Acorn Girl

A nutshell cracks… an acorn is split in two. Only through this, can they be more. They will remain, if left unchanged, a lifeless nub – a bit like rock, or dirt – a nothing, that brings no light to anyone.
 
There was a tree outside my window when I was a child. Its branches blocked the light from my window, so that the sunlight would shine green against my window panes. The tree was tall, and green, and grew alongside me each year. It seemed eternal, like its life would never end. It gave me peace all through my childhood. It dripped with rain, and bowed with snow; it buzzed with life, and crackled with promise. In the summer, it would shade me from the heat; in the autumn, it would bathe me in an orange/golden glow; in winter, it would shield me from the wind; in spring, it showered me with small, green things, as if to say ‘Come on! Come on, let’s go again!’ The tree protected me, and raised me.
 
When I found out (a few years ago, long after we’d moved) that it (the tree – my tree) had been cut down, something inside me thought ‘That’s not fair. That tree is how I know that good things can still grow.’ It felt like the end of something beautiful. To this day, I think it was the end of something beautiful.
 
When I lose things like that, a part of my heart cracks. It’s just a hairline fracture, first. Just a jagged eyelash of a thing. It makes a tiny spider web pattern, and a small sound like breaking porcelain. And I think ‘No. That would be the end. I cannot break… I cannot break…” And I try to pretend it isn’t there, and I move on.
 
The next time, it’s a different thing. Some small thing that would not hurt all that many people – but it is enough, I think, for me. I look, later on, and notice that my heart has gained another crack. An ugly, lightning-bolt-shaped mark, that I know I can’t hide very well… I put a little more effort into it. ‘Think of the tree!’ something in me thinks. ‘Remember something that can give you hope!’ But I remember that the tree is gone, and I feel something crack a little further.
 
It doesn’t take too long before I feel I live on borrowed time. My chest hurts, and I wrap my arms around and round myself to try and hold the pieces all in place. If my heart breaks, then- unthinkable. I can’t allow my heart to do that. The pain would be unbearable. Besides, if I can wait a little longer, maybe there will be another tree. Another something. Another hope, or dream. Another thing that will be what that tree was to me then.
 
I realize as I’m hoping it that trees are all a little different. That same one will never be replaced. But something in me realizes there are other trees.
 
I go outside, and walk along the sidewalk to the park. I cross the street a couple times. I walk in front of cars like I don’t care. I think a car might hurt less than my heart. I’m scared, and numb, but only from a lot of wishing. I stroll into the park and walk towards the trees.
 
Green greets me. Soft, multi-shaded leaves keep brushing on my skin. ‘Well here you are’ I think. ‘It took you long enough to find me.’ I’m still breaking. I’m still broken. But somehow now it doesn’t hurt that badly. I see the light that filters down across my coat, and realize that trees leave dappled shadows. I feel the bark against my palm, and know trees all have bark. I come back to the sacred pace I know when I am not alone. When I am held in the embrace of trees that will take care of me – if only by the way they bring me life.
 
I feel again that breathing feeling – hum of life, crackle of hope and potential. I see a greener, better world, and before I know it… I am looking at an acorn.
 
It’s small, and ugly. Not the prettiest, or shiniest of all the acorns – not the best dressed, or the biggest of the lot. Still this one acorn makes me think… because the shell is cracked. It has a jagged, hairline fracture, that has turned into a lightning-bolt-shaped mark, almost like a spider-web the shatter pattern traces all around the acorn shell.
 
I take the acorn to a blank space in the park. Where maybe an old tree had been pulled down. I dig a hole there, with my fingers, safely buried in the dead roots of the elder oak that was. Carefully, with all the tenderness I’ve learned from holding all my jagged parts together, I lower the acorn into the hole. “Just one step further,” I hear myself saying. “You are almost there. Just one step more. If you can break a little further, you will be somebodies tree.”
 
