the Spirit

Last night, I made blueberry pancakes for supper. Our daughter, age 3, loves them, and we all sat down and ate together – well, the baby had his own food – but you get the idea. A family sitting together having dinner.

After we ate, we were cleaning up, and our daughter went to get her swimsuit on so she could play with “the spriink-u-lar” (translation: “sprinkler”).

I turned on the world news to see an update on the latest from the humanitarian crisis unfolding at our southern border. I wasn’t prepared. They played the recording of a girl crying for her aunt, other children heard weeping and calling for their parents in the background. I looked to see our daughter had come into the room.

“That little girl and that little boy, they are crying. Why are they crying?” she looked at me, head turned with a concerned look on her face.

I swallowed hard. “Because the government separated them from their moms and dads. They want their moms and dads, but they are being kept apart. It’s really sad honey, and it’s wrong.”

She went on to finish getting ready to go outside. I stayed and saw the news correspondent ask a white middle aged man if he was affected by the sights and sounds of children crying for their parents. He said he wasn’t, and proceeded to talk about money.

I had to walk away. As I walked back to the kitchen to do the dishes, something happened.

Like a wild animal that has been let out of a cage, with a quiet and powerful fury, words came flying out of my mouth under my breath. I got to the kitchen and looked at my wife and our 10 month old son. I told her what the man said and said the same words of fury again, this time at normal volume. Then,

I broke as I said, “why?”

Tears shot out of my eyes. My arms tensed up and I cried in a way I never have before. Not just any cry.

I rage cried.

It wasn’t sadness, frustration, or hopelessness, or fear.

It was rage. Strong, breathtaking, rage.

I wondered aloud, “What the hell is wrong with people?” and “what are we going to do?” I took deep breaths and tried to focus on washing dishes and just doing something with my hands.”

A few minutes later, D took our daughter out and got the sprinkler going. She had to come in for a minute, so I stepped outside to the back porch and watched our daughter. She put her hands in the sprinkler and squealed, then jumped through, squealing and running away, smiling. I laughed and felt my chest ease slightly. D was coming back, laughing with me, then I watched a moment more before going back inside to finish up and get our son.

We all went outside, and we sat and watched our rambunctious three year old play with delight and abandon. I held our son and watched the water, taking in the sight of the golden summer evening sky, the feel of the cool in the shade, and the sounds of tree frogs and the chorus of night-time insects beginning to announce that evening was near.

We went back inside, and we got the kids ready for bed. As I lay next to my daughter to read a bedtime story and then as she fell asleep, I felt the pain again, thinking of those separated families, praying silently for them.

Later, I sat with my wife, and we talked more about how we were feeling. I again told her how hard this was and how much rage I was feeling. We watched comedies and tried our best to relax before going to bed.

In the watches of the night, I woke up, my mind turning again to the sounds of those babies. And the sight and sound of that man, hateful/unmoved/empty of compassion and decency.

I looked into the darkness and thought, “What is wrong with people? How can you be like that? Why are so many people ok with this and trying to justify it?”

Then, I thought: “The Spirit is gone.” Which certainly seems true. The fruit of the Spirit is love – joy, peace, kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.

Then I wondered. “Where is God? What if God is dead?

Then, a song I learned when I was a small child came to mind and seemed to well up within me even though it had long been forgotten.

“God’s not dead. No, God’s alive. God’s not dead. No, God’s alive.”

Then, as I remembered more of the song, I realized some important truths.

“I can feel God in my hands”  – when I use them to serve the most vulnerable and the hurting.

“I can feel God in my feet” – when I pray with my feet by marching for justice and equity and let my feet carry me to the places I am needed.

“I can feel God in the Church”- when the Church boldly fights for love.

“I can feel God in the air” – when I make environmentally sound decisions and also when I stop and mindfully observe the gift that is nature,

“I can feel God everywhere. I can feel God all over me.” – when I practice love – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, the Spirit is with me, all over me, and working through me.

