Prayer is a dangerous thing.
I began this year with a prayer, one written by Hazrat Inayat Khan. It has been answered time and time again.
“Break my heart again and again until it stays open.”
A year ago, I didn’t post in the wake of the election, the suicide of a close friend on the morning after the election. My heart broke, but also healed. There was work to do.
I didn’t post after moving back in with my elderly and increasingly frail mother. My heart broke, but also healed. Our relationships change always – the cessation of change is the end of life, and we are not yet there, and so we live, and change, and heal. There is work to do.
I didn’t post after leaving my job, the one I’d had nearly fifteen years, the one I sincerely hope to be the last time I work in the corporate world. Not gonna lie: this didn’t exactly break my heart, but there was pain involved. The pain is ongoing, a bone-deep knowledge that I will never again live the way I lived before. So I mourn, and change, and heal. There is new work to do.
I did post after returning from the Philippines, a monumental trip built around an imperfect and beautiful love. And my heart broke a little (more) upon my return, yet there was healing too. My return from that side of the world to this meant the start of my new life in earnest. Break. Heal.
How to heal AND stay open?
I didn’t post at the moment I began seminary, as it was hard to know quite when that was. When I was accepted? When I applied for financial aid? When I registered? When I flew to Chicago as a student the first time? When I got my student ID?
My heart has broken so many times since I started, y’all, and I’m only like three classes in. Break. Heal. Change. Live. Open.
I didn’t post a #metoo post, not because I don’t have stories, or shame, or anger, or pain, because I do. Of course. I sat inside it, trying to find the best way to tell it, when I realized it’s not just a story, it’s the water I swim in. I have been complicit in my own oppression and that of those like me, and my awakening has been painful. And sitting inside that, looking at so many who are oppressed in ways I cannot begin to imagine, and I sit up. And I say, if I learned, maybe others can. Not just “fix this broken thing, solve this problem” but the fact that misogyny, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, racism, fear, bigotry undergird the entirety of the world we have built, and taking that shit apart is going to be HARD. But it binds us together, and “none of us are free, one of us is chained.” We are together. I will not work for change in rape culture without working for change in white supremacy. All of it hurts all of us. My salvation is bound, inextricably, to yours.
And my gods, stars on the face of heaven, even after all that I’ll say it – I didn’t post after my sweet cat Naomi suffered and died after a routine procedure. Beings die every day. Many suffer. Though I did all I could, though none of this is the same as the big words like oppression or salvation or theology or praxis, even though all of that is true, her passing caused me more immediate pain that almost anything in this broken-hearted year.
Break. Heal. Open, open, open.
The day I got the tattoo on my back, the image inspired by losing Naomi one day after the 8th anniversary of my father’s death, I started to see. How one could heal AND stay open. A tattoo is an open wound. It is also art and word and spirit and truth. It is the visible demonstration of my hard-earned bodily autonomy. As the open wound heals, the inks deposited within the skin take up residence, settle in, and become a part of me – the new creature I am now.
The new creature I am now is healing. My skin will tell my story so I will do so, always. Until I am silent forever, I will contain the healing person I am becoming. I will never finish becoming, until I cease to change at all.