Broken Vessel

When I arranged my desk I didn’t take into account cats. Previously writing on the porch table kept them at bay, the beasts always on the lookout for something to chase. Weather forced me inside to the dining room table and cats appeared, jumping on my lap and laptop, a nuisance I was accustomed to as my right arm stretched to provide protection and I pecked away with my left hand. I barely noticed the fur in my face while deep in thought, I may have stroked a cat or two but they surely didn’t get rewarded for interfering. But when I set up my office with a smaller writing surface and a space heater to take away the chill, I strategically placed items on my desk to challenge or comfort me. I didn’t consider cats. A thought I was creating my own space, I truly believed my desk was mine and my area was clearly marked as a pet-free zone. I have come to see that just because I didn’t make space doesn’t not translate into space not available. It often takes me awhile to catch up to God’s design.

Swishing tails, slinking bodies, leaping from shelves to my desk, invaders who won’t listen to reason, refuse to be ignored: the cats have found me, know I am captured at my tiny desk. A closed door is an invitation for little paws to scratch and poke underneath, distractions that pull me from my musings unto the meowing. Seeking compromise, I crack the door and place a blanket on the trunk, a warm snuggling place. I moved the climbing tower from upstairs into my office. I am trying to be flexible. Still, they wanted more. They wanted my desk, they wanted me. We are now in full-out battle, the cats are banished. A sweeping tail knocked a treasure off of my desk, a bridge too far. Not just any treasure but pottery Janet made, the clay pot that she created then broke and pieced back together. A piece so incredibly beautiful in design and meaning that I looked at it daily to see the light come through the cracks and knew God. I stashed inside sweet supportive letters I have received as I started my blog, a seed that was planted by Janet and continues to grow fruit as I share my broken places. You can see why I am warring with my cats. My special jar is now shards. The vessel can hold nothing.

I want to find meaning in my destroyed broken pot, to see that even more light is now possible. I want to acknowledge that there are worse problems than pets who search for comfort on my lap. I want to be big enough to expand my world and my heart but if I am honest, I don’t want to open up anymore. I like what I have where I have it. I was comfortable with just that amount of light coming in. Unfortunately I don’t think God is really interested in me being comfortable in my little space, I am being pulled into a new place that feels sharp and promises hurt. I have been watching with the attentiveness of my cats at the back door while the birds flutter to the feeders, noticing all the ways I am being opened up and expanded and called to be more. I prefer my safe place but I am laid bare like the slivers and fragments, the choice already made for me.

I retreat, I snuggle in, I take more naps. I even got angry, really angry a couple of days ago, an unusual reaction from me. A desperate message to Janet just to touch base in the midst of my mad day alerted her to my fury as I announced the day officially a “poop” day where wine would be the reward at the end, if it ever ended. The next day I read in Steve Wien’s book “Beginnings” (which I have raved about unabashedly many times and think everyone should go buy and read) the chapter on Expanse which is the one I will be leading soon in our study group. The pieces all came together as he shared his son’s anger and desire to poop on his brothers. If this is not endorsement enough to grab the book,  I just don’t know how to get you there! I totally got this child’s anger, his frustration, I laughed at my ridiculous response to my day but still, I know I am being stretched to see things I don’t want to see.

The cats broke my vessel, light floods onto the pieces, bounces off of the glaze and shines on my office walls.  I can only imagine how long it took Janet to create her gorgeous works, how brave she was to present them to others. I am a reluctant vessel of God, being called to move precious treasures into the SONshine and allow the Light to pour through. I grew content with the cracks and the beauty of my own clay pot, national events now force me to be broken wide open and face more feelings and words that are less on the joyous end of the spectrum, words that reflect fear and hurt and anger. Just as I thought I was safe from intruders in my little office, I know that even invaders dressed up like cute kittens can cause damage, can wreck what is important to all of us. The world is full of poopiness, full of anger and also rife with opportunities to open our souls to others, allow more light in. We are being called to leave our comfortable places, intruders pushing us to break open our soul vessels to those seeking asylum.

