“Please understand me!”
she cried.
An impossible premise
an impossible promise
impossible, period.

She cried
“Please understand me!”
until she didn’t
until she realized
that it was her promise
to herself, period.

~ ~ ~

“Please. Understand me!”
I have cried and cried
and cried some more.
An impossible, overwhelming request.
Held silent under its thumb
I’ve screamed:

The premises must be explained!
The promises must be decried!
Do you see (me)?
Do you hear (me)?
Do you understand (me)?

No, you don’t.
No, you won’t.
Period.
I see.

So, no more explaining.
No more premises defended.
No more promises (to self) broken.
No more, period.

~ ~ ~

“Understand me, or don’t!” she sings.
So pleased,
as she writhes and writes and rises.
Overcome, but not overwhelmed
by all she has to say,
by how she stays…standing.

And under-standing’s over-ture comes to an end…


*
I have spent a lifetime trying to understand. My parents, my siblings, my family dynamics. What it meant to go to church, what it meant to be a Christian, what it meant to believe in God. How to be a good girl, how to get ahead in school, how to please my parents. The rules for girls. The rules for boys. How pretty rules. How to be seen, or not; heard, or not; perfect always. All of these un-understandable. All of these futile. And every one required, demanded, and understandably critical for survival.

There was a season in which I did not understand much of anything, least of all myself, my choices, my behaviors, my actions. I didn’t care. And I couldn’t understand why. I did not stand up at all, least of all for myself. I crouched. I skulked. I compromised. I hid. I underwhelmed (myself). Under the radar. Under-achieving. And misunderstood.

Later, I thought I had finally found it, everything. It was all I’d ever wanted – until it wasn’t. I tried to understand my marriage and the man. Why he was always depressed. Why it was my job to keep him happy, sane, coping, functional. Why I couldn’t get pregnant. Why I should even bother believing in a God who wouldn’t answer my prayers. Why I was so horrible as to doubt, to rage, to be faith-less. I tried to understand my anger. I tried to understand my confusion. I tried to understand my loneliness. I tried to understand my tears. All to no avail.

My tears. They defied all understanding, any explanation, all and any attempts to be thwarted, slowed, stopped. They continued. Inexplicable. They made no sense. “This is nonsense!” I thought. Endless. And always in the dark, in private, in secret. Why?

What I didn’t understand (until I did) was that my tears made more sense than anything or anyone else. That they were the font, the truth, the gift at the altar, the only part of me that knelt and knew, that stood – defiant, unstopped, unsilenced, undaunted.

Maybe it was never about my understanding. Maybe, really, it was about being understood. Needing, longing, demanding to be understood. By my parents, by my family, by my culture, by my God. Later by my husband, by my friends, by my employer, by my therapist. Now by my love, by my readers, by my girls. Then and now, not having to do, feel, be, all by myself.

These days, I feel understanding’s incessant, relentless demand in a more subtle but no-less visceral way: through what I write. “Please understand x, y, and z.” “Do you, will you see?” “Do you, will you hear?” But what I really mean, what I really want, still, is this: “Please understand me!” “See me!” “Hear me!”

And it strikes me that all of this is a helpless prospect; always has been. It is neither about understanding, nor about being understood – at least not anymore. It’s about trust, intuition, and writing-speaking-feeling-saying-being whatever I want, all that I want, what my tears have always known. It’s about weeping and roaring and blazing and shining and preaching and provoking and yes, standing.

It’s about not under-standing.

Someone once said, “seek first to understand.” I’ve done enough of that – under duress, under demand, under false pretenses, premises, and promises.

And under-standing’s over-ture comes to an end.


*
“Please understand me!”
she cried.
An impossible premise
an impossible promise
impossible, period.

She cried
“Please understand me!”
until she didn’t
until she realized
that it was her promise
to herself, period.

~ ~ ~

“Please. Understand me!”
I have cried and cried
and cried some more.
An impossible, overwhelming request.
Held silent under its thumb
I’ve screamed:

The premises must be explained!
The promises must be decried!
Do you see (me)?
Do you hear (me)?
Do you understand (me)?

No, you don’t.
No, you won’t.
Period.
I see.

So, no more explaining.
No more premises defended.
No more promises (to self) broken.
No more, period.

~ ~ ~

“Understand me, or don’t!” she sings.
So pleased,
as she writhes and writes and rises.
Overcome, but not overwhelmed
by all she has to say,
by how she stays…standing.

And under-standing’s over-ture comes to an end, period.

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    underwaterYou already know this: there is profound beauty and wisdom that lies in wait – deep within you. 

    *
    When you listen, when you trust, when you are honest, it’s what only you can hear. It’s your voice. And it tells you to stand, to rise, to sing, to create, to dance, to write, to speak, to weep, to preach, to scream, to dream, to desire, to hope, to love, to be…you.

