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Snow Only Stops When We Stop Watching

In winter 

    all the singing is in 

         the tops of the trees 

--from "White-Eyes" by Mary Oliver

2/1/21 Snow Day–Richmond, VA

It’s snowing again today and it’s coming down hard. It’s crazy to me that with all this new snow that’s falling, the melted holes in the old snow aren’t covered up. There’s no snow sticking to the trees. The snow isn’t staying anywhere except in the wind.

Maybe the snow isn’t sticking because it dissolves in the puddles of the old snow. The new snow doesn’t even stand a chance of sticking with all the melted snow around. This new snow is falling just to melt.

I find it hard to look away when it’s snowing. Maybe it’s because we don’t get a lot of snow in the South. I think snow is a special kind of weather because it’s something not everyone will see in their lives. It doesn’t snow everywhere. I want to keep watching the snow.

Weather likes a witness, and usually it always has one. Whether it be the storm chasers tracking a tornado, or the meteorologists standing in the middle of a hurricane. One way or another, there will be a witness to the weather.

I’m scared if I look away, the snow will stop. I don’t want the snow to stop. The snow wants to be watched otherwise, why would it keep falling when it’s just going to melt anyways? I think the snow only stops when it realizes that no one is watching it anymore.

When there’s no one left to see the snowflakes dance across the window or diagonally pound the street, it stops. Keep watching the snow and maybe it won’t stop.

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Terrorists can be white people too.

“At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all of this?

And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all of this?

Illya Kaminsky Deaf Republic

This is one day after the attempted coup on Capitol Hill. 

I have very few words in my head after witnessing everything but I can only describe it as feelings. My feelings are this: anger, frustration, disappointment, fear, and almost despair. There was an attempted coup yesterday, Congress members could’ve been killed. Where do we go from here? Do we pretend nothing happened? Do we just say “yeah that was bad,” and then move on? Hell no. 

I thought the American motto was “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.” The people who stormed the capitol were domestic terrorists and the cops didn’t do shit to prevent them from getting into the capitol. If those Trump supporters were black, we all know they would’ve been shot at and beaten before they got to the capitol grounds. Why is it so hard for people to see that white supremecy is terrorism? Well, it’s because we’ve been taught that only brown people from the Middle East can be terrorists. Terrorists can be and are white people too.

When we ask about why there was no tear gas, batons, rubber bullets, or mass arrests we don’t mean that we wanted to see the terrorists get brutalized. What we mean when we ask these rhetorical questions is that we see that the police know how to avoid brutality but only for white people. There were over 14,000 arrests at BLM protests in the Summer of 2020, but at this terrorist attack on Capitol Hill, there were less than 60 arrests. A woman was shot by the Capitol police and that is absolutely horrible and should never happened because the mob never should’ve gotten into the Capitol. 

Trump empowered a terrorist attack and insurrection. Charges ought to be brought forth to bring about justice. 

I don’t even know how to address the Christian Nationalism that was present yesterday and pretty much every day since 2016. Here’s what I do know: Jesus was a brown, Jewish refugee from Palestine who loved the poor and gave food and love freely. Jesus did not build walls for the poor. Jesus actively worked against dehumanization and discrimination of others, especially minorities. Jesus was not an American. Jesus was not a white man. Jesus was poor. Jesus was killed by a totalitarian government on false charges. So to everyone at that insurrection and everyone at home cheering them on, go back and read your Bible again and find a new Church and pastor. 

Racism is a sin. Trump is not your savior. 

Now, I want to address those who are comparing this terrorist attack from yesterday to BLM protests from last summer. When did we attack Capitol Hill? When did we bring weapons to our government and destroy offices? Hell yes we tore down statues of racists. Hell yes we flooded the streets. Hell yes we made noise. We were then beaten by police, tear gassed, shot at with rubber bullets, and arrested violently for protesting police brutality and racism. (I’m using third person to speak as a collective. I myself did not experience these things). Yeah, some people looted a Target. Some people broke windows. I don’t back hurting small business but I’m not completely bent out of shape over looting a Target that exploits employees and laborers. In a capitalist society, property is treated with more concern than actual lives of human beings. People’s lives are worth more than a few broken windows and buildings. I don’t support violence and looting.  I’m a writer so I prefer to use my words rather than my fists. 

