Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Santa's Broken Leg and Grace

With our adventurous, kind-hearted nephew
I heard the fall of something tiny but breakable on the other side of the living room, looking up to find my nephew with that "oops" look on his face. He scrambled under the end table to retrieve Santa, in two pieces, with one less limb attached. With worried eyebrows, he ran to the kitchen to find Papa T, afraid of how he'd be met. Raised voice? Spanking? Repeated instruction about not to roughhouse in places he shouldn't?

Instead, he found grace. "It's OK, we can glue it." 

Though he ran to the room to cry and release the fear he'd felt, the grace was still there, immoveable.

But so many will not find that. So many will not receive grace, and in turn, will not learn how to offer it to others, instead only learning how to extend punishment, shame and fear: an illusion of control to help them overcome the many years they felt so out of control (and controlled by others).

you found grace and ease in the eyes of your papa
but others aren't so lucky to find that kind of love.

he is afraid of everything you and I might dismiss.
every simple break, every small slip,
a reason to scream, a reason to fight
control is the name of the game
do you find joy in handing out shame?

and is it because you believe
that nothing's worth anything, not even yourself.
to you, I think this must mean
the little one there is no better than you,
no better than you must have been told
but isn't this way getting old?

Will I know how to extend to grace to so many I meet, who know the pain of years of shame and fear? Will I let this help me understand what it might have felt like to live in fear of the adults who should have shepherded yet led me down paths of darkness instead?

Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Songwriting and The People I Love

The room was filled with ones from, literally, every season of my life. From the elementary school playground, to the high school classroom. From the 4th floor of Jones Hall to the staff of 40+, crammed together in a 2-story building and humid Memphis summer. 

Between some, the letters still pass between mailboxes, from south Mississippi to west Tennessee. With others the conversations have stilled, but the memories still carry us. With some, I've wondered, "Do they know I still love them so?" and I know with their presence, they love me, too.

And many of those same ones in that room, listening, watching, make up pieces of the melodies and lyrics they heard. Do they know? It's hard to tell. 

But one thing is true and always will be: if I love you at all, pieces of you are mixed up with pieces of me. You are these songs and these stories.

When I'm sitting across the room from an interesting conversation or tucked away in the corner, reading a book that's revealing too much of myself to me... a song is starting.

When I'm reading your letter, from many years ago or from yesterday, of heartache and pain and love twisted and turned... a song is starting.

When you've told me I've hurt you, and I raise the shield, afraid of my own self... a song is starting.

My brain never stops writing. Lines and lines of poetry swim around in my head and, if I'm quick enough, spill out onto the page. You may never hear them, but they are there. 

And if you do hear them, give me grace. I must write. I must sing. Because I love you.