Posts Tagged ‘Love’

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Draw the Circle Wider

9 December, 2016

​I do not like having to be political. I do not like drawing “us” and “them” lines when it should always be a collective us. I want to find common ground and shared hope. I believe that all people can work together for basic human rights regardless of their background. We are made more human by our willingness to listen.

I am heart-sick over the increasingly antagonistic posts I have been seeing friends make. Instead of working together to hold administrations accountable despite differences in politics or opinions, people are digging metaphorical moats to divide themselves. Instead of looking at actual actions taken by those in charge and rationally questioning their choices and motives, people are pointing fingers, calling names, and inflaming the aggressive fever ripping through us. Posts are becoming more polarised and less humane. In denouncing the other’s dehumanising actions more and more of my friends are resorting to stripping the other of humanity. Words like “libtards,” “croney-conservatives,” “sheeple,” and “brown shirts” are common place on my news feed. These words divide us from the humanity of those who have disagreed with us. These words divorce us from the reality that we are speaking about real people, with real struggles, and real fears. These words do not invite discussion or compassion or healing.

Now I am seeing people whose politics were in general alignment and whose interests paralleled one another flinging accusations at one another and blaming allies for what went wrong. Accusations of being too “politically correct” or too “moderate” or too “divisive.” People who should be comforting each other are instead othering their neighbours and blaming them for what has been lost. Our culture is becoming so fractured that we cannot even see the humanity in the very people we say we are trying to help. We carve up our country into camps of “rational” and “irrational,” “white collar” and “blue collar,” “urban” and “rural,” “queer” and “normative;” then we label those camps “righteous” or “self-serving,” “all progressive” or “all regressive,” “wise” or “foolish,” “heroic” or “villainous.” We drive equality from our nation because we no longer see all people as deserving respect and dignity.

I am put in mind of the Gospel of Matthew. The Jesus we see in Matthew is different than the Jesus in Luke and Mark and radically different than the Jesus in John. This Jesus is angry and draws lines. He divides people into two camps: those worthy of heaven and those not worthy of it. He says to the crowds, if you do this you are not worth to enter my father’s house but if you do that you are. Then, a while later, he says to those who were deemed worthy, if you do this then you shall be cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then he turns to those who remain saying, if you do this you are fit only to the pit and the never dying flames. Soon he is even drawing divisions in his disciples and then he is saying even to those left they have failed him by falling asleep while praying. And then he is alone but, in the end, even he is unworthy of God’s kingdom and love “for it is written ‘cursed is he who hangs on a tree'” and he cries out to God asking why he has been forsaken. He dies and in the story Matthew’s pen tells what happens is love. Love that reaches out past the tree and the forsaking to extend to the outcast, to extend to Jesus, but the catch of that love is it must then be extended to everyone else, it must be extended to everyone that Jesus’s lines excluded. There is no middle ground. All are worthy of respect and dignity or none are worthy.

I do not know how our nation can pull itself back together or even if it can, but I can offer a small example from my life. It is not an example of success nor is it an example with a happy ending, but it is an example of making the attempt:

My brother and I had a falling out several years ago and we are on very different paths politically and socially. He does not read what I post and I do not read what he posts. He no longer shares his political opinions with me and I do not share mine with him. But, in spite of all that is between us, I still hold his humanity at the fore. I still send him texts asking how he is, expressing sympathy when something bad happens, or just saying I love him. Sometimes he responds and sometimes he does not, but I do not let that interfer with seeing him as a person with struggles and concerns. If I allow my dislike of his politics to prevent me from recognising his heart and humanness than there will never be common ground between us and there will never be a potential for reconciliation between us.

I cannot bank on a person’s politics because politics are fleeting and change when convenient. I cannot trust in their understanding because their ability to offer understanding is so dependent on their experiences. I can only look for the common threads. I can only weave love with these threads and offer a garment of peace. If I polarise my life on the political alone, I create new enemies everyday. If I seek to build relationships on shared humanity, I open myself to potential allies and friends. Accusations and hate cannot bind our wounds, but maybe love and respect and basic dignity can.