    Go deeper. Beneath the layers of cultural messaging and familial patterns. Go deeper. Beneath the relational rules that twist. Go deeper. Beneath the voices – within and without – that shout you into silence. Go deeper. Beneath the shame that suffocates. Go deeper. Beneath the economic restraint that (seemingly) hinders. Go deeper. Beneath the religious constructs that bind. Go deeper. Beneath the ego’s incessant drone that restrains. Go deeper.

    There, beneath all of this, and deeper still, beats your heart. And there, within your heart, your soul, your spirit’s womb and deeper still, is all that you need. The confirmation. The affirmation. The certainty. The will. The profound beauty and wisdom that is yours. That is you.

    Ahhhhhhh.

    And just as quickly as you descend, you are pulled – coughing and spluttering to the surface. Your practiced, poised, and “appropriate” self can already anticipate and envision the problem with letting that voice, that you out: you would most certainly be misunderstood. Exactly!

    You are not here to be understood. You are here to be you.

    *
    Which is why you must go deeper still. Into the very womb of your truest self where you are fluent in your heart’s language, where you are certain of your knowing, where you are whole, complete, not lacking for anything, and at rest. Where the profound beauty and wisdom lies in wait. It’s not going anywhere. And we can wait. I’m wondering though, if you can…

    It’s time.

    May it be so.


    *
    SacredConversationsIf you can feel this pull to “beneath” and long for/need/desire someone to explore the depths with(in), deeper and beneath and deeper still, please consider this a personalized invitation from me to you. This profound beauty and wisdom is your sacredness, is holy ground, is the most incredible manifestation of the Divine within. And oh, how I would love to swim in those waters alongside you. SacredConversation. You and me. Together. It’s time.


     

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      What better way for me to tell a story, then to tell it aloud! Click here to listen to the audio version of this post.

       
      Telling Stories“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” 

      *
      These words were penned by Sue Monk Kidd in her book (and then film), The Secret Life of Bees. And oh, how I have found this to be true. 

      I tell stories that often feel to me like they are on death’s door – so often untold (even more frequently mis-told) if not completely forgotten. And I can’t bear that! 

      I need their stories to remember and resurrect my own.
      *

      • As I struggled through the excruciating years of infertility, the kindness of women who had known the same came alongside me in solidarity and strength. Remembering and telling the stories of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah (and so many more) reminded me of who I was and why I was here no matter the grief, the ache, the anguish. 
      • In the days-weeks-months-years leading up to my divorce and certainly through it, the steady companionship of a marginalized, pregnant slave was all that held me together. Remembering and telling Hagar’s story reminded me of who I was and why I was here no matter the misunderstanding, the confusion, even the shame. 
      • As a mother, while worrying and wondering about the stories through which my daughters have already lived and are yet to face, the cryptic tale of a woman who knew fear far more visceral than my own danced before me in glory and radiance. Remembering and telling the story of The Woman of Revelation 12 reminded me of who I was and why I was here: to rise up on my daughters’ behalf, to fight for them, to sustain their story. 
      • Often, at the start of a new day, I consider all that waits for me in the hours ahead and I look to these same women and so many more. I ask one to walk with me – offering perspective, hope, wisdom, courage, and strength. She never disappoints. Remembering and telling her story, over and over to myself, reminds me of who I am and why I’m here – no matter what comes.
      • Just three weeks ago I sat on a stage at a church in Nebraska – graciously invited to tell the stories I love. Friday night. Saturday morning. Sunday. I recounted the lives of Eve, the Wives of Angels, the Midwives, Elizabeth, Mary, Hagar (yes, again), the Woman at the Well, the Woman of Revelation 12 (mmmhmm, again), and the Extravagant Woman. And I wept – so aware of the ways that the remembering and telling of their stories is the only thing that has enabled my own; the very thing that has offered me life and life and life. 

      I must tell stories so that they can live; so that I can! 

      *
      I’m guessing I’m not the only one. If this provokes even the slightest hunger in you – to remember and hear such stories - there is nothing I would love more than to tell you one, many, an infinity of them.

      2015 SacredReadingsHere’s a place to start. One ancient, sacred story – chosen especially for you – the Sacred She who will come alongside you into and through the New Year with wisdom, beauty, and strength; who will help you remember who you are and why you are here. I promise.

      2015 New Year SacredReadings. Discounted by more than 60% until midnight, Sunday, December 21. Only $54. For you. As gift. To help you remember…BUY NOW.

      *

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        Photo from Unsplash.com: https://unsplash.imgix.net/31/RpgvvtYAQeqAIs1knERU_vegetables.jpg?q=75&fm=jpg&s=59f3df66ad2515cd56b5c095ef33ba65There’s an ancient sacred story told of two sisters – Mary and Martha. It goes as follows:

        As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But Jesus said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

        I can hear Martha’s voice yet today and now, speaking directly to me – maybe even to you. 

