An Orange and Grief, A Poem

I ate an orange

on the way to my parents house

last weekend; I placed the

peel on the rubber mat at my feet.

When I arrived, I asked:

“Where is the compost pile?”

Which is to say, I asked:

“Where does this peel go to be sewn

into the Mother?” (Having served

its nutritive purpose.) Is that what the

tornado asked when it picked her up and carried

her?

Did it know where she would be

sewn back into the Earth? It did so

violently.

I punctured the orange peel, but with

a gentle thumbnail.

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What Makes a Good Life?

Breathing, sitting, meditating, taking long Saturday naps. These are hazardous exercises, my friends. How so? Well, participate in this rebellion and one finds oneself asking alarming questions such as, Do I Like My Job?, Do The People In My Life Encourage Me?, Am I Working Too Hard?, How Long Has It Been Since I Sat Down to a Good Meal With Friends, or What Makes a Good Life?

The last question is delicious: What Makes a Good Life? What. Makes. A. Good. Life. It is a question that comes from deep in the girdle of ones being. Try and prescribe what the thinking mind calls “good” for life without consulting the body, mind, heart, and spirit, and end up with a schedule bursting at the seams, and yourself in the role of consumer. A prescription is unnecessary. Just listen. The travails and dead ends of every day are speaking into what makes and does not make your life good.

I write these words because My Life and I have been discussing this Good Life topic lately. Now in a full time position, but still working out part time commitments, and cultivating ethical habits at home (gardening/composting/recycling/actually cleaning stuff), I say to you, LIFE IS REAL BRUH. It is taxing, exhausting, and calling me to live from that girdle of being, and not settle for anything short of my Sat Nam (true self). Settling or compromising part of myself leads–as yet without fail–to frustration, internal conflict, and eventual disconnection from one or more of my core values (for help to identify your core values, click here). Those frustrations are redemption disguised for they catalyze this holy question: What Makes a Good Life?

 

 

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Raw & Real, Earth redeems us by calling our muchness to surface.

Friends, I say. Friends faces around a bonfire or dinner table, simultaneously remembering and creating. Hours on the couch with a kitten or cat, I declare, make a life gooooood. Legs curled under me and a soft blanket with a Madeleine L’Engle novel in hand. The smell of incense and the sensation of fingertips pressed into a sticky mat, hips rising in Adho Muka Svanasana. Meditation makes a Good Life, and the practice of Pranayama (channeling the inherent inner Life Force via breathing exercises). Vegan food, bought from ethical sources. Long conversations or silent walks around a lake. Toes on dirt, shovel playing with the layered compost pile. Throwing dry leaves into the air and watching them fall like glitter. Travel travel travel. Live music or listening to a song on Spotify that makes me weep as I hold my phone against my chest before I fall asleep. Exploration of the natural world is undoubtedly a pillar of a Good Life. Taking time to greet my own wide smile in the mirror before and after the day. Talking to young people about their authentic feelings and perceptions. Touching the skin of people who are old enough to wear it like soft cloth. Looking at baby hands and feet as they kick and learn to grab.

 

 

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You, Little One, make this a Good Life.

 

Sometimes not doing an activity, not making a commitment, or even cancelling one that is already made, is the path to a Good Life. Turning off the television or current video playing on your phone ALWAYS leads to better life. These practices and experiences, sacred and most often simple, in addition to removal of that which lowers the quality of my life’s essence (TV, videos, too much work, “obligatory” social events), I have found to make A Good Life.

Ask and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. ~Jesus, our precious Jesus

Amen. Shanti.

Lydia Nomad

Ahimsa & My Ego

Heart ablaze again, guide me. You I consult in times of humility. You I live by, you my internal North Star. The Jesus before and after they spoke to me of him. You, preservation of my relationships, hope of my days. 

This week I said the most powerful and dreaded word in the English language. Never expected that from myself, consciously or by accident. As a believer (believer in Spirit, that is, the world inside our world, always conspiring to make itself known to the physical beings), a mistake of this kind leads to deep introspection. In fact, since getting suspended from my job, I have passed days almost entirely alone and in deep reflection. How did I get so out of touch with my heart that a word contrary to who I have worked to become, slipped, like any other word, across my lips? That is Spirit. That is Spirit asking for attention. True sign of my need to pay attention. To get woke anew already.

