How To End Hatred

Let’s not go into detail… Let’s not name names…
Let’s just say… sometimes women treat other women like absolute crap. Not accidental, unintentional crap treatment. Not sort of “sweet but actually bitchy” hurt. No. Intentional, willful, unrestrained crap treat-age. Devaluing, steam-rolling, interrupting, insulting crap dolled out in unrepentant spades.

Yesterday I caught the FULL FORCE of some of this exact brand of crap-ness.


In that moment, my friends, I remained ever so calm. Yes I did. My voice, ever so level. My words, ever so measured. No, I did not lay down like a mat to have people wipe their feet on me. No I did not. But I was very nice about my crisis negotiating. No tempers were lost on my side of the room. No shouting. No tears. But… oh. my. goodness. when I left the situation…. exited the room… crossed the street… walked the two blocks in steady, intentional steps…….. Rage.

Rage. Wrath. Violent. A murky kind of vindictive fury and hatred that honestly surprised me with its potency. My cunning brain was flipping through ways to kill and destroy. To break and bring down. To poison and grind to a pulp.

News flash:
My insides are a murderer.
A slaughterer of feelings. A smearer of reputations. A decimator of relationships. My deepest insides, when thoroughly shaken, yielded some incredibly silty darkness.

And, in a way, I’m not sorry.

Yet even in the midst of my unflinching fury, one BIG RESOUNDING TRUTH echoed obnoxiously in my spirit. It said…

“A break in the cycle of hatred starts with… You.”
“Non-violence starts with You.”
“Cease fire starts with You.”
“Detent starts with You.”
“Lay down your weapons… starts with You.”
“Turn the other cheek… You.”
“Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you… those ass holes… yep, also You.”

There is no time in our experience when we hate the concept of PEACE more than when it depends on us. When it depends on OTHERS… yes! Peace! Gosh! They should pursue peace! Peace is beautiful! Why all the fighting? Harmony, man! But when it depends on us… when it’s our turn to lob the ball back in the volley of wrong-doing… when it’s our turn to take a gut punch shot…. we want to take it. When it’s on us to lay down contempt, scorn, scowling eyes, and smirking mouth… when it’s on us to choose to love… That, we’re not so fond of. That sucks.

I say this to commiserate and also to exhort…. We Are Where All Hatred Comes To Die.

We are the people who say, “This far, and no further.”

We are the end of rage.

If only we will surrender it. If only we will lay it down, take our hands off our right, and choose peace.

In a world rife with turmoil…. remember….

You are the place where hatred can cease.


Marriage and Magnets: The Dance

Yearning is strange right? It’s the crave that flames in our bellies when we hear stories of backpacking in the desert or birthing a child or emerging from grief with glorious stitches where the horrible rips once were. When we see the stories of gutting and risk and victory in others, we feel it. We feel a pull toward wild life. Full life. More. But also solidity. Place. Conclusions. The end of people’s stories include both the falling apart, the knitting together, and the final messy product. Yearning is the lust for all of those stages distilled into one potent shot of hard soul liquor.

Yearning wants to be both wildly adventurous and incredibly safe. It wants to be flying into the wind of the fire. But also ensconced in the tender mercies of sweatpants and elastic waist bands. It wants to be satisfied with the richest things, the sexiest sex. It wants to be unsatisfied. Because longing is lovely. It’s tea and whiskey. But never mixed.

We bring this duality into all of our relationships, I think, but especially our marriages. Someone once told me, “You are the kite, and he is the string.” We fill little rolls we never meant to fill, or expected to be. We pull against each other. We come home to each other. It is an endless dance. I am the bird, and he is the nest. Somehow we are one, but only in opposite directions. We drive each other totally nuts.

I believe two things about marriage: That it is forever, and that it will always be a little uncomfortable. It’s the interplay that opposing magnets do in the hands of curious children. They’re held together firmly by the twin impulses of resolve and revelation. But they’ll always be resisting. Resisting in that strange, invisible way that two incredibly unique people could never possibly be one thing. This is the balance.

These are ancient thoughts that many minds have thought before. For me, though, they feel fresh in this moment. It feels like a revelation that I could enter into the dance with this stubborn old man, and that the point of it all is the “marriage” between resistance and togetherness. The point of it all is the friction. The tension between two. The yearning… for better, for more, for less, for now, for then. We hold it all incarnate between ourselves. And as long as we don’t put it down, we birth something new.

