Metamorphosis IV

December 9, 2019

I am here. I am here at my breaking point of school waiting to be released. I am here believing that my life is more than this. I am here going crazy.

If I hang myself at this exact moment, will I still have to write this paper? Hell is me writing academia over and over again. I never thought I’d get here. I never thought that I would hate academia, but I guess this is metamorphosis. This is me coming out of my cocoon. This is me getting my wings.

I am here with feathers outside my back and the world feels differently than it did months ago. I feel different. I’m not sure what to do here, except to fly. I always wondered how birds knew exactly where to go. I am learning that freedom is innate. I don’t know how I know where to go, but I know I am headed there with my new wings, new heart, and my awakened spirit. This is what it means to fly.

Metamorphosis III

July 21, 2019

They lied to me. They said I would sprout and I would be aware of it. That didn’t happen. I felt a coldness under my shoulder blade. I felt a scratch from the inside out that I couldn’t reach, and I knew: It was time to fly. I did everything that came to mind consciously, continuously, and passionately. Every little detail I held dearly. Every decision I made rested well into my soul. Night after night I tossed and turned. Flying should never be this restless. It was worse than restlessness. It was falling knowing you were able to keep yourself up. It was Icarus. What is wrong? What is wrong? I asked myself. And what poured out were dreams deferred. Dreams that I had buried and held wonderful ceremonies for. With every decision being made firmly and no new whims, I was able to refocus on the reasons I began my shift in the first place. I recollected all the reasons why I wanted to be where I was at, and I remembered the goodness of those dreams. How me then thought that I wouldn’t get to where I’m at now, but knew I had to get there. I’m here now, and it was hard, but it was worth it. I’m doing internal and external work—spiritual and supernatural work—to be made whole in the image God has promised me. With each resurface of a dream, I cry. I cry for stagnation, frustration, uncertainty, unplanned resets, and children I wish I had. I wail for children I wish I were prepared for. Then I rest, and the scratching in my back has left. Wings don’t grow at the same length. They’re like wisdom teeth. One finally broke the skin, and I am able to get off the ground, but not for very long, and it cannot carry me. So, now I wait. I wait to see under what circumstances and when the other will break the skin. But they lied, they said I’d know my wings when I got them. I won’t, and you won’t either. I can’t be sure, but I do believe that no one’s wings grow in symmetrically perfect and full and lush. It takes determination and faith for them to sprout, and honesty and consistency to water them.

Tell me Papa, tell me that it’s not wings.

Someone recently told me that I am one of few people she knows who she believes thinks things thoroughly through. Because she associates that with a connection with the Spirit. The Spirit of God that pulls these wings out of me. It was one of the kindest things anyone has ever told me. She may not know it, but her wings are growing in quite nicely too.

We don’t know it because we don’t remember, but we are angels entertaining one another. We are magically divine because the Source of the Spirit that we come from is the most of all magically divine creatures to exist. The Spirit without creation, without birth, birthed us into forgetfulness to encourage one another to believe that we are all divine.

My, Sundays are always whimsical.

Metamorphosis Part II

June 16, 2019

Think past all things. Think past all your wants, your jealousies, your desires, your ailments, and peek out into the unknown. Seek the intentionality of the universe and ask it, “Is it all on purpose?” Because I believe it is. I believe that the feathers that I am waiting for patiently to sprout out of my back are the same ones that a writer had in mind when s/he wrote them into The OA. I think it is not a coincidence I spoke of flying and feathers and this irresistible feeling to burst out of this exterior shell and then it appears in my life weeks later. I think the sky that is hanging on my walls and the women who embody it are all on purpose. I think this moment of pure ease and delight of the purposefulness of my life was always planned. I think it is here that my feathers begin to sprout. It is here that I learn to grow. It is here that I will begin to feel what it is I’ve always known.

Cause God, goodness God has never been a genie in the sky or a lion in the clouds. God has never been the voice of James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, or Howard. But God has always been the face that welcomes me into the tent, the face I cup in my hands, and the heart that beats slowly with mine. God has always been the rhythm of resets on Sunday afternoons and the glow of four-legged friends in the dark. God has always been impossibly large and steadily close. It is here, in this moment, that I recognize truly how close God has been. Because the God I cusp in the dark is the one that appears to me in the light. That God has consistently worked and appeared in all things. So here I am now, watching a video of captivity of myself, and trying to convince myself that I am not crazy. That the feathers are a coincidence. And maybe it is, but I can never be that person. I can never be the person who believes in incidentals because here I am dancing with That Which Has No Name and All Names. Some people, they pass the greatness of God and they say, “Blessed am I who has walked with the Lord.” And that is true, and they are. But oh, oh are the heartbreaking ones who spend this life and the next dancing with God for eternity.

Here I am, beginning to learn. By the end, I don’t think I’ll be the only one with wings. I hear You, God. I see You. And here I am, dancing with You.

“Would you still love me if I wasn’t a surgeon?”

