I do not know, I know


DSC_0020My brain and heart are being stretched as I listen to conversations around me. Social media, dinner table, coffee shops, gatherings, it appears we are attempting to land something, to nail it down, agree on revised societal ground rules for a new way forward that rights all the wrongs of the past.

Disclosures are bringing dark to light, gutsy public unearthing of stories hidden for years. Courage is on the upswing. A groundswell of activists for social justice is rising, challenging, demanding change. Finally there will be a balancing of the scales, equality for everyone, banishment of archaic ways of thinking and engaging in the world. Everyone will find their place. Happiness will come to all of us. Suicide rates will drop. Inclusivity and peace will rein.

I wonder…

In this desire to right the wrongs are we growing closer together or further apart? Are we trading one brand of exclusivity for another? Are we attempting to erase our own history and all that it represents? What if all questions cannot be answered, and all needs cannot be met, and agreement is impossible?

Because what I’m wondering is, as one group rises up, does another fall, and not to a position of equity, but an overcompensating tilt downward? As one voice speaks, is the other silenced? I am not saying we shouldn’t ask, even demand, certain things at certain times. I’m not saying the way things are are good enough, and we should accept status quo. No. But how do we approach these issues of justice and equality in a world as complex as ours?

I’ve witnessed online interactions within animal rights forums where passion and love for voiceless beings morphs into murderous hate toward any perpetrator of ill will or action towards animals. I’m equally horrified by the crimes and the suggested punishments. Trolling? Maybe? What we do with our anger matters, doesn’t it?

So I’m wondering if rich white maleness is identified as a pervasive evil, what happens to them, what will we do with them? If all corporations are bad, greedy, and run by RWM, who will supply our beloved stuff? If all media lies, who will be the purveyor of truth? If all developers are tree butchers, land grabbers, with no social conscience, where will we all live? If money is evil, how much shall we each be allowed to have and remain righteous? If academic institutions preclude certain world views and topics, what of freedom of speech, and where will higher thinking take place?

I am concerned as I do not see gracious mutuality within complexity, but hints of new ways to qualify, label and ultimately destroy that which does not conform. Doing bad things to an identified oppressor and calling it good, does not make it so. Does it? These are incredibly complex issues, aren’t they?

I also find a wide gulf between the hurt feelings of today’s students on N. American university campuses, and, for example, the students who protested in 1989 in Tiananmen Square. Don’t think me insensitive, rather I’m truly asking what are we becoming? Was I being honest or wise with my kids when I told them how extraordinary they were at art, music, sports, everything! Were they truly? What about “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Have we lost our perspective as we gain emotional intelligence? Is it actually possible to keep all the difficult, dark and hurtful things at bay if we legislate it to be so?

Remember Finding Nemo, the scene with the seagulls crying mine mine mine? I have to wonder if personhood and my right to feel safe, heard, understood, accepted, desired, intelligent, capable, right, could be a taste of me me me? While a healthy self image is a good thing, where it tends to go off the rails is when I discount anyone who thinks differently, anyone who has the audacity to hurt my feelings or reject what I have to offer. Where did I ever get the idea that I can customize my world like a playlist on Spotify?

I know I’m not the only one asking. Still I’m asking. I do not know the answers, and the questions continue to rise up.

Academics and intellectuals are providing healthy discourse for consideration at great cost to them (see articles below), while I simply try to articulate my sense that there are mysteries that may not have answers. Fr. Richard Rohr describes a non-dual world view, both/and rather than right/wrong. Rohr holds out that the way to peace is through acceptance, love, and non-dualistic ways of engaging in life. Rohr says unless you come to terms with dualism, you will just process any new ideas with your old operating system:

“The dualistic mind is essentially binary, either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, not realizing there may be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum. Dualistic thinking works well for the sake of simplification and conversation, but not for the sake of truth or the immense subtlety of actual personal experience. Most of us settle for quick and easy answers instead of any deep perception, which we leave to poets, philosophers, and prophets.”
Richard Rohr, The Dualistic Mind

More and more I’m seeing the both/and woven into my life, but it is not easy to understand, and not easy to not know the one right answer. I push back against updating my old operating system. It is not easy to not strive for rightness. But I think it may be more true.

