COMING HOME FROM WAR

I sit here, in the back corner of my favorite coffee shop, typing with fingers that feel like they’ve just returned from war. Moving them across this keyboard with the type of apprehension you would walk over landmines with. Pressing each key with ease and strategy, as if I am still walking across the battlefield, as if bullets are flying and I am ducking and dodging each time I press a key. But, I can say with certainty pulled straight out of the garden of my heart, that this is not a warzone, anymore. It is safer here in my body now. The ringing in my ears is fading, the wounds scarring. I am on my way home.

Many days, I feel like a soldier coming home, carrying this purple heart, this bruised and tired heart that I earned for trying. Trying to be okay. Trying to declutter the closets of my past, the toxins of my history. Trying to answer questions without crying, to confront memory without crumbling. I have been trying.

Over the years, I have worn three things consistently; freckles, poetry and expectation. Over the years, I bought into the narrative that I could not take any of them off. These last six months, I have been learning the art, or maybe it is better described as the war, of taking one of those off. I have been stepping into the war that is, being exposed.

I have not always known the power found in being exposed. I grew up surrounded by a lot of rugs, and early on, learned the art of shoving everything under them.

I have known the stretch, the strain, the held breath that it takes to be the hope where there was none, the truth floating atop lies. I have worn an identity stitched together by broken emotions and misunderstood promises for many years. For many years, I have walked with heavy shoulders, carrying the belief that I am the reason for my broken parts, for my strange hurt and my messy heart.

But these days, I am learning how to grip a hammer like it is a magic wand, and striking it against my history, my hurt, my heart. And I am uncovering what has been growing beneath the decay. I am finding the truths, chipped and scratched, but still there, waiting. And underneath all of this pain and all of this ugly, a story has been expanding, writing itself far more beautiful than my fingers could have typed - and He is grinning at the rubble, He is applauding the ache, because without it, I would not know this moment, right now. I think sometimes God just needs a little time to rewrite the story behind the scenes before He hands you the hammer for the new reveal.

 

 

 

The year of the laugh lines

This year I was gone and I was here, I was well and unwell and I was very glad to be both when I was them. This year I curled up under a lot of streetlights I mistook for the moon. This year I loved big and whole and with a lot of guts. I used my feet, I walked and I ran and I saw things, really saw them. This year I wrote most of my poems on the breeze, hoping they’d finally teach me something. Hoping I’d finally listen. I did.

This year was realizing my shadow isn't a dark thing, it's simply the sun resting. This year I found grace for the darkness, finally understood that it was giving the sun a break from making me feel less afraid of what I cannot see. This year I learned to not be so afraid of what I cannot see. The foreign and unfamiliar uncovered in the dark look a lot like brave when the sun comes back out.

This year I wrote in every journal I own. But this year I didn't fill all of any of them, because for the first time, I'm comfortable with unwritten. I'm content with unsure, with uncomfortable, with sitting still and feeling life move around me. This year I stopped running, I let God meet me where I was, instead of making Him chase me to somewhere prettied up.

This year I held up my bandages and I stopped convincing people they weren't mine. I raised them like flags and asked everyone to celebrate, then retired them like an old trophy, put them away to collect dust.

This year, I hurt cruel, I hurt selfish and I hurt loud. My hurt became an acquaintance I got very sick of being around. I became an acquaintance I got very sick of being around.

This year I loved a person the biggest I ever have, I loved him so big and so full and with all of the zest and risk and breath in me. This year I looked into him like a mirror, seeing my most true self, and I cried. I cried deep and shallow and ugly, and I clenched tissues beneath my fingers as I picked up my chin to look again. And I cried. Then breathed. I stared into the broken, far more sharp than I’d ever fathomed. Looked at the hidden, buried deeper than I knew I could dig. And he collected it all and helped me make it into something better.

This year I became the broom, I owned up to the pieces, and then I swept.

This year, I learned the kind of happiness that gives a person laugh lines, the kind that write in cursive across your face with a certain romance and charm. I learned the kind of happiness you're never really certain how to write about, only how to feel. This year, I felt it all. And I am new. And I have so many laugh lines. 

OUTSIDE OF HOLY CONSTRUCTION WALLS

I pulled back my curtains to a neon white snow tiptoeing into a mid December day. Almost as if it was embarrassed it had taken so long to get here, worried that we had all forgotten it was winter. My hand up against the cold glass of the window, I watched as it tickled the ground with its gentle landing. Sprawling across the cold bare cement, the browned grass, the shivering trees, blanketing them in winter, tucking them in. I could almost hear it saying, go, rest, I’ll cover you up for a few months.

