All posts by Leah

About Leah

I have a vintage clothing company called Platinum & Rust (.com). I'm also passionate about fair trade and sustainability issues; I work at a fair trade, organic coffee shop and blog about sustainable fashion at StyleWiseGuide.com.

Particle

Relics can be
Bones that held
Together, exoskeleton:

A camera initiated
In the summer
of hate

A serving tray bought
In Town – You
visited with
Your daughter

The thermos you drank
Tea in, with ritual
like it was the Body
of Christ, containing
wine, mixed with
Your blood

Relics can be
old CD towers, particle
Board book
Cases – Glassware
Wrapped in newspapers
Dating 1983

Let me press
bone against Living
Palm, fleshiness
will you speak
Again
Will you?
Tell me
Why You Had to
Leave.

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Midnight Calls

My body is fragile
Crack me open
at the seam in my
Ribcage, like
a damp wafer – watch
the strawberry blood
cake in exposed air.

How many midnight calls,
and dinnertime
Interruptions
can a heart
take before the valves
wear thin
And the tell tale tingle
moves up my arm?

Doctor’s orders:
I can’t lift
this weight
Give me something lighter.
Second thought:
Don’t give me anything at all.

“Be Brave”

Don’t tell me
to Be Brave,
again,
as if courage
is instinct for
half of us and
Learned Behavior
for XX chromosomes
alone. As if
my going
out is not its own
defiant act

And my speaking:
Bold, Direct
is not akin
to wielding
the sword.

Don’t tell me
Courage is:
holding my tongue
and the serving tray
at a 3rd wave
Dinner Party
thrown for strangers with
pasted on grins

I am no one’s
Darling
I am already
Strong

everyone who searches

And everyone who searches
finds – maybe not
the missing button, maybe
an old note, yellowed photo
with a missing corner.

And you realize
what you find is
good enough,
or better

And the cardigan can
do without mending –
its gapping filled
for now with a memory
of summertime,
or last year’s loss
– you never lost at all.

It was hiding under the bed,
stirred awake,
an answer. The question
never mattered.

———

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rilke

Like Paul, Like Kelly

Like Saul, Kelly Gissendaner plotted to kill the innocent. Like Saul, she was an enemy of the righteous.

Like Paul, Christ spoke life into her and, because of her, many were saved. Like Paul, she was killed by the state.

May we be like Paul, and like Kelly, and remember where we came from and where Christ brought us. May we sing Amazing Grace in our final moments. May we foster mercy in our hearts against reason and wage love against the pain.

“…and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.” (Acts 9:20-22)

frost bitten

You’ll be kind and
never lose your temper
and no one will misunderstand
your jokes. You’ll

wake up early and listen
to the mourning dove
sing     dooo
dooo               do-do-do
low-high calling
the new day good.

You’ll always have spare
change for the panhandler
at his median post. You’ll be

better.
You’re just a little bit good
for now.

But the You that matters
is the you that exists.

And she hits snooze and grumbles
through morning coffee, forgets
to take out the trash.

She whines and her
words don’t always
pour over wounds like soothing
balm. Sometimes,
she lets wounds fester.

But at least she exists, here,
now, placed for a season,
planted and occasionally watered.

You’re aloe with frost
bitten tips, but
you’re alive, and can still give
of your rich pulp.

Remember this,
God uses the You you are.

on suffering

If you’re trying to resolve the problem of suffering and wrap it up in a neat little package, you’ll only be disappointed by Christianity.

Christianity doesn’t answer that question. It dwells in the suffering. It acknowledges it, laments it, and looks for ways to reduce it, but it doesn’t tell you why.

A friend recently said that what strikes him most about Christianity is the image of the Suffering Christ. When tragedy strikes, Christ suffers. He dies again and again. Immeasurably deep empathy for the human condition.

Christianity doesn’t answer the why; it asks us to turn from our inward need to understand and look out to help alleviate suffering in the world. I can sit here and shout “Why?!” or I can go out and do something to end it, even while I knowing it will not end.

Christianity asks me to sit with the questions, but not alone. I am increasingly convinced that Christianity is a communal religion; it must be done with others; we acknowledge what we do not know, together.

Nothing can be wrapped up in a neat little package.

review: Rachel Held Evans’ Searching for Sunday

searching for sunday review

Rachel Held Evan’s Searching for Sunday is about church: its triumphs and failings, its hypocrisy and grace. Rachel, like me, grew up in a well-intentioned Evangelical community where the Bible is accepted as fact and the “plain truth” is within easy reach. It’s a culture of black and white morality, where spiritual cliches are a dime a dozen, rolling off the tongue the second something happens that doesn’t jive with the accepted worldview. Naturally, it has its limitations. Suffering is not easily alleviated with a dismissive utterance of “it’s all in God’s plan.” Rachel, like me, was encouraged to have a sense of ownership over her personal relationship with Jesus and, when the questions she wrestled with in the quiet started to gain momentum – when she started to ask them out loud – the church was unequipped to answer in anything but cliches.

Rachel, like me, flailed around, trying out new churches and new denominations, but the questions burned unanswered still, and she left.

Searching for Sunday‘s framework, quite fittingly, is the Sacraments: Baptism, Confession, Holy Orders, Communion, Confirmation, Anointing the Sick, and Marriage. These themes, like the Sacraments themselves, act as a jumping off point for a journey of faith. They encourage exploration and mystery; they don’t operate in spiritual cliches. One begins to realize that sometimes, the best answer to our questions is simply the space to wrestle with them. Rachel deals eloquently with this wrestling, acknowledging that the hurt sometimes makes it impossible to be in community, but always seeking the Truth of Christ’s unconditional love. She never gives up on that, and I think that’s the key to learning from the dark times in our spiritual lives. You may feel directionless, but you are moving forward if you are oriented toward love.

Searching for Sunday is memoir, but it is more than that. It’s theology. Steeped in the Gospel narratives, deeply respectful of those first disciples, and appreciative of the long, tumultuous years of violence perpetrated by and against the institutionalized church, it seeks to explore and understand what it looks like to do church now. It reminds us that Christian community was essential from the very beginning, that we don’t get to do Christian life on our own. 

Searching for Sunday gave me closure. I’d been hurt so badly by the church years ago, and I thought I’d moved on. But the truth is that I needed this reassurance that my pain was real, that my concerns were legitimate, and that the dark path I trudged through in the aftermath of leaving was not in vain. I needed someone to say, simply, “me too.”

As I sit here now with the sunshine streaming through the window and the birds singing and a cool spring breeze hitting my legs, I can tell you that I’m no longer searching for Sunday. I have found home in church community again. I am thankful for the path, and the hands that held me in the darkness, nudging me forward. I am thankful for space for the questions. I am thankful that God gave Rachel Held Evans the voice, and the heart, to tell her story, because it is my story, too.

I received an advance copy ofSearching for Sunday Searching for Sunday for review. Searching for Sunday is available for preorder here. It’ll hit store shelves this Tuesday, April 14.

*Artwork: Baptism by Ruth Catherine Meharg; used with permission.