The Cry of the (White) Kids

Yesterday there was a 4th of July party at my parents house. I walked in the door, hugged my mom, and willingly exiled myself to the kids room. The kids table, outside with the kids after dinner, the whole deal.

I am 23 and I have been working with kids for 7 years.

When I was in Chile, who did I miss? Right: kids.

I do not have my own kids and I do not want my own kids.

However, it is clear that I like kids. I want to be around them. I do not like them because they are small and say random things and I can boss them around and sound smart while telling them historic or scientific facts that everyone who has any sort of middle school education knows. No, actually, I like them because I respect them. I feel that by being the only ones here brave enough to be vulnerable and ignorant and small, they earn my respect. When I am in a room with adults my interior screams: WHY DONT WE ALL STOP FAKING IT. When I am with kids, well, it gets quieter.

The most shocking cultural behavior that has impacted me this year during my re-entry has undeniably been the way people in the U.S.A. treat their children. White kids, in particular, get my attention because I have only ever been one, and I know exactly how it feels to be a sensitive creature at the other end of that repremand, that painted smile, that flippant laugh.

Interactions in restaurants, at the gym, in the neighborhood–anywhere!–have exposed me anew to the egoistical disrespect with which children are treated. We have got to stop! If we do not acknowledge our children as humans, and being a human as intrinsically good, how will we love this world back to life?

The lie of badness is daily hammered into children, in all spheres of our culture. Home. School. Play. Good Lord, no wonder we are killing each other! I almost do not blame us. Except for all of the goodness I have seen, and have learned to see. There is so much goodness & we are truly all intrinsically good, accepted, loved, and valued. This darkness cannot last long. Our souls were made to be free, if not as children, then as adults.

I wrote the following piece after witnessing a particularly harrowing parenting episode in a restaurant. Parenting truly must be difficult, but I know it is not impossible to hear the cry of our children. I know it is possible for each adult in the U.S.A. to welcome their the truth of their goodness home into their deepest selves that they may pass it on. That the cry for love may be heard, and may heal the generations to come.

The Cry of the White Kid is a cry for respect & love. May we, as adults, receive the love and respect that is freely poured out on us from the Divine, and may our children absorb it and thrive.

The Cry of the White Kid

Mom, Dad,

Please dont look me in the face and tell me that I am bad.

Please dont teach me to see the patterns of my shadows–I need you to teach me to see the light that will lead me into and through that darkness.

Please dont smile at your friends and tell them how bad I am while I have tears streaming down my face.

Please dont laugh at the way I swim or only point out my weaknesses.

Please assume that I am right where I should be, instead of stressing constantly that I am behind the others.

Please dont use me to puff up your ego or make your decisions or shield you from your emotions.

Please dont always point out my imperfections–I already see them in full color. I need you to show me my perfection. No one else ever will.

Love unconditionally and with all my respect,

Future You in the World

 

Amen,

Lydia Nomad, a white kid ūüôā

 

P.S. Here is a Great Parenting Blog Post.

 

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.

‚ÄúI‚Äôm just afraid that I will marry him and go to be with him and then hate it and not want to be there,‚ÄĚ 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?

‚ÄúYour sins are forgiven‚ÄĚ is enough to be Gospel

when its the closest youve come to ‚ÄúYou are good‚ÄĚ.

 

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

 

 

 

The Tree; Tobacco Eyes

The Tree

Sun & Moon came together and you, child of the constellation family, were placed as a seed into dark earth.

Left there, you gasped for the air that there wasnt.

But with beautiful boldness you rose, pushing away crumbling sod,

begging, begging your roots to descend that they might give you what you needed to crack the dry earths crust.

Your seed-head butt the ceiling until it ruptured. The Light was the first you had seen since the community of stars watched you be planted; Sun.

She saw you & you saw her; resplendent Love & Harmony.

She saw you & you saw her, and I, from a distance, saw you there, destined too be the most majestic tree yet to dig roots in this soil.

 

 

Tobacco Eyes

I saw myself
in you, in the yellow chair,
with your legs pressed against one another
on its arm like hopeful ideas tossed over
two decades of rubbish theology.

Melancholy like smoke
wafted from your tobacco eyes;
you would have cried
if not for the hope sounding in your heart:
dachshund nails clicking against the hardwood floor.

I saw your shoulders shaped by the fear last year left. Memories like
bubbles from the alcohol
in secondhand champagne flutes
rose to tickle your lips
as you sighed a tired greeting to the year

that we did not know
would surprise us
with new beginnings born from the bonfire
of several candles
pushed together.