There are a lot of people out there right now who describe themselves as “non-political,” “centrists,” or “Constitutionalists,” who keep saying that they “just want everyone to get along” and no they don’t. They just don’t want anyone to be too loud when talking about injustice. They don’t want anyone to interrupt their bubble of privilege and comfort when others speak up about hard things. The lack of confrontation and self-reflection from these apolitical people is weakness. They’re so scared that they might be doing something wrong that they instead preserve their own egos by lashing out against those who call injustice and discrimination out. 

When you were watching the news yesterday and you saw all those Trump supporters storming the Capitol, did you say “I just wish things could be like they used to be?” Did you say that “Politics are ruining everything?” Guess what, you are a part of the problem. Your lack of self-reflection and educating yourself on bias and racism is what’s perpetuating this culture of disunity. You’re putting the blame on someone else because you don’t want to address your own ego and internalized biases. You can do better, so do it. Surrender your pride and really look at yourself. What you’ve been doing isn’t working. The truth isn’t always comfortable or kind. Get used to different and hard things. If you’re feeling angry right now, good. That means my words are hitting home and I hope you take some time to reflect on why you’re angry and resisting. Loving my neighbor doesn’t mean coddling them and feeding their egos. 

All the Republicans who voted to overturn the election results last night and early this morning in Congress need to confront their own pride and their allegiance. Do they really support American Democracy or just getting votes and supporting Donald Trump? These folks supported an attempted coup by empowering the mob to take Capitol Hill by perpetuating false claims with no evidence. Legal charges must be brought forth to serve justice. A domestic terrorist attack happened yesterday, that was not a protest, and we need to treat it as such. Actions have consequences. 

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NOTR Day 12&13: Living should be rent free

Why is the American Dream a 9-5 job with benefits? Why is the American Dream a nice house and food on the table? Why is the American Dream nothing more than bare human necessities? 

People should not have to pay to live. No one should be too poor to live. 

Ask yourself why we have to pay for shelter. Ask yourself why we have to pay for food, clothing, and clean water. Why do we have people starving to death when we have a surplus of food? Why are there homeless people when we have so many empty houses? Why is the reason someone cannot afford food or shelter is because they don’t have enough money? This is not how life is supposed to be. 

As someone who believes in God (aka a higher power), I know that we were created for more than just working ourselves to death. We were made for more than renting our bodies to keep ourselves alive. Everywhere you turn there’s someone being exploited out of greed. Why is our world like this? Why are people so willing to just accept that this is the way it should be when we can do something about it?

I hate the “Christian” response to why the world has bad things happen in it: “Because God gave man free will and we live in a fallen world.” That is a very true statement but the concepts expressed are used in the wrong setting. People make those decisions because they feel like they ought to do so. How do we change that “ought?” It requires a new mindset. 

I believe that we as people can make steps in the right direction where we eradicate greed and exploitation on a large scale. I believe that we can live for more than just a paycheck. There is more to life than just money. We shouldn’t be giving up the time we have here on earth to do things we don’t like to pay to live. 

Living should be rent free. 

My favorite question is: “If money was no object, what would you do with your life?” I love this question because that’s when the realness comes out. People will say things that spark true joy in them. I’m not saying there isn’t any dignity in work, but we need to redefine what work is because it shouldn’t be selling myself to live. Work should be things I do on my own terms, not for money. 

Money is just a concept we made up! Money is a dead thing. What should be our currency is our drive to help others. Our currency should be “What can I do for someone else?” Our currency should be community and our general humanity. There ought to be no money. There ought to be no economic or social classes. 

We ought to just exist joyfully. 

What will you do when money is no object?

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NOTR Day 11

I’m already seeing the posts about what people are going to do for the New Year and though I don’t like a lot of the energy that’s behind those posts, I wanted to put some good energy out about 2021. I know we’re all eager to see what 2021 has in store and I’m feeling hopeful about it. I’m feeling hopeful that there will be good things in 2021. 

2020 taught me how to let go of things and it helped me see what really matters to me. I learned that a good cup of coffee is really important to me. I learned that I love taking baths. I learned how much I love to garden and be out in nature. I learned how much I love dancing around! I learned how much I love being around my loved ones. I learned who really loves their neighbor and is willing to do more than just say they love others. I learned what my faith looks like. I learned how to be with myself. I learned how to be alone. I learned how much I love to write. I learned about how much our economic and social systems SUCK and what we can do instead (ahem, socialism/communism <3). I learned just how much people in power don’t give a SHIT about working class people. I learned about my purpose in this body on this planet. See, 2020 did something that wasn’t terrible. 