I could hear it telling me the same.

There is a tangible beauty in tucking away, in covering up. Much like a construction site bordered by tall fences and plastic walls, no one knows what’s going on inside, but they know that when the fences are torn down and the plastic walls folded up, there will be something to marvel at, something solid and standing. No construction worker likes to be nagged about what’s being built inside, they just want to build.

 

And so, I will not nag God about what’s being built inside of me. I will not tug at the plastic walls, I will not steal His tools or question His floor plans.

Instead, I will lay still, like the ground being tickled by snow, and I will find comfort in being covered up, in standing outside of the construction walls, in awe, eager to see what is happening inside.

I cannot even imagine how lovely it will be, how new, when the snow lifts, when my fears thaw. But here, in winter, I will hold my hands up against the warmth of my body, I will thank the snow for showing up and I will thank myself for doing the same.

 

A HOLY LOAD OF LAUNDRY

There’s something about October, something about the gentle way fall tucks summer into bed for the year that has always had a way of pulling me back to myself. Pulling me back into remembering. I sit, goosebumped girl, a stranger in fall temperatures, skin that is relearning the airs subtle sting. There’s romance in the way the trees decorate themselves, painting the horizons red and gold, brightly, boldly, shamelessly, knowing that they will be gone in a matter of weeks. Knowing that this marvelous show, this grand welcome, is fleeting. They are wise enough to not get stuck, but free enough to give color to their season.

I have always been drawn to the leaves, admiring their ability to let go, even though a colder season may be coming.

We are a human race walking around with glue on the bottoms of our feet, stuck to wherever we end up standing. The places we are most often found stuck to are the noteworthy ones. The bold moments, the pretty ones, where we did something worthy of being put on the highlight reel. And then we set up camp there, and later find ourselves suffocating somewhere underneath the weighty expectation that we should still be doing those things, living bigger, grander, taking up more space.

But then, we are not. We are struck with the unpleasant truth that this day laid out in front of us, flashing like hideous led taillights, is the one that we must show up to, noteworthy or not.

Here, typing to you from under the weighty expectations of grandeur, I want to tell you the most important thing that I am coming to learn, through gritted teeth; Showing up.

And I want to tell you that you cannot show up to this messy, mediocre day, if your feet are still glued to the ground in a really really good day. You do not get to pick and choose- you must, as I see it, just show up.

Today is not big, it is not flashy, and I’m certainly not bursting at the seams to tell someone all about it. No. Rather, today, I did my laundry, I went to the grocery store, had a panic attack in the toothpaste isle, cried a handful of times before noon. But this is where my feet are planted, and this is where the most wildly creative, poetic God is writing the bigger story. There is something holy to be found in finding yourself stuck in the ugly, painful, ordinary moments. Something holy about folding your darks and lights with the kind of wisdom that the leaves change color with - You are not here forever.


And so today, I shiver against the same wind that the leaves dance in. And I, like them, am going to show up, even if only for a moment.

IMPOSSIBLE SILENCE

I sit in an impossible silence. I cannot speak, because none of my words belong to only me. The weight of the world is balancing on the tip of my tongue, and it is not my responsibility to put it into words. But it is my responsibility to feel along with it.

I have written this before, these small words, disappearing beneath nauseating evil. I have written them too many times. I write them in skin that no longer feels safe against my own bones. I do not know how to be human in the midst of this world anymore. I want to rewrite tragedy, to rearrange the punctuation, end the sentences sooner. But these stories have been written, the television screaming them, I jump at the loudness, I shrink beneath the pain. It is not something I feel comfortable looking at in the light. I am not near the horror, but I can feel it all, it becomes me. Every name a cherished friend, every scream, a familiar voice.

And it does not feel like enough to say that we are feeling it together. That their tears are mine, that mine are yours. That we are all collapsing inside of these same human bodies, trying to cover up our own sin for long enough to understand. I know that it is not enough.

But these human bones, they cannot hold the weight of tragedy. These human lungs, they do not know inhale without hate.

And because my throat is clogged with too much humanness, all I know to say is;

Jesus, create in me a space conducive for receiving indigestible pain with transparency. Instill in me a loud voice, speaking only words you would know to say in the face of this ugly world. I cannot muster the right ones on my own.