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.