for the braided
with this moment.
from the beginning
to end and
Even when you
cut off the head,
the body still thrives
if only for
for the braided
with this moment.
from the beginning
to end and
Even when you
cut off the head,
the body still thrives
if only for
There’s your face
Cheek to my skin
And nobody even
Knows the shade
Of all the colors
The hollows of your
But I feel it goes
Beyond the white
Of my outsides
and the grainy
Hash of my
If I had
All the beauty
In the world,
I’d spoil it
By losing my name
and Yours, too.
And as our breath
From my reach,
And all I have left
Are the hollows,
I want to tell you a story about a man named Gabriel I trained once at my job.
First, let’s mention the fact that I had recently become the company’s new training manager. And now let’s revel in God’s amazing wonder at how he used a human being who hates ice breakers and general eye contact as one company’s main point of contact for the new and terrified.
That God, man. He’s a riot.
Gabriel’s class was my first class. I don’t remember everyone who was in it because I’m a terrible person but here are a few of the characters that roughly recall a memory when I think about them: Bill, an incredibly obese and incredibly forgiving gentleman who held a glint of sympathy for me in his eye but was still somehow Gabriel’s best friend; Derek, a young man who had just underwent bypass surgery and whose girlfriend had just left, leaving him to tend to their newborn daughter; and Maggie, an older lady who had a peppery stink about her and was originally from California. She said it would be easy to remember my name since her lesbian daughter had spelled hers the same way as mine before she committed suicide. It seemed like everyone Maggie knew had died. Which worried me a little.
I’ve changed all the names except for Gabriel’s, FYI. And I’m sure he’d be okay with that.
First day, I was all armpit sweat. I thought maybe I could coast through most of the material because it covered Federal laws pertaining to communicating with borrowers via the telephone which isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. But of course Gabriel challenged me on everything and attempted to lead a mini-revolution in our classroom when all I wanted to do was find the steering wheel in my car to smack my head against.
And then there was the moment he threw a wad of paper at my face. After being asked to read from our company’s manual aloud (he did so in a variety of multi-cultural voices ranging from a Cockney accent to a Southern drawl), he crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it directly at my nose. I opened it and it said, “I’m bored.”
I was devastated. I went home empty and yet filled with grief. This wasn’t the first time my job had challenged me, but this definitely was the first time a forty-year-old man in an expensive cologne-soaked Polo had ever thrown anything at my face.
Why, God. Why?
And then that tiny voice that always answers when I ask that very question said exactly what I expected it to: Because you can.
So I did.
I kept showing up for that week of training. I kept teaching and talking and ice breaking like a son-of-a-gun. It was my responsibility to impart wisdom on these people: Bill of the kind words, Derek of the wonky eyes, Maggie of the many deceased relatives who would later loudly ask me if I was pregnant in front of a slew of other employees, and even Gabriel whose favorite target was my face.
And here’s something for you. At the end of it all, they had to write reviews of how I did, reviews that would later be given to my boss. And do you know what that Gabriel said about me? That I was an absolute class act and that the company was lucky to have me. And everyone there needed to take a page from my book.
I’m not quite sure what that book is. Maybe The Complete Guide to Not Punching Someone in the Face When They Throw Paper at You?
Regardless, that experience made me feel like I had won. Like I could do anything.
And you see, that’s the point.
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And that was
At my heels.
Sex or death.
Sinner or saint.
No in between.
But can’t you
It takes a lifetime
Of bad memory
To untangle our
And no amount
Of “I’m sorrys”
Will kill the story
On my heart.
Dear Hearts is for the over eighteen crowd so please keep that in mind. Also understand that this book is not a promotional platform for any particular viewpoint. It is an examination into the human mind and heart and the struggle life brings when you leave God out of the picture.
You can read Dear Hearts for free here on Wattpad.
Click here for the ebook.
Click here for a paper copy.
