An open letter to Jeff Sessions

Dear Sir,

I am concerned about your text. Perhaps you would like to quote a handbook on intimidation tactics instead of the Bible. I am not sure that you really want to quote scripture, because you might just have to dig a little deeper and what you find might hurt you, hurt you like thorns and nails, hurt like whip marks on your back, when you are asked to let go of your wealth, your reluctance just might choke you. When you read, “Whoever receives a child like this receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me,” you might falter, when you look at the cages you have created, when you hear the crying and suffering of tiny ones, you might realize that to cause this is to join the other side, the ones hurting the God who is walking among them, weeping.
And when you look into it, you might find that those scriptures (about respecting leaders) were first written to people who were revolutionizing love, who stood in the fire rather than give up their faith, who
lost their very lives
to save their souls
and what can save your soul
when you have sold it to hatred, when you have given it to fear
when you have birthed fear of the other
the Jesus I know turned to the thief on his right and said
we will be in paradise together, brother
and Paul says but for the grace of God
there go
I
and the entire book you are quoting says
that clinging onto security will kill you in the end
better to give it up
better to offer others more safety
than to hold onto our own and
become evil
and true love actually sometimes allows itself to be killed
to help a person in need
And it is not merely revolutionary
It is a revolution
where the first are last and the last are first
and the least of these, the hungry and alone, are so important
that ignoring them puts you in great peril and so I am not sure that you
really want
to quote
Scripture
to further your self righteous
cause.

***

Give here to provide assistance to families separated at the border.

 

This and that.

This morning is heavy and humid already, with a hint of cooling rain on the horizon. In a few minutes we will get into the car to drive to Mae Hong Son, about 2 and a half hours away, to renew our visas at immigration. The drive is very beautiful, though immigration days are long. 

I have a few business-y things. Kenya and I are opening our new website soon... with little starts and stops. We're selling our own art, as well as some collaborative pieces. It's a fun, interesting process as we get used to working with each other. Anyhow, I've been painting up a storm and I have a couple of new paintings in my shop.

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This brown bear.

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And these quail. You can find them here.

Also I'm putting a call out for reviews on my World Whisperer Boxset. If you have read the books, will you consider reviewing here? Thank you, reviews help so much with getting the books out to the world.

***

This week will be full of writing and painting and teaching. I'm still hard at work on World Whisperer 4 and it's going to be worth the wait. It's a hard book to write, though! Oh my goodness. Every day is so full of the best things. Kissing and hugging and helping kids sort through conflict, deep discussions of faith and love with the kids and friends who drop over, or friends at the garden. All these things are worth it on this Monday morning. I know it is still Sunday for some of you. (Happy Father's Day!) But how is your week shaping up? What things are there to look forward to? To be curious about?

***

Now you can support my writing on Patreon. Patrons can give as little as $1 a month, and get extra vlogs and posts.  I really really appreciate your support, it helps me to keep going with writing and publishing my work.

Today.

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I am okay. I will be okay. Thanks to anyone who checked on me and thanks to those who didn’t, because I sense that you know I am okay.

I wrote and read the love letter poem because a great amount of the suffering that comes with depression is the fear and experience of judgment. I get it all the time, in little and big ways. Why can’t I just be normal? Why is someone like me, apparently accomplished in many ways, still like an injured bird? 

I also have a tribe of loving people around me who understand, either from their own experiences or just from being awesome and caring and understanding. I wish that for everyone. I wish people who suffer from mental illness to feel validated and cherished.

And today is always new and fresh. While it is called today, I will not harden my heart, but strive to enter the rest of God, as it says in the book of Hebrews. 

Rest. Ah… how I would love to have a restful mind. I don’t, so my rest looks like reading, writing, painting, riding a motorbike through jungly growth, and sitting with fireflies. 

“While it is still called today.” The day is always called today. It is another way of saying, It is never too late.

I am out from under the heaviest of this, and today I give thanks for breezes, for birds, for Isaac hugs in the morning, for Chinua my beloved, for music and fun and breath of new days ahead. For good hard work and the gentle touch of God, who loves, who loves, who loves.

A love letter to the mentally ill.

Possibly it's obvious to those of you who have been reading for a while. I've had a tricky time with the anxiety gremlin lately. The cat has been sitting on my chest. I have trouble breathing at the strangest of times. 