You see, waking up to the pain of those around us isn’t a one time thing. It is an evolutionary (gradual; see Everything is Spiritual for a deeper explanation of this idea) process. I cannot one day decide that I will abide by the revolutionary ideals of Jesus and stand against the system of domination and expect myself to….abide there from that day forward. That is uncomfortable territory. That is asking the ego to bow. That is tough shit.

Violence happens to humans everyday in the form of unkind or careless words and actions: all the grub and grime of a groaning and restless world. Our fears are the first application process, so to speak, through which that daily violent input must pass. Fear we encounter on the daily  is a disruption which can become either ego fodder or transformation fuel. Author Deborah Adele says that there are two kinds of fear: instinctual fear, for the sake of survival, and fear of the unfamiliar (The Yamas and Niyamas, 2009). Those of us who exist on the more posh side of life (a place to live, some food to eat, very few–if any–daily threats to security, health, and freedom) are prone to over-entertainment of the second kind of fear. (It goes all the way back to the Old Testament IMO, when they scaped those poor goats all the way to the wilderness with everybody’s adultery and disrespect and masturbation tied on its’ back; A live metaphor for the weight of human sin.) When humans have time and/or security, they seem to begin to react to fears (real or unreal, rational or irrational–ego food all the same), and inevitably accumulate guilt. Well….who is around to interrupt this fear and guilt cycle? Who trips us up when we walk in the pride caused by this treacherous consumption of fear? Them. People (especially those at or near the top of the food chain) like to pin guilt on them. The ones without fear. The ones who face fear number one and still have the nerve to stand on street corners asking for money. The ones who do the-thing-I-never-would and dare to continue living instead of melting into the dehumanizing guilt-puddle we expect. It’s yuck, but it’s human. Or, tragically, entire people groups scapegoat other entire people groups because of the truth they tell about history (see: Black Experience in America). Humans do this, and then the ego, if unaddressed by empathy (or equal parts suffering), laps that stuff up like a thirsty puppy, and, like a puppy, it grows. Then, perhaps, it bites.

The same day I am dismissed from work, I reach up to grab a book or two off the Black History Month shelf at Terry library, and for the first time, insecurity chases my hand back into my pocket. Racist, I hear the voice of accusation inside my head. What are you trying to cover up? 

The ego growls and I snarl to myself: the injustice of it! That my innocent action should be inhibited by a single misunderstanding. One accusation.

One accusation, not even voiced outright had me suspended in inaction and egoism.

Violence to fear. Violence reaps fear. If I refuse to scapegoat this insecurity grounded in fear, where does it go?

Transformation fuel. To quote Gary Zukav (The Seat of the Soul.), “…we are held responsible for our every action, thought and feeling, which is to say, for our every intention.” Pay by what you outsource to others, or pay by running your own transformation race. The choice is always ours.

I have found that my ego’s kryptonite is understanding. When I take the time to understand, I overcome violence in myself, and in my interactions with others by the power of peace and by lofty aspirations of Love. Understanding often leads me to tears; this time I can’t help reflect on how hurtful this me-centered attitude must have been over the course of these callous months, culminating in my utterance of that unfit word, to my minority friends, or friends living on the corner of gender and racial discrimination* in this often hateful society. I acted contrary to the magnificent Eastern value of Ahimsa; nonviolence, and thus, contrary to my deepest self. I can do better. We can do better.

One accusation, result of my mistake, shaved ounces off my ego. No wonder the African American community has offered the world countless humble artists, truth-tellers, and thundering prophets. How many accusations do they hear in a day, my brothers and sisters next door, yet so far away from me? Drunk. Lazy. Racist. Dumb. Inadequate. Inferior. The list goes on, for them and for our Native American kindred. May my white ego stop short, as those of my friends are forced to every time they leave their homes.

So much to learn, so much loving left to do.

Gratitude & Hope for Ahimsa,

Lydia Nomad

 

*For more on this idea of Intersectionality visit The Liturgists

 

I Can Laugh Again

There is a moment of my life that I will never stop writing about.

