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!

 

 

 

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.

Lover Song

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Draw the silence out like a string from a ball of yarn.

The silence is where I see my dream most clearly:

you being God, filling me, inspiring me, and me loaning the space

I create to beloved sojourners: pilgrims who travel in and out of my environment.

They are attracted like moths to the gentle rays of peace and I am

an oasis; steady joy, hard work, laughter, space, nothing else.

Nothing less than what the world needs.

 

I want to walk without making a mark,

to speak my own Truth without hesitation

in nothing more than a whisper.

 

Just wait…

it all returns to simplicity in time.

I hear You saying, enjoy me.

I know that is all I want from this life and the next.

Nothing is worth the forfeit of this Peace,

so profound,

transcendent,

whole,

beyond words.

 

…I will spend my best days naming this unnameable Being.

This divine touch that is beyond

my language,

bigger than the human intellect,

more gentle

than the purr of a kitten,

or the press of a baby thumb nail.

 

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

Ode To My People

Ode To My People

 

Rationality is me seeing what I see

and not saying otherwise.

To say is to be brave;

for to say is to admit that you are not happy

in a system where the meter of your happiness provides true indication of belovedness.

 

This is the system of my heritage and it demands Truth or belovedness, but finds their coexistence to be

a confounding impossiblity.

 

If this system is true

then I am unloved and unhappy,

(though I often feel both loved and happy)

because this is what I see and must speak:

 

Dehumanizing declarations made at Thanksgiving and families move yet further away from unity

Original land owners herded like cattle and eighteen year olds commit suicide on the eve of high school graduation

Women with ebony eyes disappear along with elephants and no one says if either one is important

New neighbors forced into corners of lives spent with hands red and bruised from tearing frozen

chicken breasts

 

Little feet and necks swell with flesh and with every click Coca-Cola makes millions

Men have bad dreams of the children they killed beneath a red flag

Ebenezer Scrooge lives in privileged pockets, sewn with the blood of Taiwanese factory workers,

just $7.99 at Old Navy

The final chapter of the Biology textbook goes untaught and lives of girls without options

grind to a halt

Twelve year olds are hustled across state borders like sacks of cocaine

Girls are touched in taxis and under tablecloths

Boys get shot in the street

 

Candy wrappers fly out of open windows and choke sea turtles

Concrete eats the grass

Earth´s belly heats up and casts religious people out of their homelands

Ice melts and Santa Claus will show up soon; a wintery work shop disrobed by our insistence on a 66 degree house year around

Regions suitable for cultivating vineyards move from North to South and still the planet is unchanging;

She is wrong about her own health

 

Irrationality is expecting the blind to see

the way I see.

 

Sight is a gift:

a gift that weighs on souls,

shaking the burden too long left on the shoulders of the beloved Underdog:

firstborn of the Christ.

 

This is the system of my heritage and it demands Truth or belovedness; but I dance

in their coexistence.

Truth is, I find myself beloved.

 

Woe to you!….For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)

Woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:24-26)

Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways. (Luke 3:5)

 

 

 

 

 

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*

 

 

 

 

I Am & I Hope

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Born to be creative, freed by the Truth to pursue life in the trails I blaze through this globe-jungle.

Who am I? is a question I ask myself every day and then smile at the obstinate refusalof my soul to respond simply. I am not simple. I am big. I am not defined by the color of my skin, by my heritage, by what I know or do not know, experience or do not experience. I am me, I am. I am lost in I AM. I am a wide network of dynamic relationships, ideas, and memories. I will not be stifled. I am gratitude and I am the tears of the ones I love.

I spend my days in expectation of the unspeakable Divinity which is faithful to bestow a timely spark on my dry wood. Then, as ashes, my substance travels the invisible current of our atmosphere to the wildest corners of our world; may I land where hope is needed and may I be loyal to her, Hope, the North Star of my very being.

I bow my head to the women whose voices are strengthening me, whose hard-earned beliefs keep me company, keep me grounded in the soil of my God & teach me that I am never away from my loved ones, nor am I ever unloved.

Enjoy the quotes, friends. Thanks for reading.

Lydia Nomad

 

I once heard that there is enough food in the world to feed all the hungry children. It is not a lack of resources; it is simply a lack of will. When I think about what I have hoarded or held onto because of fear, it causes me great grief. I want to walk, eat, pack, and work with an open and trusting heart. For I have learned that when my heart is open to the world, my vision is transformed, and I am able to see family where I once saw strangers and opportunities to heal where I once saw obstacles to joy. –Becca Stevens

 

We have been treating the earth as if it were a supply house and a sewer. Weve been  grabbing, extracting resources from it for our cars and our hair dryers and our bombs and we have been pouring the waste into it until it is overflowing. But our earth is not a supply house and a sewer. It is our larger body. We breath it, we taste it, we are it, and it is time now that we venerate that incredible flowering of life that takes every aspect of our physicality.–Joanna Macy

 

“No hay paz sin justicia,

no hay justicia sin equidad,

no hay equidad sin desarrollo,

no hay desarrollo sin democracia,

no hay democracia sin respeto a la identidad y

dignidad de las culturas y los pueblos”.–Rigoberta Menchú

 

 

Loverfly

Fam!