And then there has been suicide in the news, and the two have me thinking about shame and stigma and what it feels like to have a mind you can't trust. How hard it is to understand. I have been ashamed of my mind, how it exposes me, how I break down in public places. So I wrote a poem and then I read it, and here it is. 

And I want to take a moment thank my friend Leaf, who has been speaking truth to me lately, and my family and community, who are kind and understanding. Let's be there for each other. 

Tiny ways.

 Photo credit: Kenya Ford

Photo credit: Kenya Ford

Last night I went for a drive and all the edges of the clouds were edged with light. 

“Pull me up there,” I whispered.

Are you tired of escape poetry from me?

Listen, I’ve been running forever. Even when I run in place, right there in my kitchen thinking I should really get away but these children surely need to eat so here is the chopping block, here is the kale. Make it healthy, make it full of love.

Even when it’s just a corner of my soul retreating with my imagination, hand in hand. 

Trees, my soul whispers, leaves. The rustling light of leaves.

And my imagination concocts a new kind of Anne of Green Gables, one who actually gets power from trees, because trees and water buffalo and tiny tailor birds tell me that it is okay to be alive.

I am grateful for the books of my childhood. 

Wise people in the world create beauty out of violence, come out scathed but intact, and I have never experienced true violence, I have nothing to run from, really, except for the parts that feel like they will flake off if I can’t protect them sometimes.

I am better at staying when I run.

Here’s what it is: all the world of people is a code I don’t understand. Getting it wrong feels like stepping off a cliff, my heart in my throat. Twist of the ankle. Even after all this time, nearly forty years, I still don’t understand. I can tell myself and tell myself and tell myself. I write notes and notebooks and learn and memorize and I plunge myself in again and again. I ask questions. I study faces. I learn what is right and wrong and then I say something and it is the wrong thing again and maybe if I was different I would shrug the misteps off, but that is not me and I cry and cry until it feels like my eyes will explode. And then I get up and go into the world again. 

I am so tired. 

Yesterday, feeling my worst, I went to the pharmacy to get some allergy medicine for Kai. It was the kind of day when I felt exposed and afraid of people's eyes, like I didn’t want to be seen at all, I wanted to be invisible. But kids need medicine sometimes, so there I was in the shop. And in front of me were two older Karen men, in town from their village which was probably nearly two hours away. They were short, wearing tribal clothes, tasseled bags at their sides. They looked like they might be brothers, with the same lines in their faces. They stood and discussed all their options, with a leisurely sense of time, and as they did, they reached out to one another again and again, with an arm slung around the back, or gently touching the shoulder, or a hand on the back of the other’s neck. It was purely unconscious, little gestures of affection in the sterile pharmacy, figuring out medication and vitamins, one man translating the pharmacist's Thai words into Karen for the other.

I was so sad, but even then I couldn’t help seeing it. Tiny ways of being there for one another.

My little community has been having some rough days as we try to figure deep things out, and that means more situations where we all feel like we are out of our depth. And in the midst of it, my friends have been kind to me and to each other in generous ways. Leaf, made of light, bringing hope with her words, reaching out, speaking kindness, touching my arm or my elbow or my knee. Ro holding my hand, resting her head on my shoulder. Winnie with her endless kindness, checking in, buying iced coffee, pouring out love. Miri sending me verses and a picture she drew. Brendan with a bowl of food, offering to drop Solo off at his Science club. Josh with jokes and little nudges of humor that say, “You are my friend.” Neil and his rumbles and hums and murmurs of support. Olga with care for my daughter, showing up for hugs and a brief talk on the bench outside my house. All of our Pai community, with smiles on the motorbike, nods, music and help. And Chinua, my own, beloved Chinua, the Superstar Husband whom I have memorized, with arms and voice and lips that all say home. Chinua playing piano, Chinua giving me a hug, Chinua bridging gaps again and again.

I see all these things, these unconscious ways that we reach out to each other, speak love of God with one another. I name them, write them down, and the world feels livable again. Maybe I don't have to disappear.

There are light edged clouds, and there is rice in the bowl. Stones in the jar, in my hand. Imagination and the books of my childhood. My kids and other peoples’ kids swirling around like a stream of silliness and love. Poetry. All is not hopeless. The world is confusing and hard sometimes, and it circles around in new and surprising depths of hurt or pain, but it is edged in light.