Now what am I going to do in 2021? Well, I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing which is being an ally and an activist, praying, meditating, writing, eating good food, loving others, enjoying the world around me, and learning. The specifics will come in time but those are my main points for 2021. What are yours? What did you learn in 2020?

PS: This is your reminder to not go out to parties for New Years because we are still in the middle of a deadly pandemic so think of others.

Write down a list of everything you learned in 2020. Include both positive and negative things. Then spend some time being grateful.

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NOTR Day 10

Not wearing a mask is like driving at night without using your headlights. It’s a fucking mask—you’re not oppressed.

Over 300,000 (just in the US) people have died from COVID and you decide that wearing a mask is *~uncomfy~*. You’re making a decision for someone else’s health when you don’t wear a mask. You are inconsiderate, un-empathetic, self-centered, and violent. 

Want to love your neighbor? Care about their health. Want to serve the poor? Don’t spread your fucking germs all over the place when they don’t have access to medical care like you do. 

And please take this post as angry because I am. I am so angry that people don’t care about others. I am so angry at the lip-service that the Church does that’s like “oh we love our neighbors but fuck no we don’t want any immigrants here. And you should just work harder and then you can afford medical care.” I am so angry at the lack of love and compassion. I am so angry that people don’t seem to care about what affects other people just because it doesn’t affect them personally. I am tired of the charade of others. 

Wear a mask over your nose because the world doesn’t revolve around you. I don’t care if you aren’t worried about getting COVID, I am, so please let me go the grocery store without fearing for my life and the lives of my loved ones. 

That’s it. 

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NOTR Day Nine

So, I’m writing in the early evening and I think I prefer to write in the morning.

Today I had a small panic attack while driving with Brennan. We were on the way back from my parents’ house to go to Lidl and I just started sweating. Maybe my body was reacting to seeing all the people wearing their masks incorrectly at Marshalls, but I didn’t feel nervous at first when I was there. Perhaps I’m the kind of person who needs time to absorb stuff before I can express my reaction in my body. 

That’s something I’ve noticed with my panic attacks—I always have delayed reactions. One of the reasons why I could never pin down what my triggers were was because they would always happen after things like going to the store or finding out about a grade. Perhaps my mind needs more time to intake its surroundings in order to figure out how I feel. So what do I do? Do I just prepare to react to stimulation after I experience it, or do I work on being more present but risk having a panic attack in the middle of things?

Everyone has experienced stress, and some have experienced its extreme: panic attacks. Panic attacks are like when you’ve had too much coffee and you then jump out of an airplane: you’re jittery and afraid. But you’re not afraid of anyone or anything except your own body. You’re terrified that your body might just give out right then. Deep breaths don’t always work because they make you feel your body more and you’re trying not to feel your heartbeat. Eating and drinking are difficult because your body is in full-preservation mode so all it wants to do is be aware and not focus on digestion. So what do I do?

I do a lot of things. First, my loved ones around me are aware that I have panic attacks and they know what my “tells” are (cracking my wrist, rubbing my legs, intense staring, etc.) and they know to check in. Then I try to drink water to signal to my body that it doesn’t need to fear anything. Then I try walking around or laying down and having someone apply pressure to my back. Then I try to escape my body in my mind, however this part always fails me and makes it worse. When I resit the sensations I’m feeling by trying to shove them down, it just prolongs the experience because every feeling is made bigger in my pushing away of it. 

Today in the Lidl parking lot, Brennan helped me through a small panic attack. He told me about a grounding technique that has you go through the senses and then go through your whole body where you describe sensations. For me, panic attacks stay in my throat and my joints. When I told Brennan my throat hurt he asked me: “Does it hurt, or is it tense?”

Tension is not pain. I fear pain and then create more of it where it doesn’t exist. I have a sensation and because I don’t like it, I label it as pain. Pain makes me panic and pull away. Once I am able to differentiate between tension and pain, I can form an appropriate reaction. However, this is all easier said than done because panic attacks have chemicals going off in the brain and I have to actively work against my own brain. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it though. 

How do you sit with tension, whether it be physical or emotional?

Now the question becomes: “How do I sit with tension?” I have no idea how to do this right now but I’m working on a solution by going deeper into my body when panic starts up instead of just pulling away and resisting. 

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NOTR Day Eight

Christmas Eve 2020—Yorktown, Virginia

Here, it’s 68 degrees 

on Christmas Eve. There is no sun

so we are reminded 

of the correct season. 

