Kintsugi

 

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     The sickeningly sweet smell of a rose scented candle fills the air and I am instantly transported through tangled webs of time and space. To a time I was desperate for his love while being destroyed by the other woman, who was also him. The comparisons I couldn’t live up to. The pain of being heavy with child and being told how disgusting I was.  I rush for the outdoors longing for the brisk air to chase these demons of the past away. The insufficiency clings to my skin like a leech, sucking away at my self-esteem. The knowledge of my failings laid bare before the universe.  I throw my head back and stare up at the stars inhaling the brisk air as if life itself was contained within.  My bare feet begin to ache from the frost covered deck that I stand upon.

 

     I’m mostly free from that time. Lord knows how much therapy, prayer, yoga, and all manner of cures has gone into getting over the pain. But the brain has a sneaky way of hiding pain in the forgotten dusty corners of one’s mind until some uninvited guest goes rustling around and stirring it up.

     Rude. That’s what it is.  Being thrust into memories and dreams without permission. I don’t want to remember my step dad.  My ex. Fear. Pain. Loss.

 

     Is there a purpose to this remembering of things l keep trying to bury? Perhaps, these glimpses of pain past can serve to remember that even on my darkest days, I survived. Maybe that’s not much of a success story. Survival. There were no miraculous interventions or answers from above. But I kept breathing. Kept loving my kids. Kept putting one weary foot in front of the other even when everything seemed to be burning down around me.  I was imperfect. I was a mess. I still am, I guess. But I survived. And I live to hold people’s hand while they hurt and tell them that they can make it through. One day at a time.

 

     There is a Japanese art called Kintsukuroi or Kintsugi. Which means golden repair. It is the art of repairing broken pottery with silver or gold with the understanding that the finished piece is far more beautiful for having been broken and having a history. I rather like that. Maybe all the cracks where the pain leaked out of my brokeness can be repaired by something beautiful. Love. Kindness. Light.  Peace.  I am not quite there yet, I’m afraid. Transformation takes ever so much time and work. At the end of it all, may my finished soul be more beautiful for all the repaired damage…….

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A Midwife’s Night in Bethlehem

     The air is becoming balmy as the sun rises in the sky. I wipe my forehead with my sleeve as I cook the midday meal. “Miriam, I need you to clear some more space for our guests, get your little sisters to help and then come back and help me with the food, please.”  Ten-year-old Miriam looks amazed. “More guests, Mama?” How can we fit any more?”  “I don’t know, darling. Hopefully, this is the last of the guests or we will have to start placing our bedding outdoors!”, I tease as I pat her small head. Though she is young, I am grateful to have her help.   It has been a crazy few weeks as relatives and strangers come pouring into our small town to fulfil the census requirement. Every home in Bethlehem is packed to overflowing.  Bringing much extra work but also a sense of excitement to have so many in one place. The music, the dancing, and so much food!

 

    The meal is nearly ready when my cousin Rachel rushes into the kitchen. “Eliana, you are needed at the door. The next caravan  of people is arriving looking for somewhere to stay.” She takes my spot over the cooking pot as I start for the doorway and try to think of a polite way to turn people down. There simply is no more room in our small home to accommodate more people.  As I stand in the doorway, I see how bright the star is in the sky. Almost as bright as the sun itself though smaller.Some say it is a sign. But of what, I’ve no idea.   First is a family with 4 children. “I’m sorry, We have no more room.  Try the next road over?” Another large group follows and I find myself repeating the same thing over and over much to the tired travellers dismay. I felt terrible turning them away, but what could be done? Just as I was ready to turn around and give someone else this difficult task, I see a man, covered in dust and sweat, walking slowly in front of a tired looking donkey. On the donkey was a young woman extremely heavy with child. His weary eyes found mine. “ My name is Joseph. Please, do you have room for us to stay? As you can see my wife is nearing her time. “ I look again at the young woman. She looks ready to fall off of the donkey.Poor thing. “ We really have no more room.”  The girl looks up in desperation and I feel my resolve weaken. “ well, unless you would want to stay in the back with our animals. That is all I can offer you.”, I say apologetically.  They both thank me profusely as I turn to head back in and get ready to serve food to the hungry mass of people in my charge.  

