Posts filed under the {true} and the questions

breathing advent

She asked how I was doing. I paused long enough to let the honesty sink into my bones.

"Exhausted." I said. "Exhausted and waiting." 

"It's like you're breathing advent" she answered.

And my breath caught in my chest because how did she know? How did she know that this month more than any other month embodies me and swallows me whole? I become the dates and the hours and the minutes and waiting takes up every square inch of this skin. 

Another friend tells me that December is her darkness. I smile in response to that, because for me, it has become my holy place. 

It's my holy place because it is my darkness.

I think we've forgotten that holiness appears anywhere—catching us off guard and pointing us toward Home. And sometimes, we flail and thrash because not here. Holiness does not belong here. 

But maybe that's the point? Because if I remember correctly {and I think I do}, this season is about bloody and messy and labored breathing amidst animal dust and the scent of straw crashing into Divinity and angel song. 

It's baby fingers clutching at eternity.

The juxtaposition of messy and holy.

So yes, I am breathing advent. I am sitting in the dark, expectant. And while I rest here, the vibrations of holy—of promises fulfilled and the moment of exhale—grow stronger and stronger.

Posted on December 14, 2013 and filed under the {true} and the questions.

what does an emotion sound like

What does an emotion sound like
when it cracks and burns
the faded hope left unwanted 
and buried in the heap of dreams jangling from the wolf's mouth. 

What does it sound like when 
Fear grows feral and snarls quick and fierce, 
snapping at love in the jagged way of grief
ripping at wounds 

What does it sound like
When it believes in the fairy tale--
swooning and gorging on the fields too empty to roam

Maybe it sounds like the rat-tat-tat of the keys
when typing
or the slap-clap-slap of the haka-warrior
banging on his knees 


Or maybe it's just a whisper, quiet on the breeze.

.::.

Story Sessions is participating in 40 days of poetry. This poem was inspired by Abby Norman's prompt of what an emotion sounds like.

If you want to join us for future challenges + prompts and inspiration, check it out—there's always room for you.

Posted on December 3, 2013 and filed under the {true} and the questions.

the infinite weight of dreams.

"I have 57 things to tell you." 

She didn't even give me a chance to say hello. I laughed and made myself comfortable, resting against the wall behind my plastic chair in my office. Staring at the face of a friend in my computer screen, I settled in for a long conversation. 

"Okay. Thing number 1. Give it to me." 

And then for the next 30 minutes, she spoke into the very fears I'd been hiding all day—no—all week. She looked at me and reminded me of my vision, of why I was doing this thing called Story Sessions. She took a stick and poked and prodded and waited until the fire was lit again.

She didn't know I was about to give it all up. She had no idea the questions swirling in my head over these past few weeks of maybe this is over and perhaps I took on too much and what if they all wake up and don't want to hear from me anymore.

She took all of those and threw them in the fire too. She laughed and pointed at me through the screen. 

"You're my general, but I'm your VP. I make a damn good one. Are you listening?" 

.::.

She was the first person I texted a few weeks ago when something was different. I'm a feeler. When I notice a shift, it's echoed in a feeling that often I can't articulate. 

"There's something about today." I sent her in a rush, my heart beating out of my chest. "I don't know what it is...but there's something here." 

Her reply was immediate. 

"I agree! I was just about to text you!" 

I paused. 

"Really?" I asked, although I probably shouldn't have been surprised. 

"Really. I noticed it this past weekend on your face. New light and new life -- an anointing of some kind -- new." 

And the words kept coming—encouraging, affirming, celebrating. The words came again last night when I texted her in a different kind of emotion, the swell of anger roaring in my ears. 

"I'm so pissed." I said. "I just need to blurt it somewhere." 

And she responded, holding space and reminding me of my calling.

.::.

Almost every week, she'll send me a message with an idea for the community. Couples retreats. A marketplace. Prayer calls. The ideas are endless and never waver with creativity. From the very beginning, she's held my hand and nodded as I move and shift and change. 

When we switched to subscriptions, she was the one I wanted as the caretaker for the original Story Sessions page. 

And almost every time there's a new member welcomed into the community, she's one of the first to comment, whispering a welcome home. 

.::.

I almost threw in the towel these past few weeks. Multiple times, I was just too tired. Too discouraged. Too beat down to even want to try and figure out where I was experiencing the most malaise because there was a definite feeling of growth paired with this undeniable feeling of purging. 

But I kept going. I didn't quit. I held on to that growth for all its worth and tried as hard as I could to wade through the purging.

It was because of these women—and so many others—who lifted my head and spoke into me right when I needed it. It made me realize that often, our dreams are thick and bright and heavy to hold—maybe even scorching to the touch because of their intensity. We leave them at arm's length, too afraid to get too close because just breathing in the fumes may cause us to crumble.

Perhaps this is why so many dreams lay wasted. 

Arms get heavy. Blisters form on ill-prepared feet. Shields slip and arrows find a crevice within the armor. 

With people around you though, linking arms and whispering reminders and grabbing your face between their two hands when needed, anything is possible. Dreams feel light. Visions gain clarity. The scorching intensity of our hopes suddenly serve as a settling furnace and not one that will burn to ash whatever touches it. 

Dreams are heavy burdens those around us can help carry if we let them. We have to loosen the hold first, though—have to stop and listen when those who believe with us grab our hands and begin speaking into our vision. 

What dream of yours feels too heavy? Might you lay it down for a bit so we can speak into it for you? 

Posted on November 22, 2013 and filed under the {true} and the questions.

unfolding.

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She told us we would leave changed. 

Looking each of us in the eye while bundled under blankets and waiting as long as possible to shut the back doors allowing us to hear the tide roll in, she told us there was something happening. 

And I felt it. 