I pour in with it all the hopes, and dreams, and tears I’ve shed, and hope they help him grow. I hope he lets go, and he falls apart. I hope he breaks, the way he’s meant to do, and safely under that old tree that gave its life – that fell and made room for another thing to grow – I hope he realizes how much more he has to give.
 
When people asked me, as a child, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up,’ I always said ‘a dressmaker,’ or ‘someone who writes books.’ But yesterday I asked myself what is worth breaking for? What do you want to be? And I looked straight into the glass and said “I’m holding out to be a tree.”

Hope; a Reason to Go On

I was making lunch when my sister told me that Amy Bleuel, the founder of the Semicolon Project, has committed suicide.

I just wanted to take a moment in this space to say how grateful I am. I am grateful to Amy for all the hope she’s given me along the way. I am grateful to my friends and my family who kept me believing that there is something in me that is worth saving. I am grateful to those who came before me, whose hurt and whose testimonies have made me realize that my life has barely begun. I am thankful for the people who are honest about their struggles and the feeling of validity that they have given me in mine. I am most thankful to the people who have been a reminder to me that my future is unwritten, full of potential, and comes in bite-sized days and moments; people who have given me hope.

The idea behind the Semicolon Project, as most know, is the idea that an author uses a semicolon to indicate that they are not ending the sentence – but continuing on. It’s a moment where you could put an end to something; instead you go on, and see what will come next; you choose to continue instead of putting a period. “You’re choosing to keep going,” she told The Mighty (2015).

Time and again I have run into this thought, this choice: Now Hurts. It hurts like torture, and it feels like too much to bear. There’s no need to cry out for help, because there is no help, and no one is coming for you. Better to end it, and stop the hurt if even for a moment.

The Semicolon Project; the testimonies of those who faced this moment and chose to go on; the belief that tomorrow holds at least one beautiful thing that is worth some or all of the momentary pain… This is Hope.  This is a reason to go on.

There is no such thing hopeless; there is being blind to hope. I am blinded at times by the chemical imbalances in my brain, by the emotional pain within my family, by seeing my father drink, or my mother and my sister fight. These aren’t an answer to hope; they cannot call hope out; they cannot force hope to play its hand and so we can all see that hope is a fraud. There is no antidote to hope – no cure for it. there never has been. Because time and again, hope will outlast the blindness; if you wait with it, it will wait with you. Together you, and I, and hope will outlast the things that hurts us. We will outlast the idea that there is no one to cry for us; we will outlast the idea that we’re unworthy of help. You… and I… and Hope… we have a long journey ahead of us. We will not give up now.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord

The Lord gives
The Lord takes away
Like breathing in
Like breathing out
I want to hold this breath that I’ve been given
The Lord gives
The Lord takes away
Like ebbing tides
And flowing tides
I want to control this life that I am living
The Lord gives
The Lord takes away
But I am with you
Even when I walk on my own
You are with me
Even when I’m walking all alone
You are the air
Like breathing in
Like breathing out
You are my prayer
I’m breathing in
I’m breathing out
You turn the world beneath my feet
Carry me where I’m meant to be
Inside my soul is Your heartbeat
I belong to you
I hear Your voice half whispered in my thoughts
Like flowing tides
I feel Your grace – it’s surging through my faults
Like ebbing tides
But I am with You

Even when I crash to my knees

Even when I fall on my face
You are with me
Everything that’s broken in me
Every time I fall on Your grace
All this will pass away
This word will pass away
The Lord will stay
My fears will pass away
My dreams will pass away
My Lord will stay
These stars – these wars – will pass away
Like wisps of smoke are meant to fade
These days we live will pass away
The Lord will stay
My Lord will stay
Only the Lord will stay
The Lord gives
The Lord takes away
Like breathing in
Like breathing out
The Lord gives
The Lord takes away
Only the Lord stays
Carry me
Wash me clean
My life will mean what You want it to mean
Help me breathe
Break me free
I give you the girl that I thought I would be
Take this breathe
I’m breathing in
I’m breathing out
Take my control
Like ebbing tides
And flowing tides
Take all my fears and my dreams
The life You’ve given to me
The person I want to be
These are only grace I’ve received
…They’re Yours to give and take away
Don’t let me keep standing in Your way
You’re all I need… and all I know will stay
I wouldn’t have it any other way
Blessed be Your Name.
Amen.