“Then how can I know which is the right one?” Aye, there’s the rub. We can’t. But one thing I’m learning is that I do not always have to be right. Or maybe we can look at two different interpretations of a story and understand that they are both right.”
Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock that is Higher

And so I have to wonder if the core desire to deconstruct old ways with hopes of establishing a new order is an old, binary, dualistic approach? Might we again be at risk of recreating the issues of prejudice and exclusivity, only with new people groups? Is there actually, really, only one way? I wonder if there is a new way that is truly new?

Consider what I see may be the both/and in;

freedom of speech and the offence culture

scientific fact and mysticism

perfection and grace

art/beauty created by monsters

art/beauty created out of atrocity

public safety and personal freedom

true love and speaking the truth in love

the common good and the evil that is common

reconciliation and forgiveness

the power of silence

Articles I’ve had the privilege to read of late, and for your consideration;

https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/12/06/the-warlock-hunt/

http://nationalpost.com/opinion/lindsay-shepherd-wlus-interrogation-revealed-how-university-has-lost-sight-of-its-key-purpose

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/11/20/art-monstrous-men/

How I Learned to be Afraid of Men

https://www.ravenfoundation.org/montessori-remedy-plague-sexual-harassment/

Videos and articles by https://jordanbpeterson.com

And another really, really great article which I cannot find at the moment…

 

 

Truth be, I do not know much. Yet I know something. I’m paying attention to the niggling feeling I have that we are not resolving complex issues in a way that will ultimately lead us to a better place, because the old operating system does not work. And I’m attempting to put my feelings into words as I watch and listen and ask and wonder.

For what it’s worth, these thoughts, and a poem,

Lesley-Anne

How Did We Get Here

When it becomes intolerable to hold a differing opinion and have the audacity to speak of it, if nothing other than a satiating of me-ness feeds my hunger. When I see your you-ness with the phantom of hate lurking in every word, when your tongue is tied and your pen is cramped in your atrophied hand. When your love conforms to a theology of diction, then we will no longer be safe, my friend. Safety is not sameness. I cannot promise to be a safe place, I can promise you I will need your grace at some point in this relationship, because I will not be safe. Save me from me. I don’t understand what you require of me?

Shall we trade in our luminousity, abandon the teeming sea of wild thought for the tepid waters of only that which we agree on? Is that safety? I do not believe compromise of either one of us is a foundation for true love. Love does not win here. We will be less than more. We will be less than our identity of beauty and uniqueness that we celebrate, can we celebrate instead of legislate to be? What will we talk about when we agree on everything? No need for speech seasoned with salty kindness, or wisdom that offers itself through experience of terror and of grace. No need for forgiveness, or patience, when we weigh every word count as watershed and cannot speak for fear of what will be misinterpreted.

How shall we speak? What shall we say of value or of truth and how will I know you and you know me if we only say what makes the other happy? With the dull roar of truth in our ears we will bite our tongues or swallow them while gagging on our inauthenticity, our lack of integrity, or please just brainwash me, so I no longer have to struggle with this issue of only saying what is acceptable or thinking a certain way, to fit in, to conform, to be uniform… borg… I will be assimilated… No!

No, I do not believe that will be my destiny, the end of my individuality! Just as the big bang is still heard in deep space, just as the universe continues to be formed, so too our thoughts, our words must rise up and escape our mouths, no matter the cost. What say you? What say me?

Lesley-Anne Evans, 2017

Advertisements

Welcome, love and fear


DSC_0593Every human being is motivated by either love or fear, he said, in every  action ever taken. I contemplated his statement, wondering how true it really was for me. Just as I held each statement this wise counselor spoke, and everything I said as well, weighing out my authenticity, the truth of my disclosures. Was I creating something more, or simply telling my story?

So, he asked, when is the last time you were able to say I trust you with my life, my love, my everything? I don’t know, I said. Maybe never. There is no right or wrong answer, he said, it’s just what you know is true in your life experience. How could this be, I thought, have I never fully trusted, have I never felt freedom in love? My mind jumped back 30 years, then more recently, then to last week, and the reason for seeking counsel in the first place. My lack of trust, and my longing to belong, and what did it all mean?