I am broken open to see and feel and hear the more around me, a painful destruction of my soul barriers that promises more angry days ahead. I may want to poop on my day, I may desire more wine, still I think God’s light is shining amidst the darkness as the Son catches the pieces of us all and new art is born. I am not accustomed to sharp edges, I may need some smoothing, God will surely work on that. For now, my desk and soul are more open, I am surround by the Light.

Beginnings

I’ll Take a #2 with Fries

My Plum chose that exact moment when I sat down for lunch to explode with anger at Mama’s house. I know this because she phoned me in support, finally over his antics and ready to call in the big guns, The Gran. I could hear his stomping and screaming through the phone. Her calm voice told me she was not further enraging him, he was ignited and burning all alone. Lunch abandoned on the table, I headed over and considered what to say to a 6 year old who was fighting against his world. Mama expected back up, as would he. Given that my balance is all but gone these days, I was pretty sure I was risking getting burnt myself. I called in my own big gun, the ultimate fight settler, I said a quick pray that I would be the water to refresh them all and help restore calm.

I found a home brimming with frustration and that lack of patience that comes when sleep is a concept you remember hearing about but no longer experience, like the heat of summer during frigid winter mornings. You know July will return but it does you little good in January when your toes are icy and your nose is running and your bones feel brittle. A home with a newborn doesn’t remember what deep sleep feels like, eyes are always just a bit glazed and dazed, conversations have a way of faltering as mamas and daddies lose track of words and sentences. Is it any wonder a 6 year old is able to push everyone up against the cold walls of reaction with just a tiny response, a slightly negative raise of his ever so cute eyebrow, a bit of sass the arches from his mouth to his mother’s ear and creates an electrical current that catches the house on fire?  You may also see that I am a bit biased toward the child with his stomp and circumstance, I want to stomp a great deal lately as well. Yet I know mama’s heart and I know how she never sets that new baby down and I know she could just fall asleep standing up so she stands very little. I know daddy’s heart, I know that the name of ‘step” anything in the family really means “shit” and all your good works are forgotten by the tiniest misSTEP when you are reminded quite loudly of your outsiderness. Thus I walked into that home and fired my Gun of Gran wisdom at them all, which included a raised voice to get Plum’s attention, some negotiation, some explanation, a heavy dose of the Commandments, quite a bit of hugging, some wound management and practicing the fine art of atonement. An hour later I returned home to my cold lunch with my gun chambers emptied but my heart completely filled.

This little family modeled for me exactly what I need right now. I want to see more puppies and kittens but the world is hard, we are weary. We are stomping and shouting and just want each other to do the thing we want and forget that we ALL count and that history impacts our moment, our choices. As I sat on the step and asked Plum if maybe he thought God might have an idea about how he was supposed to behave at home, he said, yeah, honor God. I pushed more, how about that one rule about how we are supposed to treat our parents? Blank look.  Like he had never heard this before. I know for a fact he has colored pages and listened to Sunday school teachers on this commandment. We have discussed it.  In that moment though, it was gone. Whether by convenience or necessity, he just couldn’t find what God wanted him to do. (I know that feeling, sweetie, oh Lord I know that feeling.)  Nothing to do but remind him of God’s rule about honoring our father and mother. Waiting, sure the light would shine in those beautiful eyes, but no, he doubled down, sunk his head in his hands and told me I had it all wrong. He provided the much needed levity for mama and daddy as he stuck to his guns and assured me he is to obey God but is perfectly just in making faces, scratching and fighting and throwing laundry at his parents. Clearly he needed a nap, I promised we would check with Miss Emily and Miss Suzanne to see if Gran was making stuff up, as we retrieved his special blanket and he climbed on my lap for some rocking and snuggling.