Dry leaves blew out from under the red Christmas lights
on your concrete porch
when I saw you there:
when I saw myself
in you.

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Happy Birthday, Em. I love you & cannot say enough thank yous for who you are to me!

 

Lydia Nomad

 

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

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.

 

 

Me For Me

These words are about the healing and growth I am undergoing and what that is bringing about in my life. Next post will be about how exactly the 31 days of Her Voice has intensified this process. Enjoy ūüôā

 

Everything is different now that I get to have me, and

see¬†through the eyes¬†I¬†was¬†born¬†with, no one else’s.

 

A world of invitation and delight orbits just outside my domain,

without whisper of exclusion.

 

Having me is eating and tasting food for the first time,

it’s looking in the mirror and knowing that I am that.

 

It’s dancing wildly without a thought for who is around,

it’s being with loved ones and then being completely alone.

 

It’s one boat leaving the dock and another pulling up alongside

It’s a journey I can’t un-take

 

 

Who is she?

This wild woman with Tarzan arms that have climbed trees in Puerto Rico, held children, cooked Indian curries,

shook hands, written essays, braided hair, drafted budgets, wrapped around the body they’re attached to.

The wild woman who holds herself and stands on no feet but her own.

Who creates spaces where others can breath, where long-dormant hearts can beat again.

 

Once you see you can’t unsee.

Once you feel you can’t unfeel.

 

There are magical children around me. Some are adults but most are young, not so long out of the womb that they have forgotten the Spark they sprang from.

When I ride in the car with these kids, climb rocks with them, blow bubbles with them, read books with them, something extraordinary happens.

Over time a space is created. I imagine wind drawing a circle between us, its gusts creating a vortex of safety, peace, love, and acceptance.

Some kids hear the whisper quicker than others but it is there for all: Everything you are has a place. And by sheer Heaven-wizardry that message brings out hearts and puts smiles on faces. It’s like camels just come to an oasis.

Hearts start to show like turtle heads peeking out from under shells. Words I can’t yet voice, about things I haven’t begun to comprehend,

do their life-giving work in this space. All that I feel I cannot do for the children starts to do its work.

With me, but also without me.

 

In me something is happening.

My interior is a wide expanse with hay that sways in the breeze rather than the barren land it once was.

As restoration roots within me it creates a sacred spin around me; rearranging the souls that I overlap with, gentle licks of ocean against sand.

I sense that it is less an hour glass and more the mysterious layer of cinnamon particles carried by winds that, over time, shape the sand dunes.

 

There is no sense to be made of what goes on in and around me. To put language to it is a fun, sometimes useful, challenge.

To enjoy it in all its delicious mystery is the only mandate. It’s more of an invitation.

 

Do you believe in an endless love?

31 Days of Her Voice

If I could put one word to my 2016 journey so far I would choose sight. Recently I changed my Instagram bio (what else marks transcendent realizations about ones’ path?), now it reads: Born blind. By poetry I see.

I have been shedding old, restricting ways of seeing and gaining new eyes. Maybe it is that my two eyes are becoming one in Faith as I explore contemplation and a more unified soul. I’m not sure exactly, but it has become an unraveling process. As I have begun to see in new ways,¬† I am seeing much that I have previously neglected to see. The interweaving of liberation ideals and personal experience is churning within me. I feel that the underbelly of things is emerging in my consciousness and my what lovelies are creeping out of the corners.

“All the liberating prophetic visions must be deepened and transformed to include what was not included: women.”~Sexism and God-Talk, page 32

Thanks to some great voices (see this post ) I am coming to see women.

Because I have come to see myself, I cannot stop seeing women.

Because I long to love the girls around me, patriarchy’s lies are losing their grip in me.

“…what does promote the full humanity of women is of the Holy, it does reflect relation to the divine, it is the true nature of things, the authentic message of redemption and the mission of redemptive community.”~ Sexism and God-Talk, Ruether page 19

In my life today, promoting the full humanity of women looks like a 31 day challenge. (Challenges are often catalysts for growth in my life, as this blog has testified for years). For the next 30 days (starting yesterday) my media in-take will be strictly female voices. Books, podcasts, music, blogs. Those are the only types I consume on a regular basis and this is a pretty radical change for me, as I receive e-mails and devotions from men as well as subscribe to podcasts dominated by masculine voices. I love those men and their voices. They have blessed me deeply. To hear something different is my path today.

I’m excited! How much am I not seeing that I will develop eyes for in the days to come? What will I find the collective female voice saying?

Further in, friends! Tales (and no doubt music/book recommendations) from the challenge trail to come.

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