A One Woman Riot

1 Corinthians 14:34

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

For more than the first half of my life, that passage of scripture cast a shadow over me, seeping into my physiology, accompanied by the style of parenting that sets it into the neural pathways, often choking, inhibiting, paralyzing. I’m past 50. I’m still ousting the darkness of its influence though I have long renounced its claim. The women of this epoch are making it easier and easier to oust. But the work is still mine.

When the song “Quiet” morphed into the anthem of the Women’s March, I was drowning in a silent scream of grief and life events way beyond my capacity to actually weather. I was holding my breath. So, I missed the originator of it, MILCK, though I heard groups of women standing, holding hands and singing “I can’t keep quiet.” It pricked my ears.

My sister shoved the video in my face, finally. And so, I can’t sing this song without sobs. So, I sing it a lot. And then some more. I have yet to get through the song without stopping to let things roll out of me. I’ll get there. MILCK found the words I haven’t. Imagine that. I have so many words and I never could keep quiet for long. It’s my biggest, baddest sin, that and boat-rocking, cage-rattling insistence on truthseek. And while it’s not like I have a big secret to tell, it is definitely that I and many other women are still unlearning the silence. Minute by goddamn minute.

Folks, girls are still raised under the strain of the lie of misogyny. Right now, and in the name of Jesus. I imagine he’s pretty pissed about it. It’s cloaked in all kinds of alleged holy. And it’s even dressed up in versions of pretend liberation, the kind that works as long as you speak up only within the prescribed, allowed lines. Dare not announce you will no longer tolerate certain things. Dare not boldly be. Dare not call people on their shit when you’ve had enough. Dare not be anything but a new version of quiet. Fuck that shit. All of it.

Magnetic Resonance Imparting

Tenzin Choegyal’s singing, particularly with the Metta String Ensemble and particularly the Crane Nomad song reached into those places humming with a bit of futility, of loss collecting in dark corners of the soul. The timing was perfect, right before an MRI to see if I have MS, ALS, or some other crippling illness. I suspected it is the same battle I’ve fought for over 20 years but the concern shook me up. Choegyal’s voice pulls soul parts back from the edge of the abyss… beautiful healing… insta-weep and weep of the best kind of cleansing.

My only complaint is that he laughs at the symbolism of the crane, or, more specifically, the spiritual medicine. But I suspect he’s laughing at the thought of how strange he must sound to the western mind. The crane has been speaking to me already…nothing strange. Longevity. Good health…wings…moving on from dark times…

His expression takes me back to a childhood filled with some of the most beautiful, mystical singing imaginable…good medicine.

Serenade Special

There are memories and happenings you know will continue to sing to you long past the actual moments. They are usually down-to-earth, simple happenings and not always typical of the daily grind.

I’m privileged to experience something special-not-typical every now and then. Since my ex and I alternate weeks with our children, I’m picking them up at least twice a month and carting them to the home they’ve always known. (That doesn’t include the perpetual taxi service I am.) And, thankfully, since I work from the home, I see them every afternoon regardless of whose week it is. On the short ride to my house, car fully loaded with everything from xbox games to instruments, my sons sometimes hold their guitars and play as we make the less than 5 minute trip. I don’t know why it makes me grin every inch of the way or why the sound of enclosed guitar jams feeds my soul as richly as it does. It’s one of those things you know you’ll never lose. Sweet serenades…

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013
j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013

Yes. It’s a slow driver at the wheel on these occasions. (With big sis taking pics!)

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013
j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013

And it’s a song particularly perfect for accompanying the falling rain…

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013
j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2013


Radiohead’s Polyethylene (I like my sons’ acoustic, lyric-less, no frills rendition of it best, of course.)


Perpetual . . .

I love the continual underlying stirring vibe of this piece and how much it whispers of life and living itself… day in, day out, one foot, then the other and… and…

While we may rest in melodies more reposed and reflective, another melody is there, under the surface, stirring us into motion and passion, towards the next big expression of our love of life. And this is definitely the feel of my world lately…

All I Know Is…

All I know is… I love you, yes, I love you…

John Butler Trio has a sweet song called Peaches and Cream and the previous lines are sung over and over in it. It’s ringing through my head on an almost daily basis here along with occasional outbursts of rebel songs like Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel) and Somebody Loved (The Weepies). They’re “rebel” in that they’re something other than the one song almost perpetually asserting itself in my mind.

I’m liking how moments in time find a way of playing and re-playing their magic sometimes at will, seemingly apart from my own bidding. This past Saturday is the day that holds the moment that contains the song that won’t quit.

My daughter, Marion, sang and played her guitar for a small group of folks at a local coffee shop. She went from avoiding such things to just suddenly deciding she’d do it. And not just play, but sing. I was nervous.

(so was she)

And excited. (ditto)

All mama-bias aside, she rocked it beautifully. Her instructor was bowled over since he’d not heard her sing before or play her guitar so loudly and confidently. It was a crossover moment. One in which she chose to embrace her strength, her talent. I beamed for hours, uncertain if I was more thrilled that she’d done so well (I know what she’s capable of but I know the power of the fear of being out in front!) or that she’d embraced what’s been brewing for so long.

And then the week was awash beyond that with so much else, ridiculously full to overflowing, moments and events asserting their energy all over the place. While this one song…and especially just this one line…

All I know is…

All I know is…I love you.

And that’s it, isn’t it?

We can be awash, wrecked, buoyed, bolstered, catapulted, bolted (like I was this morning at 3am when my intruder alarm went off for no reason), flooded with so much to do, plan, grow, show, trash and build and it’s all about that one encompassing, nurturing, growthful, giving reality…

love. And love’s vision of building beyond the moment into something sustaining more love and more growth. Do we know this? With every fiber of our beings? Or do we do, go, fret along the trail and hope for lil glimpses, gulps and spills of it?

All I know is…

And it’s all we can really afford to know with any certainty and it’s the one thing we can’t afford not to know.