In This Way, I Will Always Love You

Someone asked what love is… It’s hard for me to explain it, but I think I’ve known love enough to try.
I’m certain love is different for everybody, but for me being in love is… Having someone in your life who makes you want to cry because you’re so happy that they exist. Like being so proud and happy that the world has this wonderful, stupid mess of a person in it.
It’s like realizing that it’s ok if you don’t get to keep this person – because you didn’t want anybody else anyway.
It’s finding someone who makes you more yourself, just by being around you. Someone who makes you better just by existing in your life.
Love is seeing the worst in someone – even doubting sometimes if you two are worth the struggles and confusion and pain involved in making relationships work – and still choosing everyday to trust them, and to remember that they are the only them you’ve got.
Love is the feeling of wanting to open up your chest and wrap someone up in your heart, so that if anyone cuts them down they’ll have to go through all of you first. So that this crazy stupid wonderful person that you love can feel your heart beating around them and know that they are loved and safe, and special.
Love makes you happy, frustrated, joyful, and… so many things.
Sex is a big part of it, but not because it’s about sex. Sex (after marriage in my case) is the deepest physical intimacy I can have with anybody. And this one crazy, stupid, wonderful person makes me want to be closer than I’ve ever been to anyone but God. Makes me want to wrap my arms around him so tightly that he thinks his ribs will break, and promise him that I’ll take care of him. And tell him that he’s wonderful. And stupid. And the bravest person I have ever known. If sex can move me closer to him then I want that. I want that so much.
I know that everyone is different. I know that not everyone finds the perfect person for them. I know that it is most important to be the person who takes care of you, and loves you, and is there for you – whether anyone else shows up and does those things for you or not. I know that Love is only love if that person makes you feel healthier and more like the you that you want to be. I know not everyone would love the person I love if they met him.
But I guess that’s the thing about love. Love is two halves of the same snowflake.
I realized once when I was praying, that I couldn’t prove that one day I wouldn’t stop loving God. (Bear with me.) I realized that most Christians believe their faith is forever, and that they will never fall away from a God they chose to love more than anything. I realized that if they believed that, and I believe that, and they still fell away and lost their faith… then maybe I would too.
I remember telling God “I cannot promise, in that fickle way that human hearts have, that I won’t stop loving you… but I can promise you, that on that day the me that I am most – the best me, that I truly am – that me would no longer exist. And in this way… I… will always love You.”
I was seven, but that thought stayed with me.
I think that to me… That is what love is. Love is knowing that the you that you are now – you’re best and favorite self – will not exist without loving this person.
Not long ago, my sister asked if she could use the conversation with God as part of her wedding vows. I think it’s true of the deepest kind of love for anybody.
“I cannot promise (in the fickle way of human hearts) that I will always love you. But I can tell you that on that day.. I would no longer be myself. And in this way I will always love you.”

The Shining Things

(I had forgotten that I had written this. I don’t know if I posted it before. I have now. I have very few followers. I’m sure that you will love me anyway.)

I saw, when I was young, a piece of shattered glass.
I thought that it was ruined, and at first I was quite sad.
But as I looked, I saw that something bright was glinting in the pieces.
When someone came to throw the rest away, I kept the little glimmer that I saw.
I did the same thing with the twinkle in the kitty’s water bowl
and with the tinsel that we threw away each year
The shine from every penny someone said was old and used
and all the light that crept in through my window
when my brother said he wished we could sleep in
I kept the light that cracked and sparkled in each
sequin
Bobby-pin
bottle
plastic cup
tin can
paperclip
mud puddle
glitter spill
quarter
plastic fork
and broken heart
that I have ever seen
Where everyone saw only dust that should be thrown away
I took the winking light from all the trash they didn’t want
The shining things; the unimportant, small, unwanted things;
the things I found too beautiful to be forgot and lost
I took them all – and built myself the sun

The Greenest Trees

There will always be a part of you in the ground with the people you have lost. But the great thing is that with them your broken pieces of your heart can slowly put out roots. They feel the earth a different way than any other part of you. You feel the sky on your face, but in your heart – though all you see is dirt – you can feel water, warmth, and (finally) just life.