The conversation continued to how mistrust of others and a possible deeper underlying fear of rejection can result in missing out on the beautiful potential of enjoying the fullness of loving community. Fear of rejection leads to withdrawal and isolation, and the vicious self perpetuating circle of fear, mistrust, and withdrawal from relationships continues. Allowing myself to fully engage in loving community could break down my walls, crack open my heart, and trust and belonging would grow. But fear of rejection is undermining what I desire. I wonder, is this true of me? Really? I want to argue it. I want to ignore it. I want to call it psycho babble.

Today I experienced how my view of life impacts not only me but my family. And I felt a little sick to my stomach as I considered the truth; my fears are rippling out into their lives. So maybe identifying the core issue and making room for a new reality is the way forward? Rather than denial or avoidance, to welcome all in, in a new way, following some recent teaching at SoulStream, Living From the Heart. I have been learning a posture of opening to the difficult and painful things in me that need the touch of Jesus. It is called Welcoming Prayer. I feel it may be the way…in this quiet welcoming way of the heart. And so I say…

Hello fear, welcome. Hello mistrust, welcome. Hello self protection, welcome. Hello rejection, welcome. Hello disappointment, welcome. Hello hunger for love, welcome. Hello. You are welcome here. You too are loved.

The good book tells me Jesus was despised and rejected of men. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Who better to understand what I do not yet, than the one who knows me and these newly defined feelings, from his firsthand experience. Who best to be with me as I welcome all those things that make me much afraid…

Jesus, what would you say to me in the presence of all my fears and feelings that we have welcomed here together? What would you say to my heart? I’m asking…

Come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Come, my beloved. Bring your love and your fear to me. All is welcome here. Come and rest in me. Just come. Let us consider these things together.

A slight shift… just a little one…


DSC_0789Hi. Long time no write. Much has taken place and continues to find its place in my life. I am well at times. How are you?

I am grateful for the way God allows me time and space to come to my own inconclusive conclusions, mess through my own muck (self created and a product of my upbringing, culture, experience) and opportunity to humble myself and see things ever vaguely and/or becoming clearer in what they are.

I’ve been away. In Northern Ireland. In New York City. Away from “church” and searching for where I belong, what I need, what I can stand for and with, and who are my people and community and what is it that God would have me do. And more. I’ve become a bit of a nomad, but feeling the repeated pull of home. I believe I’m getting closer to the truth and the reason I’ve needed to wander. It’s as much a result of heart wrenching, certainty tossing, conviction lostness, as it is a result of conversations with wise ones whom I trust enough to open up my pandora’s box of troubled questions and invite them in.

I invite you in…

Here’s what I’m just beginning to discover, what is being unearthed in me;

1. I’m me, and God doesn’t make any mistakes. I’ve been wrestling with God and me, not loving who I am, but loving myself too much in other ways. There is paradox in the journey of faith and self-knowledge, like everything else. The struggles I’m having are because I’m me, and the way to shelter and peace will be specific to who I am and how God wired me. It takes time for me to sort these things out.

2. I’m prideful. I’ve just recognized I’ve been asking “Did God Really say?” (yes, same question the serpent threw in Adam and Eve’s face on the garden’s slippery slope) And whatever particular version of that I’ve entertained has been my somewhat slanted/deluded reason for separation from various people groups out of a sense of needing to protect other people groups. Proud Mary…that’s me. So…

Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned against you and against your people. Bring me back to what matters to you, something I can build my life on. Help me see the difference between the bricks and mortar that build a house, and the decorative elements that are lovely yet not necessary. Bring me back to basic design, Lord. Don’t grow weary of me.

3. I am super sensitive and easily influenced. When I open myself up to new opinions and I attempt to understand various points of view, sometimes those views meld with my own and I can no longer clearly see what I believe is true. There is paradox in this too, because I am a learner with a healthy dose of curiosity, yet I must create boundaries that are healthy for me. Just like I choose to not watch the 10 PM news before going off to bed, or click on the link to stories about animal abuse, I know in my core that I cannot carry certain information well and I must therefore put it aside for a time, or for always. This does not make me an ostrich, I know information is available to me should I require it in the future.

