What Is Woven

I’ve built a frame and called it God.

I hammered nails into planks borrowed

from cleverer souls than I,

bored holes with years of looking closely,

and twisted joists within.

I’ve strung the contraption tight as a harp,

one string for every breath taken in silence,

in time set apart to honour That.

The threads I’m handed hold clashing colours,

and I’m not told the pattern in advance,

but I’ve chosen the Beloved as a loom

for my task, and in invisible structure

I allow this work to take shape,

this net to catch my despair, or hopelessness,

and spin something beautiful out of it.


Day 19: Choosing Again

I twirl at the seam

between this world and that,

trusting goodness to carry me.

My shoes may splinter,

but I have to believe

it is possible to live there.

I have to look at my teachers

not as distant demi-gods,

but as echoes of who I might become.

I have to believe

I was born to give light

where shine is covered in dust.

I have to believe

I can be in brief moments

that brave, that kind.

It’s what takes my mind

from the deep abyss

off the edge of

this precipitous dance.



P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!


What Does it Mean to Surrender?

Maybe I seem like I’ve got it easy on the surrender front right now. It’s certainly easier to give up control of what you want when you don’t know what the hell that is. Every morning I get on my knees and say “I surrender this day to You.” But what do I really mean by that? How am I putting that into practice?

My future career I can release control of, no problem. I have no idea how I want that to look and I’m fine working at random jobs till I get there. I surrender. My brain can’t figure this one out right now. I give up. Done.

Ditto romantic relationships. I don’t want to date right now, and although I would love a partner one day, I have no clue how or when they will come into my life. It’s comfortably far in the future where I don’t feel the need to control it. I surrender it to the future, the unknown. I give up.

But is surrendering the same as giving up? I’ve been labouring under this impression for a month or two, and I’m starting to think I’ve got it a bit backwards. Whenever my mind starts trying to solve or control huge things like putting my passions to work or finding the love of my life or whether or not to have kids, I get frustrated and eventually just say “I surrender. You figure it out, will ya?” Which is certainly giving up control, but I’m not convinced is exactly surrender. I don’t think surrendering also means losing the rights to my own life, my ability to change things, or my internal motivation. It doesn’t mean saying “I dunno, I can’t get this right, you show me what I’m supposed to do” and going back to bed waiting for divine intervention to fix my life. So what does it mean?

The area I’ve had the most trouble surrendering lately is my finances. It’s been creeping into my writing, my conversations with friends, tainted with so much fear it paralyzes me. Things that won’t affect me until way in the future I can let go of, but how I’m going to stay solvent four, five, six months from now? That keeps me up at night. I trust Spirit to guide me to a girlfriend when the time is right but not a job and monetary security. I’ve been equating surrender with inaction, and how can I find a job without taking action? So I take it all on myself, feeling so stressed, so alone in this, so brokenhearted by every setback and rejection. I can’t be present in any other area of my life because always in the back of my mind I’m watching those numbers on my bank statement trickle down. I don’t want my life to revolve around money, I don’t care about being rich, I just want to feel like I’ll be okay. I’ll make it to next month.

Then last night I saw a YouTube video with Gabby Bernstein, who is basically my guru right now. She spoke about her efforts and planning around having a baby, how she’d controlled everything to a tee, and a year later…had no baby. She talked about having to release control, surrender her wish for motherhood, say to God, “If I’m meant to be a mother, show me how You would have it be.” She consciously decided to surrender how motherhood would look for her, if she was to be a mother at all. She would continue with her plan, but was letting go of the results. The outcome was no longer up to her.

I was knocked back in my chair. I know how badly some people want children and I couldn’t believe someone could have so much faith to release their efforts, their dreams and desires – to say “I’ll keep showing up, but how it works out is up to You. I trust that it’s for my Highest Good.”

THAT’s surrender. Doing the work but letting go of the results; trusting if something is denied me it’s because something better is on its way. It’s being fully present in my life, making goals and plans and enjoying myself, but holding everything loosely, knowing that ultimately none of it really belongs to me. Because there isn’t really a “me”, there’s just Us. And while I sometimes think I know the outcome that would be best for me, most of the time I’m wrong, and I have even less of an idea what is best for Us.

After that video, I took out a notebook and wrote down the following:

“God, I surrender my finances to You. Show me what You would have me do with them. My money and means of earning are Yours. I trust that I am supported and protected. There is nothing to fear. Help me to see money as an abundant, beautiful tool that can be used in healthy creative ways and guide my use of it.”

