Sometimes, on opening night of a play, the production company plants someone in the audience whose job it is to clap at all the right times. I think the Momastery production company…the G to the O to the D…planted Chimmy. Her poetic heart emerged like magic and turned this blog into much, much more than it would have been without her. She is here on purpose, just like the rest of us.
Fellow Monkees, meet Chimmy.
Women in Praise of the Sacred
I’ve always been an outsider. I really didn’t have much of a choice. Foreign born and raised half way across the world my parents knew, it was written. But unlike some, I have always felt comfortable and captivated by not belonging. By hanging out on the fringes of this life. I hardly felt comfortable in my own skin, how would I get comfortable anywhere else? I don’t think I ever set out to set myself apart and embrace the outer edges. Quite the contrary, I think I tried hard to blend, to disappear into my surroundings without every really belonging. Not even to the background.
I guess like many people, I just wanted to be invisible.
Ironically, as it were. I found my mantra in the phrase, “it’s kinda hard being hot pink in a khaki town.” Even though, I’ve never liked being labeled as this or that. Even though, I’ve never felt like I belonged to anyone or anything beyond the huge tribe that is my very large Malawian family. I have always felt the need to hide in the herd yet I still find my self somehow standing out. (Often times it manifests itself as me speaking out. Speaking my mind, my truth as it is revealed to me day after day).
I laughed to myself when I first read that hot pink phrase… and thought, wow that’s me! Sure, I’m a true introvert. A wallflower no doubt. Better yet, I am a chameleon – always finding a way to quickly fade into my environs. But inside, where God stirs my soul, beats a hot pink monkee heart.
It’s a quirky existence. Trying not to flash my hot pink self around because it has no place to fit in. And I like it that way.
See this solace I have in being inside my hot pink self, in being an outsider has been both a blessing and a curse. The loneliness of it can consume you. Drain you of song. I do strongly believe that solitude is essential; that silence is golden because we can hear God’s whispers in that quiet place. But loneliness is also very easily an ache that knows no bounds.
That is why I write. It helps me maintain a very delicate balance of feeling all at once hollowed (by the noise of living) and hallowed (by the calm in the chaos) throughout my journey.
Writing helps me calm my crazy by listening to God.
That is the blessing of my loneliness, this ravenous spiritual appetite. I have soothed the lingering ache and emptiness of being alone by seizing the opportunity to step back and see the world in all its mystic beauty. And by world, I mean all of it. Especially people.
When I retreat into myself, I find that the moment, the pause, the sojourn, has a purpose. To slow down, to take stock, to feel sad, to feel uplifted, to look back, to look ahead, and to look within. Always within. To really see people, by penetrating through that layer of protection we cocoon ourselves in. It recharges and feeds that spiritual belly.
It fills the emptiness. That is why I have decided that I am more of a seeker than an outsider. I seek out that connectedness.
And from the very first time I read a Momastery post, I connected. I connected with the chaos Glennon had brewing inside her. She had a list of 25 things and me being a hot pink monkee, I read the list from the bottom up. Number 25 made me fidget in my seat as I read, “I was never truly happy a full day in my life…” What?
People don’t say that. They are not that open. No one is that frank and fragile in front of others. People like to be invisible, khaki. Especially among strangers. I mean even if I know Glennon from high school, she does realize that this is the internet and well, other people might be reading too, right??
No one is that honest. Besides, these are just plain words and as a writer I know that language is limiting. It’s khaki. Language is lacking in these beautiful and simple truths. In beauty. There is no proper syntax for grace. Cut it out.
No one can just write it here. I am going back to number one so I can step away from number 25 and head back into khaki town with everyone else. Blend. And number one read,
“I believe in grace because I share my home with proof of its existence.”
Whoa. Wow. I cried a little. I saw hot pink for sure. She is going there and she is taking me with her.
I thought to myself Me Too, sister!