That’s all… I’m just thinking about it. Balance. Yearning. Imbalance. My magnet tries to fly off to the left, and his magnet yanks me back to the right. His magnet tries to stay exactly in one place forever, and my magnet pushes him backward off the table. And yet in all the push and pull, there is an innate sense that these two things are destined to grapple together with their stories. One magnet alone is nothing. A moon without a sun or sea. It’s the trinitarian unity that brings things to life.

And, I don’t have a conclusion today. Only a few thoughts that wanted to live on paper. Only a rough draft… the fraction of the story where the person is wandering in the mohave desert.


Two Sleepless Poems

More poetry. Just a vehicle by which I try to quell and calm and tame the constant restless energy.

There is no steadiness in me;
No space between the blisterings.
The hot ones and the cold.
I am often very much,
And too much for myself,
And there is not enough of me
To sustain it, so
There is electricity
Calicoed with light,
Stitched to square squares of sackcloth stained
With too much coffee
and the ashes of Job.
Alternating pieces separated and joined
By sharp plunging;
A rocking horse stitch, leading
Time’s thread of constancy,
Marching over my own warp and weft.


I believe in cats but also carpe diem.
I believe in stillness that holds
in its gentle claws,
And needles a warning
if the running runs wild.
We are only on today. Tonight. Whatever.
But we can stillify the race
with pens that skitter over pages;
With herbal concoctions couched
in couch-confined crosslegs.
We can slowify our breath,
Our breathing
And breathe,
And be
With the cat who presses madness
under massaging paws.

Gospel Hope for Mood Disorder

“God wants us to know that he keeps us equally safe in joy and in sorrow, and loves us as much in sorrow as in joy. … Our Lord sometimes allows us to be in sorrow and both come from one love.” — Julian of Norwich


This is the pattern:

I begin to feel desperately sad in every cell of my body, so I fumble for why… What could it be? Am I doing something wrong? Am I good enough? Do I belong? Am I loved? Am I where I’m supposed to be? Am I doing what I’m supposed to do? And if I am, why am I so grief stricken?

If I feel so lost and in despair, surely something it broken. Duh. Where is it? Let me at it! I pummel the darkness, feeling with brave fingers for a solid thing to put my hands around. I’ll fix it. I will. If I can fix it, I can un-sad myself.

I grasp for some new crack to patch. To make it right. To make me safe. To make me secure. To make me know, even if my insides say otherwise, that it is all going to be ok.

But every time, this pattern fails me. Like clock work.

My mind churns. My dissatisfaction grows. I hunt for the weak link. I look for it in myself. I look for it in those around me. I grow irritable with my people. I grow merciless with myself. I weigh myself down with the busyness of mending what seems so mysteriously broken. I grasp onto too many things. Take a job, sign up for a roll, begin a task, join a gym, try a project, make a new friend, practice a discipline, slow down, speed up, scramble for hope. Each avenue offers possibility. The possibility of wellness.

After a time, I find that the things I grasped, hoping to heal my desperation, have turned into new kinds of burdens, rather than sweet liberation.

What looked like an anchor of hope in a fretful emotional sea, can so often turn out to be a mill-stone around the neck.

Side roads with flashing arrows promising “Relief!” to the weary heart can so quickly prove to be muddy byways that suck at weary ankles. Adding weight to the weighed down.

Mary Oliver wrote, “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination; calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting!” Isn’t the flavor of possibility just intoxicatingly sweet? A harsh and bracing cry that puts wind under our wings and lures us into the crisp sky! I have flown a million miles chasing that breeze. Looking for my place in the family of things. Thinking, each time, that a steady place might save me from the misery that wants to live within myself.

But the reality of sadness always rises again. The inevitable tides of depression come again. And again and again. Their black waters persistently inch over tender ground I’ve claimed for myself; consuming the harvests I planted in hope.

This is what it looks like to have a clinical mood disorder. It colors everything. Our feelings, our sense of hope, our sense of purpose and orientation and community and identity. Everything is compromised by this sneaky cancer of irregular moods. It’s a living and breathing kind of hell to know that how you feel has no basis in reality.

I have only found one answer. Or, really, it found me.

It. Is. Well.

It is well.

It is well with my soul.

It is. It’s already the truth. I just have to sink into it with a kind of liberal abandon.

When all around my soul gives way. It is well.

Laid down in green pastures. Restored in soul, if weak in body.

It is well.


My body chemistry is broken. It slips and slides into the wildest sort of despair, for absolutely no reason. My insides are wildly turbulent and rangy and slippery and grim. My internal weather is scared of its own shadow; and if it can’t see its shadow, it’s terrified it lost it forever. A constant cycle of certainty that all is doomed.