Still, I couldn’t help thinking about my own times of defiance.  How often do I stick to the absolute wrong thing and ignore the teaching because I just DO NOT want to acknowledge my error, I DO NOT WANT to do the hard stuff, I DO NOT want to atone? I have colored those Sunday school pages, I know those Commandments, contrary to what my Plum thinks. I know the right thing to do. When God sits me on the steps and asks me if I remember His rules, I know I often dodge the question. I know I put my head in my hands and challenge Him that what He is wanting from me is just entirely too much, I may even shout that those rules are too hard to follow and I like my own list better. I prefer during those difficult times to treat God’s big 10 like value meals on the screen at the drive-up:”I’ll take a number 2, sure you can biggie size that. Oh no, that’s all for me today, thanks.” At those times, I know God sees how tired I am, how far away warmth feels to my cold scared soul, and he sends in the big guns of kittens and puppies and mamas and daddies and a Plum to show me the way. I pray we all find our sources of hope and laughter during the days ahead, when our souls are being expanded to accommodate the hurting and the scared and the “Steps” around us. That expansion is excruciating, I pray we remember to warm each other whenever possible, to grab our special blankets and rock in the arms of our God. I pray we remember that the rest of our family, the others out there,  may have been fighting much longer than us, we may be asked to join in order to make the blast from the big gun felt.  They need our voices to rise up to ensure we are all heard, all of God’s children. We need to rely on each other when we are too tired to stand. I pray we just keep holding each other up and when we can’t remember all those Commandments, let’s follow that one bit that Jesus told us and I told Plum on the stairs:

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35  The Message (MSG)

I’m gonna check with Miss Emily and Miss Suzanne to be sure, but I think it boils down to we are supposed to be kind to each other. I’ll keep you posted.

 

 

 

 Replacement

 

The Narcissism of Estrangement

I long to snuggle under warm blankets and read easy fiction, drift off to sleep with pretend conflicts and made-up mysteries because life is so uncomplicated I go searching for embattled situations rife with nonsense to ease me into slumber. I want afternoons of browsing social media overflowing with kittens and recipes and DYI projects I will never master while I snack on candy and sip wine and worry only about the horrible combination of the two. I want my escapisms back, when worries felt big enough to warrant such behavior, when I allowed myself to wallow in hurts and slights that justified Pinot Grigio in the afternoon. It seems so frivolous now, incredibly self-indulgent when families are broken not by choice and inability to forgive but by new laws that leave them on airplanes and across borders, reaching helplessly for each other, souls truly in agony. The epidemic across America of millennials feeling self-righteous and thoroughly justified in lobbing  off family members who dare to hurt their feelings, who speak words that don’t generate “likes” in their hearts, parents who have shown themselves to be human and failed and not perfect Facebook or Instagram images, these young adults are suffering from a greed that comes from instant “friends” and shallow relationships, easy deletes with a button click that must be farcical to the rest of the world. My family has been destroyed by estrangement, the quick snapping off of our branch of the family tree. What must this look like to mothers who are wailing for their children across walls erected overnight? Children who cannot reach parents in hospitals, spouses who cannot complete educations together? Families ripped apart with roots that support generations are in agony, true bone crushing pain. I cannot help thinking of my children and the utter selfishness that comes of being white and literate and full of the self-esteem I made sure to nurture. These children are making choices to separate that must seem completely ludicrous to families cowering in fear of this very separation. I don’t think there is enough wine to escape into just how stupid this all is.

I am reminded of the trip Stella and I took to SouthEast Asia and how I was impacted by such a simple thing as water usage. I saw first-hand how precious this commodity was, not a concept that I merely read about. I saw women carrying clay pots of water, I saw children without. I came home and explained to our family that we would not be letting the water run when we brushed our teeth, we would not let the shower run while we wandered around choosing clothes, something I had always tried to teach but now felt passionately about. When we see real hunger, we can no longer waste food. Resources are not limitless, families are only precious when we understand that tree supports not just us but future generations as well. Those who have lost branches understand the value of a strong root system.