No snow—

no blanket,

to cover up the remnants of

the grit of the grass. 

It’s going to storm instead.

The grass’ resolve 

will be drowned,

the rain will be good

but the freeze turns 

deadly—Killing the last 

greenery that Yorktown has. 

I wrote this poem sitting at my boyfriend’s parent’s dining table. They have two windows facing the street from this table and all I could see out of it was the neighbor’s green yard. In Virginia, the weather around Christmas is either spring-like or freezing. I saw that the Weather Channel was reporting storms later in the day for us and I couldn’t help but think what will happen to the grass.

The thing I can’t like about Winter is how it gets rid of a lot of the greenery. Green represents life for me and to see all the green die hurts. This grass has been holding on all through this craziness of 2020 and the wild weather we’ve had. This rain that freezes over might just kill the grass. However, not all the greenery will die because of the houseplants they have and their Christmas tree (though it is artificial like so many other families’).

What has the grass seen this year? It’s probably seen more attention than it ever has because of quarantines during its peak performance. The grass has seen many families go on walks and heard all their conversations. I’m sad at the thought of this grass dying and the memories it has being released. If this is your last warm day, go and put your feet in the grass to remember how it felt this year.

If you can, go put your feet in your grass outside. Remember what it feels like because it will most likely die before the New Year.

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NOTR Day Seven–Perhaps this is not the season to celebrate

“Rejoice! Rejoice! Your savior is born!” The preacher tells us. The Facebook posts say “I’m celebrating this season.” Who now is experiencing peace? Who now has a desire to celebrate when hundreds of thousands are dead and dying? Yes, my savior is born, He’s been born. He’s still here—God is not dead. I don’t think this is the right time to use the words “celebrate” or “rejoice” because “for everything there is a season.” 

“There is an appointed time for everything,

    and a time for every affair under the heavens.

A time to give birth, and a time to die;

    a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.

A time to kill, and a time to heal;

    a time to tear down, and a time to build.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

    a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;

    a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.

A time to seek, and a time to lose;

    a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

A time to rend, and a time to sew;

    a time to be silent, and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate;

    a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Ecc. 3:1-8

I challenge people to put their celebration in perspective. I challenge people to mediate on their words when they say “Smile, Jesus is born.” For some, it is not their season to smile. For some, it is not their season to rejoice, dance, or laugh. For some, it is their time to mourn. Not everyone must join in celebration. It’s not fair to tell someone what season they’re in. Seasons are different everywhere. 

For me, I don’t think it is my time to rejoice. I feel a time of mourning. Do not tell me what season I *should* be in—You are not me. 

“They have treated lightly

    the injury to my people:

‘Peace, peace!’ they say,

    though there is no peace.”

Jer 6:14

So, for those who do not feel it is their season right now to rejoice and celebrate, do not let other Christians/religious scold you for your feelings. Do not let the toxic kind of positivity permeate your relationship with God. Your relationship with God is just you and Him, not you, God, and a Facebook post/message. 

I solemnly acknowledge my savior’s birth. I express my gratitude more often than just on one day. Christmas is a holiday the Church stole and revamped from Pagans, and this doesn’t even mention the consumerism and materialism that covers American Christmas.

I can know that God is here and still mourn at the same time. God gave us these feelings for a reason and it is not a bad thing to feel my feelings. I am not committing a sin because I don’t want to decorate a Christmas tree and listen to Christmas music right now. This time, a celebration feels wrong to know that so many will have empty chairs and broken homes. Celebration feels wrong when millions cannot put food on the table and others are feasting in groups. I’m not saying that those who are celebrating are wrong necessarily, but I am challenging them on the scope of their celebration. Approach your celebration with sympathy, compassion, and empathy. I know that disease is not new, neither is suffering, but that does not mean we should just do whatever we want with reckless abandon for the feelings of others. 

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. 

1 Peter 3:8

There is an argument to  be made about whether or not this is the appointed time to celebrate since it is tradition to do so. However, does celebration not permeate our reactions into this world? Does our joy not go out beyond us? I’m not saying that joy is a bad thing at all, it is a fruit of the Spirit, but I’m saying that perhaps you should be cautious of the kind of joy you express to others because getting in their face saying no one should be sad on Christmas when they’ve lost loved ones or they’re about to lose their house, may not be the most loving thing. Our world is crying, should we not grieve with them too? I think the term for our times is a “solemn joy.” Yes, Jesus is born and God wins but that doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel mourning, sadness, depression, or anxiety. You are not a better Christian just because you never get sad–Jesus wept and he was not smiling on the cross. Loving our neighbor means loving them as they need to be loved because we love ourselves as we desire to be loved. Loving our neighbor may mean not telling them to rejoice.