        “So desperately I wanted to sit and listen at Wisdom’s feet as she did; to play and dance and dream. Everything in me wanted to run free and speak up and laugh endlessly. My very cells were shouting. My body was all but moving. And I knew that if I let go, I would propel myself forward with force beyond imagining. But I held back. Worse, I critiqued her.

        “You know this scene, don’t you? Like me, you’re standing in the kitchen, seeing all the “work” that needs to be done, and keeping yourself from all that you long for, the person you most want to be.

        “You hear the same voice, don’t you? “Dear Martha, you are worried about many things. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

        “No shame. No scolding. Just invitation. Listen:

        “Dear One, you are worried about many things. Choose the better part and it will not be taken from you.”
        *

        • The better part. Playing. Dancing. Dreaming. Reflecting. Listening. Sitting at the feet of Wisdom.
        • The better part. Loving yourself. Seeing your beauty. Writing with abandon. Loving with passion. Letting effort go. Letting tasks go. Letting fear go. Letting restraint go. Letting decorum go. And going forth. From the kitchen and into your world. From the trap of responsibility and must-do’s and duty to a place of freedom and creativity and love.
        • The better part. Not a call to obedience or doctrinal adherence. No, this is a call to trust a Wisdom that is older than time. This is a call to trusting your wisdom, your knowing, yourself.
        • The better part. It will not be taken from you.

        “Get out of that kitchen. It is not the place you are destined to stay.” 

        *
        May it be so for me – and maybe even for you.

        **************

        2015 SacredReadingsI’ve written about Martha before. Just recently, actually. Clearly, her story and voice continue to speak. I love that! And hers is but one of the 52 stories I work with in SacredReadings. And for a few days more, I’m offering 2015 New Year SacredReadings for only $54 – a 60% savings. I wonder who the ancient, sacred woman is who longs to come alongside you into and through this New Year – offering Wisdom, beauty, and strength. All you have to do is ask.

        *

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          Ferguson ProtestEvery day we are confronted with realities that confound us, enrage us, and break our hearts. We sift through their rubble for the smallest shard of meaning. We search for clues, breadcrumbs, anything that will put our tired minds at rest. And for all of this striving, it is rarely with measurable result. We know Frederich Buechner’s words are true, but we’re loathe to admit or accept them:
          *

          “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Do not be afraid.” 

          Still we fight, wrestle, and do battle with the unanswerable question of “Why?” We are ravenous for an answer.

          I am no different than you. I see things I cannot reconcile, no matter how hard I try. Too painful, too difficult, too impossible, too violent. I can’t shrug my shoulders and move on nor take a dogmatic position that enables me to rail at all who disagree with me. I have to find a way to hold ambivalence, to stay, to allow (though not accept) what I hate and hold on tenaciously to hope. The only way in which I know how to do such a thing is to go to stories.

          Stories of others who have asked the same questions – even more, have somehow lived without their answers. Stories that offer me perspective and wisdom – even more, companionship, kindness, and support. Stories that name and normalize my own – even more, remind me that so many have persevered and survived; that perhaps I will, as well. Stories that remind me that despite so much evidence to the contrary, grace, hope, miracles, and love endure – ever more, ongoing, infinitely, no matter what.

          “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them.”
          ~ Isak Dinesen

          Stories are hardly an escape from reality; rather, a visceral and poignant reminder that one profound truth supersedes and wins out over all others (despite evidence to the contrary at times): Stories reveal all that we have in common, all that we share, all the similarity found even (and maybe especially) in difference. When we listen to an ancient myth, though far removed from our day-to-day reality, we see aspects of ourselves. When we hear a fable or fairytale, though hardly the stuff of our lived experience, we see aspects of ourselves. When we watch a film, whether drama, romance, or sci-fi, we see aspects of ourselves. And we see each other.

          We must tell stories to be reminded that we are more the same than not. No matter the time period, the culture, the politics, the religion, the lens, the perspective. We are one.

          “To hell with facts! We need stories!” 
          ~ Ken Kesey

          So let us tell stories. And let us listen to them. Our own. Others’. Any and all we can get our hands and hearts on. Those that break us open and those that bind us back together again. Most of all, those that bind us to one another – again and again and again. When we do, the inexplicable, unanswerable, and ever-nagging question of “why,” loses a little bit of its power and grace, hope, miracles, and love gain back so much more of theirs. As it should be. As it must be.

          May it be so.

          ***************
          *

          2015 SacredReadingsI tell particular stories because of all of the above and then some, because I believe in my bones and my deepest heart that the women within them offer every bit of the grace, hope, miracles, and love – in real, visceral, and profoundly relevant ways. This also explains why I offer them to you. One ancient, sacred woman whose story will come alongside yours in 2015; who will help you live into the story that is uniquely yours. Guidance. Discernment. Wisdom. Kindness. All yours. I promise.  

          2015 SacredReadingsDiscounted pricing ends soon. Save 60%. Only $54. Learn more.

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