But it is well.

It is well.

It is well with my soul.

It’s already well.

Only when I begin to put down all the scattered, tattered pieces I have fumbled to stuff into my life, hoping to patch holes I can’t really find and restore balance I never really had… only when I say, “It is well,” do I begin to rest in the arms of Love.

God’s invitation has always been to come at your grimmest and bleakest and lay down under the soft feathers of his mama hen’s heart, and be at peace. No matter the circumstances. Even if the circumstances live inside your soul.

Enter in.

Rest yourself.

Surrender to love.

Love has made a home for you here which does not depend on you or anything you scramble to stuff into the holes and cracks and crannies.

Stop with the scrambling, the panic, the guilt, the fear.

He said, “It is finished.”

He said, “I am the way.”

He said, “I never leave the lost lamb to languish on the hillside alone. You are mine. Bought at a price. Nothing shall separate you from love.”

It is well.

Today. Now. Forever. Already. Well.

How to Enjoy Haggard Days

At a certain point in almost every day, I’m not sure why.

I’m not sure why we keep doing these things over and over. Over and over. So insistently. Waking up and feeding ourselves and consuming consuming consuming. And showering endlessly. I remember the words of Sylvia Plath, who, in a great depression, bemoaned the need to bathe… “I want to do things once and be done with them forever.”

But that is not the cadence of things.
It is not the tempo of life to perform once the necessary task and move on to more important things.
You get the feeling that the little things were always the more important things all along.

Why, God, are we repeating people? Cyclic and tidal and stationary. Endlessly in need of some kind of little caring here or there.

Why, God, did you give us bodies for houses? Inefficient, whiney, creaky, grouchy bodies. Bodies with back aches and inhaling/exhaling forever to survive. Requiring fuel. Requiring rest. Requiring washing and loving and looking at. Requiring requiring requiring.

And you called them the temples of your presence.

The great liturgical mystery of existence carries in it the secret of joy, I think. That we are to wonder and wander in the sameness. Our inclinations will always be to wander and discover! To unearth a new thing that will solve and solution us. And that is a beautiful thing. But also that we are to make a home here. In the sameness. In the wandering. In the never getting very far at all. To make a home examining the mysteries hidden in plain (very very plain) sight… that’s somehow the magical gift that gives meaning.


Ecclesiastes has endlessly disoriented people because of a strange translation… it says in most Bibles, “Everything is meaningless” or “Everything is vanity.” Several Rabbis have taught that it ought to read, “Everything is transient.” Every little thing.
The last meal you ate.
The skin you wear.
The longing that seems to be the most meaningful thing now.
Everything is passing us by.

It should make us a little sad. It should! Death lives within the fabric of our existence, much more closely than we usually pause to appreciate. But it should also make us gaze deeper and gasp in delight. The author of Ecclesiastes says, at the end of all his examining of the things that drive people in this life (wisdom and wealth and pleasure and acclaim and religion) and he draws one simple conclusion: “Enjoy your life.” Everything is transient. Enjoy your life. In temperance and consideration. In awe.

At a certain point in each day, it feels harder than usual to enjoy life. I find this is a great moment to slow down. To see with new eyes that are a little less judgmental. I feel the goodness of the things all around me. The sounds of boys and birds and bugs and blossoms. The happy messes that color my world.

I hope you invite ease into your sore places. Maybe on the back of a long inhale or a gentle exhale. I hope you agree with yourself to Enjoy.

Especially on those haggard afternoon moments when everything is going sideways.

Three Wee Poems

A Kind of Salvation
Be saved, O my soul
from the sinking down.
From the even bigger fall into the shadow valley.
Be at naps, O my soul, a professional
and forget not all their benefits.
They are God’s hands; God’s own
Rest. And they are good.
Be not proud, O my soul, and full of it;
The certainty of unshakeable muchness.
Be small, O my soul
and surrendered
and handled
and pliable
and slower than your slowest breath.
Give up, O my soul
At least for a moment
yielded, O my soul, to the great salvation
The one with the pillows
And the mercy seat.


Remember to breathe.
And water the plant; parched,
Poor thing. Forgotten.
And pet the cat.
Time is enough
Hold me. The moments.
One moment
In a skittering manic million
Be still.
Know the little knowings
Bit. By. Bit.
Inhale the mist of Love’s name.