In all honesty, I am a little embarassed that it has been almost a month since I posted. However, I have been listening to some lovely lady voices (Naomi Shihab Nye, The Indigo Girls, Regina Spektor, Audrey Assad, to name a few) & now find myself living in the Southern hemisphere for a while. A city in central Chile called Temuco is my current home. It is terrifying and enchanting to be here but the journey and settling in process could not have gone any smoother.

In the moments when everything, from the city streets, to the food, to the curtains and the bed where I sleep seems foreign and I become overwhelmed, these words have been an oar I use to paddle my way forward*:

By the light of day and by the dark of night your God has not forgotten you || Quran Daylight 93.1

&

Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you. || Psalm 116:7

Sometimes the most difficult of big journeys (or just big changes) require me to sit, to return to silence, and remember God is not mad at me. I am not in trouble. It is all a gift to be enjoyed. And most important, and most difficult for me to believe, it all has a purpose. I have purpose.

Silence is the language of God, everything else is poor translation. || Rumi

It is interesting the internal furniture that is rearranged by travel. Sunday afternoon (my 5th day here) an old sorrow surfaced, like pieces of algea that ride the tips of ocean waves. It evoked a poem and a deep ache inside, connected to other aches. Pauline Boss says that the answer to human sadness is human connectedness (I have been listening to a lot of On Being with Krista Tippett, obviously) and I wonder if that is because sorrow touches every experience we have. Sadness is an ultimately integrated space and our interactions with others, those sweet moments when we touch and are touched, must be the only remedy broad and complex enough to greet the ache.

My liberation journey continues, now on a new continent. Dirt and sky, both ancient and savage, keep me company as I wait, breath, live one more day….yearning for gratitude, aching for new Life inside.

You, dear blog readers, always get the roughest, newest poetry. I hope you enjoy:

In a country new to me

I looked down and saw, for the first time,

the face of a miniature Chilean:

round, chapped cheeks and almond shaped eyes with dark brown fans for eyelashes.

I asked the unanswerable question: how does loving a child

make adopting an entire culture

that much easier?

 

Tucked away from the wind in the afternoon

one of the unanswerable questions I find is:

Why fall in love so often?

Why are humans so quick to embark on such a painful journey?

What foolhardy resilience are we busy cultivating

that we jump off the cliff time after time (to pursue cultures, experiences, people),

falling into something new with the old still all around us.

 

I keep this one love like dried beans in a secret, quiet place in my heart

where it is dry and cool

and where I don’t look very often;

I don’t know why.

It hurts to look, yet

for the sake of the future loves

I will be found taking the moments made for a look:

a gaze that is long and loving,

though he will never know.

It is the release of his thoughts of me,

of the white woman who came and went

without apology,

that simmers in me volcanously.

It is because he will never know, just as many who have loved me (of all genders and age) will never know,

that the purity and strength of their love was the fire under my feet.

Busy looking for what their love lacked,

they failed to see how love was all I needed

to keep healing, to move towards wholeness,

to walk the way of becoming just one step more.

I didn’t need anything more than what they had to give,

I couldn’t put a tidy bow or explanation on it because their love ran me out,

and what sense is that?

 

A whisper says, learn to not know

or understand,

because love leaves us speechless.

The profound nature of my desire to make it right

beats against my chest;

a silent kick drum against the part of me where I loved him, where I hold those tender memories.

Now the space between us is a chasm and there is no use asking it to decrease in breadth

because what would I say?

Still there is no sense,

only Love, a butterfly perched on my lips, where I smile anyway.

 

Ciao!

Lydia Nomad

 

*Naomi Shihab Nye, On Being with Krista Tippett, July 28, 2016

 

 

 

Poem Full of Hope

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She carries her cross, terrified and fully aware of surrounding and indwelling dissonance;

she knows she was made for more, a more she knows nothing of, which makes her ache with hope and agony.

 

Terrified, she treads deeper into the forest landscaped with fear and uncertainty.

She carries her cross because she needs more to live for.

 

Children who have yet to see the forest edge, for them she carries her cross.

While they can’t muster hope she, terrified, touches one more toe down.

 

She carries her cross, brown-eyed and unstable.

Terrified, the woman is Jesus, come back to lift the poor from the hopeless heaps we’ve put them in.