I am feeling grace right now reading your story in these 25 simple truths about you. I feel it every day, even when I’m unraveling or lost inside myself.
(I feel like I should say, just to clarify and calm any worries that my silent moments, my retreats as dark as some of them may be during turbulent times, are far less about sadness and emptiness, then they are about meditating and bringing peace to my soul. I often describe my path like that of a dragon fly. Erratic at best, but gliding along. I wrote a poem about it that I will share some time.)
Needless to say, I was hooked.
The rest is as they say, history er uh…
I have been drawn back to Momastery over and over again to take in Glennon’s story. Stories. All of them.
Because she was sharing her heartsong.
And if there is one thing this seeker knows, when someone is singing that song. You listen.
So how do you fill in for a Glennon? How do you guest write on a magical site like Momastery?
The answer is very clear. You don’t. (okay, that’s your first answer)
You don’t replace Glennon because there is no substitute.
The answer is you join the chorus. Sway, stomp your feet, belt it out.
You follow Adrianne up to the Momastery stage (btw – thank you for painting in vivid detail just how wonderful the Glennon of our imaginations is in real life). You pull yourself in closer to the warmth of the fire she described in yesterday’s post and get up for your turn to sing and dance. To share what you will to people open and eager to receive it.
You remember how each morning, you are giddy over a new kind of guilty pleasure. Feeling whole and holy.
Embracing what is sacred and shared between us.
You remember how you sit in anticipation of what is to come in the next post. And that in this company who doesn’t believe that each day, each post no matter who is up here holds nothing less than peace and possibility!
You remember what Glennon has created here. The very thing that she sought! (Read her profile). The very thing we all seek. A refuge, a place where she is able to speak her peace, speak her sorrow, speak her joy, speak her aversion to pots and pans and speak through a paper bag if she must. (I am still fighting the urge to mail her a casserole dish, some foil paper, a bag of my favorite basmati rice, and instructions (I won’t say the “R” word) on how to make her a gourmet chef without even trying).
She has hand carved a place where even an outsider, used to not belonging, belongs. Where a seeker always scratching at the surface of her soul can be found over and over again.
So you lend your voice to the song, knowing that what began as one woman’s story has quickly grown into our story. Our song. And lifting every voice makes the music rise above the din, above the noise of living.
I’ve read that writing is like whispering to God. I also believe that it is God whispering to us.
As a fellow writer who also happens to be a Christian, I too listen. As an African woman who was also raised to hear the whispers of her ancestors in God’s voice, I listen. I listen knowing that the words will flow freely right to my lips and hands when it is time and that they will be shared because we are not on this journey alone. I listen for Glennon’s voice in mine. For Adrianne’s voice in mine. For every monkee’s voice in mine and in my quiet.
The title of today’s post came to me immediately. Women in Praise of the Sacred. It is the title of a book my father gave me when he discovered my love of poetry and writing. I chose it because the very first post I read on Momastery took me right back to the first time I opened the collection of poetry by women from across the ages collected and in many cases translated by Jane Hirshfield.
Spiritual poetry, prayers, chants, songs from amazing women of all races, ethnicities, colors, creeds, nationalities, you name-it-ies. Being a part of Momastery felt like being back in the lines where I first uncovered a place much bigger than my self, my family, my labels, my hiding places and surroundings. My first Momastery read took me back to the lines of a Navajo prayer that I revisit often when I sit to write, to listen to God:
As you speak for me, so will I speak for you
May it be beautiful inside me
May it be beautiful all around me
I am restored in beauty
(I’ve paraphrased but would be happy to share the full length of it if any of you are interested)
Recently, while reading another blog, Every Thing From Here to There, I read, “I am still looking around and waiting for who comes to me with God in their back pocket.”
Have I got a blog for you, I thought!
And I think every monkee would agree.
If you are following along here on Momastery. If you are taking part in the Monkee Revolution. Women (& Men).
The wait, dear friend, is over.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
Join the Momastery on-line community on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest