because being human is miraculously stunning and terribly painful. and i have no answers for the why of either. there is what is given and what is lost, the going in and the coming out, and my own response. i choose the rebellion of devotion.
"heart of devotion"
- “when do you think you’ll be back to normal?” she asked, needing something from me, though it was hard to tell what exactly she really wanted, to have the deadline met or to believe that when difficult things happen people just bounce back like rubber balls on the gym floor, so there is no reason to be afraid. “don’t hold your breath,” i said.
the real answer is, never. you don’t just go back to normal after some things. because the thing changes you; you are not the same person anymore.
“but i’m here,” i said. which are the most true words. whatever the thing is that has happened, whatever its meaning now or the one that comes much later, i’m here. and i choose to be here, all the way.
- the immaculate heart of mary is a devotional name in mythologies surrounding the blessed virgin mary. it can refer to many things, but some people say it is the name that speaks to her interior life, all the joys and hurts of being in a human body on earth, and her compassionate love for this world. i wonder if we are all made up of such immaculate hearts.
- i’m here, i said. sometimes it’s all you've got. and it is always enough. the rest is just commentary. so i’m here. here, lying on the hard wood floor because it’s good to feel solid ground. here, with liquid ink that spills on paper, and cold temperatures, with plane ticket searches and hot water and unknowns. here, sometimes trying to escape and crawl out of skin, and so alive inside the same skin that you could wink at me from across a very large and crowded room and i would feel the movement of lash against my face . i’m here. and this is a real kind of loving.
- i once buried things in the backyard (for real. there was a box and a shovel and digging in the dirt). i did so, for fear they would be taken. so i was keeping them safe. except, in their burial, they were already gone. i have decided that i would rather face the possible damages by opening the closed, than guarantee the losses by forever keeping myself concealed.
- there is no controlling things. so all that is left is to risk.
- we are driving in the car, me and my almost ten year old son, and the radio is on. the song is saying something about hearts, and the heart seizing. "that's a weird thing to say," he says. "hearts are just a muscle in the body." "i know," i say, "except, have you ever been sad, and even though no one is even touching your body, your chest actually is sore, like it's beating hard, and it's hard to breathe." we are both looking straight ahead, out the windshield, and it is early evening dark. "yeah," he says, nodding his head, avoiding eye contact. "me too," i say, "it hurts." another nod, and then we are quiet, while making the way from main streets to side streets, a terrain of snow and slush, asphalt and concrete. "i still think it's a little dramatic for a pop song," he says. true.
- i was told just how dangerous the world was and is. a frightening landscape filled with evil, a lost cause better left alone, threats lurking at every crossroads. everyone out to get you, me, us. watch your back. trust no one or nothing.
they were wrong. and i will not be amputating my own life and heart through denunciation of the world. it is too beautiful.
- “where is god to be found?
in the place where he is given entry.”
- so let it be me. and the whole of this life.
- there is no sense to be made. because i have given more than my pound of flesh, and the world doesn't care because it doesn't give a shit about fairness. but i’m still here, and i belong here, to her, this world. i love her. so i bring my carved into body and my heart of deep devotion, and i lay it out like offerings. i chose to be here; she chose to have me. that’s all that is known in the end.
“i did whatever i had to, to find my way back into my body, to be fully human,” i told her.
and it was worth it.
- you can try if you want, to break apart love. love of world, life, self, others, place. but there is also a kind of love where it is unclear who or what is giving and who is receiving, or if that even matters. maybe this is what i really mean, when i say devotion. there is just the being here, and the loving. and love looks like her face finding mine and the crashing sound it made, looks like a stack of magazines delivered to my door, and hands laid on my body. love looks like graffiti art smashed across buildings, and going into the woods, and commitment to the words. looks like prayer beads and tracks in the snow and the crowd of faces. looks like the comfort of worn jeans held together with safety pins, and the wave of stunned want in the first touching, and fighting to be born. looks like those hours lost in holding him and it didn't matter who was mother and who was child; there was just together. love looks like containment and abandon, and being met, right inside the wanting, an origami fortune teller splayed open and spilling out answers. the loving is all here. the devotion is the choice to say yes, to give over to it, to ask it to be nothing other than what it is, to know is what i’m here to do.
- homesickness. it twists and makes tangles. it sends us backwards and forwards in time. there is the kind that leaves us forever seeking something gone, that can never be returned to. there is also the kind that is the veins of desire, mapping out the ways to our belonging. it is devotion to the unknown. not knowing what will be found, sometimes not even knowing what it is we are seeking. but trusting it when it comes, and calls, and choosing to follow where it leads.
- devotion is not the answer, or any answer. it is orientation, a way of being in the world, of giving myself over to belonging to life, and letting life love me. it is a way of being here. here, where i take my legion heart and choose this life, again and again and again.