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.

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.

Balance

[Image description: abstract photo with bright center]

Masculine.
Feminine.

Words now defined as opposites,
created prior to words
as harmony
among and within.

Interior balance of energy,
each tantamount
to the other,
wholeness
incarnate.

Diverse,
yet coequal,
until
property,
commodity,
misogyny,
took hold.

Multiple expressions
of the feminine
suppressed,
confined,
subdued,
relegated to certain tasks
and certain people.

God, divided.

We can call God
Father,
and he,
and him,
and Lord,
and warrior,
but not
Mother,
and she,
and her,
or even corresponding words
that don’t exist
because the default
is always
man.

I want the feminine side of God
in all her forms.

Not to
objectify God by
claiming God a woman,
the way women
are objectified,
claimed
as God’s gift.

I want the wholeness,
the fullness,
the perfect entirety—
without exclusion—
of my own being.
And God’s.
And yours.

I want
symmetry
and reciprocity.
The function and the beauty.
The light and the shadow.
The aspiration and the groundedness.
The logic and the mystery.
As it was.
As it could be.
If we didn’t split it all
in two.

Rain

[Image Description: Rainclouds over farmland]

God is a man, male, maleness,
and therefore, men are more like God.
Women are just a rib,
a support,
a helper
to prop up the weight of patriarchy.

It’s there in pages
and creeds,
who are you to argue?
Ignore evidence that contradicts
so all you see is
a man’s faith,
a man’s world
a man god.

Kneel there and look pretty while we
manufacture scarcity from abundance,
violence from connection,
commodity from gift.

How I long to clear away these accumulated lies
the way one clears tracked-in fragments from the hall rug.

Quick snaps from the wrist,
shaking clean over the back-porch rail,
leaving the dross scattered in the yard
to be washed clean
away by the rain on the horizon.

Because the male god they made wasn’t male at all,
just a distortion of power,
maleness misconstrued.

Wholeness was the gift
and we fractured it,
splitting the beautiful spectrum of human
into two opposites,
one dominant.

Changing all/and
into either/or,
erecting boxes.

One for him.
One for her.
A facade for each

to stifle the complex beauty
that allows us to be
And.
All.
Whole.

The male god distortion
crushes even men,
separating us from each other
and ourselves.

If we sweep away these constructs,
confines,
cons,
we see God is male and not male,
female and not female,
being itself,
not to be constricted by our narrow minds.

Out here in the vast expanse
after the rain
washes away the nonsense,

what we know is how
wide and long and high and deep
is being,
is wholeness,
is love.

Waves

[Image description: large wave crashing over a rocky, Maine shoreline]

At the mirror
brushing teeth,
thoughts crashing in waves,
transferring energy
one to the next,
swelling and rippling back,
until a single phrase surfaces:

You’ve always been this way.

Eyes search mirrored eyes,
walking tidelines
back to source.

Of course.

Of course.

Of course.

What seemed like newness
was a return.

The fire in belly and bone
over pain of another
inflicted by power,
illegitimate.

The having to say
something—
anything—
to voice dissent
even when voicing
brought swift
punishment from a wooden spoon,
or the rebuke of an elder,
or distance from friends.

Stifled, veneered,
yet never completely cowed.

‘You’ve always been this way’
echoing
until the waves still
and there is only
the calm
of truth
coming home.