saved by the teddy bear

dad was on the phone, talking right outside her bedroom door. he thought she was asleep.

she wasn’t. she called. i ran in. moonlight shone through the curtains. her face was flushed; hair matted from tossing back and forth. her blue eyes begged mine to listen.

“i’m so tired,” she said, then made some little noises while her head continued to toss. i became worried. if this continued, tomorrow would be a fuzzy day.

i fluffed up her pillow. she smiled. then frowned as i turned to leave.

“maybe you could get me my big teddy bear?” she asked quietly. i scoured the room. there it was–in the corner; never before used. i put the huge white bear in her arms; she squeezed it tight–it tickled her nose and she laughed.

“much better,” she sighed. “thank you.”

“sweet dreams mum,” i said. her eyes were already shut against the bear’s soft fur.

pro politics or pro love?

march-2007-011

I see them marching down the street on a certain Sunday afternoon, bearing signs which proclaim the sanctity of life. Their faces are firm with resolution; their dresses and suits stay clean in spite of cars spitting exhaust; they do this once a year for three hours—then they get in their cars and go home to watch Walt Disney and tuck the signs away for next year. And I wonder, Is this the best we can do?

I see myself in them. When I was younger, I participated in pro-life movements at my parents’ request. And even though I don’t do it now, I still believe in the sanctity of life. Just not the politics of it all. I don’t believe in bearing signs like hammers poised, ready to slam down on anyone daring to disagree. I don’t believe in the crassness of magic-marker judgment scribbled across paper of any kind, thrown in people’s faces through tracts or sanctity-signs, daring people to challenge the church, or better yet, the Vatican.

“Fight, fight, fight,” they cry, drowning out the sounds of girls being raped against their will. “Rid our national character of this embarrassing blemish.”

Meanwhile, the rape victim walks by, sees the signs, the perfect Sunday clothes and feels guilty for wanting to kill her rape-baby. Keeps it. Gives birth. Now where are they? The people with their signs? When the baby’s cries are outmatched by only its mother’s, where are the Christians who believed in the sanctity of life?

It’s easy enough to carry signs once every 365 days in protest; but what about setting them down and spending every day loving society’s outcasts? What about setting aside the plank in our own eyes to understand the plight of this little girl who has no one to help raise her child? To understand why she’d be tempted to kill the living being inside of her?

“Adoption is an option,” people say. But now that the mother’s seen her little one, she’s attached. Unable to let go. This is why she was going to abort in the first place—to spare the pain of loving someone she couldn’t part from, but couldn’t provide for, either. She can only cry into her cereal bowl, too exhausted to eat, too hungry not to, and wish she’d never been born.

It’s all too easy to cast stones or titles at people who are different from us. It’s all too easy, when we’ve made the ‘right’ choices in life, to condemn those who haven’t. To huff and puff and blow people down from our towers built of homemade morals and home-schooled children.

It’s not so easy to look into the eyes of a girl who’s been raped and tell her you’ll personally be there to help her care for her child, once he or she has been born.

Or to  love her, when she says she’s decided to abort.

That’s why we depend on the government to remove choice altogether—to make abortion illegal—and why we get so disgusted when it doesn’t. After all, if it weren’t for politics, we might (horror of horrors) be forced to choose love.

(Written in light of the church’s response to Obama’s recent declarations re: abortion)

my mother’s hands

i noticed it today while we sat side by side at the table.

my mother turned, smiled at me with rosy cheeks and blue-bell eyes, and reached for a cookie. i watched the way her hand curled around the cookie. it looked strangely familiar. i looked down at my own hands in my lap. realized why.

i have my mother’s hands.

hands which long-ago cooled fevered-foreheads.

hands which pounded bread-dough into submission.

hands which put band-aids on boo-boos.

hands which folded in prayer longer after ours went limp with sleep.

hands which now find it hard to do anything.

i reached over, kissed her cheek. she laughed, cookie crumbs spilling onto her sweater.

the scream

“the scream is still inside me,” says the boy named hunter.

his eyes are molasses cookies in a pale-almond face. no one knows the number of bruises hiding on his under-grown body. they only know he arrived with no clothes and no toys–he only had the scream.

its pitch reached 112 decibels, surpassing a hog’s squeal or the sound of a jet taking off. it lasted for days, shattering glass and splintering his foster family’s sanity into a thousand dangerous pieces.

yet they merely bent their knees, and prayed.

