Kaleidoscope

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Melbourne is steeped in winter at the moment. Her usual elegant lightness is weighed down with cold, her toes wet from the rain and dew. The mist that covers her is refreshing even as it is depressing. You can feel her heartbeat slowing down when you get up in the morning. You want to stay longer snuggled up with your duvets and pillows. She doesn’t seem to mind.

There is something about Melbourne winters. They remind me of the first time I moved here – the strangeness of the days I spent trying to woo her heart, trying so hard to make her fall in love with me. But there is a mysterious magic to falling in love, isn’t there? A mystery because we never quite know when, where or how it will happen. I like when it happens with someone I know. Someone whose heart I have learned and memorised as my own and then one day as I’m sipping hot chocolate with my fingers delicately curled around the mug, I feel everything in me pulling towards the person. It is quiet and strong. The realisation of a love that has been building from day one.

I’m cold every day in winter. My fingers are desperate for autumn and so is my heart. Both always seem so dazed by the cold. As though it doesn’t come every year. I smile watching them because it amuses me and endears them to me. My own being becomes something to encounter, as though discovering it for the very first time. And I swear the nostalgia that fills my heart is like a ball of fire. It should keep me warm all through winter.

And you. I have been thinking of you.

Often when I write I want to say something meaningful to you. I always want to leave words that you can wrap around yourself and know you are loved. And important, and special. I always want to pour my whole being onto the page so when you cradle it between your fingers feeling for its texture you can feel me too. That is the only way I know how to write. I am becoming comfortable in this skin. And I want you to be comfortable with this too. With me. I haven’t said thank you in a long time. The other day I sat down and thought about each one of you behind the names and numbers I see on the computer screen. Real people. And I was grateful that you are here. That you read me.

I remember when I started and I had 3 readers, 2 were my relatives. So know that I am gushing over you. That I pray for you. And that I need you. It is a scary thing to need people you have never met before but if you have been reading me for a while you know I am not afraid of scary things so I will say it as it is: I need you.

Being properly human is a big deal to me. The words and their intent grace the preamble of this blog. I live by those words. They hold together such a simple concept yet it is the hardest thing to put into practice. We can’t hide our humanity. It is something we carry with us no matter where we go. And so all I’m saying is why do we go all out to be the best at everything else but this?

“You don’t find a person being lauded for just being a human. There is no pat on the back for just trying your best to be one”said my best friend the other day. And she is right. But here, in this space, this is what we do. We laud each other for just being human. We pat each other on the back.

I struggle too. Like you, I do.

Right now I am re-drafting my PhD dissertation and it is painful. The stretching of the work is like being pulled to the limits. PhDs are like that. They pull taut every part of you that has feeling. I stand facing my fears about finishing, about writing a good dissertation, about the future after I close all my academic books and this journey ends. I am terrified.

Yet there is something breathtakingly beautiful about seasons where you are on the floor huddling yourself, these seasons of winter…they pass. And we grow from what they leave behind. We rise again. And the next time that season comes around we do it better. This is what it means to be properly human – the always reaching for the stars without forgetting the ones we already hold in our hands. This is a phenomenal skill. But it is crafted quietly and slowly through the way we live our life every day.

This winter is brewing things in me. I feel like a kaleidoscope. Sometimes I have moments of sheer awe with splashes of colour and other moments are filled with absolute terror. But when you undress this whole thing it really is very simple for me: I just want to love human beings. I am a big softie and I am at my best when I am loving someone or something. It is the core of me. And so when I grow up I want to give a love that is amazing.

And maybe when I die someone will say:

Wow. To be loved by her was an extraordinary thing.

 

Friday shots: a person

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What makes a person special?

Is it the way the unique molecules collect together to form the individuality?

Or is it the reflection of us in them we see?

Or perhaps the way the person’s life intersects with our own?