Our church is beginning a new ministry to pair children whose extended family may be far away with seasoned congregants who are willing to step in as “grandparents.” A beautiful response that understands the value of both ages for each other. Parents aren’t enough in a child’s life, riches come from knowing the world holds more love, special branches that  support the child with patience and generational wisdom. How indulgent and short-sighted for those practicing this new brand of selfishness call estrangement, to rob their children from the gifts they received from those very branches? How comically narcissistic  it must appear to the rest of the world, a silly bedtime story that has to be fiction, given the real problems of the day. As I consider the rush of lawyers into airports to address those abandoned and separated, lost and disconnected, my heart breaks for these people and for the silent millions across our country who are suffering from children who just don’t get that one day, it may be too late to reunite. Someone may put up a wall, erect a barrier, create a very real separation that will make your frivolous choices of escapism break your own hearts. I pray this is just a season of wild fiction, a crazy ride that wakes us up from our pretend conflicts and made-up mysteries, brings us back together into what is  truly important: family trees with deep roots and funky branches, knotted trunks and new growth. I just can’t grasp wasting such precious commodities when others are desperately wanting.

Out of the Sanctuary, Off of the Couch

I have been thinking much about Jesus lately. I know I should have said I do that all the time but the truth is I think about being a Christian more often, about the good works associated with that title. I consider the ways my church has sneakily tied bits of silk around me and ever so gently pulled, tugged, eased me back into ministries, so many that when a friend asked what I was involved with at church, I realized the list was quite long. It seems that the very act of showing up there for one event allows your face to be present when a need arises, when a slot comes open. The more you enter the building, the more you have opportunity to get involved. Before you know it, ministry events occur most every day, church is no longer a place you visit on Sunday but a people you socialize with, a call you need to make, a group you lead, a meal to be prepared. Easy then to become complacent in that place, to feel comfortable in Christianity, to take a bit of pride in all the good works and forget the point. I love that my church has lured me into the web of deeds, they saved me. But now I am thinking about Jesus more, about that man who walked this same earth and did his own good works, an action packed 3 years that didn’t lead to elevation to committee chairman or board president, He didn’t retire and sit back to let the young folks take over the tough jobs. He promised to keep going and set the example for all of us to do real ministry. He was a servant first last and still.

I have been searching scripture for places where Jesus shouted out at his opposition, refused to listen to the people, deleted those who didn’t understand his message. I can’t find anything. He didn’t practice intolerance even in the face of the Pharisees. He knew their way was against His, He knew they practiced a dangerous religion, rooted in the same beginnings, the same core of what HE was teaching. Yet still He engaged them to allow for discussion, He answered their questions, He listened. He knew their beliefs had been corrupted disrupted coopted into something no longer at the core of His God. I want to be a Jesus Christian, just that simple. I have heard many conversations recently that include a reticence to openly own our label as Christians, a name that has come to be more associated with intolerance and judgement than the love and radical hospitality my friends are seeking to live out. I get that fear, I know that desire for a new term to describe who we are, one that distances us from them, those Pharisees who stand above and not with the marginalized. Yet all that pulling and tugging over the last year or so has readied me for action, for using my voice to speak above a whisper, to proclaim that I follow Jesus rather than announce a denomination for easy classification. I want to be the kind of person who sees those in need, who sees those hurting, and sees myself and not other. I am aching with the hurt I see around me, my soul is bursting with the fear and pain of the marginalized who know life is getting even harder, scarier. I want to scream and shout, demand that we all see them and us. Also, I want to listen to my friends and those who sit in church across the country under the cross. I need to resist the temptation to delete and turn my back, label them Pharisees and lost Christians. I want to show up with my Jesus face on, offer a cup of soup and hear their concerns. Maybe they will listen to mine, maybe we will pray together and God will bring Jesus back into our faith.

