Keep showing up for work, at school events and the supermarket. Keep acting like the world isn’t fraying around the edges, unraveling, coming apart in so many ways.
Make sure to put on a normal face, because that is the expectation.
Don’t let it show that pandemic waves and unsustainable practices and societal demands and personal crises might be getting to you, freezing your once-easy grins into worried eyes and forced half-smiles.
Unless we stop pretending, stop letting status quo demands keep us frozen in place and admit that things need to change.
Unless we make it okay to say things like “We’re not okay” and “This is hard” and work together to find a different way forward.
Sometimes I want to listen to something different. Folk music. Indie pop. And sometimes I do, even though I have to pay attention to the words, get caught up in any genius of the lyrics, get distracted from whatever else is going on.
But mostly I listen to Claudia Berti and Hania Rani on repeat for hours every day, no lyrics to get tangled in, just vibrant piano notes resonating, tones filling chest, clearing mind, softening breath.
God, I’ve always loved the sounds a piano makes.
Sometimes the music makes me think of my six-year-old self who longed to learn all the notes as well as the lady who played hymns on the old piano at church, who would sometimes let me sit next to her on the hard wooden bench and nod at me when it was time to turn the music page.
I would tell that younger me it’s okay she couldn’t make herself sit long enough to really practice and never passed book four.
Sometimes music calls to mind my teenage self, desperate to fit in, find her place, her people, who learned to play music by chords on the keyboard to join the youth group praise band. Even then, always on the periphery. Performing music, performing roles, none of it coming naturally.
I would tell her it’s okay the group dynamics always felt forced, through a mask, never intuitive.
I would tell her one day she’ll discover she forms connections in a way that make certain attention and certain relationships feel just out of reach, near-misses, through a veil.
And I’d tell her someday she’ll discover the way her mind can meander, swirl into being a collage of words that connect, invoke clarity, resonate, piano-music tapestry, woven by others, the backdrop of her own expression.
Our eyes perceive only destruction when all that remains are remnants, desolation, isolation, severed branches, tangled roots.
Relief, impossible to comprehend, desperation closing in. But Spirit whispers deliverance, painting wild possibilities.
A new day will dawn, Wisdom’s reign, when the poor and the meek and the child are safe and warm and held and equal, when harmony abounds.
Connection with the source of Love will permeate, infusing every human and non-human interaction, the world overflowing with collective liberation and we will finally know peace.
Note: This is one of nine poems I wrote to complement the nine readings for Lessons and Carols the Sunday after Christmas. Many commentaries I read–both Jewish and Christian–cautioned against reading Isaiah as Messianic text. So, I shied away from that, opting instead to view it through the lens of hope promised to those living in times where hope seems distant.
Last night I caught a glimpse of the full moon gleaming through the clouds shedding tiny raindrops over our backyard.
I read some Indigenous folks call her Long Night Moon during what I’ve learned to call December, and I like that name because right now the night arrives so early and it’s still dark long after I wake up to start my day
and I feel a small bit of comfort knowing that at her most revealed this final month on our calendar, she’s companioning us when daylight eludes.
Gently gather in the loose threads that came unraveled while you were busy trying to hold together the self crafted carefully under other people’s scrutiny.
Replace what no longer serves with tenderly collected fragments until you can explain yourself in your own damn words, not syllables you memorized to stave off raised eyebrows and sidelong glances.
Or maybe don’t. Maybe stop trying to explain and instead wrap yourself joyously in the love you’re weaving from understandings reassembled, until you live your beauty and your wisdom so fully that you need no explanation.