As the song says, Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still. Let this be our song; no one stands alone (Gordon Light & Mark Miller).

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A Call to Divine-Love

18 April, 2015

In her new book, Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans writes of baptism, The Christian’s descent into the water represents a surrender, a death, to the old way of living. Emergence represents a resurrection, a starting over again. Her words made me pause and I wondered what it is we die to and what we are resurrected into. These are difficult questions and I know that many people far smarter that I am, including Ms. Evans, have struggled to answer these questions. As a teacher, however, I am wired to clarify my thoughts and to share them with others. From my experiences with love and faith and reflection on when I have felt closest to the Divine, I find myself wondering if what we die to is our hindrances and what we are born into is the practice of Divine-Love.

Learning to accept God’s love is a process of little deaths. It is allowing anything that hinders us from having a relationship with God, anything that limits or dampens our experience of Divine-Love, to fall away. There are some things that we can mutually agree are hindrances to our experience of Divine-Love, such as the harbouring of hate and me-centred behaviours, but more often, the things that separate us from Divine-Love are specific to us and our frailties. What separates me from God may not be what separates my sister from God. I struggle to see God’s love when I watch shows with bitter, cynical heroines; they are a stumbling block for me because they encourage a very pessimistic view of the world, but for my sister they may only be entertainment because such shows do not affect how she sees others. For my sister it may be alcohol or spending, violent images or popular music, excessive intellectualism or shallow relationships. What matters isn’t an agreed upon list of what interferes with a God-Centred life but how we respond to our hindrances and to each other. We are called to limit or eliminate things that will hurt us and we are called to encourage our sisters in their walk. What we are not called to do is determine for them what their stumbling blocks are nor are we to make our frailties their frailties by extension. If I struggle with alcohol, it would be kindness from my sister to not drink around me, but it would be cruelty on my part to say my sister should never drink. Conversely, if my sister struggles with loving herself unconditionally she should not resolve her struggle by defining who I am or can be, but I should respond to her with compassion and encourage to see herself and others as God does. We cannot judge what is in the hearts of others, we can only address what dampens our own heart’s receptivity to love. This is why the attempt by Christians to categorise acceptable and unacceptable sins or to limit church membership to certain individuals defies the very nature of Divine-Love.

If we are constantly shedding our hindrances, our dead behaviours and attitudes, we must replace these things with something better. We must allow ourselves to be resurrected into the compassion that sought us out, the non-judgemental love given to us without expectation. Divine-Love reaches out for us regardless of our flaws and imperfections. God does not say “I will love you if… .” This is a very difficult concept for us to grasp because human-love, no matter how pure, is always conditional. There are many things that our love survives but there are limits. Perhaps that love hits its limit when our significant other cheats on us, when the child we sacrificed for makes choices we can’t agree with, when our parent changes, or when we grow apart from our friends. As much as we don’t want to admit it, we have limits and those limits are there because we love through reciprocity; both sides give and both sides get. Divine-Love, however, is different. Divine-Love is given without the need for reciprocity. This is not the love of a hopeless lover, because even she hopes the person she loves will love her back. The closest we can come to understanding it is found in compassion for those who have hurt us. It is radical mercy. Desmond Tutu demonstrated such love when he urged Nelson Mandela to show mercy toward those who benefited from and perpetuated apartheid. Tutu called it reconciling forgiveness. Reconciling love is offered without regard to what will be returned. This is the love that we are resurrected into and because we have received it and been shaped by it, we are able to give it to others. Unfortunately, we are not perfect vessels for Divine-Love; we are mentally and physically incapable of its constant expression. Thankfully, we have not been called to be. Instead, we are called to move toward it. Having been born into reconciling love we are beholden to move ever deeper into it. As we grow and mature, we should express this love a little more consistently and a little more purely. A few might progress great distances, but all of us will gain ground. Through practice and patience (with ourselves more than anyone else) our capacity for compassion will grow; we will each be able to hold a little more and in response give a little more to everyone else.

