When loving…

When loving is denounced as liberal radicalism and the streets are smeared with pepper spray as children and parents retreat to their homes after being assaulted by authorities hellbent on smashing support for long-overdue change, then we’ve arrived at a time of gross darkness. When those who hold their Bibles with fervent reverence sneer at “libtards” who are guilty of wanting to feed the hungry, then we’ve come to that moment of masks falling away and the love of idol and icon embraced in the name of One who would weep at the carnage posing Christlike behavior. So much for the loaves and the fishes, the loving thy neighbor, no. See, that’s too liberal for the Jesus folk. If thy neighbor is not exactly right next door and not the exactly right American gun-toting Christian, then the greatest commandment doesn’t apply and you can vote for the man who mocks the disabled, openly disrespects, disdains and tramples actual value while you tell yourself you’re fightin’ fer the kingdumb. If you can sit with rapists, worship a criminal posing president, but sneer at those who want to protect value, then you are on the top of a dung heap whilst claiming great righteous real estate in the One Way. Oh the fantasies so many abide as they ignore the stench of their foundations, as the whole world watches their dumbing down any notion of faith. So, since all I can do is wonder and weep as the people I used to break bread with claim their false truth, the one exceptionalist “truth” we all must embrace or be stalked by Trump trains and MAGA refrains ’cause well, Jesus, since it’s more than I can face without going mute, I’m going to turn this post over to a quote from a woman who has a more measured command of the state of things than I do in this hour and who states critical aspirations and affirmations essential to furthering the actual works of love without stringing too many words together in one sentence after another long wordy sentence.

“Let us denounce authoritarianism, racism, sexism and disregard for science and our common health and safety. Let us defend this beautiful planet. Let us voice that tearing nursing children from the arms of their mothers at the border is not an American value. Let us affirm that caring for one another, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and elderly is not socialism, it is a deeply honorable community and spiritual practice. Let us speak up and affirm that we would not put up with bullying, name calling and abusive behavior in our work or lives or homes—and so we should not allow it such traits and actions to go unchecked in the highest office in our land. Let us be centered in love, but be firm and clear and brave. This is the most important election of my lifetime. This is one of those moments when silence would equal implied agreement and consent—and I do not consent.” Carrie Newcomer

Refuge

“This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.
Be bold. Be humble.
Put away the incense and forget
the incantations they taught you.
Ask no permission from the authorities.
Close your eyes and follow your breath
to the still place that leads to the
invisible path that leads you home.”
St. Theresa of Avila

Photo by Jay Manti

The Living Vow

“This is the living vow: to show up with increasing presence for the moment. To make an honest encounter with your longing at every turn. To listen to it, learning which way the energy of your life wants to go. Paradoxically, it is in our emptiness—another way of saying willingness—that we become full. It is in our being fully where we are that we are put in touch with our next becoming. This grows you. You begin to understand that your life belongs to more than yourself alone. It belongs to a momentum which is set in motion towards its destiny through longing.”

Excerpt from “Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home” by Toko-pa Turner

Prayer #5 (for the self-proclaimed reformed womanizers)

May you know the value you trivialize by believing any form of womanizing is worthwhile.

May you know your worth without first shooting up intellectualism,
riding the high so high and icy cold.

May you come home to the earth of acceptance, not the mind palace constructed
against itself and in that coming home awaken the warmth of uncloaked knowing.

May you take a massive nose-dive into the divine feminine grace eschewed
by your grandiosity, and as your face hits the dirt there,
may you experience an actual fullness,
the presence of true welcome unadorned by any methodology or presentation.

Let all that you claim to be break open,
the husk falling away to reveal what you’ve refused.

May you recognize your need, your deep, deep need for love,
especially the love you disdain and declare fiction,
and when you find it, may you finally know what you’re gonna do with it.

May you take a great rolling leap into the truth beyond your carefully constructed dogma
as your face melts away, shining your visage,
a sun of authenticity feasts and open-hearted screams.

May your dance of control, your Georgie Porgie role reverse itself and succumb
to the surrender you chase, as the skirts all fall down around your face naked.

May you find there the map drawn by the lines of your perpetual retreat
posing pursuit and finally begin the treasure seek as one not master,
not switch, not submissive, but one, just one you.

May your knowing strip you of the sign you hide behind
and dart back and forth from as you desperately evade true connection.

May you turn to grasp that bowl of Peanuts at the bar of life
and find you were the one both setting up the kickoff and aborting it in turn,
over and over again, so sure the spurn was not within you.

And finally, may you learn that in spite of posing, gaming, playing and hopscotch skipping
‘round the block another umpteenth time, your true essence managed to shine,
making revolution alongside the confusion, the obviousness of the game,
breaking at least one heart in ways never broken before,
and leaving a wake of pieces to gather on the floor of a soul
trying now not to hope you know the breadth of the misstep your reformation made.

Prayer #4 (in the aftermath of rape)

Let me not do more than slam, hammer, pound
and send all the contents smashing against the ground,
the wall, glasses, books, whatever in the vicinity of this holy rage.

