Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013: Unbroken enough

My refrigerator is broken. A year ago, I reported on its state of disrepair. And now, well, it's still kinda broken. I called the repair guy way back when, who came out, fiddled around for a minute or ten, turned the temperature dial inside a notch or two and charged me a bazillion dollars.

I swear I had fiddled with that dial all on my own. Apparently, I have no patience and the refrigerator does not respond instantaneously. And now, it's (apparently) still not entirely repaired. These days, it's runnning a little too cold. Sometimes, the spinach devolops a few ice crystals and the strawberries are a tiny bit frozen. I will say, everything keeps a little lomger, which is good.

All that said, I am afraid to fiddle with the stupid (read: malevolent and capricious) dial again. I am not quite sure that my refrigerator will not stick out its metaphorical tongue at me and give up the ghost. So, I put up with a mostly unbroken refrigerator and let the vinaigrette breathe a bit before dressing my salad.

Mostly unbroken, just like, well-- me.

Of good God. Did I just write that?  Oh lord; I do believe I did.

*waits a minute, one eye shut, the other squinting upward, ready for the bolt of lightening from above*

*waits another minute, ready for the earth to open up and swallow me whole*

*breathes again*
*stands up straight*

Yup. Me. Mostly unbroken.

Who'd'a thunk it?

It feels as if I have spent most of  life feeling broken. Mostly broken. Shattered at times. Damaged and disconnected and less than. I have been haunted by demons and the ghosts in my head, their voices whispering lies and howling contempt.

I have believed every single one of them.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to drown them out. I hid inside a bottle for a couple of decades, and, even in the midst of my drinking, when that didn't work (because it never worked, not once) I grasped other straws of self destriction. Pick one. Any one. It didn't matter. I'd use anything I could find, any easy, path-of-least resistance way that would shut those voices up, lock them away. Fix me. Make me whole.

It never worked. Ever.  All it did was feed those demons, who tore at me ceaselessly, who broke me and battered me and roared in their triumph.

I am grateful beyond belief for my sobriety.

I spent way too much time listening for those seductive whispers, straining to hear the pale voices of brokenness and damage. Even sober. Even sober, I was so used to being broken, had learned the lesson of their lies all too well.  It was so much easier to believe in my brokenness.

But I was released! I was freed from that tiny universe of one, a locked box prison that kept out light and hope. Suddenly, I could move-- leap and twirl and dance. And there was you, every single one of you, who taught me how to live a day at a time (an hour, a breath, a heartbeat at a time).

There was life, full and vibrant and messy and painful, joyous and boring and profound. And love; God, there was love! And hope. After a lifetime of numbness, there was hope at last.

Still, even then, sober and learning and feeling after an eternity of numbness and ice, still I carried my brokenness with me, and I listened for the voices only I could hear. It was getting harder to do, though. The strain was getting wearisome; the shattered and broken bits of me that I clung to were becoming unbearably heavy. I longed to put them all down. Mostly. In theory. I am stubborn and crave the comfort I find in the familiar. But I could try, maybe. I could trust-- that I could be made whole, even a little bit at a time. A day, an hour, a breath, a heartbeat. I could believe, maybe just enough, that there was hope and grace, even for me.

Life is messy beyond belief, and full. It holds everything-- absolutely everything. I am humbled by its bounties, graced by its blessings. It is not all good, mind you, not all sunshine and roses. There is death and sadness, loss, disappointment. It is, after all, life.

And maybe, just maybe, not all at once, but little by little, I will lay my brokenness down. I will let those pieces fall by the wayside, slipping through my fingers and I will not feel their loss like a sharp absence. Perhaps I will let them lay where they fall, and I will walk on, lighter. Less broken by one (and then another and another), so that one day, one glorious day, filled to overflowing with gratitude and blessings, on that unimaginable day, I would realize, in the fullness of life--

I am, mostly, unbroken. I am forever, grateful.

Merry Thanksgiving to all. May we all find healing and grace to lay down our own bits of brokeness. Blessings of light and love, enough to fill the world. Thank you, God, for the gift of wonder and joy, and the miracle of hope.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Unseen Edges

I do not feel
My body.
That is--
The outlines of it,
or the inroads
That thread through me
From somewhere unseen
To the edges that end
Beyond some internal event horizon.

There is wind, though,
That dances along my skin.

I do not feel
My body.
I do not feel
The suddenness of ice
That slips upwards,
Pools inwards,
In an absolute zero of fear.
I do not feel
The scattered grit of despair
and grief,
The corrosive grinding against
My heart
that leaches away light
And hope.
I do not feel.

I will not.

There is wind, though,
That dances along my skin.

I do not feel
I will not feel
my body.
There is no contraction,
No breathlessness,
No searing absence
Nor pulsing,
tidal loss.

There is wind,though,
That dances along my skin,
Still carrying the scent
Of you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I am terrified of ladders.
It is not the going up--
the ascent,
the rickety step up
on tiny see-through slats,
slats you can see through from here
to next Tuesday,
to Heaven and back.
I am not interested in
the view from Heaven.

I am not interested in the view from Tuesday.
Today is struggle enough.

It is not the up-ended feeling
of ungainly-
uncertain ascent,
nor the straight-edged precision
of the death-gripped
tentative step
with its trickster promise of
and solid ground to come.

Down is done backwards
(done sometimes in heels),
and that last step is more question than answer.

I am terrified of ladders
and their rickety
traveling Up,
with no rest before
A constant struggle
to balance
against the ceaseless flow
of feathers and

infinitely easier--
to wrestle with the ground
and Myself.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Night of Fire and Glass - for Kristalnacht

Eighty years ago, the Nazis marched through the streets of Germany and Austria, attacking Jews, smashing windows of Jewish-owned stores, destroying synagogues, ransacking homes and hospitals, burning books and Torahs.  For two days, Jews were terrorized, beaten and arrested and sent to concentration camps while the government looked on.  When it was over, 91 people had been murdered, 30,000 had been arrested and sent to camps, more than 1000 synagogues had been burned and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses had been destroyed.  After two days of rioting, the Jewish community was fined $1 billion reichsmarks.

How can we possibly speak of such unspeakable horrors, of such hatred and violence and inhumanity, that happened so long ago?  How can we possibly find the words?

How can we not?

Two weeks ago, on Saturday morning near the end of October, 11 Jews went to synagogue to pray, to come together as a community, to celebrate Shabbat. They were murdered, gunned down by a man who would have been very much at home during the horrors of Kristalnacht.

We find the words because we must., Because even eighty years later - eighty - the rage and hatred rise up and burn down everything in it's path. We find the words, we tell the story, and we remember.

We do, because this must never happen again, to anyone, to any people, in any land.  We find the words, and so we say: amen

Words for Kristalnacht
09-10 November 1938

Stars littered the ground
Crystal fire
Shards of ice

The smoke of a thousand thousand years
Coiling upwards, twisted
With the memory of a People
Chosen once in light
Chosen again
In darkness
In ashes and in blood

Pounding rhythms shout out
Felt through their soles 
Driving forward, driving onward
Faster and faster and faster, and pulled forward
Pulled ever onward
In a rush, at a run, rippling in shadow
It invades your blood,
That rhythm,
That pulse,
That pull and push
That wraps ‘round your heart
In pounding and pulsing rhythms
That cradle your source
Your soul

The darkness swallows the cries
Of a thousand thousand lights
A thousand thousand years
A thousand thousand sighs
Of love
Of hope
Of God

Leaving only broken glass
And crystal fire
And glistening stars to lead us