If it is anything real, specialness is often unquantifiable. It walks into another’s life and the whole atmosphere reconstructs. And what used to be impossible emerges into the real.

A person can bring you back. Back to the place where you function from the whole. Back to the beginning and the end. Back to God. A person can pull the strings back for you, gathering all the parts of you and handing them back to you. With everything afar and inbetween, the person stays and loves you through the hard bits. The person brings you back.

This, is a special person.

Friday shots: Maya Angelou

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All the words have been taken. Hung up in gratitude and memory of you.

Emotion captured in perfect prose and rhyme.

There is naught left to say. For a girl like me who starry eyed looks upon those who tread the places you trod. A girl like me who craddles words like jackets in winter. The bread of the earth that fills her belly.

I think of your body now. The one you carried and the one you put down. So much history carved right into the skin, engraved for all to remember, to never forget.

It makes me want to settle closer into my own body. To pick up all the parts of me and lovingly notice them; eyes, legs, hair, hands, fingers…

It makes me want to be a woman…a phenomenal woman.

I hope my work offers, to someone else, the same kind of light that you have given. So they will follow the pulse. And we can keep the chain unbroken.

Friday shots: treasures

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I love the way you look at me. As though there is something magical behind my big, brown eyes that only you can see.

You search deep down. Reaching for the furthest place your hands can touch. And you pull it out.

You pull out treasures. In gold shimmerings and richness of history. Each soaked in a story so thick it drips to the page.

How could I have known I was a home to these beautiful of old and new things – treasures of gold and silver linings?

You reach inside of me and pull them out.

You know the beauty that lives in every part of me.

This is friendship. And you, my dear, a true friend.

How does the girl begin to value herself?

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‘What you are looking for is acceptance’ she said, in a still, sure voice.

The words reached my heart before I could hear them with my ears. It made sense. It all made sense. The mumbled oceans of emotions and feelings I had tried to name in a million other syllables and metaphors all collected in the mesh of this one word – acceptance.

I was sitting in my counsellor’s office, with my body tucked underneath me. She has this huge window through which the sky pours itself right into the room and it feels like the world has opened up even when it is closed shut.

I love that window.

I can sit there and be aware of the tiniest things like the hairs on my body breathing even as I can see the sky change shape and form. It’s like being everything all at once.

But we don’t believe we can be that, do we? We don’t believe we can be everything, especially to ourselves. We pick and peel at ourselves and try to scab the sediments off our skin. Use any force necessary demands the memo that goes out to the rest of our being.

Maybe I am the worst human at this, the worst girl at slicing herself. The catastrophe of this is not that I am an amazing person. It is that I am a valuable human. And person. I just never truly believed it. The impact of that truth never found soft ground in me. I scattered my value to the four winds the day I stepped out of frame. I went looking for acceptance in all the wrong places. I wanted the world to tell me just how significant I am. I really wanted to hear it from the masses. I wanted it to reflect in my once-upon-a-time Facebook LIKES and Twitter feed.

I also went looking for it in the one-on-ones I have with people. And because I was hell-bent on finding it, all I saw were the ways it was not there. My focus was often on the wrong thing – the wanting to be declared a worthy being by another. This has its place in human relationships, for sure, but it is also completely dangerous to leave all of it in the hands of clay that is also being shaped…lest we form each other into hideous things.

Our desire to be valued and accepted is a perfectly normal human need. But the world teaches us to come out in full force with batons to beat this need down. Down, down where no one can see it. We are also not really taught how to handle this powerful need in a way that is healthy for our hearts. Instead we stitch titles to our sleeves that begin with needy, shameful and all the their synonym cousins.

To come to grips with this need, we start from where it hurts. We go there. We look. We see where that stuff is coming from. We take it back. And maybe we ask the question I asked: how does the girl begin to value herself?

And maybe we will find the same answer I found: through gratitude.

