Reproductive Paradoxes

The article is titled: “New York passes Reproductive Health Act, updating Abortion Law.” Two days ago, legislation passed in New York to update abortion laws. The webpage shows politicians smiling as the Act is signed. It allows mothers to get abortions if the baby may not survive or if her own health is in danger.

I support it completely and would vote  “aye” were it to surface in my state (Arkansas–yeah right!). Yet it does not seem right that they smile. This is nothing to celebrate. This is legislation sopping up the blood of the deepest wounds of our country, our species. Commentary that I see from friends and family on social media about this new act, chills my blood, pricks my tear ducts. I feel us sink deeper into moral mire.

By my personal ethical code, it is not necessary that I agree with someone’s actions in order to believe that action should be legalized. (i.e. if you go to a strip club, I am in no rush to join you, but neither do I think it should be illegal to do so.)

 

I have been working with children in teaching, nurturing, and caregiving roles since my career began (more often than not the three roles are rolled into one position and hourly wage). I developed patience in the pool with board-stiff students holding their nose high above the water for fear. Trial and error as a substitute teacher in a handful of charter schools has taught me the importance of never yelling, always speaking clearly. Drinks spilled, crackers crushed are constant reminders to say, “be careful”, every chance I get.

Sensitive reactions to slight reprimands teach me the importance of wisely chosen words, and challenge me to remember how raw one feels as a teenager.

 

Ever since I began working with children I have been underpaid, stretched daily, blessed by the under aged. This abortion bill and the subsequent social fallout digs claws into my heart. I do not want to argue.

Actually, I want to sit alone and grieve.

 

You don’t want your children?

My bright students.

Joke-telling, snack-eating wonders.

These friends who bring laughter from within me on the worst days.

(Sometimes I leave my car crying, I never return to my car with tears in my eyes. Time with my students heals me.)

 

Awkward misspoken words (orgasm instead of organism). Untied shoes. Declarations of foosball war. Curls clinging to cheeks. Three day long crushes, recess chaos, and incessant petitions for cough drops during class. Bright eyes behind fogged-up glasses. Boys with long hair who are outraged at the suggestion of wearing a ponytail. Full belly laughter.

 

You don’t want them?

 

I see daily what is written on our children’s faces. (Yes, they are our children. I claim them. They need the secure stamp of approval and belonging. They are ours and we are theirs.) They are disheveled and hungry. They are sexually overstimulated and without guidance. They starve for one-on-one time. They are dying to be handed an honest belief system and are handed iPads and Netflix passwords instead. Some of our children die in the streets, or pimp themselves for food. Some of our children pass away while on long waiting lists for simple surgeries.

If we cannot care for the ones we have, why does God keep allowing us to have more? (Grace.)

What have we done to deserve them? (Nothing.)

Is a woman punished for doing with her body as she sees best? (God gave her the body–is God not trustworthy?)

 

You don’t want them?

 

(Then again, I do not want children of my own, and use 99.9% reliable methods to prevent it. If I were to get pregnant on that .9%, I don’t know what I would do. )

 

Yet every day, my professional life screams, “Give them to me!”

 

Mother Teresa said, “If you don’t want your children, give them to me!” And I love that…but I am not prepared to act on it–not outside of my 40-50 hour work week & the young folks that I mentor.

I feel these paradoxes in the marrow of my bones: Give me our children….do what one wants with ones’ body. Criticize not our neighbors….we are mutually responsible.

It amplifies my achy confusion; my heart echoes humanity´s mournful cries. The human family groans together with the earth as it carries the heaviness of our violence, our ego, the footsteps of our many children, our single-use plastic cutlery.

I have no opinion on the Reproductive Health Act that passed in New York. Perhaps neither popular opinion is preferable. I swim in the recondite depths of human pain.

Pain is ideal soil for Love, and through Love, we may progress. Without it, we perish. May we progress in Love.

Amen.

childrenareflowers

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My Peeps & Politics

The day that Donald Trump got elected as 45th president of the United States of America, I was in a study room in a university library in Temuco, Chile (South America). In a sense, I went crazy that day, at that moment. The things he had said, and the realities I knew my minority-member (non-white/non-heterosexual) friends lived, hit me with such raging force that I sat down in a hard desk chair and cried. The loco came when I lifted my head up and entered the social media world with a hard edge to my words, fingers clacking, and thoughts that hadn’t been there before.

Certain political issues are “hot-buttons” for folks from Left to Right on the political spectrum in the United States: Mr. Trump’s candidacy (and then presidency) triggered just about all of them. Gay rights, women’s rights, police violence, black liberation, etc. I believed (as I still do) that these issues are incredibly important in our shared life, but what I have realized is that they are not as important to me as having good days together. At the end of the day, they are just issues. Legislation that defends rights for LGBTQ+ people is not LGBTQ+ people. Support for a political servant who stands for the humane treatment of immigrants is not the immigrant we seek to defend. I want the system to change, I want good laws to be upheld, I want crooks out of office (to be clear). I am a Lefty, yep. That doesn’t matter half as much as the fact that I am a human.