Goodmorning Cat
The liquid swirl of cat tail on carbon;
tenderness on bone; this brush
is a whisper incarnate.
This is the stillness of a new earth’s inhale
This 5 am
This hello nod during the early service.
This shared liturgy of scoop and brew and pour and sip,
but first the pause, the promise,
the Lord be with you. And with your spirit.
The silent paw pads passing peace
with a flick.

Things I write when I’m a wee bit mad…

It still feels like slamming hard into a wall out of nowhere… even though I’m sure I’ve been laying the bricks for a long time. The bricks of sleeplessness, too much smiling, a lack of solitude. These are luxuries to the sane. They are oxygen to the struggling. The anxious, the moody, the manic.

It’s a shocking thing to suddenly collide with your own limitations.

Who put that there?

My 3 year old has been clamoring over me, screaming like an enraged baboon. Suddenly, very suddenly, and very completely, my resources were depleted. Not just the first wave resources. No. The deep, deep. The neurological, cellular resources. My body slammed to a halt. I instantly got dizzy. Everything went cold and weak. Everything went blank and self-preserving.

This is the edge of the earth… the place where all things drop off into empty space…



Cheese is really just a well controlled kind of chaos. A bacterial dance. A death march. A tug of war between life and loss. Death to dairy and life to the ravaging hoard of hungry microbes. What a strange delicacy. And it is an incorruptible truth of the universe that without it the world would be a worser place.

My experience of bipolar illness has made my life a kind of cheese cocktail of dying inside and bristling to an electric life on the very ground of my own despair. Like a mushroom that sprouts on a fallen log… I am both the oak-fallen, laid low, and the fungus rising out of the ground of my own unsteady story.

I am both life and death in myself. The many pieces rarely in harmony, but always in unity with each other. One whole person.

It’s taken me 30 years to realize that can be beautiful… the living and dying woven together so intimately. Like cheese. A strange delicacy.

Scant Seasons

I’m tired of being scant.

If I’m strictly honest, my real thought before putting pen to paper just now was, “I’m fucking over it!”

I’m tired of being tugged in all directions by people I can’t be enough for. And all I’m doing are the basics of home, husband, and hauling my child to pre-K. To each person, I give the best I have to give. It’s all I have. I’m a considerate driver on the road. I’m a smiling face in the halls. I murmur a sincere thank you to the teacher for all she does. I connect with the downtrodden mama who’s daughter shares my son’s school day. To all appearances I am overflowing with life. But I feel parched. Ragged and impatient.

While I calmly say good night prayers and cheerfully pour breakfast cereals, I battle against feeling rung out and shaken until the teeth I keep gritted together in a smile inside my head will surely rattle and fall out. Everything I have left to give feels thin. Insufficient to the task. I’m tired of feeling panicked often, fragile always, and desperate at the end of the day because all the evidence suggests we are sure to start over again in just one sleep.

If I was ample, I could absorb the little devastations of life — the spilled pills and stubbed toes and screaming 3 year old — and recover without losing my footing in sanity. I could take the badgering babes and the hammering of invisibility like a gentle inhale… and then exhale it away and continue in the meaningful work of maintaining the walk onward. Instead I frequently take minor injustices with the grace of a small earthquake. And everything falls apart.

If I had margin inside… White space around the paragraphs for typos and mishaps… I would be different. But I don’t. So I feel my whole body constrict in barely withheld rage. And worst, grief. Time is a terrible kind of thing to be robbed of by pointless interruptions about chalk and bugs and booboos and “watch my moves.” Or so my selfish heart cries.

I could be flexible. I could be calm. But I’m not. I’m stiff and flinchy. I’m brittle and prone to shattering.

I am not magnanimous or rich or abundant. I am not full or gracious or overflowing with good. If I ever appeared so, for a moment, I will probably pay for it by huddling in a ball of despair alone later on.

My every nerve is pulled to the twanging tension point and so very often they snap. And today I am tired of being this way.

I’ll recover. I’ll carve a shell of absolute silence out of my own internal chaos after kissing smooth baby boy foreheads goodnight…. and then putting them back in bed five times each. I’ll play my soul restoring songs. I’ll scribble a prayer with a haggard pen. I’ll try not to harm myself in my senseless grief. I’ll believe that it will pass like the tides and the weather and the seasons and the shadows of the clouds above. And it will. It always does. Darkness passes into light. To live is to be a thing that changes; ebbs and flows. Come quickly. Renew dry bones.

