Hunger Moon

[Image Description: Black and white photo of the moon with some tree branches in the foreground. (This photo was actually take the day before the full moon, as we had rain here on the night of the full moon that prevented me from capturing a good photo.)]

Yesterday’s full moon,
the Hunger Moon,
brought to mind
words from scripture
that tell us those who
hunger and thirst for righteousness
will be blessed.

A wise teacher taught me
a way to think of righteousness is
“to be in right relationship,”
one of the most helpful
teachings I’ve heard in a sermon.

Endless possibilities
for the co-creation of
right relationship—
the earth,
our community,
our neighbor,
the tree outside the window,
the cashier at the supermarket,
the technology we use,
the entertainment we consume—
everyone and everything
we interact with
has potential.

But do we
hunger for that?

Robin Wall Kimmerer
tells us her people,
the Anishinaabe,
called this moon the
Hunger Moon because
“the snow is too deep
and the deer are gone
and the caches are empty…
After too many days,
desperation is the only soup.”

It’s easy to imagine this,
living close to the land and
despite storing up for winter,
running out of resources in the
relentless dormancy of February.

What is difficult to reconcile,
in our times of over-production
to feed over-consumption,
is how many
still live in the shadows
cast by the Hunger Moon,
with desperation their only soup.

How far we are,
as a culture,
from righteousness,
right relationship.

Kimmerer writes
the Anishinaabe
told their children tales of
the Windigo,
a human-turned-monster
who consumes voraciously
to the detriment of all,
without ever being satiated,
to ensure they knew
the dangers of selfishness and excess.

The Hunger Moon
brings reminders
if we pause to ponder,
that we can choose the path
of righteousness,
to live in right relationship,
to hunger together to co-create a reality
where everyone can have
food and safety and joy and enough.

Or we can choose to follow the path
of the Windigo
where all that matters
is our own hunger for more
and what we are able
to consume.

References to Robin Wall Kimmerer’s work are all taken from her book Braiding Sweetgrass, specifically the chapter ‘Windigo Footprints.’ I highly recommend.

Eve

[Image Description: Close-up of ice crystals formed over a body of water]

A woman wrote
my local, small-town paper
to blame women
for what ails
our communities.

Men, she wrote,
have vacated
responsibilities and
their rightful place
because women
have forgotten they
were created equal—
equal, but in the special role of helper—
created for men,
but now want to be like men,
act like they are better than men.

About half the population
to blame
for all the problems.

Swift, visceral reaction
upon reading,
rage-typing
uncharitable responses
in my head for days.

I’ve deleted those lines
one-by-one,
realizing this is yet another retelling of
the old myth
I’ve heard since childhood:
All that’s wrong is Eve’s fault
and by default
all women
blamed.

Told enough times,
layer upon layer,
until myth
is frozen,
impenetrable.

Anger at this woman subsiding,
remembering misogynistic,
female-critical,
woman-blaming
narratives I internalized for years.

So much invested in making scapegoats
believe they’re at fault
until no one will question
oppressive structures,
abusive institutions,
off-balance relationships,
cis-male-dominated
everything.

It takes time and wrestling
to purge the narrative that if
women do anything “wrong,”
men could not possibly do
anything right,
to see that
treating women merely as a helper to men
objectifies,
claims they exist to serve a function
like a possession,
and are not
a unique expression
of the divine image,
of the stardust from which their atoms were formed,
of the breath God breathed into their lungs.

Treating men as merely
head of household providers
reduces them to a role,
like they are just a job,
and not a unique expression
of the divine image,
of the stardust from which their atoms were formed,
of the breath God breathed into their lungs.

And this binary trope treats anyone who is not
one half of husband-and-wife,
man-and-woman relationship,
as absent,
ignoring the truth that
there are spectrums of experience,
identity,
relationship,
and not everyone fits neatly
into boxes and roles,
nor wants to,
and they are each just as much a
unique expression
of the divine image,
of the stardust from which their atoms were formed,
of the breath God breathed into their lungs.

I can’t free that woman
and others like her
by railing against.

But there is a beautiful invitation,
a wild song,
a burden lifted,
out here where
Eve is not a condemnation
but our guide
to a vast, spacious wilderness
where we co-create with God
new ways of being
that don’t include
taking responsibility
for everyone else’s actions.