I’m rewatching Grey’s Anatomy, and that is the question that has surfaced out of two different surgeons. Derek Shepherd asked Meredith after he botched a brain surgery that killed a new mother. Cristina Yang asked Owen after she repaired Derek’s heart when he was shot. Both asked after periods of trauma if it would be okay to be someone other than who they are.

My stint in seminary seems to only get longer. The papers are growing more in length and depth, but I cannot bring any motivation to care. The beginning of this semester has brought discomfort. I want so badly to say trauma, but I won’t. My mom has cancer. Her cancer has been out of remission until this year. I spent the weekend before school began in the hospital with her. She was getting her second surgery of the year. I could kill her doctor because when he came out, he said, “What we removed wasn’t malignant.” We’re just slicing folks up for fun these days, I guess. Weeks later, my mom told me that her cancer is in her voice box. I can’t imagine a world without my mom. I especially cannot imagine a world without her and her laugh.

The beginning of the semester was about mourning. It was about me processing this level of grief and comprehending my mom’s desire for treatment, which is not to have anymore surgery. I can’t do anything but respect that, so I grieve very privately while still finding the willpower to go to work and do homework and practice yoga.

Now, I’m at the end of the semester, and I am asking, “Would you still love me if I didn’t go to school? Would you still love me if I didn’t teach? Would you still love me if I took a break from becoming who I am supposed to be?” I’ve tried having this conversation with my therapist and close friends, but honestly, I’m not desiring their opinion. I’m desiring God’s.

Even in my grief and growth, I feel a drop of disappointment within my spirit. That drop is rippling out into frustration, which has led me to where I am now. Will the paper I’m writing about matter in three weeks? Three months? Three years? Is this academia for academia’s sake? Because if it is, I cannot exist like this any longer. So, I’m asking God, but I’m also asking me: “Would you still love me if I didn’t teach?”

Metamorphosis Part I

June 9, 2019

With every admission of guilt, fear, or regret a new seedling finds itself blooming inside my chest. I can feel them sway and hit the inside of my rib cage, begging to be let out through my back. But what they tell me, and what I know, is that they are not the little green seedlings of new plant life but baby feathers. They are accompanied with many mature ones that live inside my chest cavity. I feel them balled up and waiting to explode out of my back so that one day I may be able to fly. All of this energy that is stored up, all of the goodness, all of the praise, and all of the recognition, all of the talks with the Mystery that has no name has created a release of growth inside my chest. I cross the threshold now, of this world and the next, hoping and begging for God to cut my back open so that they may have the room they need to grow, and I might have the tool to fly. I wait as all of the Spirit welcomes me in my home and greets me into time with the Mystery.

“Tell me I’m lying. Tell me that everything I feel is wrong. Tell me we aren’t the angels entertaining one another. Tell me that it is not us circling your head marveling at every glimpse of You that is revealed. Please, tell me I’m wrong. Tell me that I can’t fly. Tell me that they aren’t wings. Tell me that this energy coursing through my veins can be released under my control. Tell me that when it does explode, everything else around me will still be intact. Tell me that I am wrong.”

Silence. Overwhelming silence and that surge of power of the Spirit that cannot be explained. It is like wrapping your arms around a lover—being both familial and erotic without ever being sexual. It is a feeling that is pure and raw and forever guarded and untouched.

“Tell me it is not God I embrace. Tell me it is not You that I will one day see. Tell me I haven’t crossed over. Tell me that it is impossible to live the way I live in here out there where they cannot see.”

“Because I feel You hovering over my day. I feel You always. It is Genesis every single day. I don’t care if You’re God the Mother or God the Father. You are this intangible existence that I lay no claim to. You are what You are, and You are perfect. You are what is and what was and what is to come, and I lay no claim to You now or otherwise.”

“You are an experience I am never ready for, and I am terrified to even ask. But, I want to experience more than holes in my hands. I want to experience the explosion being stored in my body and the curls of feathers tempted to rupture my chest. I want to be let out. I want to fly.”

“I’d carve my chest open and the only things they’d see are a heart and lungs and possibly a loose kidney. They wouldn’t see it, and they’d think of me crazy for believing it. So, tell me, God. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me this fire is wrong and the energy pounding in my chest is nonexistent. Tell me You’re tame. Tell me I’m all crazy for being equal parts excited to live and to die…just to see if I was right. Tell me You fit perfectly in the Holy book I pedaled around. Tell me that You’re neat and exactly as they see You.”

“Why would you, though? I still wouldn’t believe You. There is more than what we can see. There is more than what we believe. There is more than what I was prepared to give credit to. But, in order to know there is more, I must believe I am more too. So, I’m starting there. I won’t order, but I will ask. God the God that is, will You teach me how to fly?”

I Pray for You

I pray for you, the older gentleman who walks nearly two miles every day to sit by the discount store until the sun sets. I pray for your well-being, your safety, and your comfort.

I pray for you, the woman I follow on Facebook whose mom passed. I pray for your continued healing, for beauty and hope in those dark places. I pray that you will live a life you love.