4. I will never find a place where I truly, entirely, belong outside of maybe my immediate family. Not my extended family, not my circle of friends, not my writing circles, not my church, not my neighbourhood, not my academic institution, not even my fav coffee shop. Unconditional love and acceptance does not exist here, on earth, and I will not argue the unconditional love of Father God for me, just to say I’ve heard he does and I am trying to learn how to believe that. My sense of community may instead come in the bits of experiences I have with a wide range of people over time. I must somehow carry my belonging in me. And yes, that ultimate belonging to God.

5. Life is hard. Life is lonely. Life is beautiful. Life is holy. All of these truths coexist. Life is paradox. God is a mystery. My inability to understand or explain or argue does not make it less so. Truth can be absolute. And one can live in the mystery of not having an answer and survive. What I thought I was looking for was a common language to speak, a inclusive way of living that is non toxic and  flourishing.

What I was maybe looking for was a place to be OK with myself and all the unanswered questions and doubts that I carry with me wherever I go. No place is going to tell me I’m OK all the time. No place is capable of answering all my questions. There will be trouble. The waters will be stirred up. There will be things said that I cannot abide. And that is OK, I think.

6. I am beginning to be OK with being adrift, but also feeling the need to look at what I know for sure, sure enough to trust. I sense the big chunk of fear is shrinking a tiny bit, the angst I’ve carried every single Sunday I wake up wanting/not wanting to go to church and then don’t/can’t go… I think it may begin to dissipate. I’m working through it. I just asked myself today, “What’s the very worst thing that can happen to me if I return to church?” No answer yet, still thinking.

7. I am not alone in my experiences. This is the human condition, to walk in faith and out of faith like Mother Theresa, C.S. Lewis and me. Faith and doubt coexist. To say otherwise is a lie.

8. There will be more shifting. As I continue to unpack and attempt to understand where I am and where I am going and what God has in mind in all of this messy loveliness, I will probably write it here. We shall see.

May all that we experience and all that we learn and all that we are, feed our lives like small morsels of bread cast onto uneven ground. May we learn to see God as the one who breaks off those little bits to help us find our way, and to sustain us.

Lesley-Anne

Poetry Friday040


wildfire_biscuit

Image by Lou Angeli Digital via Flickr

Burn

When grief sweeps deep into gullies
and once green meadows melt,
Ponderosa sticks, flame sharpened, poke the sky.
I rush by, gasping, clutch my throat
full of words I will not purge, eyelids
on fire with memories.

When white tails leap past downhill fast and
heat and smoke snuff nests of rabbit dreams,
mole minions meet their maker.
Ferns falter, faint, and
bunch grass is consumed.
I shake my fist at firestorm
rolling overhead, like a freight train filled
with screaming banshees.

When they come, heavy with man power,
equipment, pure stink of sweat and fear and balls,
they build a line, push back. Backs aching
all night breaking ground, force spot fires down.
I lay in smoldering places, receive the
balm of cool water and gentleness
into my open wounds, dream of
snow enough to cover my dark nakedness.

When forgiveness, like fireweed, hot pink, impossible,
blooms in purged soil, I fall to my knees
in Spring rain, tear striped ashen cheeks
remember flourishing. Memory of burrows,
baby mice, nests in upper branches,
contrast of moss tendrils on stone,

I, ancient and always,
remember
redemption.

Lesley-Anne Evans
March 2011

Sunday Soliloquy


Lanckorońska as a child, with her father

Image via Wikipedia

The Nature of things

Breathing isn’t something I accomplish by my own effort
No. Breathing is hard wired, natural, subliminal, subconscious, like
sneezing
or sighing,
or desiring to leave a lasting mark,
something to echo when I’m gone.