1000 Thoughts Before Breakfast

When I can’t do work in a focused way to create something visible, everything goes wibbly-wobbly. Which is just another way of saying, “Children make me crazy.”
Before kids I was definitely a “Self-A-Holic.” When my uneasy bits reared up (which is always) and told me that life is mostly empty, short, strangely essential, and weirdly meaningless… When I woke up realized we only get one of these, but it’s really really hard to know what to do with it… I didn’t pick up a bottle to drown the confusion. I tamped it all down with work. If I was efficient, focused, intelligent, and strategic, I could make something out of my one effervescent life. Then it would be worth something. Then waking up in the morning for 80-some-odd years would make sense. I needed the pillar of my own creative power to rise up and serve as a touchstone for my vacuous sense of unease with the world.
And then I had children.
Which, they say, is the most significant thing you can do…
Which is probably true, actually, but that makes me feel twitchy.
The constancy and impermanence of all the things we do to raise children is destabilizing. Every morning the same endless needs rise up to be met and then pass away invisibly into time. 
A whole life can be poured out in half-eaten breakfasts. A whole life can be measured out in beds made and unmade and made and unmade. Little sock seams and spilled milk and time fillers and bickering and microscopic booboo kissing. This becomes the texture of time itself, and I start to say things like, “Everything is meaningless” and “What’s the point.” 
A whole existence can be unspooled into the tapestry of humanity. One little life in a long line of DNA. Maybe that was always the thing that mattered. Somehow the stuff we do on top of it wasn’t the point. Even though it felt like it. I feel like i’m pouring myself out into the gene pool. And right now I’m in the deep end.
To survive, I have had to “put down the bottle” of Self and understand the texture of time differently. My life isn’t a fragile thread slipping through scrambly fingers at warp speed, barely holdable. My challenge isn’t to grab it and make it into something that dignifies my own worth. Nope. It is not so lonely. It is not so desperate. We are being woven together.
One thread of time on top of another, our lives are being united into a story much bigger and beyonder than a Self-a-Holic like me. When I lay my small thread into a great united tapestry of threads stretching forward and backward through time and lashed to the heart of God (wherever he may be) I surrender small me for bigger we. I think this is a more accurate view of the world. I think this is a more reasonable way to live.
So I lay it mindfully. I lay it with as much love as I can muster. I know that it is tiny and dull by itself. I know it is only a gasp, a lurch, a fumble, a spark. But I believe that it is essential in the tapestry. Because we hold each other together. And everything is beautiful by and by. Breakfast upon breakfast upon breakfast, world without end, amen.

Loneliness Has A Lesson For You

In the loneliness of life there is a strange invitation: To stand naked and alone, and know that you are enough.

In the safety of friends, in the cradle of community, we can draw comfort from our lovely qualities. I’m so friendly. I’m so helpful. I’m so entertaining. I’m so creative. I’m so self sacrificing. I’m so wise. Therefore I am a good and lovely person. But when we are lonely, we stand stark and uncomfortable in the dreadful sense of our own Being, distinct and separate from all the other beings; then, there, in the spotlight of our own strangeness, if we have the radical courage, we can know that we are complete.

That’s something different.

Somehow we can’t get to that strange place of individual essential worth until we sense that we are alone.

This isn’t the selfish, stiff-necked, individualistic way of being “Complete” that is so common in Western society. This isn’t the, “F- that. I don’t need nobody!” seething self-containment. This is the way of being whole which knows that it is really part of a bigger story. “Here I am. Created by God. One wee thread in the tapestry. United to you. Pieced together in a story. Luminous and meaningful just as I am, because he loves me. Enough.”

Loneliness corrupted makes us want to curl into a ball of shriveling self-worth. “Nobody loves me; I am unloveable.” and “I don’t know my place in the world, so I don’t have a place anywhere.”

Loneliness redeemed invites us to stand up, lift our eyes “to the hills from whence our help comes”, and know the strength of being essential as we are. Beautiful because we we are created in love.

Loneliness corrupted makes us say, “No one loves me. I will withdraw.”

Loneliness redeemed says, “I am loved alone. Unvarnished. Endlessly. So I can love unlimited.”

Loneliness corrupted drives us deeper into ourselves and away from others.

Loneliness redeemed drives us deeper into ourselves, and we find something universal there. A shared value. A shared bewilderment. A shared hope. And low and behold we find ourselves able to connect to the great big family of humanity after all… giving from a more firmly rooted place of being loved incorruptibly.

I think loneliness finds us all at some point in time. Introverts, extroverts, ambiverts. City mice and country mice. But when loneliness finds you, I hope you find love. Your truest identity.