Whisper Hope

music
something magical
in the combination
of melody and words
draws me back
time and again
faith I have known
since childhood
whispered unwillingly
back into life

the theology and
version of community
I once longed for
now leave me
at best, discomforted
and apathetic
at worst, hurt, angry
and once again broken

but in the silence
filled with more than
notes and lines on a page
I am drawn back
to the possibility of belief
to the remembrance
of comfort found
in dark places
of the savage beast
of despair and unworthiness
soothed into contentment
and acceptance

perhaps somewhere
a new understanding
of community is forming
within a theology
of love lived out loud
embracing queerness
and diversity
as expressions of wholeness
not brokenness
in need of rescue

someday may I find it
and learn to sing again
for now, may I allow
the song to whisper hope

Not Crying on Sundays

——-

Begun at a Steve Bell concert in December 2013.

Artwork inspired by Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert.

Visit to The Grotto

Grotto - St JudeSaint Jude,
Patron saint of lost causes
Seems fitting I would find you here

Beloved
Let me meet you here
In shadow and in sunlight
In sorrow and in peace

Tears on the verge of escaping
And yet a sense of peace overwhelms
Perhaps that is exactly what brings
The aching sorrow I’ve held
So close to the surface

In this place
I catch a glimmer of belief

I stumble upon
What I came to find
Unexpectedly

The Grotto Labyrinth
Grotto - Pondering the PathLaid out before me
I sit for a moment
And breathe
Wondering
If I have the temerity
To walk its path
What lies at its center?

At my center?

A chance to walk its path
drew me here today
And yet I feel a strange reluctance
To set my feet on its circuitous path

The mosquitos drive my forward
Movement is better than stagnation.

Each step felt carefully
My balance faltering
As I tread the narrow
Winding road

I pause at each turning
I breathe and I look up
The height of the trees around
Grotto - Standing TallGives strength and seems
To point the way forward

I breathe deeper
The silence fills me
Nourishes my soul
The only sounds
Those of nature
The twittering songs of unseen birds
The flowing water in a nearby pond
the surprisingly clear sound of a single leaf
Falling softly from great height
Slowly to the ground

Another woman begins to walk
My first thought is to wish her away
To keep this place for myself

Her steps are crisp and confident
So unlike how mine feel

But then
I discover comfort in her presence
Our journeys are different
But without names or even
An awareness of each other’s face
Grotto - Path to the CentreWe are not on this journey alone

As I draw closer to my destination
I notice love drawing me in
Two hearts mark the entrance
At the centre of the labyrinth

I continue, step by careful step
One foot then the other
Stepping around the maple leaves
Lying dry on the ground

Another woman joins the journey
This time, my heart swells with welcome
I have learned
Grotto - Beckoned in by LoveSacred space is meant to be shared

I reach my goal
I pause before taking the final step
I feel the Beloved
Welcoming me home
Two hearts opening
The way ahead
I enter
I breathe deeply
I stand looking at the centre
At the heart

At my heart

A thought enters my mind
It feels foolish
and holy
I follow through
Grotto - Holy GroundThis is sacred ground
I slide my feet out of my shoes
And stand bare footed
On the labyrinth’s heart

I make my mountain
Feeling myself become
Grounded in that moment
I stand
I breathe
I am home

I begin my journey outwards
My steps feel more secure
More in sync with who I am
I choose not to rush the return
Grotto - Labyrinth WelcomeI savour the moments

I gather my belongings
Left waiting while I walked

I sit, I write
I breathe out my frustration
At the group who see
The labyrinth as a game
A maze to be conquered
They’re missing the sacred
In their midst

I choose to stay present
I choose to write my story
Of this moment

My steps feel different
Calmer, more at peace
Grotto - View from the MountainJoyful, content

I could stay on this mountain
All day

Strange, the mosquitos haven’t bothered me
Since I chose to begin
The inward journey

 

——-

Written during a visit to The Grotto in Portland, OR in October 2013.

I am

Word TicketsI am a caterpillar
locked in the middle
of metamorphosis

I am a buttoned-up knot
in need of unwinding

I am learning to wallow
in the gift of doubt

I am a renegade
from the faith of my youth
unwilling to pay the price
of being true blue
to everyone’s expectations

I am choosing to delight
in my fortitude
and stop the balancing act
of keeping my impudent mouth
anesthetized by my parents’ world

——–

Written during Liz Lamoreux’s Poem It Out Workshop at Soulsisters in October 2013. She’d given each of us a handful of word tickets. Our task was to write a poem using the words on those tickets. I was surprised by the truths that appeared on the page before me.

Tonight

two months ago
life felt different
I felt different
walking into the theatre
excited to hear the music of
Amy and Emily, the Indigo Girls
I knew who I was
what I was
but felt like
an interloper
not a fraud, but unsure
could I possibly belong
afraid to make eye contact
afraid someone might see me
ask questions I was
afraid to answer
yet, I felt at home
a sense of tribe
of commonality
wanting to pitch a tent
stay until the dawn came
afraid the moment
would slip away
never to return

tonight Tonight Self-Portrait
walking into the café
excited to hear the stories of
Ivan E. Coyote and S. Bear Bergman
I am confident
in my own skin
I primped, I preened
enjoying the feel of my hair
savouring each moment
dressing to please myself
open to another’s gaze
curious, ready to explore
should the opportunity arise
but on my terms
not desperately seeking
hoping the attention
of some man, any man,
would mark me as acceptable

tonight I know
I am queer
I am femme
I am enough

One Choice

Artwork in photograph by Kelly Rae Roberts

terrified
of not belonging
lesson learned in childhood
stepping outside
the expected path
will leave you
bereft
your longed-for blue
five speed bicycle
returned and no place
for you
at the family table
 
 
you understand the story
of your past
daily seeking a new path
of faith that belongs
to you
despite the inherent
familial tension
springing from
choice made necessary
to survive
with soul intact
 
 
freedom found
in learning to listen to
your body
your heart
your soul
reveals stories
buried deep
hidden from all eyes
even your own
your truth denied
 
 
in the world
you grew in no
other possibility existed
never imagining
your reality could be
so entirely different
from the life
you learned to live
hiding brokenness
never healed
blamed on fear
of always being
on the outside
 
 
now you have
family of choice
circle of belonging
sense of community
rarely experienced before
but they don’t know
your truth
closeted away beyond
even your own gaze
 
 
childhood terror steals
your breath
your words
when you ponder
revealing the truth
you’ve now begun to own as
My Truth
 
 
fear of exclusion
rejection
losing your place
in the circle of trust
you’ve struggled to find
will they feel betrayed
is there possibility
of understanding
acceptance
embrace
in the midst of
your bewilderment
 
 
forty-three years
of hiding your truest self
so far away
you didn’t understand
all your efforts would
never fix you
the core wasn’t broken
you were just queer
trying desperately to live
an expected straight life
not your own
 
 
the dilemma you face
explore your truth
loudly and proudly
risking the place
you’ve finally found
hoping you still
belong
 
or
 
keep the life
you’ve built
stay quiet, hidden
pretending contentment
losing yourself
bit by bit
slowly dying inside
 
 
only one choice
for living exists
simple survival insufficient
fullness of life
once glimpsed
must be embraced
even if cost leads to
fear realized