It is you, Jamal. You fiery young one, left alone in so many ways.

I find myself burning with the desire to write about those moments which cannot be written or comprehended: they cannot be anything more than marveled at, danced with.

Yet here I am, writing just like people write about one another, about pets and history and anatomy. We do not know. We are alive. We explore, either because we want to know, or because we are alive, or both. Only the people know why.

There is me, there was me, there was that moment. Then there is the power that moment has to touch today–two years later–and to shape the moments I have survived between those two: today, that day.

It was Love, that moment. I thought I knew something of God (or gods) then; now I know I do not. I attributed it to God then, that love, but today I know less of that day than I did then though I have gained much from it.

When I saw the vein in his neck protruding and his head hung and his arms slung around like he was trying to convince us to be against him though, really, he was begging someone to be for him when he could not be for himself.

As something or someone in me rose up to be that one, graciously, unconditionally, for him in a crowd of embarrassed scoffers, I experienced the inexplicable Love. I pushed in as he pushed against himself because I know what it is to be trapped and alone and have no idea which way would be a better way because this is all I know.

That love changed everything because I felt such a wave of grace, such bizarre empowerment, that from then on (skipping like a school girl with a jump rope from that day to this day to all the rest of my days) I knew that if Love is true you will not need it anymore when it goes.

True Love gives you something so that when it leaves, you will not ultimately doubt its goodness but will trust its infilling power and know that when it is just you with yourself again, you will have a bit more of you to face you with.

There will be moments that skip across your life like smooth stones on a river, they will touch you, change you, and you will find yourself in that unpredictable phenomenon.

Someone or something will move toward you and you will move toward someone else. That is called dancing, and it is born from and carried out by Love.

You are loved

and

you will come to Love you.

Tend-and-befriender

It is odd to tell a story as if it was a thing that happened and it has an end and tra la la. This story is a chapter, it is a leaf only recently flipped over, and I am not sure which parts of its’ green vines to write, and which to leave for later.

Yet today, here, now, all I have is cute little me and my inhospitable life story and path. Here, friends, is a part.

August 2015 I am in a restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama with my best friend Emily. She is chewing red and yellow tortilla chips in the magical way only she can, and I gaze at the shiny bottles of alcohol propped on and around the bar caddy-corner to us.

“I’m just afraid that I will marry him and go to be with him and then hate it and not want to be there,” I say. Emily and I do not talk about everything but we talk about most things and all the deep things, yet somehow there is a unique heaviness to the fear I share in this moment. Emily nods like the sane, level-headed being she is, and validates my concern with restraint.

Sadly, utter heaviness was no stranger to my experience of life then, and still maintains a fairly reliable presence (always forward, always healing, always hopeful). At that point I was back from an emotionally stressful overseas trip, and had returned with a new tend-and-befriender. What is that, you ask? Using language from Teresa B. Pasquale’s book Sacred Wounds, tend-and-befriend is a defense mechanism used by someone in survival mode or trauma response. It is associated with the bonding hormone, oxytocin, that serves humans by helping us feel connected to others. It becomes nefarious, however, when a person is stuck in a trauma response and feels dependent emotionally on (often potentially hurtful) people or communities.

At the age of 21, I had spent the majority of my life (read: every second) moving from a stress response. The emotional and religious trauma of my developmental years left me stuck in frozen distress (things can get reeeeeally hairy there is distress-arctica, let me tell ya), and there I was, about two months after the difficult trip, feeling a deep obligation to return to be with someone in a foreign country who had helped me through a VERY rough 13 days. I felt that I owed him something, and that to return and live the life I assumed he wanted from or with me was the undeniable right thing to do.

I felt it not on a spiritual level, nor on a level of dutifulness, nor on an intellectual level. It was deeper than those parts of me, and now I know that when I feel that deep, guttural obligation it is coming from my very evolution. Those stress responses are a part of me because I am a part of an evolving body of humanity; sounds beautiful, sure, but in that moment, I was very stuck. Living in this kind of stress response is like trying to breath with air that is only 0.09% oxygen. It is having your insides in the fetal position when you need them to open and flourish and say things and be responsive to people. It is a jack-hammer in your mind that leaves you vulnerable to re-experiencing the abuse combined with a sense of badness that stings and prods like horse flies on the beach. It is no sleep and avoidance of every love-light ray that comes near your personal darkness.