There may be some people who read this and feel that there’s no reason to not celebrate because there’s always been suffering and death. If the world has always been this way, when would we all be able to rejoice? I’m writing this article as a way to wrestle. We don’t need to put ourselves on holiday-autopilot because culture tells us to. We can question why we do things. That’s what I’m doing here, I’m questioning why we are pushing so hard for presents, feasts, and other things when this is the most abnormal time those alive have seen. Why should we just pretend this is business as usual when it’s not? I do believe we should take small joys and celebrations when we can but we can celebrate mindfully. Do not force everyone into your boat because we are not all in the same boat, but the same collection of seas.

How are you wrestling with the holiday season? How are you feeling about celebrating right now?

There are no wrong answers.
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NOTR Day Six

Ekphrastic poem in response to Picasso’s Guernica 

Warring.

I spread my legs 

To lunge. I open my arms

To reach. Everyone

Looks at the light,

All faces point upwards

Not the baby though, 

It has already entered up—

The child doesn’t need to look

At what they’re already in. 

Spread. Spread. Spread out.

Make yourself bigger. 

The light

In the square will feed you. 

Crawl on top of each other—

Reach up.

Reach up.

Dream with me for a minute. 

I want to become some kind of writer. Whether that writing pertains to poetry, fiction, essays, or whatever but I know that I desire to write. I desire to reach into the English language and piece together that which is lovely. In my personal life, next semester is going to be full and difficult. I’m going to be pushing my creative skills to a whole new level with two internships, a senior seminar, and working on a collection of poems for a mini thesis. Part of the reason I started this blog was to exercise my creative muscles but now it’s more of a way for me to remind myself why I love writing. If I write solely for deadlines and grades then I’m not much of a writer in real life, but if I can write for my own joy even if no one reads it then I am a writer. Now, my big dream is to get paid for writing. 

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NOTR Day Five

What will Trees see tonight? Will Moon shine brighter and cause them to grow deeper? 

What will Buildings see tonight? Will they shine brighter because of Moon’s brilliance? 

What will Grass see tonight? Will they rest deeply from scorches? 

What will Moon do for them?

None of us will see the Moon for longer than we normally do. We close our eyes to Moon even though Moon stays out longer today for us to witness. Moon wants to be seen tonight. Sleep on Sun and be awake for Moon. 

How many times have you seen Sun? You’ve seen Sun more than Moon, and Sun knows this. Sun goes away further from us; We lean out. Why work during Sun’s time when Moon’s time is longer? Sun needs some time from always being looked at and worked under. Enjoy the rest, Sun, we’ll leave you alone.


Above is a little prose poem/meditation on the Winter Solstice tonight. It’s funny that I’m writing this in the middle of they day because I criticize those who work during the day today.

For those who may not know, today is going to be the Longest Night since the Earth is tilting the furthest away from the Sun today and thus, daylight will be in its shortest expression. Though some may view this Longest Night has something dark, they miss that after today, the days will only get longer. The Earth is only going to lean back in. Warmth is coming! It’s okay to mourn the Sun today, but we’ll be coming closer soon.

How do you react to knowing that the Earth is tilting away from the Sun the furthest it can today?

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NOTR Days Three & Four

12/20/20—TW: discussing mental health; please don’t read this unless you’re in a safe place of mind to address issues concerning mental health such as anxiety and panic attacks ❤

So, I was a lil’ sick the past couple of days and so I didn’t do any posts because my mind and body deserved some rest. However, being sick made me think of this poem I wrote a couple of semesters ago:

Fever

I’m in the tub, steeping myself, like tea.

I try to pat wet lips dry with damp hands.

So much sweat. I must scrape all this debris.

All this heat and I don’t keep any strands.

I can see the steam. My skin whistles red.

It still doesn’t warm the part that shivers

inside of me. I scream-cry for a breath

that’ll warm me. If only the Scriptures

would set my heart on fire — it’s urgent. 

I hope this salt will pull the cold outside.

My wet knees emerge, the cold is worsened.

I pull my towel in. I’ll sleep tonight.

Finally, a wet blanket is useful,

but getting out of the tub? Brutal. 