Introspection

[Image Description: Snowy winter woods and grey sky]

Flakes falling
through gray dusk
on the verge of
indistinguishable.

Thoughts drifting,
weighing down,
layer upon layer,
incumbering.

Darkness falls
through snow-fill air,
overcome by
introspection.

Edges previously clear
mounding over,
accumulation
increasing.

Time passes
and now
everything
looks the same.

Doubt

[Image Description: Sunrise clouds on the horizon over Dinosaur National Monument]

I’d learned to live
outside myself,
only truths
from other sources.

Misfit
ill-equipped,
bending backward,
sinking
from the weight.

Years-long excavation
revealed
different paths
to wholeness,
invisible
when there was
no room
for me.

Most days,
busy with tasks
that fill time,
I’m mostly steady,
mostly sure,
mostly undaunted
by unknowns.

There are,
however,
days,
busy with tasks
that fill time,
I’m mostly unsteady,
mostly unsure,
mostly daunted
by unknowns.

The wholeness,
healing,
seems all too distant on the horizon,
nearly unattainable.

The progress too slow,
mistakes and misspeaks and missteps
accumulate.

Would I go back
if I could,
to live outside myself,
before I saw my truths?

No.

There is no unseeing,
no going back,
only coming back around
with clearer eyes.

Cautionary Tale

[Image Description: black and white photo of a cloudy sky reflecting in a lake.]

People should not be excluded
for things that are not their fault,
especially kids
who had nothing to do with adult actions
and need their community.
It’s wrong to shut them out.

I said these things,
more or less,
to the church elder
in the church office
after church.

I tried to say it
meek and deferential
like a Good Christian Girl,
but below the surface I was
fire, righteous rage, teenage defiance,
and trembling with church-instilled fear.

I tried to be the Good Christian Girl
for a very long time.
I went away,
returned,
and tried on
Good Christian Wife,
Good Christian Mother,
Good Christian Woman,
too.

But I am a terrible actress
with no poker face,
and an insistence on a much more spacious God.

I wonder if he had any idea what I’d learn, that elder,
that kind-hearted man turned instrument of patriarchy by church teachings,
when he said to my face that it was not my place,
but then changed his mind behind closed doors
with other men.

I wonder if he knew I’d look back on that day
and realize that any church that knows a
teenage girl is right,
but can’t say it to her face,
is no place for her.

I was supposed to learn my place,
but instead I became a cautionary tale
in that kind of church,
the wild woman in the wilderness of faith
with scary ideas
like there is enough for everyone
and God is not a man,
out here in an ever-widening circle of who’s included.

Ill-fitting facades,
abandoned on shore,
swimming naked in the waters,
Spirit brooding over,
waiting for what God will speak into existence next.

Wolf Moon

I wrestle with this God,
translated
into male words,
interpreted as male.

Half of everyone
excluded,
while everyone pretends
it had to be this way
until everyone believes
it’s always been this way.

Better to teach people to worship a god
made in man’s image
so men in charge can have their way.

Here I am,
not a man
so not like God,
unable to find myself
anywhere other than
on the outside.

I lie awake
on nights I can’t pretend
I don’t care
and think about not belonging.

A few nights ago I slipped out of bed
and pulled back the curtains
to see the winter night and full-moon light.

I stood there
in my not-man body,
cold air raising goosebumps on bare legs,
and leaned my head against the window glass,
looking up
to see the Wolf Moon
in a veil of clouds.

I always marvel at the moon,
her waxing, waning,
rhythmic revelation,
dancing with oceans
from afar.

That night, watching silvery reflections of a star
blending light and shadow
across a frosty landscape,
I think moonlight knows
the truest words for God.

Morning Prayer

For months now, I’ve felt ill at ease reading the morning office. I had a sense of why—mainly the overtly male language for God—but not clarity. So I continued, as I have for years, all the while noticing and honoring the discomfort. This week, clarity came in the form of questions: “Is there space for me here? Is there room for my becoming, when everything is father and he and him and lord?”

Meanwhile, I’d taken on the practice of praying hand-over-sternum, to remind me that the Divine is within, part of me.