The religious trauma compounded with this process has continually led me to my knees, trying to bargain with push-and-pull gods off in the cosmos who made me, so must want me, but also must not want me since here I am in this turmoil again.

Thankfully, the kind man who helped me when I was overseas, lived, yes, overseas. After 5+ months in contact with him, I suddenly cut all conversation–text, calls, video. He offered advice and was kind and looking back I think he must have sensed the turmoil I was in though he did not understand it either, and I said goodbye.

January 2016 I am at my part-time cleaning job the day after cutting off the relationship and the air is back to 20% oxygen. Sweet, sweet clear oxygen filling my shriveled lungs. I lift my Pledge-covered rag over my head and dance; I feel elated, happy, for the first time in months. I am happy because I see that I am mine. As the jack-hammer lifts off my mind, I am thinking over and over: this is my life. I clean this house. This is my heart. I feel these things. The fetus my insides had become is suddenly a seed of new life, rather than a posture of protection. I am mine again, independent, and my muchness is slipping back into the ghost of myself that has been living misguided and drained for the past months.

I still wonder if people without an over-active stress response system feel that elated all the time. I wonder how many times I will have to survive a response like that again until my Holy Trinity (body, mind, soul) can look a stressful situation in the face and know that I am enough, and that it is going to be okay and I am going to make it regardless of what goes down.

I never should have accessed this place of stress and trauma. I certainly never should have gotten stuck in it for so long. But this is my life. MY super unique and immense life, people. I am grateful that I get to live it, know it, figure it out. This life is path and path is where my insides and outsides come together and I experience joy and love and laughter. Here, on path, I take the hands of my loved-ones with my own, even when I feel that my hands are not worthy to be inside of someone else’s.

Last week someone I love very much was angry and I could see the anger that she was trying to protect me from as I stroked her black hair.

I could see. I have lived. It has hurt. I can see.

Live free, live inside of the Big Love.

Namaste, nomads.

 

LN

 

 

 

 

Arise

Friends!

I find myself back in the United States, far north of Chile, and feeling closer to the North Star, my Jesus, my Guide to freedom. Home but not really home (I am a nomad, you see, a life time wanderer).

Below are three poems and 4 passages of Holy Scripture. Please embrace the figurative language of my pieces. I do not make attacks or write with intention of polarizing, I tell my story.

May you find your story in mine.

Lydia Nomad

 

Jesus: Does no one condemn you?

No, Master.

Jesus: Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, dont sin.

 

My Experience of Being White

 

To be white is to be told you are bad

to believe you are bad

to know you are bad

to protect your badness

to project your badness.

 

To be white is to bleed the same color as the sunset

to die like leaves in autumn

to be crushed and ground into the earth

to provide nourishment for new life.

 

To be white is to live again though you have died.

 

Lord, if you will, make me clean.

Jesus: I will; be clean.

 

Life

My life is short

but I am very good

so its okay.

 

Jesus: Your sins are forgiven you. Rise and walk.

 

Gospel?

Your sins are forgiven” is enough to be Gospel

when its the closest youve come to You are good.

 

Then God looked over all (S)he had made, and (S)he saw that it was very good!

 

 

 

Daughters

Awake. We woke up. You wake.

Do you remember how it feels? Remember last spring when we lifted the lid on limitation & found ourselves at the foot of God?

She was there in front of us, Grandmother Willow, all approving, mysterious, still, affectionate. Connective, there between us, the isolated ones.

Those lies we thought were truth we started to doubt & the doubt burst through: rays of hopeful sunshine on our white skin.

Now we remember again, Daughter. Those lies have been killing you; it wasn’t you like you thought. Look, now we are in a rush again, but it’s not to save our skin. It’s because there is SO MUCH. The end isn’t in sight and now we see that as Good News. We hesitated to think that Love Wins because if Love Wins there has to be an End and whose will it be?

