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The Price Of Hate

I wanted to do this
In my own time
To wait until I was ready
Until I had the answers
Rather than questions
I’m still asking myself

I wanted to do this
When I felt secure
To wait until I’d talked
With those I owe
Deep levels of trust
To share face to face
Or at least Skype to Skype

I wanted to do this
After I’d told my family
To wait until the perfect moment
Had revealed itself
And I was ready for
Every potential response

I wanted to do this
When I knew how to explain
Forty years of truth
Buried so deep
All I knew was brokenness

There is an awkwardness in
Maintaining silence
My safety net of procrastination
Wrapped tightly
Trying to contain the
Chaos of rediscovery

But something happened

Ten thousand children
Thrown away
And my silence feels like complicity
My safety net of waiting
Feels wrapped around my throat
Taking away my breath
Cutting off the words I ache to speak

There is no right time
I may never be ready
I may never be able to explain
There is only the moment now
And in this moment
My safety net must unravel
Else I lose the ability to speak

Heart broken

Ten thousand children
That’s how much some people hate
People who also claim belief in a god
Whose very scriptures teach
Love your neighbour as yourself
Care for orphans and widows
In their distress

Ten thousand children
Starving and in need
Support ripped out from
Under their precious lives
An act of hate
Called righteousness
In the name of protecting
Orthodoxy
From the scourge
Of homosexuality

How can people
Called to be like the god they claim
Who has named himself Love
Hate us at such a price to
Ten thousand children

Tears fall as words flow
Years of learning
Straight was right
Queer was sin
My heart breaks
Am I the only one
Who feels the stab of
Soul-crushing guilt
As if my existence
Is somehow to blame for
Ten thousand children
Dropped in a heartbeat of hatred
When one organization
Makes the tiniest movement
Towards acknowledging our rights
As human beings
Created in the image
Of the divine

This is also the price of hate
But unlike ten thousand children
I have a choice
I will not pay their price
I will not take on that guilt
Being queer does not
Equal broken
Nor does it mean excluded
From the faith of my childhood

I will stand up
I will proudly claim my truth
I will meet their fear
With love
For myself
For the world around me
Even for those who hate
Together may we stand in the gap
For ten thousand innocent children

—–

If you haven’t heard about what happened that caused ten thousand children to lose their sponsors through World Vision in the United States because a powerful group of people who call themselves Christians decided fighting against gay rights was more important than caring for the most vulnerable among us, you can read the details here, here or here, just to point you to a few.

I already sponsor a child through Compassion Canada whom I plan to continue sponsoring until she ages out of the program. I am pondering sponsoring another child through World Vision Canada which follows Canadian laws regarding non-discrimination.

You’re also welcome to visit my other online home at Poeming Out where this will also be posted.

Spring has sprung

I could say I hate to brag about the weather in Victoria, BC, but that wouldn’t be honest. It’s pretty much a required part of living here.
It might not officially be spring but it’s like someone flipped a switch and suddenly winter is gone.

Spring has sprung

spring blossoms

I wish this next photo was scratch and sniff. I wanted to stay standing under this tree all day and just breathe in the gentle scent of spring.

Spring scent

Walking Glimpses

I’ve been feeling cooped up. There’s a reason we call it the Wet Coast. Since the sunshine has finally found its way back to Victoria, I’m trying to spend at least one of my coffee breaks or part of my lunch hour outside. Add to that I’m feeling the need to find my way back to this space on a more regular basis.
There may not be a lot of words, but for now part of my break-time walking is going to include keeping my eyes open to the joy around me.

I love this wall mural for one of my favorite downtown stores.

Mirrors

“I want to ask you a question.”

“Sure,” I replied. Seemed only fair since we were meeting for tea because I was curious about the master’s program in Spiritual Psychology my colleague was taking.

“How do you feel about mirrors?”

“How do I feel about … what?” I hesitated, sure the noise in the coffee shop had garbled his words.

“Mirrors. What do you see when you look into one?”

It seemed unrelated to our conversation. The response on the tip of my tongue “Fine. I feel fine about mirrors.” But it wasn’t the kind of conversation where fine was a sufficient answer to everything.
I paused and chose honesty.

“They’re not my favourite thing in the world, but it’s improving from the ‘avoid-really-looking’ place it used to be. I’m slowly learning to look and really see myself.”

That was September 23rd.

I’ve been thinking about mirrors ever since and what I see has been changing. In good ways. In ways I never imagined were possible. In ways that are allowing me to see myself with kindness and acceptance.

As part of that journey, I decided to take Vivienne McMaster‘s 10 day Beloved Beginnings course. It’s an easy, dip your tip-toes in kind of introduction to the life-changing and powerful gift that Vivienne is bringing to the world by teaching people to use self-portraits as a way to see yourself with compassion.

It started with a simple exercise. Put one hand over my heart and whisper a little love to the woman I am today. And then use the other hand to take a photo. Late one night after I was ready for bed, I tried out the suggestions that Vivienne had given. Words like “You’re enough” and “It’s all going to be okay” but I realized that those weren’t the words I needed to hear in that moment. What I needed was to speak three small words out loud and hear them quietly ring in my ears.

I needed to say out loud the words that had become true to me in a moment of surprising clarity a few days before as I’d continued to ponder why I felt the way I did about mirrors.

With my hand on my heart, I whispered the words quietly, hesitantly, questioningly at first. Trying them out to see if their truth still held up in the light of day.

I’m not broken?

I clicked the shutter button on my camera phone. I grimaced at what I saw reflected back on the screen, but the words, while unfamiliar, still felt true.

I whispered the words again, just as quietly but with a little more confidence. If they still felt true when I saw myself with eyes half closed, hidden behind glasses obviously thick even when they’re made with “thin” lenses, maybe they really were true. The shutter clicked again.

