loaves and fishes and so much love.

i made gingerbread men with glasses and moustaches to sell at a folksinger show in our tiny town hall because it seemed like a fun idea and i needed to make some dough. literally.
i was squeezing out icing and swatting at flies and grooving to a hobo jungle fever dream. i took a break to run next door to buy coffee from the blokes who brew a tasty decaf. while i waited for my frothy soy i looked down at the days news. blood and tears and airports and fear. it was everywhere. in color and bold print. i felt my stomach roll and my mouth run dry. my loves were miles away and i wanted everything dear to be within reach. the world felt crazy.
back in the kitchen i felt lost. disoriented. getting scared comes so easily. despair is a cinch to inhale. i felt my feet wobble, my knees go weak.
then i thought about love.
i thought about the way love is a force of courage. the way love heals. i thought about love as light in darkness. i heard the wise J Byrd sing in my ear that Love Is The Law. it’s not ruled by law. it is the law.
i thought about love and felt the wobble of fear and i stared at dozens of gingerbread in-waiting and i remembered the folksinger who’s not afraid to let his freak flag fly and i decided that the best thing i could do in that moment was tap in to all the brave love inside me and keep going.
i stopped worrying and thinking and started squeezing out icing like i was the Keith Haring of pastries. it may sound like the smallest thing and the silliest of notions. but for me alone in that kitchen, icing cookies became a tiny act of revolution. it was a choice to move from a place of love rather than a place of fear. it was trying to be honest and brave in the very place and moment i found myself in.
maybe it doesn’t make much sense to explain.
but later that night while i sat in my seat and listened to the whole-hearted song-slinger sing, i wanted to weep with gratitude and relief.
sometimes the world steps over the line.
but with time, all things shine.
i sold a bunch of cookies that night. i gave a lot away too.
the darkness hung heavy over so much of our world that day.
in some tiny way, i just wanted to live a bit of light.
there were cookies and folk songs and stories and a small town. there was a lot of courage and probably some fear.
and there was love. so much love.
the more we gave the more it grew.
loaves and fishes. miracles multiplied.
when there’s nothing else, there’s still that.
love.

rainbow shack

i choose this still

a friend introduced me to Magpie Girl the other day. i was a bit taken aback by our virtual meeting. i saw in her words so many of my own ideas, my own thoughts, my own questions…and the fact that we share the same, not-so-common first name (though spelled slightly different) made it feel all the more strange and amusing.

i started exploring her podcasts and found a number of them that spoke to me in sweet and poignant ways. today, on this rainy sunday that feels grey in so many ways, i stumbled on this one. and it fit me just right.

Choosing the Beast

i hope something in there finds resonance in you, as it did in me.

love & bravery &  peace.

Brave Bear by Lisa Congdon

Brave Bear by Lisa Congdon

……

Choosing the Beast

I sat in silence for the first time in a long time today. No television on as background noise, no music, not even the warm tumble-thump of the dryer. Just the candles and a tub full of warm water, and the sounds of my noisy mind slowly settling into stillness.

There is a way of holding still without becoming stiff that only happens for me in the womb like waters of a bathtub. As I have no bathtub here in my Danish expat home, this watery stillness is a much longed for and uncommon occurrence. Today, in my borrowed claw foot basin something came to my side. A revelation:

The choice to love, to really love, is incredibly, ridiculously brave.

It is not a surrendering of self but rather, a time when you scramble a bit to find your footing, and then you stand in your own power and look the Vast Beast in the eye and say, “I choose this.” I choose this thing that can both protect me and tear me apart; that can and will bring me my most enthralling joys and my most excruciating and unanticipated pain. I choose the risk. I choose the possibility of endings. I chose to be as simpatico as old souls and to be equally, heartrendingly misunderstood. I choose to be at intervals rashly taken advantage of and unexpectedly worshipped. I choose this terror and this beauty. I choose love.

There are many times when we step into this place of love in naiveté—in the blithe flush of new crush and happy mutual adoration, blissfully unaware of the awe-full power we are inviting into our lives. We do this when we marry; when we choose our children; when we accidentally fall in love with a jubilant soul, with the idea of beauty, with wanting to be a writer or a painter or a poet; with a country we did not even know was part of our bones. When this happens, we live in that place for awhile with ease and contentment, unable or unwilling to see the depth of the pact we have made, not acknowledging that some part of our soul was the currency used in the bargain. Sometimes this joyride continues through the long luxurious length of our journey. But more often the fearful awesomeness of what it really takes to sustain the choice to love looms in front of us and we find that we must be very brave. Brave enough to say, “I choose this still.” Brave enough to stay the course, to maintain the bond even when it becomes painful to do so. Brave enough to say I will bear the ache of watching you grow up, of watching you be sick, of watching you grow old. I will bear the confusion over what to do, over how to love you best. I will love you through this whirlwind, through this firestorm. I chose this beast called love.

I am in a place right now where I must very intentionally choose to love: to love people who are far away; to love my challenging tween and teen; and most challengingly to love my own ill and tired self. And I am watching others commit brave acts of love: surrendering to a first love; watching someone die; tending to a baby soul born at midlife; loving someone through the sickness part of “in sickness and in health.” These acts, these making of stands on the high ground of love are so real, so raw, so terrifyingly powerful they make me want to shield my soul from the solar-flare burst of it all.

But I won’t. I don’t. Instead I stand in the choosing. I stand in the heart of the flame and I try to remember, “if you are never afraid you can never be brave.” And then, I chose love.

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Subscribe!