I’m writing to you from Green Mars
where the hills roll unperturbed by a hurricane
as the wind knocks me off balance, skipping a step or two sideways, I’m held captive by the flashlight beams of someone above the clouds slowly and methodically scanning the expansive fields. Seeing and caring for all that’s below.
I’m writing to you from the closet with wifi where I sometimes go to cry
because it feels like a deep sadness has nestled itself in my bones
and every drop of that plant shakes it loose
until a wave overcomes me
of rage and terror and complete confidence
that I will never be healthy again
of course He understands
after the torture, spit-filled wounds, and solitary moments where he wondered why
Jesus sobbed. Jesus broke. So rather than finding answers, why not seek more complex, nuanced questions? Be like the sheep. Sheep don’t give a FUCK.
I’m writing to you from my Harry Potter cupboard
with rain droplets coupling up and catapulting into their new lives together
and slanty ceilings, the bliss!
the light is otherworldly. more intense, but ever gray.
and did you know that donkeys have a cross on their backs? and that horses prefer to nibble out of the palm of your hand than to bend all the way down to the ground?
I’m writing to you with the knowledge that you will not write me back
that these memories are mine alone to hold
in the pack that sways with my hips
it took me a while to write about this 1st chapter of afternoon tears and zero Irish beers
because I was up to my eyeballs in roommates and potatoes
surrendered privacy and autonomy for intimacy that can feel at worst like a violation, at best an invitation, and most times, like a self-inflicted obligation
but, of course, I wasn’t the only one walking around, thinking,
“Jesus, I’m not a nice enough person to work here.”
here’s what I want you to know, hot stuff
windows of tolerance can be shimmied open
as compassion builds and your threshold for kindness increases
you will resist the desire to be adored by other humans
because being together is a gift given free of charge
no one’s acts of service are more compelling to watch
no one gets a scathing review for the way they find common ground with a newbie
I’m suggesting something altogether simple
that radical change comes from ordinary encounters between people
but you’ll have to slow the hell down first
Twain knew that it’s easier to fool somebody than it is to convince them they’ve been fooled before
and Calvin knew that the earth is a theatre of God’s glory
and McCafferty knows that the new “n” word is Narrative
but I genuinely don’t know how a bird can travel here from Canada, covering thousands of miles and stopping in the very same rectangles of grass to fatten up and take off again
magic. fairies. some sort of really confusing math, probably.
so I’m trying to stay compassionately curious
a term stolen from a man who can eloquently command a room and humbly fling some paint in the same breath and comfy socks
it’s a costly curiosity
that’s for sure
full of contradictions
and fruits of labor that are out of my control
so just can it and clean for someone to make a mess, how bout it?
good luck keeping the time straight
it’s all a swirling dance
of bells at 9 and 9
teas on teas on teas
and pitch-black showers in stillness beneath the motion-censored lights
repeating “thank you” over and over as I think of my living, loving parents
the hilariously predictable pattern of getting fed up and running away
to an island that’s never been painted with chemicals
to hills with crumbling stone walls
or places with “running water” because you’d have to run out to the nearest stream
anyway, I’ve decided that student-hood is no different than following a group of young people down a darkened path in pursuit of their camp-out destination
you’re just picking up the traces and pieces that have been held dearly before
for example, I was not the first one to say
that advocacy should remain centered on values rather than issues
and perhaps the church has colonized societal values
and maybe reconciliation is an act of rebellion and justice against governments who use division to continue occupying areas they’d like to exploit
oh, and what if the most damaging component to human society is tradition because “we’ve always done this” stubbornly stands in the way of innovation
Commercial break! sober seduction ‘s’not so bad! but what do I do with my hands?! please send answers and suggestions before I drink all of the glasses of water under the aforementioned otherworldly sun
I’m not falling, but rather, standing in love
and in that stillness I have seen
that hillbillies are subjects of King William who hopped on boats and ran to a place that looked a lot like home
aaaaaand to some, terrorism is a piece of theatre
an image of propaganda to catch the attention of leaders
some artists use splatters of acrylics
while others spark dynamite to spray blood
people can do atrocious things to each other
good things happen to bad people
bad things happen to good people
people do a bad job deciding who’s good
it would be good if we stopped using words like good and bad
I’m writing to you from a bubble of people who often think like me
I’m writing to make room for the new
because, believe it or not, we’re designed for change
the very neurons in my brain are shaped like trees, waiting to adapt, persist, and mature with the seasons
I’m writing to you with the hope that my intellectual dander was a break from fake news
and gave you a second to ignore your super important, super busy, super packed to-do list
Does that make me crazy?
Not as crazy as someone trying to eat an omelette with a wee spoon.
It’s been said that hurt people will hurt people, and healed people have the gift of healing others. Well, what if you’re a young twenty-something, who has just arrived as a volunteer at Corrymeela, still reeling from the transition of 29 roommates welcoming you at the front door, gasping for a breath and a foothold in this incredible new place you call home? You wouldn’t claim to be a healer.
Before you placed your life at the altar of career or relationships or independence, you decided to take an opportunity that shouldn’t make you think more or less of yourself, but rather think of yourself less.
Now, it’s day 1 of an event with bereaved children. You’re still in training and unsure how you’ve deserved to walk into this room, let alone how to hold the weight of these family members’ loss. You realize it’s been years since you talked to a child. You share a meal together. They ask about your home and the people who intimately know the melody of your laugh. They talk about their parents—the one who is in this room, and the one who is not.
And then it’s time for arts and crafts. You place yourself next to a family with a widowed mother and her three children. You putz with clay to calm your nerves. They build a boat, which symbolizes the storm they are weathering together, and you make a squished little reptile. You are scared and worried that your companionship is not enough.
But as you return their gazes, you see their trust. They see a smile between your ears. They hear a young person singing loud, wiggly warnings about a sticky moose on the loose. They are healing, and so are you. They place the clay reptile on their boat, and you place the family in your chest cavity.
Sometimes, it’s enough to show up. To roll up your sleeves. To enjoy a shared activity while you bask in the simplicity of caring for a stranger until they’re your friend.