 

    Several hours pass before I even have a moment to think about the young couple.  I am weary and ready to find my sleeping mat. Miriam comes running into the room brimming with excitement. “Mama, guess what! The girl in the back is going to have her baby soon! Auntie Rachel says so! I’m supposed to tell you to bring some cloths and other things that they may need!” I gather my supplies and rush out to the back passing a distraught looking Joseph. I give him a reassuring smile.  Rachel is by the young girl’s side talking soothingly and offering her a sip of water. “Mary’s pains are still pretty far apart. It will be a long night.” Mary, so that’s the name of this young soon-to-be mother. I glance over to her. She is half leaning against the rock wall, rocking back and forth, she has her eyes closed and is humming determinately while holding her large abdomen tenderly.  I come closer to her and take her hand.   “Mary.”, I say softly, “My name is Eliana. Rachel and I will take good care of you and your baby.” She looks up at me with beautiful brown eyes that show a combination of pain, fear and yet also a large amount of peace and calm. She gives me a small smile and goes back to humming.

 

     As the night goes by,  Rachel and I take turns supporting Mary through her pains. At last, it is time for the baby to come.  Rachel stands behind Mary supporting her as she squats over the blankets on the hay. “It’s time to meet your little one, now, Mary. It’s time to push.” Maybe it’s the rush of helping to bring a new life into the world but my senses seem to intensify greatly.  I hear the animals lowing, restless as if they too are waiting to greet the babe. A dove overhead is cooing. The smell too of the earth and rock and animals in the night air is pungent but not overwhelming. The bright star is bearing a path nearly right overhead so that we hardly need the candles we’ve lit. “Push, Mary!”  I hear the sounds of music playing down the street. They mix with Mary’s cries as she bears down.  I am squatting down on my heels looking into her eyes as I feel first the baby’s head and then the rest of its body sliding into my waiting hands. Rachel gently leans back so Mary can rest and I pull the baby, a boy, who is crying lustily,  to his Mother’s waiting arms. “He’s a beautiful healthy boy!” Mary is aglow with joy as she stares down into her little one’s eyes.  “Jesus”, she whispers. “What?”, I ask.  “His name is Jesus.”

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    After swaddling the wee babe up in cloth and making Mary comfortable, We bring Joseph in and let the couple have a moment alone. Dawn is breaking and the sky is ablaze in a glory of reds, pinks, and oranges.  A soft breeze blows as I walk towards the main living quarters. My husband, along with several men who have spent this night watching the sheep come breathless, their eyes wide in amazement, into our courtyard. “Has the baby been born? Is it as the angel told us?” Angels. Have they been drinking while watching the sheep? No, their eyes are clear. What is this lunacy that has taken hold of the whole lot of them?  They tell me the story of how the angels told them to come here and see the new babe who is the Messiah. Joseph has apparently overheard this ruckus because he comes out.  “What the angel has told you is true. Please, come and see for yourselves.”  My husband along with the group of shepherds young and old follow Joseph.   I  am feeling amazed and a bit confused by all this especially after such a long night. I follow to see what Joseph has to say. “Both Mary and I were visited by angels as well. This is not an ordinary baby, but indeed the Messiah.”He holds Jesus up so that we may all get a closer look. The baby chin quivers and his face scrunches up as he begins to whimper. Joseph hands the baby back to Mary. “He is a miracle indeed”, says my husband as he falls to his knees. A few of the others follow suit.  I look down at the babe which is now laying next to his mother in the straw nursing contentedly.  Could this really be the long-awaited Savior that I have just helped bring into the world? A holy hush has come over all of us. Even the animals seem to be in awe of this precious life that seems destined to change the world forever.

