Back then to one of my favourite questions, echoing St Francis; ” who are you oh Lord, and who am I?” A soul searching question, an examin asked every day, a reality check with his deepest self, a question we perhaps all shy away from, and need to walk towards through. A movement towards love, self-love, and God love, the God who loves us more than we can imagine….
Who am I, does God love me? Am I loved, am I loveable…
Who am I, and how do I love?
” We love because God loved us first”, and through that love we connect to the deepest love, spiritually, and physically, calling us to be whole and holy, love we are told is love that sets us free.
I have longed to be set free, and judged myself from childhood, too fat, too tall, too opinionated, too open, too much….
The list has gone on…
My morning prayers this morning invite me to accept myself….
They tell me I am a crone, I embrace that, I am, at 57, I am a crone, a woman of substance, experience, and sensuous reality, a reality I have hidden from because for so long I have been encouraged as a woman not to take up too much space, encouraged to be less than I am.
A crone is an older woman who has lived and loved, who loved and is scared and scared, who bears wisdom and wounds in equal measure. Whose belly may be soft from child bearing, or taught from childlessness but celebrates the wisdom that comes from either wound, and each celebrates the other.
I am a woman who in the words of my daily prayers “The Celtic wheel of the year” by Tess Ward, celebrates her moist, juicy-ness, her creative and recreative potential, her healing possibilities, her wholeness, her true holiness, for she is fearfully and wonderfully made, to be moist and juicy means to be ripe, ready to give, daring to receive. That is who I am, who I am called to be.
For me this has meant celebrating my sexuality and finding healing within it, to say out loud that I find my wholeness in the body of another woman not a man, as is conventionally prescribed. In finding the flesh on flesh contact of curve against curve to be liberating and whole making, and to shake with the reality of the healing to be found there for me. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, to be whole and holy…
I have given birth to 6 children, 5 of whom survive me, one who doesn’t, I still have her rose, I have 2 granddaughters and am awaiting the arrival of a grandson…. I celebrate them all…
I have been married to one man, but am no longer, and while in retrospect the past may have looked different, it isn’t because the choices I made are what they are. Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race today and listening to the conversations around acceptance of sexuality both awoke and allowed me to accept that my choices were of their age, if I have caused wounds by my woundedness I am deeply sorry. I knew this of course, but sometimes we just need to hear it said.
Even in the sorrow I find and offer healing, for at last I can say I am who I am ( there may be a song in that 🙂 ).
But there is also deep joy, a joy that left me shaking with knowledge that who I am is okay, and deeply, deeply of God for in it I find no evil, simply a connection with the depth of myself that I was not aware of, triggered by a physical reality that I have hidden from.
Who are you Oh God, and who am I?
Somehow we are one, becoming one, for now I live between the now, and the not quite yet….
I am who I am….
” O holy mid-wife
who holds and guides me as I birth the story of my life…
with your sacred with-craft
I confess before you my sorrow
at the scandalous violence of putting to death of the wise woman,
the voiceless crone, the witches burnt,
the priest denied, the priestess hidden from sight,
I offer to you women’s knowing in the dark and on the margins,
and the fear of it that remains this day…
Forgive us holy God, genderful and strong,
for without your gift of woman no healing can be complete.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at PXI- Parson Cross Initiative, at their food bank (which is so much more than a food bank), drawing pictures with people and listening to their stories as they drew with me, my colleague James also came bringing music, and collecting stories with the idea of putting lament to music. A number of people asked what lament was, and when explained they really got it, for it is okay to complain, to weep and to groan at the injustice of the world, or the personal circumstances that people find themselves in.
Over and over I heard that people were choosing between paying rent and eating, obviously failing to pay rent would lead to eviction, so the food bank has become their life line, to say this is wrong is quite simply not enough. It is wrong that austerity policies are forcing people to be reliant on food banks, it is wrong that people should have to wait for benefits, it is wrong that benefits are cut without warning and for spurious reasons. IT IS WRONG THAT THE POOR AND THE VULNERABLE ARE DEMONISED OVER AND OVER AGAIN! It is wrong….
It is wrong, so why are we as a country allowing this to happen? Why can’t we see through the economic policies that allow the rich to get richer while the poor become poorer, I wonder if we are blind, selfish, or just numb. I think probably a mixture of all of those, and worse still when we don’t see actual people but encounter them only as statistics via- graphs and percentage columns, then we fail to see that this is not about economics it is about people, people who are struggling to get by.
It is about people, people who love their families, people who have joys and sorrows, people who as I heard yesterday have overcome, or are walking through major traumas. Volunteers for whom PXI is a place of refuge and respite as they cope with the terminal illnesses of their loved one, people who suffer domestic abuse ( please note that domestic abuse knows no class distinction), people who have overcome addictions and fought for their families, and won, but still need help in the form of food.
People who feel ashamed to be asking for help, and yet we reflected together over and over how we all need help at times, but to be constantly in that place could become dehumanising. So what makes PXI special, it is the simple fact that people are loved and valued just because, because they don’t see issues, they see the precious created human beings and see them as those who God loves, they both give and receive love.
Drawing pictures and producing music with people may seem useless, but it wasn’t. it allowed us to engage and for people to express themselves and their feelings in a different way, and I hope it will allow those stories to be heard… the cry that says “this is too hard, I am a giver not a taker”, the anger that says “I never expected my fucking life to end up like this…” the grief that connects to the question HOW LONG OH LORD? How long?!!!
In pen and paint I will join my voice to theirs and ask how long? If you would like to buy one of the pictures featuring on this blog post, please get in touch with me, the profits will be shared between PXI and a new food bank opening in my church at Stanwood, also in Sheffield, for while we cry how long the need is getting greater.
today I encountered grief, I climbed up to Curbar Edge and allowed myself to weep, it felt ridiculous, but necessary, and honest, and I would rather not have gone there, but…
I met with my alone-ness as I drove past my children’s cars parked just 15 minutes from my door, knowing they were on a weekend away with my ex and his family, celebrating his mums 80th, remembering that my mum died 10 years ago in a different and grief filled time…
I was on my way to meet friends elsewhere in the Peak District, which is on my doorstep, and the feeling of being invaded might be silly, but felt real, none of them live here, this is my place and space! Well not mine, but it is where I am at home, and my home has been invaded and left me feeling insecure, I need to own that
I wept for what had been, for what might have been, for what couldn’t be, for what I both wanted and don’t want any longer…
I don’t want to go back to the past and reclaim old dreams, but today that bit deep, it may have been easier for it to have meant nothing, but that would have denied my living, life and loving, all of which have been real.
I reflect that we need to own our reality, and vulnerability, need to be real, honest, and to own our pasts, my past, and my new future contains my 5 children, my relationship with them today is different from the future I had imagined, and I have to accept that. It is broken, and I have to accept that. It is wounded, and I have to accept that, it will never be the same, and I have to accept that….
In that I need to look for the gifts of woundedness and vulnerability, and that is hard, today that has come to my doorstep and hit me unexpectedly…