I pray for you, the five almost six year old girl next door. I pray that you always find reasons to laugh, to be kind, and to be brave.

I pray for you, the professor who sends passive aggressive emails. I pray that the hurt you’re carrying around will be put down. I pray you find your passion in academia again.

I pray for you, the deer of my neighborhood. I pray that no families be split apart and all parties make it across the street. I pray that people slow down and look at the world they are apart of and delight in you and them enough to not crush it.

Sometimes, when I can’t find any light for myself, I look for the light in the world. I find that hoping for those things restores hope in myself.

Rest is Holy

It’s so funny. I had big plans for this summer. I had all of these cities and landmarks I was going to visit, but none of it happened. It’s funny and relieving. I don’t deny that oftentimes traveling can be highly therapeutic, but that is not what I needed this summer. I needed rest.

My second semester of seminary was exhausting in a way that was completely new to me. I was spent emotionally, mentally, and physically. On top of school was life–family happenings, adjusting to the demands of a new job, and recognizing I was on a steady ground financially. My second semester, which began in January, contained a lot of resets. Last semester was one of the first semesters I pursued healing more than I did anything else, school included. My anxiety was through the roof. I was a mess, but I persisted. It was worth it. My grades turned out exceptional. My family life was whole, more so than it has been in years. The newness of balancing work and school was wearing off and becoming normal. And one more highlight…I paid my mortgage on time every month. Bonkers.

When the semester ended, I checked in with my therapist. I am that person that will freak out for weeks on end, then when it’s all said and done go, “Wow. That was fine. I’m fine,” when really I’m not fine. Therapists are lovely, and mine is quite great. She pointed out how emotionally difficult my semester was. She ran through every event of the semester, yet I still could not accept those experiences as highly impacting. I told her very quietly, “I just think that if it isn’t something that can be seen then I should be fine. If no one is dying, if nothing drastic is happening, then I’m okay.” It wasn’t until I said that out loud how invalidating I realized that was to myself. So, that led me to make a list of places I wanted to go and sights I wanted to see.

I rearranged my schedule so I only worked three days out of the week, with Wednesday being my Friday. When it came time to buying that first plane ticket, I accepted that I didn’t want to go anywhere. I wanted to enjoy the tiniest of pleasures like sleeping in, cooking breakfast, strolling in the grocery store, coloring, going to a park, or doing absolutely nothing. For two days out of the week, I had no goals. I did what I felt, and do you know that I completed more work this summer than I ever have in a semester? I read more books. I wrote more stories. I opened up more to people, processes, and opportunities. Because I allowed myself moments of nothingness, sometimes just sitting outside for hours because I could and the weather was nice, I felt accomplished. If all I did was get up and breathe, then that day was enough.

This summer I thought a lot about Elijah. I usually relate to the “What are you doing here?” part of his story, but not this time. I think about him being spent, asking for death, then sleeping. Although our stories are a wee bit different, the outcome is the same:

Elijah Runs Away from Ahab and Jezebel

19 Ahab told his wife Jezebel what Elijah had done and that he had killed the prophets. She sent a message to Elijah: “You killed my prophets. Now I’m going to kill you! I pray that the gods will punish me even more severely if I don’t do it by this time tomorrow.”

Elijah was afraid when he got her message, and he ran to the town of Beersheba in Judah. He left his servant there, then walked another whole day into the desert. Finally, he came to a large bush and sat down in its shade. He begged the Lord, “I’ve had enough. Just let me die! I’m no better off than my ancestors.” Then he lay down in the shade and fell asleep.

Suddenly an angel woke him up and said, “Get up and eat.” Elijah looked around, and by his head was a jar of water and some baked bread. He sat up, ate and drank, then lay down and went back to sleep.

Soon the Lord’s angel woke him again and said, “Get up and eat, or else you’ll get too tired to travel.” So Elijah sat up and ate and drank.

The food and water made him strong enough to walk forty more days. At last, he reached Mount Sinai,[a] the mountain of God, and he spent the night there in a cave.

So often I think we forget that the best things we can do for ourselves are rooted in getting our most basic needs met. We need adequate rest. Our society is heavily built around the (now crumbling) idea that if you are not constantly working, hustling, producing something then you are failing at life. That’s not true. Being overworked, emotionally drained, and constantly on the go are not life giving. There is nothing beautiful about breaking down.

This summer has been a summer of healing. I have given away all my burdens, processed emotional scars, and became more vocal in the process. I trust my instincts the first time around and listen more to myself and other people. I am connecting with myself emotionally, which is helping me experience this world and the Spirit in ways can only be described as divinely magical.

I’m reading Beloved by Toni Morrison, and I’ve been holding on to this line: “Anything dead coming back to life hurts.” I feel as if I’ve been a zombie all this time. Coming back to life, healing from the tomb I was in, is exhausting. But, I am here. It took me resting to appreciate where I am.

Rest is holy. Get some.