The rich arches of life truly are in the bounty of seeing grace where there is grace. And this is what a grateful heart does. It looks to find the grace and goodness that is already there. And builds a relationships with that goodness. Holding oneself tenderly and lovingly within one’s own embrace in the same way we do for other human beings.

Being valued is no small matter. But it has to start in our front yard, in our living-rooms and backrooms. We have to value ourselves. I submit to you that you cannot act properly human with another human if you withhold the same acts of loving kindness from yourself. You may be able to keep it up for a while but eventually it unravels and resentment comes to live in your rooms.

So don’t neglect you. Thank God for you, for the heart that beats in your chest, for your wonderful strengths and the things you did well today.

I will be doing the same.

Surrender

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Some things, some moments are simply too sacred to reduce to syllables & words. Too precious to gather together in a net of phrases & sentences. Instead, they ought to be breathed in, to be allowed to settle into us. For they are the groans & utterances of our inner most being – those things we know not how to say or give account of. We only know that we know & this reality alone convicts us of their existence & of our own, convicts us of our frame & flesh.

But I find myself wanting to explain these moments to you & to myself. I find myself wanting to mesh a net together that will catch every speck, every drop, every breath of life that lives in these moments.

I want to describe the last 10 days. I want to analyse & cut open & poke…again & again & again until I come to some semblance of a story that I can feel & handle in my hands, tangible & hot. This want rises up in me like an overwhelming tide. Part of this urgent desperation is driven by nostalgia, the other part, by fear. A year from now, will I remember these moments? Will my breath catch in my chest at the magnitude & depth of them? At the mere thought of them?

I don’t want to let go. I want to hold on.

But there are no words to immortalise this time or the me that is reflecting back when I look in the mirror of my soul. Everything is at sea, swimming over each other, cascading & falling into a pit of overflow.

My small hands cannot hold this over abundance.

My vocabulary is limited.

My pen, inexperienced.

The only thing meaningful left to do is Surrender, body, heart & soul. To stop wanting to memorize every freckle of this. To trust that it is all part of me, right into the muscles & bones of me, forever changing the fabric of my being;

To walk on ahead with courage knowing that God will move for me;

To be still in this wanting & needing because He will send His angels at just the right time, even to the very second. No sooner, no later.

There is hope unfathomable. The kind that shines brightly behind thick, dark clouds; the kind that is breathtaking & true because it is wound up in Him who created it & has reign over it.

I can rest in that. I can truly, truly rest in that. & so can you.

 

Monday thoughts & my love for you

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The day ran away from me. I didn’t see it come & go. I got lost somewhere in the middle. & maybe, just maybe this is exactly where I need to be today. Neither here nor there but suspended in between not knowing which direction to pull.

I want the things I like; the things I value; the lovely things that make me feel on top of the world. & those things which I don’t like, the things that reflect back my inconsistencies & failings…those I try to push far away. I’m a tender, vulnerable soul & on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m an 8. But even then, don’t give me vulnerability on the days I want to be strong, on the days I want to soar the heights & conquer. I don’t like being vulnerable. I want it on my time, on my terms. Yes, you’d say that’s pretty normal. It’s a human thing. & I’m human after all.

I feel human today. I feel my flesh pressing in against me. mortal in all its parts.

This means I’m looking in the mirror & seeing all the parts of me that shifted out of place. I’m seeing all the ways my yet to be worked-out stuff is spilling onto the world & onto an unsuspecting public. I’m also seeing all the ways providence is showing up to re-align me. I tend to be rough but He is gentle & kind.

I’m getting the message loud & clear – the past breaks at today. When you walk away, you walk away. You just walk away. because it’s time to. As much as you want to hold on to the feel of it in your hands, that soft, familiar feel of things as they were.

But the past breaks the moment today arrives. in all the physical, elemental ways.

Sometimes you wonder how you could not have seen it – this blinding clarity of who you are. that your existence is not conditional upon somebody else’s. that the space you occupy in the world is meant just for you. that your light is not my light, nor mine yours. & I curse every notion, belief & environment that has taught us to think otherwise & to subtly swallow fragments of these foreign bodies.