A friend of mine wrote a post about doing yoga while Catholic, and I of course had to scour every word because I’m a true blue Christ follower who happens to practice yoga.
UPDATE: I know longer practice yoga for spiritual reasons.
My comment on her post led her to ask me why I stopped going to Mass, but before I get into that lengthy and layered explanation, let me give you a little insight into how I replied to her post:
Cristina, are we the same person?? Seriously, if I don’t meet you in this lifetime, I’m gonna get cranky. I am a Catholic (although I go to a non-denominational church now) and an incredibly strong Christian and took a hiatus from yoga for the following reasons:
1. Before I committed my life to Christ, I was battling depression, sleep paralysis, night terrors and astral projection (I was going through some serious shiznit) that I feel were all related to demonic activity due to my pushing God out of my life. I was also heavily into yoga and doing it for the spiritual benefits, not just the physical. After committing my life to Christ, I immediately stopped suffering from the above craziness and stopped practicing yoga so I wouldn’t accidentally venture down that path again.
2. Everything I read that was in any way Christian-related told me yoga was a no-no.
So why did I start practicing again? Because, much like you, I enjoyed the physical benefits of yoga and had grown so strong in my faith in Jesus, I knew there was no way I’d be persuaded to leave God’s side again. It wasn’t until we were reviewing 1 Corinthians that I realized yoga was a lot like the “sacrificial meat” issue that the early Christians were dealing with. Followers in the early church were wondering if it was sinful for Christians to eat meat that was sacrificed to the gods. Here is what Paul says:
1. No, it’s not sinful as long as the Christian has a truly strong faith in Christ and is merely filling his belly. To insinuate eating the meat is sinful is to insinuate that we believe those gods exist which would therefore mean the meat is a no-no. And obviously, we don’t believe that.
2. Should we promote eating sacrificial meat to non-Christians or those not as strong in their faith yet? Nope! We can eat the meat all we want but shouldn’t advise others to do the same because they may start venturing down the road of worshipping the gods, not having the same relationship with God we do. Ultimately, we live to love others, and if we mislead them, even unintentionally, we aren’t loving them and doing all we can to bring them closer to God.
I find yoga to be our “sacrificial meat.” We don’t believe in the Hindu gods, so for us, yoga is a fun stretching exercise and nothing more. But if we’re constantly vocal about it and teaching novice Christians that it’s all good in the hood, then we run the risk of changing a person’s heart.
Make sense? Or do I sound like a crazy person? Hashtag wouldn’t be the first time.
So Cristina respectfully asked me what made me stop going to Mass and of course my brain and heart started whirling away into what I hope is a coherent blog post:
Like I mentioned in my reply to Cristina’s post, I used to suffer from depression, night terrors, sleep paralysis and eventually my good friend, astral projection (insert sarcasm here).
I started having panic attacks and depressive episodes once I turned sixteen. I used to go to an incredibly challenging private high school (it was an academy actually and blazers were definitely involved), and our way of life consisted of doing whatever we could to have the highest GPA while all the other girls around town were focused on landing a boyfriend.
Snort. Silly girls.
What I didn’t realize is that I’m not as smart as I thought I was, until of course, I actually started to realize it. All that stress, all that concentrated criticism that started like a soft whisper in my ear had me running miles in the Houston heat and knocking on anorexia’s door before the summer to my junior year had ended. I used to try reading Cold Mountain, the book assigned as our summer reading, only to slam the cover shut each time I started to read a line just so I could cry in my closet.
Loathing grew and never really took a breather. But let’s fast forward a little bit, shall we?
I’ve seen some strange things. Ghosts, I guess, although I don’t believe in ghosts anymore. I believe that evil exists, and I believe he can work our minds like a fine piece of glass. Mine stretched to its limits and there was a deep-seated fear that even that psychic could sniff out when I visited her on my twenty-fifth birthday.
The “Oh, girl!” look on her face was priceless. She could practically taste the possession.