I’m not sure how many photos I took that night. Each time, I pressed the camera button, I said the same words over again. Soon there was no hesitation. The love I needed to hear from myself that night was a strong declaration of truth that was in stark contrast to the lie I’ve believed about myself for as many of my 44 years as I can remember.

I’m not broken.

Each repetition of the words allowed the truth it sink a little deeper into a wound so old I don’t remember when I first began to believe the lie.

As I continued to take photos, the words took on a new tone.

Beloved Beginnings Day 1No longer were they simply a declaration of truth.

They became a celebration of truth that I could now hear and claim as my own.

I’M
NOT
BROKEN!

So many of us have breathed in that lie. That we are broken, damaged, not good enough no matter what we do, no matter how hard we strive. But it’s not true. Even if you learned it in childhood, in Sunday School, it’s still not true.

Yes, you may do broken things. There may be parts of you that have been broken and damaged by whatever life has thrown in your path. And it may even be true that we have all “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, but there is a truth deeper than that, a … deeper magic, if you will. We are all created in the image of the divine. At our core, we’re not broken.

I’m not broken.

You’re not broken.

At our core, we are beautiful and whole and we reflect the divine.

—–

So what about you? How do you feel about mirrors?

I’d love to her your story in the comments or over on the facebook page.

P.S. Getting to meet Vivienne, hang out with her, give her a great big in-person hug and say thank you was definitely one of the many things I loved about Soulsisters!

Coming Home

I’m always amazed when someone I’ve never met finds their way to this tiny corner of the internet. I imagine how they found this little spot I’ve carved out and claimed as my own. When their chance encounter with my online home allows my words to speak some nugget of truth, some gem of comfort, to their journey, I am in awe at the wonder of two lives connecting even for briefest of moments.

I’ve missed that feeling over the last months, but a few weeks ago a gracious reader left a comment on a post I’d almost forgotten. I wrote it what seems like a lifetime ago. Her words reminded me of why I’ve loved this space and were like knowing a warm cup of tea was waiting with dear friends. I knew it was time to come home.

Finding Centre

So much has happened since I last stopped to share my journey here. So many stories that could be told, so many words left unwritten in the last few months as first I got busy and writing fell by the wayside in favour of other creative pursuits (being props mistress for Oliver! was so much more fun and so much more work then I ever imagined). Then words became hard to find as some stories I might have told weren’t really my stories to tell. Other stories were mine to share as I liked, but I was too deep in the story to know what words felt safe to share. I stopped writing. My nighttime writing practice dormant for months.

My need to write hidden behind a one-sentence-a-day journal, and then by the addition of a gratitude journal. Both of those rituals serve a purpose, but one sentence does not begin to cover the journey I’ve been on. The words of gratitude documented lovingly each evening have helped keep me sane when the story seemed dark and I became fearful. But at the same time, those small bits of writing let me drift farther away from the practice that most soothes my soul. When I needed to let the words of my heart flood the blank pages, those rituals allowed me to shy away from what I needed most. I’m not sure any of it would have found its way here, but my heart needed to pour out on the page before me. I was afraid what I might discover when the words were freed to live on the page even if I was the only one who read them.

I allowed myself to hide in the belief that those few words each day were writing enough. I allowed myself to believe that lie until I started to feel like I was losing myself. The self I’ve struggled so hard to find in the last few years began to slip away. Gratitude became harder to find. Joy became a distant village I could rarely find the path to visit. I had a choice. As someone rather famous once almost wrote: “To write or not to write, that is the question.”

It’s taken a bit, but I’ve been finding my way back to the practice that sustains me. For a while I needed to keep writing just for me and not think about whether any of it might be shared with anyone else ever.

I’ve been writing the story that is not all mine to tell. It’s in a notebook, safe and sound, recorded to let me see the truth of it with different eyes. Some day, I dream that I might share it but at the same time I pray that day for sharing will be forever in the future. For now I will continue to write it in silence, in solitude, and most importantly, in love for the one whose story it truly is.

In August, I decided to attend a workshop called “The Spirituality of Writing” at a local church. The workshop title called to me from the church sign. The idea of a safe place and consistent time to write beckoned in a way I couldn’t refuse. The workshop wasn’t really what I imagined, but the time and space to write was exactly what I needed. I started writing one thing, but then the story I needed to tell and was mine to tell began to find it’s way onto the page. The words flowed. My truth, that I’d been afraid of finding, seeped out in the ink on my notebook pages.

When the first evening of the workshop ended, I knew I wasn’t ready stop writing. (Have I mentioned how hard it is to find a coffee shop open after 9:00 pm in Victoria? Thank goodness for a Starbucks close to the university campus!) An hour more there. A break for laughter at the “car shark” in the parking lot. Another hour or so more at home when it became obvious the words weren’t ready to stop even though my body was ready for sleep. I haven’t gone to look, but one of the lines in my gratitude journal that night should certainly have been about the freedom of knowing I could sleep in the next morning on my Friday flex day.

Car Shark

I know I’ve only hinted at many stories left untold. I’d like to tell you that I’m going to be here regularly with a warm cup of tea waiting for you, but I can’t make that promise. This part of my journey seems to need more reflection and I’m not sure where the path is taking me. There is definitely much in my world that is aching to be recreated, but I’m not sure when I will be ready to tell some of those stories in such a public way. I will make one promise to you and to myself. Even when it feels like I cannot tell the story out loud, I will keep telling the story. The pen and the blank pages of my notebooks. The screen of my tablet. The slideout keyboard of my phone. All of those will record my story and when my heart says the time is right, the stories I need to share will find their way to my little corner of the internet.

Even if no one reads the words, a writer writes because she must. So I continue to write, because as someone else rather famous once almost wrote: “I write, therefore I am.”

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