Instantly the vice grip around my stomach loosened, I was able to breathe, to really be in the room. I told myself I’d continue to show up for the work, but the results are not up to me. And I’ll be okay.

With even a fraction of relief from that stress and belief in scarcity, I was able to update my resumé, contact old bosses for references, and find several jobs online to apply for. Most importantly, I was able to say “That’s enough for today” and spend time with my family and work on Christmas cards without guilt-tripping myself. Without that fog of fear, I can think clearly, I’m open to creative solutions, and I’m not trapped in anxiety that what I try won’t work out. I’m still in the same external position I was yesterday, but I’m a thousand times more relaxed, trusting that I’ll find a way. Everything will work out.

The thoughts will come back, I’m sure. A week, two weeks, a month from now, I’ll start to get scared again, but I know where to go. I just have to keep showing up, and allow grace to meet me halfway. I know what it means to surrender, and I’m so blessed to have the freedom to do it.

You Can’t Take it with You

I watched a movie from 1938 the other day called You Can’t Take it with You, directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart (drool). It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favourite movies so seeing these names together was enough incentive for me to give it a shot, and while it is nothing like It’s a Wonderful Life, its contagious spirit stuck with me and gave me something I very much needed to hear. If you haven’t seen it, the basic plot involves the colliding of two families, the strait-laced well-to-do Kirbys and the free-spirited eccentric Sycamores. The Kirbys are a family of bankers, very high up in the financial world and almost single-mindedly bent on material success. The Sycamores tend to accumulate family members by welcoming in strangers off the street, and spend their time making fireworks, musical toys, as well as writing plays, learning ballet and playing the xylophone – all just because they feel like it. Somehow they get by. At its heart, the movie’s message is fairly simple: being eternally focused on material gain won’t make you very happy or win you many friends. Stop postponing your happiness until you have “enough”, look around you and enjoy.

Man, did I need this. I’ve been worried lately about (among other things) money, as so many of us are. I’m not working right now and even though I’m fine, I can take care of my needs for the foreseeable future, I’m constantly stressing about how and when I’m going to get a job because circumstances are so confusing for me right now. I’m worried how I’m going to have enough money in three or four months, approaching money and job hunting from a place of scarcity and fear. It’s also a reminder of how much our society measures worth by productivity. If you’re not working, what good are you doing? At least where I live, I get the message all the time that my presence alone is NOT enough. And it ain’t helping anyone. I’ve been telling this story in my head that I don’t have enough, that it’s going to be hard for me to find a job, if I ever figure out where I’m going to live for the next few months.

It makes me think of my semester abroad, when I had little in savings and more in student loans. I rarely concerned myself with money then. I was used to living on less so I could get a lot further with my means. I was also used to going the length of a school year with very little income so being out of work didn’t worry me either. I just sort of assumed things would work out. Which they always did. A bursary I’d forgotten I’d applied for would come back, I’d be forgiven some of my loan, my meagre cheque from my part time job would arrive just in time. I had such few bills that it was always easy to keep track of. I miss the simplicity of those days.

I knew what I wanted and ways would open up to help me get there. I worked hard on my degree, I found time to write, I fulfilled my dream to go to Italy. Now I’m not really sure what I want, so I feel trapped and stuck. And I’m not spending any time asking myself what I want, because I’m too stressed about how I’m going to make ends meet in four months, what people are going to think of me if I don’t have a job or if I just stay at home for a bit instead of traveling the world, how I’m failing at my spiritual practice by having such a hard time surrendering.

But the movie relaxed me so much. It reminded me that judging the success of a day by how much I managed to put into my bank account is only one way to think of achievement, sure it’s necessary, but it’s not the measure of who I am. How about the fact that I made my little brother laugh this morning? Or how I helped my other brother with his homework? Or that I cleaned out the fireplace for my mum to surprise her? Or I was the only one to ask my dad how his week was? Or I wrote two poems? Does none of that count? Am I a lazy useless person if I’m not making money?

No, no I’m not. This is temporary, as all things are, and I trust that there is a plan and something beyond this for me. I trust that whatever I am meant to do will reveal itself. I have to keep breathing and practice releasing money from this anxious grip. I don’t want to be like the Kirbys, I want to be like the Sycamores. I want to nurture friendships and make time for the things I really enjoy, I want to live in a community where we support each other, no matter what. I want to feel happy and free, to live with my hands wide open to what comes my way. And once I let go of this anxiety, my hands will be free – palms upwards to the sky – saying “Show me what you’ve got. I know you’ve got my back.”