Friday, May 30, 2014

Lunch Break

I took my lunch into the community garden behind the library and plunked into the grass, my back resting against a bed full of newborn greens. I stretched my feet out in the warm sun. I am still in awe that summer is here, still surprised every morning to be greeted with green rather than white, still marveling at the miracle of leaves twirling like ribbons on the tree branches above me. Summer has finally shook that ole' lingering Winter from her back. It doesn't surprise me that the changing of seasons was once celebrated as a holy time. It's transformation and uncertainty and hope all rolled into one.

I've been practicing how to be still, how to just sit and observe, since I have the tendency to try to cram every waking moment with productivity and busyness and to-do lists. So instead of grabbing my book, I ate my salad and orange while keeping my eyes trained on the scene in front of me. The greens waved at me as I turned their way. I saw a squirrel practically lose his footing on a massive tree. The scent of lilacs stole into the garden once or twice. Ants crawled all over my legs, like Lilliputians trying to hold me down. Nothing happened and everything happened. It was holy.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Hold the Morning

I'm just going to start typing. This week I have felt full of nothing but words that can't get out and it hurts, each word pricking me like a pin as they try to find a way to leave. So I'm just going to open the floodgates and let them fall. School is almost over and the world is waking up with warmth and green. My soul is so full that it should be pouring out all over the place but I'm buried in a fort of books, stretched on the couch, reading five at a time because I can't get enough. I sit in the kitchen sink with Cassandra Mortmain, then I march in a vigil with Anne Lamott. The evening stretches before me to go where I want- to have time is one of the best feelings in the world.

I have started to meditate now, but not as often as I'd like. Developing new habits is hard work and I often don't have enough motivation to get out of bed earlier than normal. In the mornings, whether in bed or out, I take deep breaths, noticing the work of my lungs for the first time in ages. I feel God in my breath, in my deep prayers, in being next to Nate, in trying to be still and clearing my mind which sounds like an ideal state to be in but doesn't happen for long. I'm still practicing.

I fling the door open and breathe loamy earth from the field freshly plowed next door and the mourning doves flit all over my balcony, singing their own type of prayers. The days are longer and my bike gleams in the living room, waiting for another spin on the country roads. The last time I went out I realized how out-of-shape I've become, how hard it was to breathe after awhile. I see that the bike will be like a prayer mat for me, another place to focus and breathe and watch the sacred unfold around me, even as I sweat too much and coast down hills.

Getting dressed this morning, I slid my favorite bracelet on over my wrist, a wooden piece of art from Cameroon given to me years ago by a friend from that small nation next to Nigeria, where over 200 girls and women are still missing. Wearing it is my small way to remember them, to remind myself that we are sisters, no different, that their fates matter to the world and to me. Their names are printed out and propped up on my computer at work and I let my eyes drift over the list throughout the day. Mairama. Juliana. Lugwa. Asabe. Ruth. Esther. Rahap. Each name a little prayer. I am still furious at men I've never seen with an anger that I can't let go of. I'm sick of men determining women's rights and fates. I'm tired of women defined as "less than", whether in Nigeria, in Iran, or in the U.S. This isn't a Nigerian issue- it's a world issue. And I feel powerless, which makes me angrier.

I grab another book from my pile, a precarious stack on my bedside table. Any day the cat will knock it over but I keep adding to it. There is so much in this world to know and see- I always feel like I'm racing against time to experience it all. I don't have any answers to all of the questions in my soul, but I do know that the day is lovely, that words are powerful, and that I, like everyone else, am part of it all. The powerful play goes on and we all contribute a verse.


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