and one day, it stopped. the scream came to a screeching halt. the silence which followed seemed to slap them in the face. and up, they arose, to take him in their arms, and love him.

he grew quiet, reflective, repentant…

only to break the silence one day over supper:  “the scream is still inside me,” says the boy named hunter.

they just look down at their plates, and shudder.

oh brother

gaza-children-looking-for-food-in-a-garbage_7333

(picture of Gaza children looking for food)

it’s another family feud–one we cannot begin to understand, yet still manage to judge.

the war stems from a tale of two brothers: animosity between sarah, isaac’s mother, and hagar, the mother of ishmael (and abraham’s servant), sent the single mom and her son into hiding… but the bible says “God loved (Hagar and Ishmael), and had mercy on them.”

we cannot comprehend, yet we still take sides: we cannot speak the language, yet we dare to interpret thousands of years of hatred.

israel and palestine speak in terms of shame and honour, whereas we speak in terms of right and wrong.

the feud was instigated when ishmael felt ashamed–and stood up for the honour of his mother, hagar. in turn, isaac fought for the honour of his father abraham. their loyalties were well-placed, and yet, doesn’t there come a point when even the most honourable intentions turn shameful?

perhaps when more than 1,000 lie dead in Gaza and the UN headquarters sit crumbling, black and blue, from an early-morning bombing?

but there i go again, trying to understand something i never will. i can only pray, “Lord, have mercy on them.”

the faces of gaza

faces-of-gaza

Ignorance is bliss, they say.

The children make ignorance impossible. Their faces tug at my peripheral, forcing me to remain attached, desperate to end this merciless manslaughter.

I was there. I met them, teaching in a Palestinian school. I saw the way their eyes lit up when I entered the crowded room. Do their eyes still light up?

I watched as they played in the dirt at recess—for there were no toys; there was no playground equipment. Yet still, they played. Are they playing now?

I helped them sound out the English alphabet, vowel by consonant; today, can they speak, at all?

I saw the way their little hands unwrapped lunches far too small; do they still eat?

I heard them laugh as they made their way home among decrepit slum-like buildings, picking their way across garbage, around pot-holes and rats. Where do they walk to, now?

It’s been too long since Gaza rang with a child’s laughter. Now, all I can hear is the sound of senseless bloodshed, making a mockery of yesterday’s innocence.

one big dialogue

bob dylan is one of my heroes. not only did he become a christian… he was a critical thinker. too many people invite Jesus into their hearts while dispelling logic from their minds. not only logic–they reject most creative or intellectual urges for fear of sin.

i believe in thought. i believe that, as a person in relationship with the Creator, i should feel free to be as creative as possible–to think and feel and express–because i am connected to the One who invented light, beauty, music and language. that’s why i love bands like chad vangaalen or sufjet stevens, beach house, the eels or stars–they’re daring to create music beyond the rigid diameters erected by society.

the way i see it, life is one big dialogue. we’re all on a journey and we’re all seeking truth. i guess you could call Jesus my tour guide through life and death. he makes sense of good and evil, and the impossible. he gives me the love and peace no human could ever offer. as one seven-year-old girl said to me: “Jesus is the quiet spot in my brain.” he is the quietness i crave. he is the reason behind this beautiful, terrifyingly big world, and the catalyst behind my dreams and visions.

we’re all companions on a journey, sharing different discoveries with each other. we may not always agree, but that doesn’t mean i’m going to assume a position of judgment and slap a title on you. we’re equals, we’re one–we’re pawns of a meaning-addicted society, trying to divorce ourselves from a mass-produced lifestyle while still remaining comfortable. we’re rebels in a quiet sort-of way. we’re writers, masters of an unmasterable language, ‘trapeze artists’ in this circus called life.

a chinese christmas

we roll our eyes, chuckle:

everything we got this christmas was made in china.

then we stop, wonder:

do chinese children open up their gifts and think, ‘oh look, i made this just the other day!’ ?

on a more serious note:

who takes care of the chinese children? who builds their toys? are they forced to play with items which initially made their eyes sting and their hands bleed? do they even have time to play?

who made china the working man for the world? and shouldn’t we be  more upset that christmas–originally intended to honour a poor baby in a manger–helps to enslave millions of children every year?

slivers of light

mum-and-allie

some days

i’m forced to dig down deep

breathe, reap

the benefits of knowing

life is more than what i see

hidden soundly in

slivers of light

(pictured here: my sister allison, with my mum in her wheelchair on a ‘fuzzy’ day)