The Post where I attempt to explain ME

otherwise known as the post where most of the people who read this will truly think I am crazy.  I’m about to talk to you about  my grounding places.

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A couple of days ago, I had a little talk with God.  “I’m tired of being so strange. This is crap. Seriously. I think you made some major mistakes when you created me or something. I’m trying to appreciate my gifts but they don’t feel like gifts today!” Yeah, sometimes I don’t hold back.  Hopefully , God doesn’t mind. Then God helped me see something that I hadn’t seen in quite that way before.

I have talked extensively abut being sensitive. About struggling with Anxiety and PTSD. How draining social interaction can be for me. But I have struggled to explain it in a way that anyone can really understand.  But I will try again once more.  My husband had a migraine type headache a few days ago and swore that it made him hear colors.  This made sense to me. Because , in a way , I was born hearing emotions. Energies?  I don’t see people’s aura or anything like that. But for me, some people are yelling all the time, whether they say anything or not. Their intensity screams at me from across rooms. The world is a horrendously noisy place for me. It takes all of my energy to stay present and not try to escape into my head or my phone or just walk away and find a quiet spot.  I often feel exhausted after just a few minutes in groups of people.

I have also almost always had grounding places.  People or animals or places that mute the noise.   And for a few blessed minutes, I have a  little bit of quiet to rest my  mind in. There’s no real rhyme or reason to that either, that I can figure out. It’s  not all animals. Just a few. Once in a while, I find it  in a person. Gender and age don’t seem to matter here.  And certain places. Usually in nature.  If I am able to just be in a grounding place once in a while, my mind feels a little less overwhelmed.

If I am going through a particularly difficult time, it can be hard for me to stay away from my grounding places, which is a huge problem if it’s a person.  Nobody wants to be stuck with me following them around all the time. Hell, *I* get tired of me.  Plus it gives an entirely wrong impression to others. This has caused awkward problems for me.  Frankly, even Cats, are like, okay, you can leave me alone now. Ha. For those of you, who are wondering, no. I am not crazy. I’ve been tested.  But yes, I am strange. The same gift that helps me to be deeply compassionate and empathetic often leaves me too drained to take action on those emotions. It’s deeply frustrating to me to be this way. But the more I fight it the worse it gets. So there you have it. A glimpse into my strange soul. For those who choose to love me in spite of it, I thank you from the bottom of my overly sensitive, deeply emotional, heart.

Lullaby From Heaven

My Mother-in -law, Frieda,  recently passed away and I wrote this in her memory. It was on the funeral bulletin.

 

Lullaby From Heaven by Brandy Watson

 

The sun has set,the night has come.

Lullaby, my precious ones.

For I have lived a long, full life

As a Mother,Grandma,Wife.

Sister,Daughter, and dear friend

But now my life on earth must end.

I’ve rocked the babies, dried the tears

Fed countless mouths,throughout the years.

I’ve laughed, I’ve loved, I’ve cried and prayed.

And stitch by stitch,my life was laid

Down in beauty, love’s sacrifice

I’d do it again, I wouldn’t think twice.

But it’s time for me to  finally rest

My Father knows what is the best

He’s called me home,free of pain

Soon, I’ll see you all again.

So dry your tears, try not to fret

Though I have left, I’m not done yet.

Dawn has come, I am at peace

Into eternal love,I’ve been released.

 

The People of Hope

 

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I overhead Adam the other day making up a song as he is apt to do when he thinks no one is listening. “What is a bird without its song, what is a flower without its bloom, what is the sun when it does not shine, without its glow, what is the moon.” And it got me thinking, who am I without hope. The gentle light of hope has brightened my path through the years, during good times and bad. If anything, hope’s light shines brightest during the darkest trials. Humans can endure unimaginable hardship and loss as long as they have hope.  Without it, the will to live is lost. Without it, fear and hatred are allowed to fester and grow into desperation and despair.  