The parts you buried, that you left with those you loved, will settle into something good. The broken pieces in the earth will dig their roots down deep, and they will ground you. They will keep you rooted, and firm when the wind tears you apart. The pieces that had hurt you more than life, the ones that you had given away, in pieces of trust, and late night kisses, in baby-sitting, and calming conversation; the pieces of your heart you handed off to relatives and friends, and people you had met just once… They’re not gone. They are buried. Grounding you and taking in the earth.

One day those pieces of you that you thought you’d lost forever – those parts of you will start to grow. They seem at first to have left behind a little green scar – no more than a pinprick on the soil… but soon you see them climbing, reaching, growing – and as they grow, they gain their strength. They get taller, and they find the sunlight. The pieces of your heart reach skyward, and they spread their arms like no other part of you has had the courage to do. They grow thicker and stronger, and they smell like home.

Sometimes they look like you… sometimes you keep thinking – oh that reminds me of my friend. But always, ALWAYS… they are something better. More familiar, and more green they stretch out leaves and leaves and leaves, until the world that once seemed harsh is green and glowing – dappled by the sunlight. In each breeze it blows more, and breaks less than all the other trees. 

And in that living, growing tree you see a piece of something half forgotten. It might be a smile – just a dimple, even – a phrase, or half a sentence, the words so familiar yet you had forgotten who had said it… In my tree I see pumpkins. I know a boy who saw a bear hug, and one girl who saw herself – so much younger, and oh, so loved. One man saw dog tags in his tree. I think my mother saw pianos, and some cinnamon cookies. Sometimes there is just one tree – sometimes there is an orchard: stone angels shaded by these giant, shining trees.

But in their diversity, all are the same in one thing – truly only one.

They are All So Alive.

One Day – Avenging Fear

One day we will see.

One day we will all see the kind of loyalty we could have shown to each other on this day. One day we will see the sympathy that we could have given to those who held our lives in their hands – those who could leave our children orphans, and our lovers widowed. We will see the graciousness and the kindness that we could have shown them. One day we will see how much of the pain we caused – and how much of that pain was caused by fear.

Because every man could leave my lover widowed, any man could leave my children orphaned. Any human any day could send my parents childless to their death. For all men can do the horrors that we fear. Any one person could bring down the death and pain and torture that we don’t allow to creep into our waking minds, and stumble on and choke on in our dreams. But they will do those things most who feel they have been endangered, or who feel that they are justified.

But who but God can justly sentence hell? And what but hell has any man to fear? We kill who are afraid of being killed. We kill who feel that killing is deserved. We hurt who are afraid of being hurt. We hurt who think that hurting is our right. We torment who feel we first have been tormented.

But all have fallen short, and every man is tormented alone.

Somehow, each one will face a pain that tries to take his life. If it is justice then to visit pain upon another, what will happen then? If all are justified in causing pain then who will not be flayed? When hands of fear take hold in hurting hearts what will those creatures then submit another person to? We are a broken and a fallen people. If we destroy when we fear our destruction, if we avenge another man’s vengeance, who will stand when sunset comes? and with it, who will rise?

No one. No one will live that day. Because when we are frightened – we become something to fear. When we avenge our actions will require avenging.
Someday… someone… somewhere… it has to end.
Some day we will all see. One day we will all see the kind of loyalty we could have shown to one another on this day. The sympathy we could have given to those widowed, orphaned, tortured fools – who held our lives in their hands. We will see the graciousness and kindness that we could have shown to them.