"The white fathers told us, "I think, therefore, I am" and the black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams, I feel, therefore I can be free."- Audre Lorde

Monday, November 22, 2010

Forest Child :

I grew up in the forest.
Far far away.

Like most children of the forest, I had the ability to talk to trees. and small woodland creatures. Like others, I could sense time without a clock and would never tire of playing in the woods. But unlike the children who grew up in my forest, I, as a forest child, possessed the unusual ability to talk to a mysterious and strange God. A God, that for many years, was created and re-created, as childhood shifted and transformed. A shape-shifter. A voice. A spirit. I knew it and felt it. And sometimes the memory of that connection, is the only thing that continues to connect me to it now.

I grew up among pagans and tired ex-catholics. (that's why im still 10% pagan, and 10% Catholic).
I grew up in a forest that had no church. We had a building--a tinylittle wee building, that once was alive with song and word, but had closed it's doors, like most things did, by the time I was three. It lived there, among the trees, dying. Its wood rotted. Its windows boarded. It, like the tiny boarded up one room train-"station", lumber mill, fire-hall, and eventually even school, became abandoned. My home, has now become a ghost-town.
So, as a forest child, the concept of "church" was quite foreign to me. Until puberty struck , I was fairly certain that churches only existed in America- in Big Cities and on Tv. It was a concept, almost as mythical to me as a mail man, or street-lights.
I grew up in a two-room school that had 30 kids, total, on a good year. I had a fairly unconventional education, to say the least. I also had a teacher who loved this guy named God. She spoke of him often and I was intrigued, so from very early on, I stayed after-class, on Tuesdays for Searchmont's equivalent of "bible club". This became my only "formal" introduction to this thing called Christianity. I latched on. Fiercely. While most forest children stayed primarily for the greasy chips on a napkin /purple Cool-Aid, and to watch the fat on our teacher's arm jiggle, as she did the actions for "Whose the King of the Jungle", I stayed because of mysticism. (though the chips and the arm fat, were defiantly a motivation as well).
I took the basic teachings of the Bible, and invented my own pseudo-religion (or denomination, to be fair). One with no authority. One based on feelings, rather than logic. One that saw God not as an elderly white man sitting in heaven, but rather one that understood God as love spirit. That floated and spiraled within and around all of life. Without a church, everything became church. Land, not buildings, became sacred spaces. The forest became infused with this love spirit. Prayer became a language, learned but not taught. It grew fluid, not because it was a rule or a compulsory, but because it grew out of desire. A desire to connect with this love spirit, I could feel inside of my tummy. I could sense in others. I could see in the earth around me. I wrote songs for it. I spent a good six years or more of my life,quietly singing myself to sleep every night. In those quiet moments, I felt like my entire body was in the presence of this thing called God. This thing that held me. That knew me. That loved me.
My "faith" was mine, though I was admiate about sharing it. The main recipients of my then evangelism, were my snails. I taught them all I knew. I decided, when I was seven, that this thing called heaven wouldn't be worth living in forever, if it didn't have snails. So, I baptized, ALL 200 or so, of my pet snails. A drop of "Holy" puddle water on each of their tiny little snail heads, and a prayer of love for each of them. It took about a day. But I was at ease from then on. I even had a mini silver statue of Mother Mary, for the snails to slime over, once they were "saved". (In case you were unaware, The Virgin Mary cries tears of joy, when mollusks accept her son into their hearts)
Because my parents were, at that time, "born-into-it, but don't-practice-it" Catholics, they felt it necessary that their daughter experience the catholic rituals of "First Communion" and Hail Mary chants . so, they drove me an hour into the "Big City", where I wore an over-the-top frilly white dress with matching white lace gloves, held a rosary, regurgitated some Catholic propaganda, and had my very first Holy bread wafer.
At this point, I did not know the world had Protestants and Catholics. But I rebelled anyway. From what I understood, the Jesus meal should be offered to anyone who feels/honours the love spirit. It shouldn't be limited to city boys/girls who dress up in fancy white, and call their priest Father. I declared myself officially NOT-catholic before I even hit third grade- and reverted back to my initial DIY ways.
Though I proclaimed Catholicism to be hypocritical and spiritually uncouth, at an early age, it's influence still informed my own practices/interests in weird ways. For a while, I really dug mini statues of saints. My teddy bear still wore a little rosary, and I still had a thing for holy water. But most importantly I was infatuated with nuns. When I wasn't pretending to be a teacher, or day-dreaming about being a sex-therapist, I was quite insistent on becoming a nun. In fact, the very first thing I EVER googled, once the Internet was invented, and in my home, was "nuns". I had a major crush on them, though the whole celibacy thing through me for a loop, since I was an unusually sex-obsessed/aware kid. (but that deserves its own blog-entry). Looking back now, nuns were the first "Christians", I ever read about, that seemed to be doing this whole God-thing right. Unlike most of the people around me, they were actually doing what Jesus said. They were radical. After Mother Theresa died, I use to ask God to pass along messages to her, when I prayed.
I use to have this reckless trust in God and in Love. I use to cry when I prayed because the feelings of their presence were so intense. I use to believe that the world wasn't broken yet-that with a little love, anyone could change. I use to have the unusual ability to talk to a strange and mysterious God. When I was a forest child.

