Despite halting attempts to live my life with hope, I’ve failed. My experience is not unique. We suffer. The recent pandemic, including its side effects of loss and displacement, is but one example. Suffering can leave a sense of hopelessness in its wake. One place I look for balm is in poetry.
As with most poetry, Emily Dickinson’s (1830-1886) work requires me to pause and ponder. What is being said? Not easy to tell, nonetheless, I often do find meaning in her poems. If I understand her thrust at all, much of the meaning I glean disorients me.
Continue reading “HOPE, PAIN, DESPAIR, AND JESUS by Esther Nelson”
Since patriarchy is atrocious, and capitalism is currently driving the earth to a very real catastrophe, we can get passionate about these issues. We can get angry. We can get self-righteous.
However, as one of the most famous verses of Dhammapada goes:
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
Dhp I:5, translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita
We may ask: why should we be patient and kind while we are the ones who are being oppressed and wronged? I don’t have an answer for that, only that through history positive change has ever been affected only by people who made more effort than the ones who wanted to keep the status quo.
Abolitionists, Suffragettes, Socialists and Civil Rights activists all had to be more altruistic, better educated, and more open-minded than their contemporaries. Continue reading “Babies and Bathwater by Oxana Poberejnaia”
On December 30, 2016, Katelyn Nicole Davis, a 12-year-old girl from Cedartown, Georgia filmed her suicide by hanging from a tree in her front yard. Recorded live, the video has gone viral. Alarmingly, a young girl’s succumbing to death logged on the Internet clamors recognition of an existence she felt helpless to bear alone. Reported in her blog, abuse and sexual assault tainted her young existence. As a result, her perception of her own isolation, her articulated sense of worthlessness, and her shame motivated a trajectory toward death, demonstrating what is at stake when these crimes go unrecognized.
Much effort has been made to remove Katelyn’s suicide video from on-line circulation, but the electronic footprint she left on cyber-world proves nearly impossible to erase. The recording corroborates experiences detailed in her hauntingly designated blog “Diary of a Broken Doll.” Suggesting the core of how she understood her place in the world, the chilling description of her self as a broken body employed as a toy echoes a life framed by abuse and sexual assault.
Hoping for connection and healing, Katelyn reached out for and found witnesses, but they failed to attend to her wounds. The platform on which she chose to make human bonds established an inviolable boundary where Katelyn became an identifiable sufferer who could not be saved. The result was a plunge into shame that left a child unable to find value in her life or in herself. The shame, initiated by abuse, perpetuated itself and led to her death. Continue reading “In Memoriam: Katelyn Nicole Davis by Stephanie Arel”
In the past year, I have several friends that have lost loved ones to suicide. The statistics are real, raw and all too sobering. In the United States, an average of 117 people choose to end their lives every day. Almost all of us know someone who has lost someone to suicide, or, personally know someone who has taken their own life.
Suicide is a choice for many reasons, not just from mental health issues. 42,773 souls end their lives every year. That is the population of a small city in America.
I rarely talk of my attempted suicide and most people are shocked when they find out about it. My sunny disposition, along with a well adjusted approach to all that is, can be construed as me having an extra whip-cream, cherry topped, Hot Fudge Sundae, life. There’s a lesson in that. I was 19, had grown up in an abusive home, had a mother who left when I was 13 years old so she could survive, and I had recently dropped out of high school. My life seemed stagnant, and worse, morbid. The statistics were mounting against me as a woman, a person of color, no parental guidance, and, I was a serious rebel. I think one of the things I had going for me was friends that cared, and the fact that I didn’t drink or do drugs. Continue reading “I am a Suicide Attempt Survivor by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
One test of a thealogy is whether it can help us “make sense” of our lives—even the senseless parts of them.
Recently a friend told me that the teen-aged daughter of a friend of hers had committed suicide. “What would your thealogy say to that?” she asked me. Here is what I might say to a friend who lost her daughter:
I am so sorry for your loss. This never should have happened.
I remember times when I wanted to commit suicide. My pain was intense and my mind was stuck. All I could think was: this hurts too much to go on, and it will never change, so I might as well die. I am so sorry if your daughter felt that way, because I know it is a horrible way to feel. I am sorry she was not able to understand that it could have–and probably would have–changed. Don’t blame her. Sometimes pain is so overwhelming you really cannot see beyond it. Don’t blame yourself either. I am certain you did everything you could think of to help her. I know that if you could have prevented her, you would have. It really was not your fault. I don’t blame you, and no one else should either.
I also want to tell you that what happened to your daughter was not the will of God. Goddess, like you, felt you daughter’s suffering and reached out to try to help her. Like you, She did not have a magic wand. All She could offer was love and understanding. Right now Goddess is feeling your feelings of anger and sorrow that Her love and compassion and yours were not enough to comfort your daughter. Please do not torture yourself further by asking how this could have been the will of God. It was not. It really was not. Continue reading “To a Friend, on the Loss of her Daughter by Carol P. Christ”
I have often heard people speak of times when “life stood still,” where the activity of others continues while yours comes to a sudden halt.
I love the sound of lyrics to the Skylar Grey song “Coming Home.” It has a mantra type melody that allows me to find my center when I am off kilter.
I’m coming home
I’m coming home
Tell the World I’m coming home
Let the rain wash away all the pain of yesterday
I know my kingdom awaits and they’ve forgiven my mistakes
I’m coming home, I’m coming home
Tell the World that I’m coming
It speaks to me often when I am in the midst of interior conflict roused by change, growth, transition, disappointment etc. Each personal encounter causes a shift in my interior landscape which in turn requires me to find my center again. Sometimes the homecoming takes longer, depending on the cause of the axis shifting.
March 15th, 2012 will mark the 3 year anniversary of my mother’s death. A day that caused me much turmoil within and a life event from which I continue to search for my center. I would never have thought that this life event would shake me to the core as it did, causing me to question everything I ever thought to have known about my mother. Continue reading “Coming Home by Catherine Gorey”