There are things that require tenacity, that fight against
what comes naturally, and that, my friend, is the
straw that’s breaking.
The ache for making a change for the better eludes and
deludes me into thinking
it’s up to me to buckle down and
try harder, to strive with more deliberate intent,
To repent.

Take for instance
forgiveness of things, like
a sideways look, or a word unspoken, or a birthday forgotten, or a violation
of my body, or a crime
like taking the life of what’s mine, or a lie
told in the form of a story or a prayer
that’s clearly crossing the line.
Contrary to what I would like to think, or what I’m being told,
I can’t make myself forgive.
I can’t close my eyes, concentrate harder and presto, forgiveness
comes like a blessed dove, and makes beauty of my broken bits.
No, the hit hurts and the blood squirts red
and I need more than a King James bandage to
fix this. ‘nuff said.

Or, while we’re talking about expectations
there’s Sacrifice and Surrender, a pair married for years, and still
making it work despite their differences.
While the world screams, ‘self-actualize’ and ‘to thine on self be true,’
these two
quietly stand, hand-in-hand,
watching, suggesting
submission brings freedom and life,
contrary to the strife of opinions on everything
every little decision that must be
made and played out, all things being equal.
No. I can’t by my own willpower choose these.

And Rest, well
that’s another idea I respect, but
for the life of me can’t get around to it, yet. So many other things to
accomplish and prove my own worth, while
my to do list is longing just to be still
and know that someone else will
pry the steering wheel from my sticky fingers,
take back the waste,
redeem the
trivial Facebook posts
twittering reality shows
and mid-winter naps.

Human nature being what it is, real life being what it is
it’s contrary. Preposterous, this
Kingdom upside down thought
that Sunday morning ideals
can root in
and stick ‘til Thursday.

And while I rant and rave
on things I don’t have the capacity to understand, nor
the power to change,
He waits for me to be still
and listen.

Lesley-Anne Evans
January 2011

A year in review


It’s interesting when I reflect on things, how I feel that I stray far from my original intentions, yet in reality, I orbit around a thought or a thread of one, and come back to it time and time again. Such, I think, is the case with ‘Buddy Breathing,’ the blog and the concept.

When I think of what inspired ‘Buddy Breathing,’ it was for a large part, my friend Art Suke. Art is in the DNA of this place, and never far from thought when I hear of others who have battled ALS and lost valiantly, as he did. There was another battle lost last week. Another man cut down in his prime. Another celebration of a life. It still sucks as much now as it did then.

Still, there were specific ideas percolating in my mind last January when I posted my very first inspirations here, and some of them have flitted away into the recesses of my mind, while others are coming front and centre again. I consider how I have cast my nets in many different directions, and how God has brought me many good things.

Art is gone, and he won’t be back this side of heaven. He remains part of us. Like the other day when Bob and I were talking about a certain situation and I remembered Art saying, “Take the high road,” even though he’d never tell anyone he was taking that particular route. He just chose it. Spoke well of people. Thought well of people. Kept his expectations of people within limits. He taught me things. He questioned my thinking. He is still here, impacting, in so many ways.

I’ve been asked to speak at an upcoming Okanagan Express, about how my writing, poetry specifically, aids in the process of healing and wholeness in my life. So, immediately I began reflecting on how I walked through the final year of Art’s illness by doing just that… writing. Many poems were birthed on the way to or from Hospice, and even though writing was part of my life long before the complex experience of losing Art, it blossomed into something bigger, deeper, and more meaningful during the time of his illness and death. Publishing a collection of stories for Art was the seed for the first ‘Buddy Breathing’, another experience in giving and receiving words of hope. Landmarks, such as my poem, ‘Scotch Mints’ being published in UBCO Lake Journal, were because the depth of my journey somehow magnified my words into something more. Something that resonated with others.

And without getting into the details of what I’ll be presenting on March 17th at the Bohemian Bagel, I’ll be trying to summarize all that has happened in my life since I first discovered the power of creative expression. I’ll be trying to put into words the way that God has allowed, blessed, opened up, amplified, unearthed, worked out, this gift of poetry that continues to shape who I am. He continues to heal me and give me hope through this gift. And in thousands of other ways, God continues to give me exactly what I need. Hope for the moment. Hope enough. Breath by breath.

