{The Dilemma of Being unHuman—And Becoming Whole} a poem

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I want to radiate Light in a worn-out world. I want to face others with joy and eagerness. Glad to share life with one another. Life feels less weighty and onerous, when we are vulnerable with One Another. We all need community.  I long for it,

then I open my mouth.

I always seem to be

lacking. For I did not learn to trust


Friendship by its nature is reciprocal. But all I can focus on, in my weakest and worst moments, is what I don’t have to give, what I am not receiving, how alone I often feel, so alone. Irrelevant to anyone that I imagine to be my friend. The world of relationships is moving around and beyond me. Somehow I am not invited in, shielding myself by saying I’m not a joiner but really likely ignored or forgotten.

On the other hand I am caught

inside myself. It‘s the dilemma of feeling unHuman.


Parenting too is not for the meek, but for people with wisdom and strength collected by watching a mother and father long ago. My parents had many good qualities. But they could also be insular and ingrown. It was from them that I learned to be suspicious and untrusting.  The Generous Spirit my Father had for Others often failed to come home. I learned to go inward from his regular correctives and criticism. The love my Mother shared, she didn’t receive unconditionally in childhood or in their marriage. This made it hard for her to pass love on. (She’s different since he died.)

I fear for myself. Together is not something I do well. Community is for Others so unlike me. And so I withdraw even further.

Away from the Light I might

find, the Light I might hold within, the Light I might share with others.


These days I am unlearning Who I Am. Almost every day I work to be more Human; to forget the broken promises and to forgive.  Letting go of the anger and resentments that are carving grooves in my soul. Forego the automatic ungracious way I learned to speak to those I love.

I have worked hard to stop being me, the Me I Hate.

Just stop.

If only—

We are named Beloved but I can barely accept it.  I need to know Grace, but I’m worn down, the trenches within are real, torrents rushing through pulling away at

the Me I Could Become.

I try so hard to Become, to Be someone you want to be with, worth breaking bread together.

But I am still here. Shaky with sadness, knowing I may never find my way.  I’m only forty-seven but I feel a hundred year’s weary.  Intellectually I believe in transformation.  But in the daily, all I can muster is longing for One Another and I am left with my hollow heart and howling grief.

How do we learn to be Light when our hearts are shadowy, rigid and so very heavy?  When we believe we have nothing to offer.  All the years of trying and not measuring up, now turning us

up into what kind of person? How do we convey our acceptance and satisfaction to our children when our hearts echo a hollow sounding love?—when “unconditional” was always tethered to conditions?

I want to believe, oh help my unbelief.


I try very hard—to be a Good Mother, a Good Daughter, Sister, Partner and Friend.  Every day I am failing, for even when I am told I am loved I don’t believe.The one doing the speaking is never enough to fill the hole inside.

I need healing.  I need to set down pride and fear and discontent, take off Never Good Enough and take on my true name—Beloved Daughter.

Then will I feel whole?


I meet so many people who I can see are hurting; opening up just enough for me to see Myself inside their soul.  The Me I don’t want to be.

I see you.  I know you.  I recognize what’s inside. I ache for you.

Let us become Light for One Another. Even though I don’t know how and some days I don’t believe. I have to believe that this Heavy Awareness of myself holds a greater purpose, in the intuitions that lay bare the souls of those around me and make me want to take their pain on myself.

And Perhaps that is an answer. As I take my eyes off my own wrecked heart and look deeply into yours, I will feel your pain more than my own.

May I be a person who can take others pain.  May I be A Beloved Daughter who cries with you, your tears collected in a basin that I will hold,

a chamber that is perhaps duck taped together. I’ll hold it close to my heart.

May I forget myself in that Holy Moment and become finally

not whole, but holy.


Here’s the thing.  I have had a lifelong yearning for connection.

I think Henri Nouwen had the same thing going on. Nouwen’s understanding of the nature of life involved cultivating one’s self — inwardly, outwardly, and upwardly.

But if I am very honest with myself the very things I long for with people I resist!  It is much easier to be alone.

I avoid — the telephone, Christian small groups or even just “Mom” groups, making new friends, more than a wave to my neighbors, calling my family, and even at times real conversation with Tom or my shrink or my friends!

No, not all the time.  Not every time the phone rings, but often.  Not every email or someone asking to get together.  Not my best friends, usually.  But — I— just— avoid.  I recoil at church when I have to talk to strangers and duck and hide when I see a acquaintances in the grocery store.

Am I shy? Yes.  Am I as arrogant as I come off?  No way.  I do have a social anxiety, badly.  I can “talk” at length on-line or via email, but I sweat bullets to talk to the same person face-to-face.  I go to a church of 6,000 so the chances of seeing someone I know at church is slim to none.  But on the occasion that I do see someone I know I don’t scoot over to say hi and catch up.  I am persistently filled with dread to see people!  I stammer and stutter and end the conversation as quickly as possible.  I shut down.  Getting away is all I can think about.  And then on the long drive home I think to myself “how lonely church is and how I don’t know anyone.  Does anyone even care?  Poor me….”

It’s— quite —pathetic.

For almost fifteen years now, Tom and I have had one conversation more than any other.