I fell back asleep, thinking on these things. When I woke up this morning, I saw the news and watched video of a beautiful unarmed young 17 year old black boy be shot in the back, killed by a police officer who had been on the job for 3 hours.

The rage welled up in me again. My three year old daughter walked in, and seeing his mother crying asked me- “why is she crying?”

“Honey, she’s crying because ( I felt my throat swelling) because… Because her son was shot. He died. She’s sad. It’s very very sad, and it’s not right.” I knew that at three years old, she can’t understand too much – she doesn’t even fully “get” death yet. But I realized I will have to talk with her more and more as she ages, and talk with our son as he gets older, so they can know and understand.

I said aloud something I knew needed to be said. “We have to do more. If there is anything I am feeling right now, it’s that we have to do more.”

Later this morning, I was getting ready and alone to my thoughts again. I thought about all that is going on and all that has happened in the past few years that have moved me. And I came to some conclusions.

I repent.

I repent for my armchair activism, feeling that I’m doing more than I actually am. I recommit to working on the ground and actually doing more while still writing/calling/posting to help educate/inspire/motivate change.

I repent.

I repent for my own ignorance, sometimes willful, sometimes not – and I recommit to educating myself on the truth and how to help.

I repent.

I repent for recognizing my privilege as a white woman while holding so tightly to my disadvantage as an LGBTQ+ person, that I have failed to use my privilege as an ally for folks of color. I recommit to dismantling systems of oppression for all. 

I am a work in progress. And I am waking up.

I find that I am overcome with so many emotions these days, and I feel weary at times, like the fire of rage and compassion will burn me out – and I cannot let that happen. So here is what I am learning.

I let the rage wash over me, and it put me in touch with fighting for justice.

Also, I let the love I have for my partner and kids wash over me – and I took note of the little things, and I felt stronger for it.

I am reconnecting with my spirituality, I am writing, and I am painting again. All healing activities for me.

I’ve disconnected in some of the places and relationships where I need to disconnect.

And last, but not least, I am being mindful. I am noticing when I need to walk away for a moment, when I need to fight and when I don’t. I know when I can’t change a mind, and I need to be more aware of and accepting of hat and move on. I am mindful of the taste of coffee, the scent of rain, and the sounds of thunder rumbling in the distance. I am observant of the colors in the sunrise and the way the light plays across the landscape.

We have to keep fighting. We can’t burn out.

Good boundaries. Focusing on the people we love and what we love about them. Using mindfulness and gratitude. Empowering ourselves with love and light.

Will you join me?

Love wins.

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Dear Little One

Dear Little One

Last night, we put away

Another set of jammies

 

Your little legs stretched out

Made the toes too tight

And the zipper too low

 

This set of jammies

Was so special to me

Bought while you were in my womb

 

They were pink

That’s a pretty big deal for me

But they also had an owl and stars

 

I sighed as I folded them

Looking down at you

Smiling up at me

 

As your other mother

fetched a new pair

That are just a little too big

 

But you will grow

Into these and out of these

As your tiny frame expands and becomes

 

And my heart just keeps

On growing, I think it will burst

I don’t know how there’s so much love

 

Our family is so special

You are so special

This love is so special

 

I think about how tiny you are

Yet how much you’ve grown

How we have struggled to get it right

 

How precious and hard fought for

Our breastfeeding relationship has been

And how I still wish I could give you more

 

I still worry when I look

And wonder if you are gaining well

Even though, you clearly are now, going through your clothes

 

And you are so smart

And you are so aware and bright and delightful

And, pumpkin, you are incredibly beautiful through and through

 

I think about how much I wonder

What you will be like when you get older

And how I love to watch your personality show more and more

 

One day, you will put on

Your own pajamas, without the little feet built in

And you will sleep in your own bed all night long

 

And while your mommas will celebrate having our bed

I’ll miss those little snuggles

And those night time nursings when we reconnect

 