Looking back now, I realize my version of spirituality hasn't changed all that much. and I'm sort of glad. I've gone through periods of denial and shame. I struggle often with burdensome amounts of doubt and skepticism. I go through intense droughts of anger and recluse. But at the end of the day, it's the memories/life of my childhood connection to the love spirit, that often pulls of through. It's that level of intimacy I yearn with all my heart to be able to experience and allow in myself again.
It hasn't been until recently, that I've realized my story/history with "God" is a bit off-beat/unusual. Unlike my "protestant" peers, I didn't grow up with little old church ladies, choirs, hymnals, sermons, camps, bible verse finding contests, organs and church etiquette. I'm unfamiliar with traditional "chuchie" language, rhetoric, songs and "worship". A lot of things my partner takes for granted having been born and raised in the church, feels really unnatural and at times even offensive to me. Somtimes it causes tension, because our stories so greatly inform how we experience and know God.
Im realizing now that growing up in the forest, and being unchurched has its definite pros and
cons. I'm lucky I was able to avoid being burned by the church. I never felt forced or guilt-ed into connection. I don't feel overly brainwashed. Creativity was a big part of my understanding of the Spirit and Creator. I wasn't jaded/broken by other Christians. I held onto my innocent naive hope longer. I owned my beliefs and remain a fairly free/independent thinker. But on the other hand, I developed a really unbalanced attitude towards Christianity. I find it really hard to appreciate and respect the church. I have A LOT of issues with authority. I lack logic, and base most actions/beliefs on "feelings". Christian-eese makes me panic. If I start to talk like a Christian and use words like "Jesus Christ", "Salvation", "evangelize", "missioning", "The Second-Coming", "The Good Lord" and "secular" etc. etc. I get desperately ill inside and want to vomit. I have a reallly reallly tense relationship with my Bible. I harbour a lot of resentment towards other Christians. Corporate prayer still creeps me out. and I'm quite stubborn and critical.
It's a difficult process transforming a very private/individualistic faith into one that embraces and is subject to community. I'm glad that shift is happening, and that I've found Next, as a home to explore and experience these changes. I'm really thankful that's its become a "thin space" where I can be honest about my story- where i can struggle openly yet still experience love. A space where people, not walls, define church. Where I can slowly reclaim and re-learn this whole church thing, without sacrificing who I am. Where to be a "Christian" and to follow the teachings of Jesus is radical. Is subersive. is counter-cultural and revolutionary. Next for me, is a sacred place where God is once again mysterious and mystical. A place where I can encounter the traces of this love spirit, and hear the voice, I once felt and knew, as a young forest child.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

there's always room for creativiTEA

My old bedroom has successfully transformed itself into a creativiTEA room-- a sacred space for art to be dreamt, felt and born. A sanctuary of sorts, for herbs to grow, for tools to hang, glitter stored. A place where wood is carved, poems bled, cards imagined and loose-leaf drunk.
And today I sat hunched over our new, yet old, vintage wooden desk, sunlight pouring through the shutters; nibbling on grilled eggplant drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and sipping away at a perfect Chai, with the perfect amount of maple syrope in it, Louis Armstrong's perfect voice dancing softly through my air, 2 bottles of brown glitter in hand, and desktop full of cardstock.

Suddenly all was right in the world again.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Like Life you flow through me/and yet/my own veins and body remain oblivious to your powers.
Heart beats/and you listen/ because you are there. In me. There.
Heart aches/ and you listen/ because your job/ was to mend/not break.
But you do break/ Though your pieces/ remain the pieces of myself/ i cling to most.
These pieces/they float in me/ and like tumors they ground to the walls of my insides.
I feel you in the pain/ I feel you grow/ cell by cell.
Until you become a fear/ too BIG to remove/ too much apart of me to decipher where my flesh begins and your pieces end.
To cut you/would be to cut me/ and that is the tragedy of this love.
You become in me, a second life/ tiny and beating/ alive yet dying
No doctors could detect you/ No surgery could dissect you
but still like a tumor, you swell in me.
And instead of despair/ my fear embraces/cuddles/nurtures and delights in you
because to the world you were a secret/ but to my body you were real.
They tell me you're diseased/ They say to live without you is to heal.
But if to heal means to live without you/ than i'll remain ill/ so not to lose you.
Because in losing you/ I would be lost/ and that's the worsedisease of all.
So you grow/because I let you/ because I am bound/ in/and/to you.
You grow as I cry out your name/ You grow until your name cries out in me.
Until each breath seems to pass through you
Until each heart beat rhythms to keep you alive.
But these are lies/ the lies I create myself/ for myself
because I fear who I'll be/ once your gone.
So you grow/ you grow until you rupture/ and i am left with the mess/ of the mound you used to be.
You are the mess that oozes through me/ painfully/ through leery veins/ past a hurting heart.
Slowly you find your way out/ blood/tears/vomit and urine.
Soon you'll be gone entirely/and I'll be here mourning the loss of the space you filled in me.
But I'll let go/ Soon I'll let go/ of the pieces of myself I swore were you.
And in this loss/courage will someday find me/ and without you I will breathe/feel/step and live
without you.
and as me.

snail coitus makes me smile