Realistically, it hasn’t always been easy to announce participation in the Christianity club especially when it was known only as the God group. It was an underground movement, it was one fraught with danger and imprisonment, one that required those who knew the truth to speak it to power and the masses. It meant followers had to risk much to gather in small groups to bolster and teach each other and then risk even more to go out and speak truth to those who didn’t know or believe yet. Being a follower of our God is not meant to be easy or profitable or safe. There is no promise of resting in riches or celebrating in comfort. These times now are hard again, the Sabbath of sitting in the sanctuary on Sunday counting our good deeds for the week are over. Our very existence as a movement is being threatened, our history and faith taken over by those who want to build walls to keep the others out, those who want to ignore that people are still enslaved by our hands, those who want to define love narrowly narrowly more narrowly still until love only looks like hate.

My friends, if you are a Jesus Follower, we cannot afford to rest. We did that. We waited and hoped and expected that someone else would take care of all the injustices. Can you feel the silk strings wrapping around you, puling you into the movement? Tugging us into a place of awareness that frankly is making me weary and sad and outraged already and I am just getting started. I can bake cookies for meetings all I want, Jesus is just not going to accept that anymore, not good enough. Sure, everyone likes cookies but there are children outside our building who don’t know what a home baked cookie tastes like while we grow fatter with each meeting. I can minister within the building by taking a meal to a sick congregant, but Jesus is just telling me that is not enough. The ill outside of our sanctuary are growing sicker and do not receive homemade soup, ever.

Frankly, the work within my church was practice, a warmup to get me going. The game is on, the buzzer blasted when black men were being killed and I cried at home on my couch but didn’t protest or even write letters. The buzzer blasted when bathrooms became an issue and I shook my head but did not call legislators to register my disgust. The buzzer blasted over and over, I did not move out of church to show Jesus, to be Jesus to power. Game on, maybe I missed the first quarter, but I am in, on team Jesus. A second string player whose skills have been honed, I am ready for action and I am aching with anger and hurt for humanity, fueled by my own complacency. I don’t know about being a Christian, but I am a follower of Jesus and it is about to get rough. That my friends is how it is meant to be.

 

Hippie Heart Broken Feet

My friend aptly stated that if the March had been scheduled days earlier, before my birthday, I would have been fine. Just that one year more of age seems to have put me in the elderly group, mostly because she is 6 months younger and delighting in this time of her youth, in comparison. Sill, I am confronting the fact that the hippie heart that resides within does not match the broken down body surrounding it. I can barely walk, my feet are reacting to missed medication (a necessary choice to stay awake for the 9 hour drive) and the excessive time spent upright. I wish I could say I am floating on the passion of the experience but mostly I am sleeping, falling into deep stupors as if I missed weeks of sleep instead of one night. I am stumbling, not drunk on hope but rather unable to establish balance again on feet with funky nerve responses. I am maybe too old now to drive all night and protest all day, more suited to a life behind a keyboard with legs propped up and a nap of restoration available at 1:00 each day.

Still, I think of all who have protested before me, all the women who have stood up so that I can vote and bank and drive and use the pill back in college when I chose to. I am confident it wasn’t easy for them, I know there were real costs to body and life. I consider those who have fought for the freedoms of my friends of color, the risks they took to send strangers onto the railroad to freedom, the incredible costs of standing up to be heard at counters and on busses. I think of those who even now brave harsh elements to protect the environment, those who sneak across borders not to commit crimes but to find employment in order to feed their families. My aches seem so minor in light of all who have come before me, who have protested wars and wrongs not just for a day but until their voices were counted, until they achieved the change they sought. I draw inspiration from their selflessness, their push forward that brings us all closer to the garden God created, a place of equality and love with no knowledge of evil.