When I’m sick, I most often turn inwards to the feelings my body is having. That awareness can sometimes trigger a panic attack for me though because I get anxious about what the feelings mean for my body, so being sick can be a little traumatic. 

When I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder last semester, I thought that I’d never feel safe in my body again. I thought every day would mean drowning out the feelings I had within my body with whatever means necessary. Fortunately, I found healthy coping mechanisms first and I used (and still use) aroma therapy to get myself into a safe place with my body. Also, therapy freaking works and my Prozac probably saved me from falling apart completely.  

Poetry was one of my ways to feel my body safely. On the page, I could write down all the things I felt without feeling like I’d be consumed because the words were in stanzas (aka “little rooms”). However, it took multiple things and people to help me get to a stable, functioning position and anyone who says that there’s just one-fix for mental health is selling something. I had to learn how to feel my body again, and I’m still learning that. Being sick made me too aware of my body and that showed me just how much I’d been tuning myself out. I have to feel my body. I’m safe in my body. 

One of the ways I’ve found to feel my body in a controlled environment is through yoga and hiking. I’ve been doing yoga for years now and it’s my favorite way to move (other than dancing in front of my mirror haha). With yoga, I push my body and I can feel my muscles contract and relax but I feel safe because of the focus on my breath. I feel safe hearing my instructor’s voice telling me that I just need to hold the pose for two more breaths. 

When I feel my anxiety mount up to what could become a panic attack, I pretend I’m holding a yoga pose. I just need to hold the pose for a few more breaths and then I can release and relax. 

What makes you feel safe in your body? If stuck, try looking to the senses to see what soothes you.

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NOTR Day Two

“Because I could not stop for Death— / He kindly stopped for me—” —Emily Dickinson 

Today I went back to Cold Harbor Battlefield because I wanted to see the trees with the sunlight on them. However, the first thing I did was stop next to the park I’ve driven by every single day of my life, which is Beaver Dam Creek Battlefield. There’s nothing there but a short bridge and the creek beneath it, but there used to be blood in that creek. 

There used to be blood on the “Killing Field” at Cold Harbor Battlefield. On all of these trails there are little plaques to commemorate what happened at that spot—I never read them. I do not stop for Death I guess. 

I do not stop for Death: the mantra in my head my whole walk. When I’m on my walk, I’m only ever stopped by Life. I stop when I see a lone green leaf on a hardy plant. I stop when I hear the squirrels scurry. I stop when I hear the wind. I stop when the little creeks whisper their bubbly flow. I stop when I see a decaying tree because I’m in love with the moss that grows on top. I stop for Life. 

In the middle of my walk, I had to listen to Emily Dickinson’s poem “Because I could not stop for death—.” I sat next to the little creek I found [see a picture of it below 🙂 ] and listened to the reader speak Emily’s words. This poem moved me to consider how we move through life. In this particular season, I’m sitting in the carriage with Death but I have no idea where we’re going, but I can see that there are pretty leaves outside.

Read the poem below or listen to it here:

Prompt: Write a response to Dickinson’s poem “Because I could not stop for Death–” Try doing an imitation poem.

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NOTR Day One

12/16/20

Today felt intentional and that also made some things feel forced. So yesterday I posted about doing a 30-day writing series called “Notes on the Run” and I’m really excited about it but that also puts deadlines on me and pressure to perform. 

Today it was raining and yet I still went outside, perhaps this writing challenge is helpfully accountable. The rain wasn’t coming down super hard at first but in the middle of the hike, it started to pour. I went to Cold Harbor Battlefield and those trails were spectacular. The trees made everything feel thick and I felt squeezed by nature, but in a non-claustrophobic way. There was a creek on this trail too and that made me smile knowing that I could hear the water again today. There was so much mud and I liked hearing my boots squelch alongside the water. 

Something I couldn’t decide on though, and maybe you can help me with this, is whether I liked the sound of the creek more than the rain on the leaves. The creek promotes peace but the rain makes me curious. The rain makes me want to open my eyes wider to see the leaves bounce as the rain drops make contact. The rain makes me want to stare at the creek as water meets water. 

The rain makes things more colorful. That sentence seems counterintuitive but ride this thought out with me. The rain makes the dead leaves wet and thus shiny and the little bit of light that comes through the rainclouds shines on them, which makes their saturated color more vibrant. Vibrancy in death, a concept. 

The sky’s overwhelming, grand blueness is covered with clouds and so the pigmentation of the grass, leaves, and trees have their time. A dull background and a loud foreground is a perfect rainy day. 