But it won’t be anyone’s because it doesn’t.

Do you see how free we were made to be?

Give it up & receive it back. The sky above us only knows how much good we can hold. Pour it out, push back on the Lies until they burst; they’re not part of you anyway.

Abundance is written in the letters of Her holy tree-bark: I see your name there too.

There can be no wrong thing, no wrong creature, if every bit of it has been declared GOOD.

Until forever.

 

if you wish to survive
you will find the guide inside

(Nahko & Medicine For the People)

Today, I Go Forward

I came here for the victory.

I did not arrive a victim and I ask for nothing.

I came here to fight and to win.

When all I hear from the daily details is a tragic tale

I close my doors to let in the light; I run to pursue the Light.

Today it does not matter if I have once visited a place where it was safe to live with doors open.

It does not matter if there is someone out there who gives me the courage to live with open doors.

Today what matters is the victory I came here to gain.

Today I am alone, and mine is the victory.

As the pain is mine, so is the joy.

As the captivity is mine, so is the liberation.

 

These are the eyes through which I see the prisms in raindrops, the green glow of grass.

This is the body that carries me forward

today

I go forward.

Today I leave the irrelevant aches and envy behind.

 

Today I am alone and I am victorious.

Today is for victory so I sideline the sadness,

jump the starting gate,

and run the race only I can give myself permission

to win.

 

My doors are closed because I already have all that I need;

I will be inside until I find it.

 

There are days when it does not matter who you love

where you have been

what you have done.

All that matters is this path, these words, finding

the strength to travel light

towards the Light.

It does not matter if someone loves you

or if for now you are alone.

Keep going.

The light is yours.

You are the light.

 

A veces no te queda esperanza. 

A veces no hay tiempo ni espacio para un plan.

A veces corres sin mirar hacia atrás.

A veces sigues adelante sin platicar o quejarte.

A veces sobrevives para que un día, prosperes.

La luz es tuya.

Eres la luz.

Ser She Ahora

As am I

So are you:

Good.

Como soy,

igual eres:

buena.

She is trying to grow and learn.

She is a deep mystery.

She is imperfect and young.

She is a delight.

Ella intenta a crecer, a aprender.

Ella es un misterio profundo.

Ella no es perfecta, ella es joven.

Ella es una maravilla.

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My cup of coffee, the leaves of big trees all around,

the fear between us that we both understand

because we are women

in a world we adore

set to destroy us.

Mi taza de café, las hojas de los árboles en su jardín, el miedo entre nosotras el cual entendemos bien

porque somos mujeres

en el mundo que adoramos

y que nos intenta a destruir.

 

12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].~1 Corinthians 13:12, Amplified Bible

Nuestros conocimientos son ahora muy limitados, como si estuviéramos viendo una figura en un espejo defectuoso; pero un día veremos las cosas como son, cara a cara. Mis conocimientos son ahora imperfectos, pero en aquel día podré conocer tal y como Ella me conoce a mí~1 Corintios 13:12, NBD

Beauty & Sexuality

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The story of why I cut my hair starts with yesterday (the seed of today):

Yesterday I experienced & incarnated Divine beauty. The invitation went something like this:

touch some sacred places within you and know that you are profoundly gorgeous.

You are woman: wondrously alive and unified with the Earth.

 

That was yesterday.

 

Today I hear afresh the bullhorn of unjust division between men & women, along with a

gospel of mutual objectification. Corruption crawls in one side of my psyche and the

beauty that was the gospel of yesterday becomes a ball and chain–a temple of limitation soaked in the blood

of everyone whose hair isn’t blonde and whose chest isn’t robust.

 

What this new (to me) culture called my kingdom quickly became an instrument of handicap. The reduction of my being into a body, a butt, blonde hair, chafed at me–rubbing me raw. I

felt myself turning on a spit amidst jeering humans with balls & chains of their owns. Pieces

of my flesh dripped grease into the fire as they pulled me apart–nothing but a morsel on their tongues. Women worldwide are seen (and see ourselves) as consumables; my race cut in two like the skin we all rip to enter this world

The same charade plays in my country, but new perspective brings fresh heart break, and a

hunt for Divine invitation here: (the way, Truth, and life of) how to evolve.