I may be too broken down physically to make overnight road trips and stand all day but I pray I will never be too aged, too hobbled to speak up for those whose voices are mere whispers. Babies leave the womb demanding that we acknowledge their voice, a shriek to say ,”Notice me” that we slowly teach out of them. Hush, shhh, quiet down. History is rife with examples though of just that need for whispers turning into roars, of the collective sounds of  young old and broken down rising up to say, “Notice us, we must be heard, this is important.” Those voices turn into hymns that sing us into the promised land, a place there the water is clean, the air is pure, the earth is lush, where people of all color play together and love one another, where gender is not a barrier, where education is shared freely to all children.

I may be too broken down to ride all night with no sleep but my aches are battle wounds that remind me there is work to be done, my keyboard and phone can help continue the push while I heal.  When I am rested up, I may just march again. Hippie hearts really never quiet, they just beat to a new cause, unable to settle into success of the past when  injustice is evident. I may be napping today, but Please, let your voice grow loud, louder still. No need to hush on my account. I am with you in spirit.

How To Make Friends: Plum 101

Plum raced off of the bus and into the house, past my open arms, over to his art table to grab paper and colored pencils before he had even shed his coat. I trailed behind this little whirlwind trying to sneak a smooch or a bit of a hug to no avail, he was intent on his project. I offered a snack, provided milk and still he was too busy to acknowledge me fully. It seems he made a new friend on the bus, it was a “her” I was informed, and he wanted to write a letter to her. Ahhh, so it begins, I thought. A girl has come between us. I peeked at his letter, mostly in awe that he was able to do all the writing himself, and saw that it contained all the necessary information for a beginning friendship. It was a greeting, a followup on a first contact. “Ha Faline, my name is Plum, the person you sat by.” I did not correct his “ha” into a “hi”, he clearly was on a mission and didn’t ask for back up. After carefully putting his letter in his backpack to be delivered the next time he rides this bus to our house, we could begin our time. New friendships come first.

His school was celebrating the 100th day in session, what a milestone it was. The growth that comes from the first day of kindergarten to now is amazing, from not reading to writing his own letters, from friendships based on our connections to new ones of his choosing.  He is changing each day, growing into a little person and that requires energy and effort, he is more often crabby and sassy with us. He is also more often hilarious with his wit and vocabulary. What I appreciate the most though is his heart that grows more open at an exponential rate to his physical and mental stretching. He shared his 100 day treats with me, said he would have had more but Faline was hungry on the bus so he gave her one of his special baggies of food. The much anticipated treat bags, like the bonus packages you get for going to a birthday party, who gives those away?

I hear people talk about the difficulty of making friends, connecting with others, after college or outside of work. I think Plum has provided the blueprint, he certainly understands that to have a friend you must be a friend. Sit with someone new, share your cookies, follow up with a note. Seeing those around us who are not in our circle, who may not have a treat bag, who may delight in meeting someone new, requires that we are focused outward rather than on our self. No worries about not having enough snacks, about misspellings, about whether or not she will like his letter or him, he moved out into the world. I love this child, I love his heart. I love his sassy mouth because I know that he may have used up all of his nice throughout the day and has little left for me. I love his faith that if he shares what is in his backpack, he will not go hungry. I love that God is so visible in this child I would have to be blind to miss Him, I would have to ignore His offers of shared joy and notes of introduction, over and over. I love the soul of this child who shows me how to do it all. I love that he offered his cookies even to me, when there was only a small bit left. I want to move actively out of my comfort zone and into the world, seeing the hungry and finding more friends. I plan to follow Plum’s lead.

Ha, I’m Lisa, wanna be friends? I have some gifts to share, I bet you do as well.