Today I walked faster than I usually would but I wasn’t too keen on stopping because then the rain would remind my body its wet. When I walked, it felt like the rain wouldn’t touch me—not because I was walking so fast but because the rain only touches the solitary. There is no aloneness in the realm of living things.

Though the ground was muddy and delicate, my feet were sure of where they would go even though I’ve never walked this trail before. I picked the yellow trail because it was the color of the first leaf I saw today. [I took some pictures on my walk today and I hope you find them as color fun as I do]. 

Prompt: What is something vibrant around you today? It can be something you see or just feel. Write at least three sentences.

Notes on the run day one
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Why Christians Cannot Be “Single-Issue” Voters

There are pitfalls with much of the Democratic Party’s platform, just like there are with the Republican Party’s platform. There are some Christians who lean to the right say they cannot support any Democratic candidate. They may say something along the lines of “No, I can’t vote for them, they support abortion.” 2016 until now have been eye-opening to the psychology of Americans on the right and left of the political spectrum. 2020 has been keeping everyones eye’s wide open. Why do so many Christians support President Trump when so many of his policies and actions in office do not support Christian beliefs? Why has the Church (meaning mostly the evangelical community but also the Catholic community) decided that abortion will be the only thing they care about on the ballot? Now, I’m not going to come out and say that Christians cannot be Republicans or anything like that because this is America and you’re entitled to your political belief.

Check out this article for the full rundown of Catholic debate on single-issue voting: https://www.ncronline.org/news/people/bishops-debate-over-preeminence-abortion-goes-public?fbclid=IwAR07OaWUl8ONEeTNypaKBWpkPJyfx3w5Q1-6Ow9ymaEXRcd3QpBieotiFKI

Check out this link for the full explanation of the Council of Bishops on “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” and I suggest you read this even if you aren’t Catholic: https://www.usccb.org/offices/justice-peace-human-development/forming-consciences-faithful-citizenship

In the article I linked above, the author, Christopher White, talks about how the Council of Bishops got into a big debate about the phrase “preeminent priority” in their issue of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” White writes, quoting Bishop John Stowe of Kentucky that: “Bishop McElroy makes a very good case that intrinsic means that the act by itself can’t be justified in any context. It doesn’t mean it has more urgency or more priority or more importance than some of the other issues,” said Stowe, noting that many acts are defined by the church as intrinsically evil.” There are many intrinsically evil things that the Church stands against. Let’s look at some of them:

In 1993, Saint Pope John Paul II came out with this encyclical called “Veritatis Splendor.” In this article, he talks about a lot of Catholic teachings and one of them is the idea of things that the Church finds “intrinsically evil.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: ‘Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator.'”

Read the full article here: http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor.html

Now, where does it say that above all these, abortion is the only thing a Christian (Catholic) should care about? Where in the Bible does it say that all Christians are called to only care about abortion? Abortions still happened during Bible times. “Exodus 21:22–24 describes two men fighting and accidentally hitting a pregnant woman’s stomach causing a premature birth that does not result in further injury as a non-capital offense and a ‘non-serious injury,’ unless it results in the crime of murder. Commentators such as Bruce Waltke have presented this as evidence that ‘God does not regard the fetus as a soul‘. Everett Koop disagreed with this interpretation.Numbers 5:11-31 describes the test of the unfaithful wife. If a man is suspicious of his wife’s fidelity, he would take her to the high priest. The priest would make a substance for the woman to drink made from water and ‘dust from the tabernacle floor’. If she had been unfaithful ‘her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.’ If she was innocent the drink had no effect.”

Read the full article here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_abortion

So abortions were around during Bible times, why didn’t Jesus say anything about it? Well, maybe he did. Let’s go to Mark 5:25-34:

25 There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. 28 [a]She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” 29 Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” 31 But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

What if this woman was bleeding because of a botched abortion? Now, I’m not saying she did, but what if she did. I brought this story into this conversation because I think it goes to show that no matter what was wrong with this woman, Jesus saw her suffering and healed her without question. Jesus had great compassion for this woman. Let’s try to keep that compassion going as we continue talking about abortion.

No one really wants to get an abortion. Abortion is not some kind of bucket-list experience for people to go through. The choice to get an abortion is not made lightly. Not everyone wants to be pregnant. If the only counter to this argument is “If you don’t want to be pregnant, don’t have sex,” that is ascribing a moral code to someone who doesn’t align with it and your dissent is misconstrued. People who get abortions are suffering emotionally, mentally, physically, and possibly even financially. What is the normal Christian response to someone suffering?

