I Hand You This Fire

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Photo Credit: Nayukami, Tumblr


I’ve been taking a break from the news again. Sometimes, when I read the news, I feel almost like livewire – as if all the energy in the world is suddenly coursing through my body and I can feel everything deeply. 

But, then again, I have the privilege to take a news recess. I have fantastic healthcare. My immediate environment, although it has its unpleasantness, does not banish me for my religion, require me to marry as a child, or force me into hard labor. 
So, yeah, I took a break. However, I’m also acutely aware of those who can’t and those who are directly impacted by the choices and legislation created in the United States. 
Que the guilt twinge. (Side Note: Noticing and Exposing Guilt, Black Guilt and White Guilt for another entry).
I find myself caught in the tension between my own privilege (and the guilt this affords) and my need to provide self-care. A racial-justice class I recently completed, encouraged me to begin a spiritual practice that includes intentional commitment to remaining in the present and noticing one’s body particularly in moments of stress. This practice includes naming and accepting feelings. So Anger. Ahh, okay, anger. Yes, to anger. So now I find myself saying, Guilt. Ahh, okay, guilt. Yes, to guilt and to sadness and to feeling contradictory yet equally important and valid emotions. Yes, to these emotions. And the funny thing is that I start to notice my body relaxing. I start to realize that I have a habit of suppressing emotions – or at least judging myself for feeling them. But, I can feel them. I can accept them. I can be. 
Ahhh, yes. I can be. And, I can use my body to speak for the marginalized amidst my own turmoil. I can use my power for those who cannot. I can use my voice for those who are not yet heard. I can learn to see those whom I still cannot.
When I was younger, I used to pray to experience God’s heart for the marginalized. Actually, this continues to be my prayer, and as I mull over my most recent adventures at the MCUSA Convention while struggling with the social justice ideology that for me, comes from a deep spiritual commitment to find the wholeness in the broken, I am more convinced than ever that this work that we do, this human stuff, this physical, mental, emotional, work is Jesus’ work. I must confess, that when I offer this body to Christ and expect the radical, I am often surprised/angry/frustrated when the work feels alienating, hard and requires a risk. 
Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. – Hugo Chavez

What happens when the risks that we are called into may mean losing our jobs? Our friends? What happens when I tell my boss/sister/brother/mother/father/pastor the truth of how I feel?
What am I willing to lose? Or, perhaps the question is – what am I willing to gain?
I must admit that I still find comfort in poetry. A habit that I began in 5th grade, poetry still remains my own constant – particularly, when I am in need to vocalize my own emotional turmoil. As my husband and I watch our friends begin to start families, I have been particularly aware of my own journey with family and wholeness. As an interracial couple, I find myself starkly cognizant of the ramifications for my own future children.
How do I empower them? What will be the stories they remember? It is with these emotions in addition to many others, that I found myself writing the following.
Peace as you go, my friends. Peace, and fire. 

If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But, if you have come because your liberation is bound with mine, then let us work together -Lilla Watson (1985 U.N Speech)
i hand you this fire

i hand you this fire
“here take my hand,
here, hold onto my hand
we will cross the street
together.”
you & i stand in daylight,
you & me these
wild dark flames
burning
they will see our smoke signals
& keep on coming
Here,
we must run together now
hold my hand
it will hold yours tight
“too tight”
you tell me &
“too tight
mommy!”
we are crossing in the crosswalk
we are eyes straight ahead
hands visible & breathing
we are safe here
we are walking here
we are in the bars of yellow
they can see us
see, we are wearing
white over these black bodies
we are truce flags still upright
we are not half-mast
today we are
still flames
still wild
still you & me.
“mommy we made it to the cement! see, itoldyouso
we can let go!”
our hands peel
back itching
sweat soaked fingers.
your face
looks back at me as you wring your hands,
eyes accusatory,
“too old to hold hands,”
you whisper, embarrassed,
waiting for me to agree,
waiting for me to promise
to never to hurt you like that again.
you blink back tears
sure that everyone stared
that everyone saw
that everyone knew
our sin

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