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.

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.

The Meadow

[Image description: winter meadow in the morning light]

I want to be a whole person.

I said this while sitting on my
therapist’s couch
one clear, autumn day.
I couldn’t explain to her
exactly what I meant,
only this was the
truest
expression of my
insides
in words.

That was several years ago.
I haven’t seen her in a long time.

What is my truest expression now?

I’m certain it still has to do with wholeness.

We are taught we can
divide our way to wholeness.

Sheer off the undesirable parts of ourselves,
the ones that cause discomfort with their
messy, messy truth.

Divide ourselves from others who don’t
look like us
or think like us
or fall in line like we were taught.

Divide, segregate, deny, shun.

But if we do, if we listen to the external,
self-appointed authorities
out there,
we will possibly,
one day,
attain the ideal.

The ideal what?

The ideal
cookie-cutter,
uniform vision
of success,
spiritual or otherwise,
as they define it.

Then we will be wholesome,
acceptable,
holy in their eyes.

All that’s required is to ignore
that still,
small,
voice,
deep within,
whispering:
wholeness
can’t be found out there,
can’t be defined by them.

You cannot divide your way to wholeness.

Turn and listen to that voice.
Gather up the discarded petals
you dutifully left trailing
behind you as they watched.

Push through the double-dividing doors
and run,
hair-in-the-wind,
into the meadow of your own
knowing,
arms wide-stretched,
heart echoing:

You already know,
you already are.

Seeds

[Image description: five apple seeds on a bamboo cutting board.]

Standing,
slicing,
contemplating
how this crisp apple
doesn’t resemble apple blossoms,
or apple trees,
or even last year’s windfallen fruit rotting underneath,
yet the potential for these
are right there
in the seeds scattered
on a kitchen cutting board.

Scraping, haphazard,
into the compost bowl,
mindful of gaps that surface
between the ways
I want to be,
but am.

The way my irritation
over a stranger’s rudeness at the supermarket
bears no resemblance
to my aspirations of love and tenderness for the world.

The way my patience wears thin with others
when I’ve procrastinated and now need them to rush,
my uncharitable reactions to other drivers
on long commutes in traffic,
my lack of curiosity when presented with
an opposing view,
all falling short of
the poetry
my soul sings in the woods.

My own contradictions and hypocrisy
on display,
so unlike
the beautiful way of being
I wish to embody.

It bears considering
what potential I’m cultivating,
allowing to germinate,
and grow.

Words

[Image description: Clouds with sunbeam streaming through onto mountains in the background, rock ledge and pine trees in the foreground]

The words we take to heart are telling.
Some of the best words end in a why.

Words that ask us to look deeper and see the hidden, intricate parts.
(Complexity)

Words that hint at promise and potential, holding hope of what could be.
(Possibility)

Words of what we feel in common, connecting us in experience and action.
(Mutuality)

Words that interweave, unifying people or sounds into a beautiful whole.
(Harmony)

Words to bless each other from our own gifts, exchanging what nourishes and completes.
(Reciprocity)

Words that engage the imagination
to birth new energy and beauty into the world.
(Creativity)

Spacious words that pose questions,
require nuance,
challenge current norms

They offer no easy answers,
rather life in abundance,
wild and expansive,
light shimmering through,
beckoning,
why wouldn’t you try?

But rule words, isims,
clamor loudly.
Dogmatism.
Colonialism.
Individualism.
Nationalism.
Capitalism.
Utilitarianism.

Those words hoard
power to a few,
leaving others
in shadow,
dehumanized,
no questions asked.

Clinging to absolutes,
to subordination,
exploitation,
indoctrination,
will harm,
destroy,
and separate,
but never be as powerful
as all the beautiful questions.

Why wouldn’t we try asking?

Waiting

[Image description: Two bare trees in a shopping center paring lot, a single branch from each reaching out to the other, touching in the space between.]

Heart full of poetry
and problems,
trying to bend without breaking
down completely.

Waiting without knowing
what will be its worth.

Will time tell
by giving birth to wholeness?
Or will shame,
separation,
sorrow,
fight it out forever?

Can poetry solve problems?
Will healing ever come?

Not sure it’s possible
to co-create
connection,
healing,
hope,
with nothing but this
severed cord
and glimmer of a different way.

Wondering if hidden in the waiting
for what some of us
experience as God
and some as fate
and some as no-god, nothing,
is the mystery where that
alchemy can happen.

What if the ends of healing
depend entirely on the means

and those means are
vulnerability,
grief,
seeing the other’s pain?

What if healing is an active waiting?
Help and rest.
Intention
Care.

Perhaps what we do with waiting
is the poem of the hour.

Other Paths

[Image Description: Dirt path along the side of a meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park, mountains in the distance.}

What will people think?
Always bear that question.

They will know we are Christian by our
christian values,
christian t-shirts,
and prayers around flagpoles at public schools
we don’t even attend
because we are separate,
not of them.

Listen to us, your elders,
we will show you the way you should go,
to mold you into the perfect christian image.

You will not lie.
You will not mock.
You will not disrespect.
You will not forget your manners.
You will not lust.
You will not cheat,
or you deserve just what you get.

If you disobey
you deserve the blistered bottom,
the lost meals,
the harsh words,
the shaming,
the threat of being shunned.
And you will call your friend
and tell her you can’t attend her birthday
because you broke the rules.

These are the consequences
I learned.

You taught them from
your sanctuaries,
your kitchen islands,
your youth group bible studies,
your conferences,
your words,
and I believed you

until I didn’t.

Until I saw the fear
I was painting on my own children’s faces,
the pain I caused,
the shame I inflicted,
when I doled out
the same manufactured consequences.

Love had to be another way.

Love is kind,
patient,
protects,
does not grow calloused to another’s pain.

But you said I was going astray,
ruining them.
They would never know
right from wrong.

Now I see
that was the ruse all along.

To excuse lying if it gets you the court seat
To excuse mocking if it only targets “them.”
To excuse disrespect if you think it’s deserved
To excuse lust if it might have been a joke
To excuse gaming the system if it gets you what you want.

To think the end justifies the means,
while keeping us all from seeing the means
are often everything you told me was wrong.

You would have been my elders
but now we’re just adults
on different paths
with different understandings of God.

I know this sounds like anger.
I have been angry.
I have argued and tried to convince.
I tried to go and never look back.

But I now I see another truth:
We’re still part of each other.
We were all caught up in the same
misguided tide.
And my rage,
my desperate attempts to convince you,
my wanting you to be ashamed for your complicity,
have roots in the same poisoned well.

More shame or pain or hurt
will never turn the tide.
Even if the ruse tells us it’s deserved.

This is the hard part,
it calls for courage, for unguardedness
I’m not sure that I possess.

I still have far to grow.

I know I can’t come back,
But I can be here,
arms unclenched,
in this loving, spacious wilderness,
holding this painful tension,
trying,
while love beckons you
with kindness,
with patience,
with your own new path.

Because the good news isn’t
politics and anger,
punishment and fear.

It’s letting go.
Breaking free.
And finding life anew.