So while I am sleep deprived

And while I am tired and my arms hurt

From holding you carrying you bathing you changing you

 

I’m going to stop

And just enjoy you and every little smile

And all of those giggles and belly laughs and that baby scent

 

You are a little person

But you won’t always be so small

But my love for you will always be so big

 

Love,

Your Momma C

 

baby hand

A Birth Story (Part 4)

**This is part of a series. To begin the series, click here.**

I have decided to post a series on the birth story of our daughter, who recently arrived. It will start from the beginning of trying to conceive through pregnancy and labor and delivery, ending with her birth and some reflections. These posts will be detailed and include some descriptions which some readers may find uncomfortable/graphic, (labor and delivery is no joke!) though, I have endeavored to not be too gross with details. I want to be true to the beautiful, messy, incredible experience and journey. I hope that it adds beauty, inspires, and adds some light and hope this season. Peace to you all.

Love,

C.

Only a short time later, I started having an urge to push, and was checked at 9 cm. Meg was called, and I was asked to hold off on pushing until she got there. My nurse, Hope, said the baby was incredibly low, and that they guessed I wouldn’t push very long.

Meg arrived at 10:30 at night. With the delivery tools in place, she was ready when I was.

I asked how to push, and they said the same muscles as when you have a bowel movement, only this felt like the biggest one of my life. They asked me to hold my breath, to go with contractions, and to curl into the push.

The pressure was unreal.

I began pushing as my nurse and my wife held my legs and applied counter pressure. It was incredible to feel the weight of what I was pushing, and it was heartening to have the voices of women – Hope, Meg, and D to encourage me on.

I did well for a while. Though shaking uncontrollably and feeling so tired, I knew I could do it.

Then progress stalled. The baby’s head was still against my spine, and she was hitting up against my pelvis. So, under Meg’s direction, I grabbed the knotted end of one sheet while Meg pulled on the other, and we achieved another angle for pushing, all the while her encouraging me and coaching me along.

Some progress was made, but then another long and drawn out slow point began.

Some time later, I started to grow incredibly tired and discouraged. I looked at the clock. I could no longer vocalize that I was going to have to push. I could only motion with my hands.

I had to save my energy.

At one point, it was very quiet in the room, and I looked up searching for Meg. I asked, exasperated, “Am I doing ok?” She said yes, I was doing great.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

At another point she said she could see the head, and that she could already tell “she is beautiful.”

She asked if I wanted a mirror, I said no.

Later, she asked if I wanted to touch the top of our baby’s head. I just couldn’t. I was too tired and had to save every ounce of my energy.

Then, there was a point where I knew it was now or never.

I pushed with all my might, and curled as much as I could for each of my pushes in this round. Then, Meg said, “We have a head.”

A towel was placed on my chest.

Then, her voice changed into the most encouraging and cheering yet, as well as the voices of Hope and D.

“Alright, Charity, push!”

I felt incredible relief, and a flurry of people were there as Meg lifted the baby and she was placed on my chest. I felt an incredible outburst of joy and laughter and tears and cries came from the deepest place in my soul. My mom later asked what all the laughter was (she was outside – I only wanted D in the room for the pushing stage.) D was crying. We kissed and said I love you. It was beautiful.

3 hours of pushing. And at 1:40 am, we were born as mothers.

 — — —

I feel connected with Meg, with Hope, and D. I feel connected with Sarah and with Ashley who both helped guide my baby’s head and my breast so that I could learn breastfeeding.

I was surrounded by women attending to and encouraging me, and I became a new woman.

I gained new respect and admiration for mothers.

Mothers whose children are delivered naturally, by cesarean, with epidurals, by fostering, and by adoption.

These are all birth stories. They are all beautiful. They all deserve to be told.

Damned up rivers broke open, and love poured out in rapids that have overtaken me. I have discovered love on a completely other level.

This is what it means to learn sacrifice.

This is what it means to be re-born.

This is what it means to be a mother.