I don’t know what made me so weak to the evil, although deep down, I truly do. I had denied God for so long that the denial set like concrete and broke me apart, inside then out.
I was smarter than everyone else. A feminist. Brilliant. Talented. Better. There was no room for your silly God in my life.
And yet? And yet I was miserable.
I was Catholic but I wore it more like an ethnicity than a transformation of spirit. I think a lot of us who grow up in a church, regardless of denomination, do that very thing. We become used to “a” plus “b” equaling “c,” never stopping to take a good look at “x” in the corner. We check off boxes, consider ourselves a good little religious girl or boy, but sometimes the world wants more than your Sunday morning attendance.
Sometimes the world needs every inch of you, every moment of your life.
So let’s slow down a bit now, focus on “the moment” as I like to call it.
My brother’s sister wanted us to go to their church. We had stopped going to Mass for awhile now and even though this was the case, I would never ever ever ever go to a church that wasn’t a Catholic church because I was a good little religious girl deep down, right? I would never break the rules.
But eventually we went if only to say we did, get this whole shebang over with. And then the best worst thing possible happened. My heart changed.
I wanted to go again, thirsty for more words, the Word, and during this time the worst of everything was happening:
Night terrors where I could feel the stench of evil on me, my soul ripping out of my body and spinning on the ceiling, paralytic attacks where my body couldn’t move and no sound would leave my lips.
Fear of sleep.
But one night in November, after a rough year of battling my personal hell, I gave my life to Jesus before I closed my eyes to go to bed that night.
And ever since, that hell has been a thing of the past.
I was blind and now I see. I’ve been transformed, born again, made anew. I never in a million years believed in that kind of talk. As a Catholic, I believed in doing good works and holding my breath, holding out hope that one day that would be good enough to get me close to God in Heaven.
As a follower of Christ, I know I’m already accepted and that absolute love and grace is what drives me to share that kind of hope with others. I’ve gone beyond the rules and focus instead on life’s every day moments and the ways I can deliver God’s message through my actions, not my empty words.
What it all boils down to: The way I feel now, the way I feel about Christ and his love doesn’t perfectly align with the Catholic philosophy I used to hold onto, and that’s why I no longer go to Mass. I’d be denying the truth I know now, and that wouldn’t be fair to anybody.
Things I’d like to address:
Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I just published a new book of poetry online. Click here to read for free.
I’m a horrible mother. And a terrifically good mother. And a no nonsense mother and a spastic, nonsensical type of female who keeps parking crookedly and forgets the word for fork sometimes, and then other times I feed people my brilliance.
I don’t think any of us were meant to be good at this.
But I think that’s okay. I think for the first time ever, there’s no good mother Olympics, no gold to be won.
There are mistakes and bruises and tears and the way she looks at me like she’s known me before she was born and wishes she’d never met my face.
It’s the same way I look into the mirror sometimes.
But there are those other crystal clear moments, a love abundant, a love like Christ’s, where I can feel it all weaving together, broken skin healing and that sound she makes when she breathes.
Step one, we are alive.
Step two, start living,
Step three, write down, paper to pen.
But dear Ava,
You now know the truth.
So I spoon
All the other
You well and
In the beautifully
Like a long
Shard of glass
And that bird
Hovering up high
Reminded me of the one
And ate your
From that kit
I bought you.
I should have
Paid more attention
Are a nasty thing
How’s the cat
And that gerbil
That I’m always
Afraid the cat
Like you always used
To do and might still?
Funny, the dedication
And imbibing ourselves.
Asked the other
About your father
And I said, “Still Dead,”
But no smile on his face.
What a waste because
He looks a little
Dicaprio in Gatsby
And a smile
Would do him good.
Me, too, I guess.
But not to get down
Have to keep the spirits
Have to keep on keeping on.
Sometimes, I talk to God
And dare him to listen.
I have to get on
And I know
You’re busy with the
Glass shard pool
And Jack and the kids
And all the minutes
Until your glass has
And all you see
Is your damp