saying yes to Jesus means you can also say no. And saying no means…well, you probably already know where I’m going with this. And this empath with a social justice heart is deeply perplexed by the thought of that.
I hide my perplexity, mostly, because it feels embarrassing. My life indicates my clear Yes! to God, and Yes! to the Spirit, but when I unpack the theology around Jesus, The Christ, I get stuck. I resist. I say “BUT.” But what about those who don’t believe or don’t get it right? But what about those who have a strong belief system of their own? But is hell really real? But what is the limit of God’s grace? But, but, but…
I wrestle with God like I’m the gatekeeper for the eternal well being of all souls. I wrestle on in doubt and then belief and then I attempt to stand under the tiny bit of assurance I can muster up. I am conflicted. I wonder what this makes me?
A wise friend shared a story with me.
There was once a sacred gathering of people who came together to seek spiritual wisdom. Among them was a young man who had a spirit of negativity, of questioning, of smouldering resentment. This man carried that spirit into the holy place of gathering, and began to share his discontent with others. One elder considered him with great love, listened to what he had to say for a little while, and then offered this;
Go outside. Dig a deep hole. Place your head and shoulders down into the hole. Shout your complaints to the earth. Then, when you are done, come back and join us.
I have been carrying my complaints for several years…too long. I have made them heavy with meaning and power. My complaints stand between me and the freedom of The Way.
Truth is I WANT, but do not NEED, answers from God. Who am I to demand, to arrogantly suggest that God explain himself to me? I am one human, being. Who do I think that I am?
Perhaps here is where I must dig my deep hole?
Part of me resists…LORD, have mercy on me.
Reflections on creek and her transformation
She is cold shouldered, hard edged. She is lifted above herself and perched topside, hard memories filled with small stones wait for the bottom to fall. She is thick with gathering.
How she wears so many faces; still and impenetrable under the overpass and upstream where she breaks tumultuous along fault lines, falling into herself again and again along breached edges.
Sometimes I see her clearly, other times she is shrub obscured, a stark backdrop to rich shades of ocher and brown, left-right axis to sky pointers, cottonwoods, Sunday afternoon walkers.
A slit widens in her breast. She opens herself to a black and white diver brave enough to discover sustenance below her horizon. He floats and dives, floats and dives, finds a way where she appears solid as stone.
Further upstream she is more exposed, her heart warmer, more willing. She flows wanton here. Mallards and Mergansers dip and fly.
Eagle’s view of her is wider still. He anticipates the taste of spring salmon, how creek’s scent and navigational pull will entice a pink run and then exhausted demise. He watches from cottonwood, preens his tail, waits for the inevitable.
She is ice becoming open water. She seeps from concrete abutments and along gravel pathways seeking the path of least resistance back into herself. She is the heart of greening.
She may soon rise above these banks. She will carry everything in open hands, her shoulders wide, and powerful. She will make herself known. She is just beginning to remember words like ebb and flow. She feels the sharpness of each necessary fissure. She breaks into smaller and smaller pieces.
I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.
truth is dark medicine
with a teaspoon of honey
I swallow hard
keep it down
and it will set me free
forget everything, they say
forget what lies behind, run the race
a half-life of lies
instead I’m mudlarking
hip waders swamped
by stagnant water
sucked into detritus
where turtles burrow
slow and silent in the dark
this is the way, they said
I was too young to argue
hindsight is tree tangled
sun hazed and glaring
what have they done to me
what have they done?
masters of fence lines topped
in barbed wire, ripped flesh
hung as a warning
this is the way, they said
this is the only way
I am not a victim
I was gone
the last word
God loves me
God loves me not
God loves me
I was a good girl, scars
on fire with holiness
who are you to say otherwise?
The book said take a walk in nature, centred, open, considering, look and see what is the divine grace in that wild place.
The middle of a dull warm snap here and snow is melting mush so I went to the most clear pathway I could find that winds through a small marsh not far from my home. The gates were locked to cars. The pathway was clear of snow. I began to walk and look. Asking what does this mean? Asking what does this mean for me?
I saw Osprey’s nest, high on the sport’s field flood lights. A platform built for her safety, I suppose, but not quiet and away, close in and loud in seasons of stiff competition on the pitch, and I wondered why wildness might choose this tamed space…
I saw a Mallard pair, in a ditch of melted runoff, making their way carefully through a fallen tree’s gauntlet of downed branches. Where there appeared to be no way through, they find space enough and carry on down the waterway…
I saw what used to be 18 holes of mini golf, now stockpiled here and there with junk and overgrown with weeds and small shrubs and the sound of birds who forage and find shelter in the convergence of cast away and redemptive things…
I was frustrated somewhat by 2 large dump trucks, the sound of their revving engines, the road adjacent to my cleared walkway where they worked with loads of soil, beeping, passing too close. My ideal vs reality, finding a simple path in the midst of complexity, messiness, noise, real life. Both, and…
The air was warm. A sense of being apart, yet part of something. I breathed in the fresh air, stretched my underworked muscles, said hello to a couple of humans and their dog who walked by. I kept looking all the way back to my car. I kept asking…
What is language? What is this craving for our experience to mean something that then requires articulation? What if it is only for us? What if it does not require mere words?
A walk in the near wild…nearer to…