I fell for it. again & again & again.

I thought I lacked the strength to fight. to be anything other than.

I’m just a girl. I don’t know how all this stuff works – this everyone is important stuff – especially in the midst of all the mess we create as people. I don’t know how this puzzle connects in perfect colour & completion. But I do know that at the basest of bases every human being has precious & valuable in them somewhere. Sometimes it sits dormant in us suppressed by all the reacting we have to do to the fall out of a world that is not quite beautiful or mature.

Your loveliness is intoxicating & keeps me coming back…

here.

This is the part where I stop glancing behind my shoulder & focus on you – to shower you with my love. In the form of gratitude, to you, who walks into my space & meets me on this page. You allow me to work myself out in this arena. & you are witness to my undoing & my being stitched up again, my growth & metamorphosis. You are catalyst to the clarity that is ever expanding.

You are valued & treasured by this…this girl with big, bright eyes & a searching heart.

I hope my love meets you in a good & warm place today. & I can be for you what you are for me.

thank you.

 

Falling in awe

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Inspired.

With no sound for the words that fail to intelligently form. Your lungs gently lean into the sweet air that comes pouring into your chest. You are captivated. spellbound. mesmerized. by the awe in awesome.

There might only be a few things that take you to this place – this place of unbelievable wonder. Life is not full of these magical things & moments. You don’t step out of your house & a unicorn greets you & whizzes you away to fairyland.  Instead we wake up to do ordinary things – making the bed, making breakfast, going to work, laundry, school work & the list is endless. & so we are inbred with this notion that life happens when we are on the A-list of something or on top of our game & that everything else that does not resemble this is an imitation, a sorry excuse for a life. Without intending to, we rear shame in our hearts because fireworks are not constantly going off in our lives. We are not winning business mergers, travelling the world or writing best sellers on a daily basis.

On the contrary, we are meeting the same people on the bus every day. We are staring our loved ones in the face every day. We are waking up alive & well every day.  I often wonder, how can we not show enthusiasm for these beautiful things that happen every day?

Because I am guilty as charged, for the last 3 or so years I have been on a mission to find meaning in the everyday mundane. It bothered me that I woke up every day holding out for the next day desperately hoping that something big would happen; that I would be discovered as a budding writer, sign with an agent & write a bestseller; that I would finally meet the one who would single handedly charm me to pieces & we would get married & spend an eternity together. But none of those things have happened. Not yet anyway.  Thank God, I woke up one day & decided I was going to live better. I was going to make every day meaningful, lovely & full of awe. The work continues to challenge & humble me.

On the surface the everyday seems monotonous & it is. But there is also a beauty present in the moments of each life as it ticks away – every second of every minute is & can be special.

It begins with perspective. realizing the tremendous gift of life & being in your flesh & blood. & that the only reasonable response is gratitude. Gratitude. Not that our lives are perfect for they will never truly be but that we have the opportunity to be here & make something of ourselves. to create beauty. of our lives.

It’s much more than living in the moment. It is hitching your wagon to a constant. & for me that constant is God. It may be something else for you. It is “looking as though you never saw and then you see”; falling in awe with the way your body & being are wired together to make you who you are. a one of a kind person.

Every day is precious & we have to see it like that for this to work. I used to bundle all my days together. Now, I fall in awe day after day of the mercy, grace & favour that has captured my soul. I can’t help but respond. Now, I live each day like I mean it.

I won’t lie & tell you that doing this is all hunky dory because it’s not. But it gets better & easier as I consciously choose to live that way.

You need your mind, heart & soul ready to do work. Hands-on dirty work, but pleasing & fulfilling in ways that make you cradle yourself in love & compassion. This is where awe begins; the realisation that you are not enough on your own but at the same time, you are. You are. You are.