Mental Health March

Chef describes depression as bean bag chairs that rest on him, laying on his shoulders and covering his head. A bit comfy at first, molding to his body, providing shelter, blocking the harsh light from his eyes. (Well, he said the bean bag part.) The longer the bean bags, light as they are, stay in place, though, they become heavy, too awkward to carry around. Easier to sit still and not explain to onlookers why you are carrying beanbag chairs on your shoulder, simpler to not move and mess with the weight of them, jostling the little beans inside until they push even further onto your body, obstructing more of your view. Shoulders become weary, begin to sag. Neck muscles grow exhausted, head begins to droop. A slow gentle process of depression,  sinking under the bean bag chairs until you are covered and can no longer see, no longer lift them alone. I think fear is the same, worry is the same, anxiety, the same. All begin with just little bean bag on our shoulder, one becomes two, more sneak on top until we are stuck in the darkness. Or maybe like tiny seeds that get watered and nurtured and tended until they grow so great around our souls we are imprisoned in a garden of our making. We lose sight of the fact that we CAN lift those damn bean bags, we CAN chop down the weeds of worry. Getting up, moving into the light of community, we can find our way out of the darkness.

I have spent most of every day since election night consumed with worry and fear and disbelief that our country really wanted someone so filled with hate speech, so blatantly dangerous to women,  to lead us, to be the person our children learn about in school. To be honest, there was a time I was completely behind Hillary but that wasn’t this election until it was him or her. I know the weaknesses of choosing her, I knew better the danger of choosing him. So I too have felt the garden of fear growing around me, requiring every bit of my attention to chop down new growth and avoid fertilizing existing sprouts. When I realized the march was happening, I saw a chance to wack the entire greedy garden away. I invited the one person I wanted to march with, my niece who is a young woman on the cusp of political awareness, waking up to her voice, finding her beliefs. I knew her passion would provide some strength to do necessary gardening.

We planned the trip on the cheap. We drove ourselves overnight,  a cooler filled with sandwiches and snacks, scheduled naps in hotel parking lots. We listened to political podcasts to stay awake, drank too much coffee and consumed the miles separating us from Washington D.C. as if our lives depended on it. Because sort of, they did. We had to go and be in the crowd of others who were vanquishing fear and worry and depression, a mass of people who were together clearing away whatever weight or weeds were holding them down or back. Our family at home were concerned about safety, Chef had serious reservations about my health. We arrived to find the largest crowd of protesters ever recorded and experienced not a single moment of concern. Women are just intrinsically nurturing beings, we want to foster each other and the earth and our children, put 500,000 of us together and we still say please and thank you, we still smile and make space for one more. Yes, we were angry, but we were not hateful. Yes, we were motivated but not destructive. Yes, we were loud but we listened also. We found power in the collective by making space for many concerns without the requirement to signoff on every concern. Fear and worry and depression turned away, hope and passion lifted us all.

I heard it described as a group of whiners, a bunch of women who needed the therapy of being together to recover from Hillary losing. As if therapy is a bad thing, a shameful thing. It WAS therapeutic, it did restore my mental health. I was able to sit on the “couch” of D.C. and pour out my emotions and let the crowd counselor make sense of them, tell me I am not alone, wash them away. But more than that, I was given an action plan, a call to keep moving once I returned home and the weeds looked scraggly and exhaustion set in. Once my body began to truly ache and my feet were on fire, I could choose to descend back into hopelessness but make no mistake, that would be my choice now. I have tools, I have a community, I have work that needs to be done. So, yes, excellent therapy, money well spent. No shaming me or my movement for this label. We already know the benefit of mental health services, the stigma won’t stick.

For those who have yet to embrace the causes of the march, for those who think it doesn’t reflect their interests, no worries. We will march and act and get louder for you. When we are growing weary, we will need your backup for the next wave. By then, I am confident you will see yourself in the faces of women and men and children who just want to be respected and heard by our leader. To all who marched in D.C. and around the world, thanks for clearing away the weight of depression’s bean bags, thanks for chopping out the weeds of worry in my soul garden. President Obama told us, “Yes, we can.”  I say, “Yes, we will.” We have already begun, together. For today, I will be propping my feet up on the bean bags, enjoying the flowers that are blooming in my soul.