It is important to me that we see and listen to one another, that however long the human species exists on this planet, we have good times together. I want people to not be alone more than I want stricter gun laws. Do I believe that stricter gun laws could reduce the number of violent deaths in our country? Absolutely. Others don’t. Neither of us have immediate control over whether or not gun laws change. What we do have control over is the quality of the energy that we put into the world, and the way that we treat one another. I want to feel comfortable hugging the people I work with–because of mutual care and attentiveness–(be she Republican, Democrat, White Supremacist, Libertarian, Socialist, Black Nationalist or other!) more than I want to convince someone else that marriage is for everybody.

I like a lot of people whose views I find dehumanizing, and contrary to my moral code, yet I want to be found continually inviting them into my life. Over certain dinners I have voiced my opinions, been rudely contradicted, and then seen the disagreer sink into shamed silence. That shame is not my responsibility, but neither do I want them to drown in it! I sure don’t want to be left to drown in my shame! Truth is, this place is better when we join hands in the face of shame. People will make their way through shame in their own way at their own pace. I’d rather we not have to make that journey alone. Regardless of beliefs or how we act on those beliefs, we all need one another (please accept that there are violent people, like some particularly in the media eye currently, who are best avoided).

In the face of the technological typhoon, we need to face the threat of isolation and overcome it with tolerance and radical peace-making.

The day Mr. Trump was elected I forgot that dogma is a closed door, and that it breeds conflict. In that moment I took life too seriously (Jesus’ words had taught me to look at the care-free birds), and let a desire to change people’s views (for the sake of other people) eclipse the true priority of loving those around me, and making peace (be it in person or through a screen).

On that day, when I heard the news (that I still perceive as horrible news–other people don’t perceive it that way….hey friends!) of Mr. Trump’s election my system shook off its foundation of unconditional, accepting, and compassionate Love that I had so fiercely constructed in my heart as a young girl. I hardened to hear that news and put up a shield. But shields are for defensive, combative living, and I am beginning to see (again) that I wasn’t made for such a lifestyle. My heart is aching with the weight of standing with a shield between myself and other people. The shield is too heavy.

I want to melt my shield down and turn it into a watering can. People are growing, they need water, not constriction. People are lonely, they need company, not a barrier. I believe that the ideals that lefties like myself stand for are about human rights. However, if we lose our ability to create and maintain healthy relationships, and to treat others with respect and dignity in daily life- social media INCLUDED–then we have lost the embodiment of the very ideals we fight for.

This is not an us-or-them universe, even when we feel put into a “them” category by family, co-workers, or friends (who side on the Left or Right). This is our home, this planet is where we belong, and we belong to each other. There is us, together, and either we will perish, or Love will win.

 

There is only one perpetrator of evil on the planet: human unconsciousness. That realization is true forgiveness. With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges–the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light. ~Eckhart Tolle

Be messy. Be complicated. Show up. ~ Glennon Doyle Melton

Tapa(s) That Mountain

 

Climbing Pinnacle Mountain today was difficult. Stomach problems made it painful internally but it was not even an *Arkansas* hot day. There was a breeze that accompanied me as I wheezed, heaved, & groaned my way up the East Summit.

Damn, I love that mountain.

Every bit of the experience was familiar to me (though I did not used to be this challenged on the way up…). The contours on boulders smoothed by hundreds of feet scaling them each week, the canopy of leaves overhead, the friendly faces who greet & cheer you on as you ascend & they descend the steep trail. I adore the crags on either side of the worn path. I love the coolness afforded by the vines and greenery all around. I love the feeling of my chest rising & falling at the summit as I gaze for miles & miles, soaking in the sherbet sunrise. I hear firecrackers, set off not far away & roll my eyes.

God, I love this place.

This walk triggers a plethora of memories. When I was a child the mountain seemed so long, the trek lest arduous but definitely more lengthy. During high school for a time I climbed the mountain weekly with a fierce group of young women. We explored the crags & swung off tree branches. It got easier for us every week, but never lost its’ lustrous challenge, it never stopped reminding us of the warrior-women within. None of us spoke out loud of how powerful it showed us to be, this weekly strength practice–we were taught to be docile & dainty–but I know we all felt it. And secretly shared it. If the other girls do not remember, then I will be guardian and remember-er, and secret keeper of these memories.

In yogic philosophy  there is an idea called “tapas”. According to Deborah Adele, Tapas is the fiery determined effort we can make to offer ourselves up to transformation, by way of strength training, meditation, or any other focused practice. Tapas is discipline, it is taking the difficult action because in your gut you know it is the right action. Tapas is the courage to step into the fire for the sake of being purified.

Pinnacle Mountain has been a place where I have cultivated Tapas. That summit has been & was again tonight the altar where I offer myself to God, to transformation, to my higher, truer, better self.

I love it. Oh, I love it very much.

Here’s to more cardio & less carbs.

Feel the holy burn, friends!

 

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.

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!

 

 

 

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)