I felt it in my decision to go.
I felt it in the gypsy wagon that picked us up from the airport.

We arrived at our haven on Bliss Street right at dusk. We'd spent ample time at Target, assuring our preparedness for things like late night munchies and meals around the table and clinking of glasses. 

As soon as we pulled in the driveway, I was emotional. I hugged the neck of a friend who calls this place her backyard, walked into the house and out the back door. Teresa was already ahead of me, running up the dunes as fast as she could with the sand falling behind her.  I followed her lead, smiling and wiping at my cheeks because I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe I was there. It felt like I'd walked through some portal and landed in a place of magic and wonder and sisterhood. 

"Elora! Look! A deer!"  

I stopped. I blinked. I gasped.

There she was—right in front of me—staring at me as if to say I see you. You're safe here.

 

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I breathed deep. My roots sunk low. I think I knew then the weekend would be one of restoration.

The next day I stood on the shore as the sun rose and let the wind whip my hair around and freeze my toes. I napped on the couch while listening to the waves crash against the rocks. 

I walked the beach while the tide lapped at my ankles and learned that the trees there are called storm wood because they work with the wind, bending within the currents in order not to break. 

I turned my back to the ocean then in order to snap a picture of the gnarled and twisted branches. Looking at my friend she smiled. 

"I know." She said. "It's heavy."  

We spoke of our year—each ripe with change and difficulty—and then she said something potent and mentioned how I write the weighty things and before I could even form a thought I blurted I don't ever want my words to be wasted—I want them to be temples.   

It took me a few hours (and an italian soda spiked with vodka) to realize the reality of what I said. 

Every minute I was in that house on Bliss felt like a returning. Every wave that receded back into the embrace of the ocean took another dead piece chipped away from this flesh and bone exterior.

So when I stood on a secret beach tucked away somewhere on that blessed island and threw a seashell with sharpied dreams back into the ocean, something clicked.

There's something to be said about all things becoming new. 

Even you.  

 

Posted on November 11, 2013 and filed under risk, the {true} and the questions.

here i raise my ebenezer.

I usually feel them coming in the core of my chest. It's a tightening. A shortness of breath.  

When the relief doesn't come, when I don't sit and write and find out what it is I'm supposed to be saying, the pressure takes to my throat.  

Then it just feels like I'm constantly sucking back tears.  

Words have always been a way of release for me. When I was younger, I'd grab my journal and cry the tears of disappointment or frustration or confusion and write to my heart's content. And when I was finished, when my wrists were cramping and my nose was runny and I was choking back the halted breath of finding myself in the way words form, I would close my eyes and rest.  

But lately, I haven't wanted to go there. 

I have stories from these past few months, I just don't want to share them. 

Because if I share them? Then I have to go there. And I don't want to—I don't want you to see my messiness. I don't want your vision to hone in on the vacancy sign blinking in the background of some of my relationships. That's too raw. It's too broken and I've yet to find the holy.

.::. 

I sat across some friends these past few days and they listened as I hemmed and hawed about writing and voice and lack of wanting. 

"I'm so done," I said. "I'm tired of the fighting and the bickering and the pointing fingers and yeah...I'm just tired." 

A friend looked at me and smiled. "But you'll still write. You can't not write. I know this." 

.::. 

Grief bludgeons down the sharp edges.  

The vacancy sign will still blink and I'll have the ache in my chest of wanting to do something but the vitality is missing. The wherewithal to get up and move so friendships are salvaged goes where the sun don't shine and I'm left with wound upon wound because I'm nothing if not consistent.

And I think of the voices telling me I'm believing lies and taking them as my truth and I remember—faintly—the sassiness of maybe I have fight in me yet.  

But then I look at the closet stuffed to the brim with a crib and changer-dresser and swing and baby boy clothes and well...the fight just leaves because if I don't have the answers about that, if I was so wrong about that—where else can I be wrong?

.::. 

Grief tangles you.  

You think you're okay, and then you remember something and suddenly anxiety sucks the air out of your lungs. You can't breathe and you don't know why and you realize it's just your brain playing tricks because surely you can't be making such a big deal out of (fill in the blank). But yet you can't get a grip on things. No amount of baths, walks, journaling, painting or crying will help you level out. 

And when you do? When your heart-rate levels and your vision clears, grief is waiting.  

Because that's when you realize what really happened. Schedules don't negate the hurt. Vacations won't erase the memory. And you'll find yourself sitting in your therapist's office, heaving and snotting and exclaiming and sighing because what the fuck. Why. 

Why and how and when and all of the words but yet none of them because nothing really describes it or comes close to capturing the pain and confusion and messiness of this and that and the monster waiting over there. 

.::. 

And yet, with all the bludgeoning and tangling, grief has a way of refining. 

It doesn't always feel that way. Most days the manic laugh is right under the surface, waiting for the question of "how are you? It's been a month for you guys, huh?"  

But occasionally, and usually when you least expect it, you'll gain the moment of clarity.  

Mine came in a coffee shop across from a friend, when I realized I didn't fit the mold and I was more than okay. I'd rather be a warning on someone's lips than stuffed into a box where I can't even breathe. 

And here's where I wrap everything up and lay out my Ebenezer for you to see.  

You see, I'm learning to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. And I'm embracing this skin of artist and mystic and I'm the happiest-yet-saddest I've been in a long while.

Here I raise my Ebenezer.  

Grief bludgeoned and tangled and burnt away all the pieces that just don't fit. And some of it still hurts. And some places will have scars.  

But I'm done being the poster-child for anything other than what I know He's called me to do. And so I'll write and I'll breathe and I'll love and I'll hope and I'll mother and I'll whisper push-push-push when it's time for your own words to have their birth.

 

Posted on July 19, 2013 and filed under risk, the {true} and the questions.