Thinking… (that’s nothing new!)

Peace,

Lesley-Anne

Moving on… I guess…


If you, like millions of people, know anything about social networks, then you probably know ‘Ning’. Ning is a platform that in their own words;

“is the leading online platform for the world’s organizers, activists and influencers to create their own social network. Design a custom social experience in under 30 seconds giving you the power to mobilize, organize and inspire.”

Quite a wonderful quote… for someone who was seeking the mobilizing, organizing and inspiring. Me. Which is why I chose to use Ning to enable me to start a writer’s community for women, almost a year and a half ago. This followed my attempt to start a writer’s group in the real world, the inaugural meeting at which I was the only attendee. So, I thought, perhaps my draw ought to be wider… and I went world wide with the web and launched… Pink Ink Workshop! Ning made lots of sense to me, allowed me to design a great site with some excellent applications to add exactly what my members might need. Primarily it was about writing women connecting… and we did.

Pink Ink Workshop drew women writers from past connections I had and the ripple effect of my friends telling their friends and so on and so on (just like the Breck Shampoo Commercial circa 1970’s), and resulted in a small but committed group of writers from Canada, UK, Australia and the US. There were a handful of very active members… and I enjoyed the ability we had to inform and encourage one another, critique each others work, and connect in a world that can be quite isolating to writer types.

All this is coming to an abrupt end… and until today I’ve been OK with that. Just as I was OK when I married my husband and was discommunicated from my church… I knew it was coming, therefore I accepted it. And I recognize that it’s not all about me and my needs and my choices… there are greater powers at work. And I know that as one door closes a window opens and so on.

I received a notification a couple of months ago announcing that ‘Ning’ is no longer going to support their non-paying communities, I thought, Oh well, I guess that’s it then. I knew I couldn’t afford to carry the costs of paying to continue Pink Ink, and I also knew that I couldn’t expect the membership to do that either. So, I took the punch and decided that it was probably time for me to move on and do something else… recognize that Pink Ink Workshop has been a wonderful experience, and that it is over. (yes, I could have moved to another provider, and put more blood, sweat and tears into designing another network… like some of my virtual acquaintances have chosen to do. But, I’m tired… and I’m not really willing to do that… AGAIN!!!) I’m OK it, really I am, I thought.

Until today.  I was just cruising around Pink Ink Workshop, and looking at the photos of all the women, and reading and re-reading their words and their thoughts, and considering all that they’ve come to mean to one another… and to me. Long distance relationships really can become strong, virtual or real. These women have spoken words of life into me… have seen some struggles and some triumphs and have seen my writing take flight. They know me as a writer. This is what Pink Ink Workshop’s intended to do, and it did, until now;

A community of writing women, engaging, developing and refining our craft, and inspiring one other to use our voices with boldness.

And, once again, I find myself in a place where the community that I desire and enjoyed is being taken away… notwithstanding that we have all promised to keep in touch through emails and other social networks that we might join together. It just won’t be the same.

So, thanks Ning. Thanks a lot! I can’t imagine how money could be the only thing necessary to make your business viable… at least not just the money of small players like me. Facebook seems to be able to make a fortune without charging me anything. Facebook revenues reached $500 million in 2009, up from $300 million in 2008, according to Fortune editor David Kirkpatrick. And their revenues come from advertising… and that’s not a secret or earth shattering knowledge… is it? Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-does-facebook-make-money-2010-5#ixzz0tyvMCIZf

If I could a place to write a frustrated letter to, or someone who cared to hear about this (aside from you my poor reader friend), then I’d be all about giving ‘Ning’ a piece of my mind. After announcing their non-support, Ning wanted me (as a network creator) to fill out a feedback survey… but I’m not going to. I’m too ticked at them. And I’m just going to having to accept the inevitable, that on July 20th, community as Pink Ink Workshop knew it, will end.

To all of you PIW Inksters… keep on tagging the world with your words!!! NOTHING is lost. ALL is for a purpose.

Moving on, and I miss you already,

Lesley-Anne

‘Sol Deo Gloria