 

….Jesus showed me the face of ardent rebellion: women who have been in this fight longer

than I. My classmate with cropped hair under a boys cap, accustomed to the jeers yet still

fiercely female, playing for years with no checkmate, she called me wordlessly to leave my

own kingdom of beauty behind.

 

My soul heard hers call me out of the enemy’s bed, into the rebellion. I jumped. I blinked and

knew that what I did had been essential: that there are no exceptions, no part of me that can

maintain allegiance to the lies. There is no looking back. There is life and death and I choose LIFE.

Life with the side-lined. Outcasts. Humbled Ones. Marginalized. Homeless. Single Mothers. First Nations. Scapegoats of our societies. Fortresses in my own soul.  Life against the odds.

 

I choose to fight relentlessly against sexist, racist, dehumanizing ideologies while loving

radically those who hold to them.

 

As one being we long for freedom.

We long as one because we came from One & are journeying together.

Redemption is written into every story;

I learned from this jump that my sexuality is more than an act or a crass word. My sexuality is

a fierce desire to survive, to evolve for the sake of abundant life in any context.

 

This haircut is the external symbol of my internal evolution: this is Truth incarnate.

 

The Lord lives and blessed be my rock and exalted be the God of my salvation….yes, you have exalted me above those who rose against me; you rescued me from the man of violence. *Psalm 18:46 & 48b*

 

¿Porqué corté mi pelo?

Hay dos partes en la historia: la belleza y mi sexualidad.

Cuando me mudé a temuco, chile de una pequeña ciudad en el sur de los estados unidos me di cuenta de una división muy profunda entre los géneros. Una división en la cual mis lágrimas nadaban porque de la pena de estar vista sólo como un cuerpo: pelo rubio y nada más. Me sentía como un objeto como resultado de la diferencia entre esta cultura y la mía. No es peor acá, simplemente es diferente y más fuerte y me costó cuando caminaba por las calles y escuchaba las voces de trabajadores y hombres normales.

Me sentía como carne en un circulo de hombres con hambre, con ganas comer lo que soy. Pide a mi Dios(a) una perspectiva nueva, una manera para sobrevivir y evolucionar en este contexto nuevo. No pude creer (ni quería creerlo) que mi sexualidad podía ser nada más que un acto, que dibujos y fotos encontradas en el internet.

Entonces vi una compañera de mi clase y su pelo cortito me inspiró: ella luchaba en esta guerra antes de mi tiempo acá y ella tenía la sabiduría y la fuerza mantener su propio estilo sin tener en cuenta las opiniones tristes y malas. Sabía que seguir su ejemplo valiente era mi senda, el próximo paso en mi evolución personal. Así corté mi pelo.

Unas personas no me han respetado desde lo corté y la mayoría no han entendido. Pero hay un poco…un grupo pequeño que me apoyaba, que entendía, y ellos cambiarán esta cultura, este mundo. Porque sus mentes están abierta, sus corazones están suave y porque siempre eligen la esperanza y la libertad personal y no pierden una oportunidad de ver por los ojos de una otra persona.

Si no seguimos luchando, creyendo, esperando un mundo mejor, viviremos sin la energía divina que es necesario para disfrutar llenamente cada día de nuestras vidas maravillosas.

Lucharé contra ideologías deshumanizadoras sin recreo pero amaré a la gente quien cree en esas ideologías radicalmente; es posible hacer los dos al mismo tiempo, lo sé.

 

Por mas difícil que sea un objetivo, siempre exista una manera de superar los obstáculos….Si permanece esperando el momento ideal, nunca saldrá del lugar; es preciso un poco de locura para dar el próximo paso. El guerrero usa un poco de locura. Porque en la guerra y en el amor, no es posible preverlo todo.
*Paulo Coehlo, Manual del guerrero de la luz*

 

¡El Señor vive! ¡Alabada sea mi roca!
    ¡Exaltado sea Dios mi Salvador!
Tú me libras del furor de mis enemigos,
me exaltas por encima de mis adversarios,
    me salvas de los hombres violentos. *Salmo 18:46 & 48b*