Me: “Why are we so disconnected?”  Or, around the holidays “We rarely talk to your parents.”  It’s infrequent at best that we see my sister and her husband and we see Tom’s siblings once or twice a year and all live in the same town. I can go a month without seeing my mother and weeks without talking.

And we always come back around to the same place.

Tom:  “Tons of people love you Melody Love you and are always conveying that to me!” Or,  “We just have to make some effort.  People are busy.” Or “If you really wanted closer relationships you’d [fill in the blank.]”

If you really wanted deeper relationships you would …

That is what I want.  I have a hole in my heart you could drive a semi through in the shape of people.  I need people and I don’t know how to be with them.  So I’m shy.  And I have social anxiety in most settings.  And I am terrible, I mean terrible and I don’t even want to try to be good at small talk.  It makes my skin crawl!  And the hole comes from (trust me my shrink and I have been through this many times) my low self-esteem thanks to my crummy upbringing.

So what can a person do to change all that?

In the past my best approach has been to have incredible vivacious outgoing friends.  They sought me out.  They made plans.  They were a party in and of themselves.  But, I am now a forty-three year old mom and I don’t work outside the home and my church is mega- and I just don’t have it ‘happening’ any more.  I’m frumpy and middle-aged, and I don’t drink.  How droll!

So who is this strange person that I don’t even recognize (me) that needs her friends more than ever

and seeks people

and connection

and community


than e v e r!

Nouwen describes this longing I have, saying: “The spiritual life is a reaching out to our innermost self, to our fellow human beings and to our God.  In the midst of a turbulent, often chaotic, life we are called to reach out, with courageous honesty to our innermost self, with relentless care to our fellow human beings, and with increasing prayer to our God.  To do that, however, we have to face and explore directly our inner restlessness, our mixed feelings toward others and our deep-seated suspicions about the absence of God.”   From Reaching Out— The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life by Henri Nouwen.

How and where do you find community?  What do you do to develop and keep it in your life?  What is important for you?  Yes, this is a response question posed even for the lurker (you know who you are and you don’t even have to tell me who you are.)  I hope to glean from your wisdom.

Yes, I quit Facebook (for the time being) because I’ve been lulled into the sense that I am — “so connected” — with people all over the globe and it’s crock.  It really is.  I need and want some face-to-face time no matter how scared that makes me.

What does community look like, feel like, smell like?   What does it require of a person?  Where do you find it?  This is what I’m thinking about.

You Change My Dreams (a poem)

All of my life, and even in my dreams

I find myself searching.

Dream after dream – night after night – year after year I find I am

often longing.  Longing for love.

Today, as I heard myself once again asking why,

I see that you can fill that life long yearning.

You are the seeker.  The changer.

The one who transforms.

You fill me with hope.  You are

The healer.

You long for me.  You change my dreams.

May you find me

day after day – night after night – year after year – even in my dreams

full of longing for you.  May it be so.

Written 3/21/2010 in response to/during a sermon by Chris Dolson on Luke 19 “Jesus Inspires Change”

I feel a-swirl. I want to walk on the edge!

Silence frees us from the need to control others … A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.

Richard Foster, from his book Freedom of Simplicity


This is something that I have had to make an effort toward in my life.  I say too much, usually.  I am overly instructive with my children.  I am extremely enthusiastic with my friends.  I have too much going on in my head and it comes out in a frenetic pace both on Facebook and here.  I feel like I’m constantly “throwing up” all over every one.


I have such trouble hearing God.  I get impulses.  I get emotional responses.  I feel.  I emote.  I become afraid.  I become inspired.  But do I ever really hear God?  I believe what I do matters to God.  And then I don’t, believe.  I am a devout doubter.

I read his word.  When I am connected to the word, I have no doubts.  He absolutely speaks.  God is active.

I read blogs and articles, and follow the news.   My heart surges and leaps and responds.

Children in Haiti.  * Rape victims in Rwanda. * HIV * Girls in Afghanistan. * Forgiveness.  * Child rearing.  * Writing.  Photography.  *America.  Other. * Poverty.  Wealth. * visual Anthropology. * Educated.  Un.  *Racism.  * Sexism. *Immigration.  *Refugees.  *Aid work. * Adoption.

Primal scream! I feel a swirl.  I am schizophrenic, or at least I feel it.

“Let your heart guide you. It whispers softly, so listen closely.”

Purpose and calling.

I read an article in the New York Times about a woman who heard about the plight of Congolese women on an Opera.  She was so moved that she turned her life upside down to help.  She lost her business, fiancé, and home.  She lives to help these people.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to follow that path — losing family and love and home.


Oh, don’t get me wrong I believe as long as I am listening my heart will be breaking for others.   But I long for just want the one thing.  The one thing to live my life for.  The one thing to learn about. The one thing to go back to school to study.

I’m 43 for God’s sake.

I have half my life to live and I want to live it with purpose.

With some sense of destiny and knowledge that God called.

I fear that I do not know how to listen.  Pray with me that I would be listening.

I would Live with intention.

I want to Walk to the edge. I want to live on the edge.

Listen hard. Continue to practice wellness and contentment.

I just want to know…