This morning, while silently praying the confession and also practicing my reminder of the Divine within, the word “we” became “I” and “you” became “us” and suddenly I sense there may be space for me after all.

This is what I love about liturgy. It gives us a reservoir within which we can wrestle and flounder and question, all while being held and buoyed and never alone.

Here is how it sounded this morning:

Most merciful God,
I confess that I have sinned against us
in thought, word, and deed,
by what I have done,
and by what I have left undone.
I have not loved us with my whole heart;
I have not loved my neighbors as myself.
I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.
For the sake of our Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me and forgive me;
that I may delight in our will,
and walk in our ways,
to the glory of your Name.
Amen.

Poison Fruit

We’re not absolved
just because we’re
not on the side
of the ones we see as
worst.

Lulled into the
laziness
of giving allegiance
willy-nilly,
based on label,
assigning morality
by default
instead of seeing
morality
is not innate,
invariable,
indelible,
in each
person.

The rightness
or wrongness of an action
depends on many factors,
but a wrong is not
magically a right
when committed by
one of ours.

What may seem like a tree
we want to stand in the shade of,
tend, and nurture,
could be a danger,
bearing
poison fruit.

And so.

It is on each of us
to consider
our alliances,
to evaluate
words and actions,
to look around at
those attracted to
align with us
as we follow.

If the fruit is
often rotten,
sometimes poison,
spreading more harm
than good,
we ourselves
will eventually succumb.

Better to withdraw allegiance,
dancing alone in the wilderness
if necessary,
than stay planted,
growing roots,
in an orchard of
poison fruit.

Unity: The state of being united or joined as a whole

[Image description: water cascading over a short rock ledge into a pool of water, rocks along the banks of the stream, bare winter trees and cloudy sky in the background]

I see myself divided, dividing.
Ruptured, unleashing a torrent,
thoughts cascading one over another
at images I abhor.

Flooded,
current ever outward,
all reaction,
counteraction,
oppositional,
all or nothing,
with or against,
how could you,
dueling calls for unity or division,
backlash into the void.

Visceral,
swirling
chaos,
overtaking.

Nearly
carried away,
then clarity.
Take a long breath
and dive deep.

Remember.

I can roll back
the tide of my own chaos,
the crashing wave after wave
clamoring noise in every second.

I can stem
the barrage of endless opinions
from ego unchecked.

I can gather in the deluge
of outward-flooding emotions
into a reservoir
of my own making.

I can calm them,
sitting in stillness,
allowing silence to flow in.

I can see where
light and shadow
within me co-mingle,
hear each other out,
acknowledge my own inconsistencies,
what troubles me about my own beliefs,
how far I am from the standards
I apply to others.

And I can hold these contradictions
gently
until the clashing parts become
letting go,
letting go,
letting go.

Myself distilled
to deepest truths
until all of it is loved,
is love.

Finally,
reservoir to the brim,
flowing over
creating tide pools of compassion,
invitations
for others to look deep
and see that they,
too,
are love.

And in the
depths it’s clear
true unity
begins
within my own
united heart.

Reflection

[Image Description: evening sun shining from behind bare trees in winter, reflecting brilliantly from a small stream]

What is the truest,
most beautiful truth you
know for yourself
right now?

Not the “truth,”
external,
imposed,
from out there.

No.

I want to know
the deep, quiet beauty
that is so lovely it seems
impossible,
the truth that whispers
in those quiet moments when
there is no droning
of pundits
or parroters
or pontificators.

The truth that glimmers,
otherworldly,
resplendent,
abundant,
beckoning
from the realest
part of you.

The one that is
so warm,
so healing,
if it spilled over
it could change
the world.

When you glimpse it
again
and sit silent,
remembering,
let it tease the threads
of your imagination
long enough to
coax it into knowing
less ephemeral.

Let its
golden radience
permeate
your awareness
and then nurture it,
returning to the silence,
whenever it feels dim.

You need this now,
your deepest truth,
when external “truth” is
pulled taut between
two extremes
and one is clamoring
even more violently
for your allegiance.

You need
the touchstone
of the beauty of
your inner mooring
to untangle the lies,
to see clearly,
to set us all free.