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I Am Tired

19 February, 2015

I am tired of fighting

I am tired of disrespect

I am tired of being pegged in a slot

And not allowed out

 

I am tired of hatred

I am tired of gossip

I am tired of turning on each other

And not trusting love

 

I am tired of hypocrisy

I am tired of entitlement

I am tired of judgemental friendship

And not being kind

 

We don’t build with hate

We build with love

 

We don’t build with gossip

We build with honesty

 

We don’t build with distrust

We build with community

 

But right now …

… I cannot build

… I am frustrated

… I am at my lowest

 

I am tired

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Grandma’s Rag Bag

30 July, 2014

My maternal Grandma is 94 years old. She grewup during the Great Depression, buried two husbands, raised three daughters, taught Sunday School, sang in the choir, and preached. She got her college degree when she was 80. Until this year, she lived independently in an apartment complex for senior citizens. Aside from being my Grandmother, she is, also, my Godmother. When I was little I thought she was my fairy godmother, as a teenager I could talk to her about stuff that was on my mind, and as an adult I have profound admiration for her. I still call and chat with her, not nearly as often as I should but I’m working on that.

We chatted on the phone for an hour today. Our conversations always start with her health and the weather. From there, she will tell me the latest gossip concerning the other ladies, who is mad at whom, who won the BINGO games, or who she isn’t talking with and why. She gets a little muddled sometimes and occasionally repeats herself; I think, when you’re a nonagenarian, you’ve earned the right to repeat yourself as often as you like. She tells me about growing up on a farm in the nineteen-twenties, stories from when my Mum was a girl, or about things we did when I was little. Today, we talked about Grandma’s Rag Bag.

I have warm, comforting memories of Grandma’s Rag Bag that I love to wrap myself up in like a patchwork quilt on a cold, damp day. It wasn’t an actual bag; rather, it was a big, worn pillowcase and it was stuffed fuller than Santa’s sack at sunset on Christmas Eve. Inside were old towels and shirts, pantyhose and stockings, hats and purses, and sundries containing such magic as only a fairy godmother can provide. She would pull out this bag of wonders and let me play in her bedroom with the door closed so nobody would disturb me. This special time allowed me to be anything I wanted, needed, to be. A fancy lady. A Cinderella princess. A princess-knight who slew her own dragons and rescued herself. I could be me and that was important because, as a young trans girl, I couldn’t be me anywhere else.

My Da hated that bag and I knew that. I knew there was something unspeakable about it, but I didn’t care because it was Grandma’s magic and magic is always secret. As an adult reflecting back, I have often wondered why my Da never stopped me from playing with those feminine cast-offs and hand-me-downs. He was uncomfortable with and angry about it, though I didn’t understand why, nor, to be honest, did he.

Today, Grandma told me a part of this story that I had never heard; a part she had kept secret, perhaps, to protect my safe place or, perhaps, because grandma hearts are mysterious and know when the time for telling is. My Da had come to pick me up and opened the bedroom door. I, hosiery pulled up over my denim jeans, too-large floppy hat drooping over my eyes, and purse hanging from my arm, was too enraptured in being myself to notice. But, he noticed and was furious, as my Grandma says, fit to hit the ceiling. He turned and said to her, No boy of mine is going to walk around dressed like a girl.My Da is a six foot, broad-shouldered, farmraised man. He is imposing and my Grandma, four foot nine and plump, is not, but she stood her ground and told him to “sit down and shut-up.” She told him this was my time at her house and she didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing. He told her, “But, you have to make him mind.” My short, feisty Grandma told him I was minding, because she had told me to play and that was what I was doing. And nothing more was said on the matter.

Grandma tells me this over the phone and cannot see the tears welling in my eyes. I tell her I love her. She says, “You don’t even know how much I love you. You are my Granddaughter and my Goddaughter and you are so precious to me.” She is my fairy godmother and her love is transformative.