We pray for those who are suffering. We work to make sure the things that are making them suffer are solved. We make sure the person suffering feels loved and seen by the Church; we bring people in the Church. If a person comes forward and says that they have been unfaithful in their marriage, what are we called to do? Well I’ll tell you what Jesus does in John 8:10-11:

“Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.’]”

We are not to condemn–exact a judgment–on others. We approach people in love. We do not tell people they’re going to hell because of “x.” I know of only one God who can make that call.

Voting for a candidate just because they don’t support abortion is wrong, and conversely, voting for a candidate just because they do support abortion is wrong. There are many things that Saint Pope John Paul II listed in his encyclical and yes abortion is one of them, but that does not mean it is the only one. Christians are called to care for more than just the unborn. There are people being starved, trafficked, and enslaved right now and we should care about them too. What is the Church doing to help stop poverty, homelessness, abuse of workers, etc?

I do not support making all abortions illegal. Banning abortions will not stop abortions just like banning all guns will not stop people from getting guns. If I had consensual sex and got pregnant, I personally would choose to not have an abortion and I would opt for giving my child up for adoption, depending on the circumstance. However, I believe that any person who is carrying a child and does not want to be pregnant, should not have to remain so because of a religious belief which they may not even hold themselves. If Hindu’s in America can exist with the Beef Industry and the desecration of cows who are considered very holy in their religion, American Christians can let abortion exist too. I do agree that abortion access should be regulated and there should be limits on the timeline in which a person can obtain an abortion.

I do not think abortion should be illegal but in response to that, let’s make abortion the last option and help people who are pregnant get the support they need: free access to healthcare (physical and mental) for pregnant people, paid maternity and paternity leave for at least 12 months, and public daycare just to name a few. Now we are fighting poverty, hunger, as well as abortion. People often get abortions because they could not handle having a child, but if we care so much about these unborn kids, why are we not doing more to help pregnant people? Also, the foster system needs some MAJOR work.

Let me be clear: I don’t want there to be any more abortions ever. I think abortion is a tragedy and I want every person who chooses to become pregnant to enjoy that experience of holding life within them. However, restricting what a person can and cannot do with their own body not only affects them but also their financial stability and their mental stability which will have long-lasting effects. Forcing a person to carry a child, especially without any kind of support because kids are EXPENSIVE AND MENTALLY TAXING is wrong and we can do more for pregnant people.

What I was hoping to accomplish in this piece is the same goal I have for my blog: to tug at your perspective. I want you to have finished reading this article and you’re now walking away with something new to consider. It doesn’t matter to me if your views are changed, I only wish to challenge them here.

(Also, if you’re reading this and wondering why I keep using the term “pregnant people” it’s because pregnancy usually involves two people and not all people who are pregnant identify as a woman. If you have an issue with me saying that, that’s fine, but that’s a subject for another time.)

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Why I Write

Inspired by Terry Tempest Williams’ “Why I Write”

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

It is now 4:50 P.M. on another rainy Thursday in Richmond, VA. I’m sitting in my bed, backlit from the fairy lights on my wall. I listen to Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name,” because it motivates me to do something other than scroll on TikTok. I write to the crash of the cymbals why I write:

I write because it gives my computer a reason to stay off my desk. I write because it would keep me busy during naptimes at the Goddard School. I write because I have too many pens. I write because I talk to myself. I write because I want to advocate. I write because I used to want to teach. I write because Leslie, Brandie, and David told me I could. I write because the words I read from others motivate me. I write because I want to. I write because I used to hate it. I write because there are only two things to do on a rainy day: read or write. I write because others have shown me that it’s possible to put part of yourself on a page to give that to others. I write because it saves me time. I write to the women who are still in the Doll House. I write to them women in a Bell Jar. I write to people who are scared of tears. I write because silence is violence. I write to stand up with my words. I write because I am not great at science. I write to fulfill my stomach’s grumbles. I write to fill the fridge. I write to create conversation. I write to bring understanding. I write to empathize. I write because He wrote. I write because my voice matters. I write because when words are strung together on the garland page, it speaks out to us. I write knowing words may never be enough. I write knowing I won’t be read by the ones I address. I write knowing there will be dissent. I write because I dissent. I write in short phrases after the sparking moment. I write with poor grammar. I write with intentional comma use. I write even through the anxiety and panic.