 

We live in a time, where there are a lot of desperate people. People who have lost sight of hope. Where you see terrorism, war, addictions, crime, you will find people who cannot find the light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t think that any of us come into this world thinking when I grow up, what I really want to be is a drug addict or a murderer, or a thief.  We are born with the kind of hope that allows for extraordinary belief in things unseen. Nothing seems impossible. There are fairies in the woods, Santa at the North pole, superheroes ready to save the day.

 

But for most of us, that kind of hope and belief is whittled away with time and trials. Leaving an unbelievable void in its place. That kind of void demands to be filled so that we may once again feel whole.  It aches deep into our being until we can find something, anything to numb it or distract us from the pain. The problem is, of course, that the only thing that fills hope’s void, is hope. I choose to believe that hope comes from God and the belief that God loves us unconditionally. Which is why I choose to go to church, whether by building or the middle of a meadow, to mindfully pause and seek to feel God’s presence in my life.  I choose to identify as a Christian because I believe we are meant to be a People of Hope.  But too often, I find that we, as the church, struggle to spread a message of hope and love effectively. How do we reach those that are stuck in despair and desperation?

 

I think we start with acts of unconditional love. Preemptive love. Loving people first, right where they are, without any expectations.  We feed the hungry. We don’t stop to decide who deserves to have their hunger staved. No.  That’s not our job. Our job is to show up and feed the hungry. We welcome the stranger, the refugee, the homeless, knowing that we are welcoming Jesus when we do so. We recognize our privilege and seek to stand with those whose voices are cast aside in our country and our world.  We refuse to look down upon the addicted and afflicted, the criminals, and the outcasts because we recognize how easy it can be to get lost in the darkness without a light to guide you home.
Lord, let us be Your People of Hope to a dark, desperate, hurting world…. Amen.    

Wake, O Sleeper

WAKE,O SLEEPER by Brandy Watson

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Wake, O sleeper, wake.

Wake and Rise

For your minds have been dulled

And your hearts hardened

Against the injustices of your time.

 

Be still, O restless soul.

Be still and hear.

The very earth cries out

With the pain of her children

Begging to be heard

 

Now, My loves, now

Is the time to act

Pray, first with words

Then with actions

For My Kingdom on this Earth

 

Wake, O sleeper, wake

Hear the melody of My love song

For all of mankind

Take it into your soul

Teach it to your children

 

Courage, dear heart, courage

The world may seem too dark

But My love will light the way

Be a light bearer, a love bringer

To the lost, hurting, hardened world

 

Oh, my loves, my lambs

See My face in the eyes

Of your neighbor, a stranger

A child, a refugee, a beggar

Love Me ,by loving them

 

Rest,O weary soul,rest

Rest in the knowledge

That you are loved

That you are enough

That you are MINE.

The InBetween Times

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The Inbetween Times  By Brandy Watson

It is the time of  poets and writers

And other such dreamers that are

Awake long after everyone else

The in-between hours

No longer quite night and yet

Dawn has not yet kissed the sky

 

I lift my face to the sky full of stars

They sing to me a love song

One sung by the ancient ones

Long before the clutter of noise

And busyness took over the minds

Of this world’s inhabitants

 

My feet respond to a primal rhythm

Long forgotten and yet still known

By my innermost soul

I dance and sway uninhibited

Arms raised above me

Barefoot in the moon kissed grass

 

The breeze caresses my arms

Like a lover’s kisses, light and sweet

I shiver, not with cold, but delight

The rhythm picks up pace

My feet follow suit

I am a wild thing dancing untamed

 

All at once a motor roars and

Headlights glare off my deck

A spell, broken so abruptly

I am left longing for times rewinding

As I walk away  toward the house feeling bereft

My ears pick up the quiet rhythm once more

 

It feels too late now, dawns coming

Glow in the distance

Still, I pause in my doorway, listening

To the fading notes of the love song

The tinkling laughter of the tree spirits

And I am filled with peace and joy