Let me not grind my teeth endlessly or linger too long
in the fantasy of obliterating the one who trampled innocence.

Call the gatekeepers, please.

Call the standard bearers, too.

Rouse the warriors against the wave of scurrying human cowardice
that reaches rapidly to blank out, redact accountability
and stroke, stroke, stroke the enablers.

Let me not be so done with children posing adulthood
so fury-blind that I alienate them every last one
in the fallout of the brutalization of one actual child.

Open our eyes to the beasts we pursue in the hopes to subdue,
subsume and subjugate, feeding our own inner monsters
while we weep under the light of the moon
wondering why our children have been devoured.

Stop the generational wreckage smash and crash
rolling through the fast lane in the here and now.
For once, end the long game, the one where the children pay
and pay, and pay for the violations of the fathers.

Keep us all sane, keep us all open to being better people
so the ones who’ve paid a price not their own,
can know safety in our presence.
Make our lives, our days, our minds, our hearts
and our actions a refuge from delusion and insanity.

Waken the dead, the walking dead
who thrive more in pretending love
than the doing of care, of forethought, of protection.

Wash over the blistering wounds made,
the whispering haunt and the innocence fade.
Conjure from the cracks a tree more resilient,
refusing that perpetual derision as it rolls downhill,
mocking how precious the sighs and pulse
of our children, our heritage, our hope.

Conjure creation’s cure, a resounding war cry,
calling from the heart of mother and father divine a raging justice,
insisting growth, smashing lies and building newness in the after.

photo by j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved

 

Power Over

“What posturing and performance share in common is a deep disconnect between the inspired heart and our gut instincts, between rising up and sensing ground where all life dissolves into the rich humus of earth. Make no mistake white bodies are capable of sensing deeply and can become conscious of the insidious ways that colonization is held within our flesh and blood. We may squirm and distract ourselves, but we have what it takes to dissolve these century-old impulses to cage, control and power over body. With awareness, we can begin to recognize our conditioning and through attention we can allow our primal impulses to grow a capacity to dissolve the distortions and claim life-supportive gestures and expressions.” Liz Koch, excerpted from the post on her website, Core Awareness, titled “White Bodies, Psoas, & Gesturing Power Over”

We colonized the land and the people of the land we now call the United States of America and we colonized our own bodies. Power over is the rabid beast created when we divorce ourselves from being soft, hairy animal human. We infused our religious beliefs with power over. We insisted on obedience like we insisted on this land, raping and violating the bodies of children in the name of discipline and good behavior and, for some, godliness. I can say that my daughter and two sons have birthed me because they broke my heart open and opened me up to my own tenderness and the validity of the wild human. I could not fathom how the sort of discipline inflicted on me, and on my sisters, in the name of Jesus was anything remotely connected to love and that realization occurred when a baby girl came out of my body. Everything changed. Who was this sacred creature? How could you thump her on the forehead for speaking her mind or challenging you at the dinner table? How? You must be divorced from your own body, colonized from head to toe to soul if you do this and you must be addicted to power over. Dethroning the inner tyrant anchored on the seat of the heart and placed there by fear, that is a work on which to commit a life. Enshrining love as a fully-muscled set of doings and thinkings and makings of solid evidence of love and value decolonizes the body, rids the mind of toxins long dormant. And the work never ends. There is no arrival. I don’t know what I’d do without people like James Baldwin who lives though he’s gone and Liz Koch who is here and now shining light on needful truths.

Here’s to freedom from power over and losing all the baggage that goes with it.

Prayer #3 (for protesters)

Each step taken, every chant and cry,
every movement for justice,
every insistence on equal rights,
every standard and arm raised for safety,
for the end to brutality and racism at the hands of…

police, government, the system,

each one land home, right to the heart
of what brings true change, what sets aright
the system set in motion against humanity itself.

Revolutionize hope, radicalize grace.

Every effort met with heaven’s support,
earth’s nurturance and the flesh and blood strength
of all who embody truth and justice.

Each one held safely by love.

Prayer #2

Mother earth, Father sky, Creator, Love,
draw me out of grief’s clasp,
loose my fingers’ grasp ‘round the ways I failed,
the things I can’t unsay or unfeel,
the hapless, arrogant beliefs I held
about love, about people, about hope,
about value, about life itself,
the fool, the naked fool I so often was, and can be even now.

Strengthen my arms after decades-long holding
to love unrequited and unforgotten and eventually unknown.
Lift my eyes beyond the carnage, the years lost believing he/she/they
cared as I cared, felt as I felt, valued as I valued.
Help me to see the worth of the time as it clarified
who I am, who I am not and what I live for.

And what I do not.

Help me to embrace the inspiration those days were and may still be.
Help me to reclaim them in forgiveness and acceptance.
Deepen my capacity to love regardless,
to love fearlessly and to love wisely.

Open my arms wider to encircle my growing path,
to embiggen the reach of my grasp
and to dance for new joy with keener vision, and measured hope.