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11-4

8 November, 2012

Love is how they tilt their head when they smile
Love is how they touch your hand

Love is how their thinning hair doesn’t matter
Love is how their faults are quirks

Love is how their arm feels ’round your waist
Love is their fingers entwined in yours

The first kiss in morning
The last kiss at night

and …

sometimes

Love is goodbye

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T*ypical Love Story

16 September, 2012

This is a true love story involving a trans woman and a trans man. It is beautiful.

T*ypical Love Story

No part of this film is mine. All credits and sources are documented within the film.

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Trans* Love

4 June, 2012

Trans* Love
by: River

::feeling dysphoric and unlovable. feeling out of place with gender. feeling alone.::

The mirror is an enemy. It reflects lies. I can’t look like that; it’s not what I see when I close my eyes. I see smooth, clear skin and long, wavy, ginger hair. I see a face unmarred by time and the ravages of testosterone poisoning. I see me and I am beautiful. But the mirror reflects someone else. It shows a middle aged man in a dress with limp, thinning hair. The mirror shows a scarred and weathered face, five o’clock shadow and cheeks sunken from anxiety and radical diets. The mirror, my reflection, is an abusive partner. It shows what I hate and makes me want to self harm.

::picking up the sterilised shard of glass set aside for this.::

It is easy to picture the cut, performed with surgical steadiness. First it will just seem to be a line. Slowly, blood will bead on the line as my pulse causes it to seep out the sliced skin. I will watch it. The beading will become a rivulet, the rivulet will run down my arm, the blood will drop in perfectly circular splashes onto the hospital white countertop.

It would be gorgeous.

::dialling your number.::

Three, four, five rings. Voicemail.

::wanting to leave a message but not sure what to say.::

The tone. A breath. A long pause.

::hanging up.::

The phone rings; it’s you.

::hesitating.::

Three, four, five. The call goes to voice mail.

Immediately it rings again.

::answering.::

It is you. Concern colours your voice. I try to explain how I feel, but the words are jumbled and twisted. They abuse each other, consume rationality and meaning.

::crying::

Your voice is soft, kind. You are on your way.

::sinking to the floor. Making my six foot one inch frame small and impenetrable.::

You use your key and find me pressed against the counter. You kneel beside me and wrap your arms about me. They are stronger than they were six months ago and the hair is thicker, coarser. You run the back of your hand along my cheek, wiping away tears.

::gazing at you.::

Your face is thinner and more angular. Your pores are larger and patches of brown hair are visible on your cheeks and chin. The brown fuzz overwhelms me with a dizzying combination of lust and dysphoria. You smile and my heart melts.

You stand, all awkward charm and help me to my feet. I sway a little from vertigo and you catch me around my waist. With tenderness, being careful not to cut me or yourself, you open my hand and take the glass shard. You set it back in its case and close the lid. You would never throw it out and that is one of the reasons I love you.

You guide me to the bathroom and start the shower, adjusting it to that perfect temperature of steamy, tolerable, scalding. Heat burns the dysphoria off. As the mirror fogs, you unbutton your shirt and drape it across the laundry hamper. You slip out of your shoes and shed your slacks and boxers. You stand before me in nothing but your binder. You give me a moment to take your tan, handsome body in, before slipping my blouse and bra off. They are deposited in the hamper, along with my skirt and the pantyhose I cut the legs off to secure my tuck.

::sighing. helping you remove your binder.::

We step into into the shower. It scalds. I take the pain into my heart, storing it away as pleasure to be reflected on and relished. You caress my double A breasts; cupping them in your small but powerful hands. You kiss my nipples.

::sighing. massaging your clit-cock.::

You moan, you kiss my neck. You slide your hands down my side and between my legs.

::shivering in anticipation.::

You slip two fingers into the soft, pink flesh of my scrotal sack, fingering a make-shift vagina. You gently knead the soft tissue while kissing the spot where I will eventually have cleavage.

::shuddering. weeping. climaxing beneath your loving touch.::

I do not grow hard and do not come, I have not done so in several months—this is the only reason I can let you touch me,—but I do climax. It is an internal tingling that pulses out from my core, enveloping my whole being. It is blinding in its intensity and I crumple into your waiting arms.

We hold each other as the searing water cascades over us, burning away everything we are not.