Receive the Gift of Pain

Stay with me

Pain

And have a cup of coffee

Tell me all your stories

And do not leave until

I can remember all of the details

Let me say the words back to you

Until you feel I have understood completely

 

I beg you to forgive me for being so inhospitable

When I kept the doors locked

When I ran and didn’t stop

When I drank to dilute your power

When I sought refuge in the arms of others

 

I thought you came to destroy me

But you were here to teach me

That I couldn’t stay so small

 

Hold my hand now

And lead me to the grave

Let me be the first witness of your transformation

I will listen to your wisdom

And behold your resurrection

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Sad News

creechers

It is with deep sadness that I am announcing the dissolve of my marriage.  This is not how I wanted things to go or what I expected so suddenly and I am devestated.  I am asking for your prayers for each of us as we transition to a new way of being family.  I will be moving into my yoga studio on August 1.  I am hoping that David and I can peacefully resettle into two households with joint custody of our precious children.

By mid September I will be working almost full time teaching yoga and able to support myself.  At this point I am unsure how the settlement will shake out or how I will afford my first two months rent and launch my studio by Septmeber. I am stepping out in faith and following the dream of my heart and trusting God and God’s people to provide as I work to pick up more hours and save every penny until then.  If you would like to support us, please visit my GoFundMe page.

Life is an adventure and the cracks are how the light gets in. Here’s to brighter days ahead!  I am so grateful for my loving community.  May the entire world be filled with love and light.

Namaste.

Jessica

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Indivisible, a poem

We are like two countries you and I

Who throughout our history have gone to war

Burning the sacred monuments with our rage

As our children huddle and pray for peace.

 

We think we are fighting for freedom

As if I could evict you from the places you inhabit

Within the boundaries of my skin

When no bullet, fire or distance could ever extract you from me

 

As if I could return to the self I once was

Before your love transformed me

And drove me mad

For true love comes at a great price

 

It costs us everything

For whatever we love

We must lose.

Oh the terror

 

Of a life without love

And the paradox of it!

For its absence is proof of

Its existence

 

And though we have mounted love’s causalities,

And grown old with despair

In the rubble of morning light

I still hope.

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CLICK HERE TO BECOME A FOUNDING MEMBER

Can I start my message out with a scream??! Or maybe a song, “The hills are alive with the sound of music, ah ah ah ah!” If you could see me, I am doing leg kicks I am so excited about TARALOMA YOGA STUDIO! This place is a culmination of many dreams all wrapped up into one amazing opportunity. Many of you know I spent the last 10 years in ministry. You know that I am passionate about creating sacred spaces for people to encounter the Divine. You know how much I love to sing and use music to touch people’s souls (following all of the Keeping God’s People Safe rules of course). You know my creativity and my desire to embody and incarnate the Spirit and share this joy with others. 

For many years I felt tugged in different directions: musician or minister? Church or yoga? I realized I want it all. No bifurcating passions. No more dualism. Then suddenly I began to see how all of me fits into this TARALOMA dream. Right now (while I am doing leg kicks) I am designing healing liturgies for our bodies– especially for those of us who have been sexually abused, who struggle with addictions, or seeing ourselves in God’s image and are just too hard on ourselves. I am writing songs and chants to enhance my yoga teaching. I am designing a sacred space for people to encounter the Divine as we become more transformed into the beautiful selves we are but have maybe forgotten. 

Fargo is booming now and yoga and alternative expressions of Christianity & spirituality are a pioneering work in this historically conservative Christian area. As a seminary graduate, a youth minister in The Episcopal Church for ten years and yoga instructor I have the skills to make bridges and be a leader in this changing landscape.  As an introvert I am prone to do things by myself.  As a person of faith I know I need the community’s support and God’s help.  I can pull off the bare bones by September or I could invite others to help me create something bigger than I could imagine or ever do on my own.Here is my vision, and maybe you are a part of it: I see a sacred room, with yoga mats, blankets, blocks, and straps, available for guests to pop in before work, over lunch or before dinner to still their minds in meditation, prayer, music, and strengthen their bodies with yoga. I imagine inspirational art on the walls, candles, a warm room on a cold winter day where people can escape to center themselves and grow spiritually. I dream of a space where people can take off their masks and explore the deep questions of life.  I envision a healthy meal (a gluten free pan o’ bars and kale juice) shared in community after a Sunday’s healing liturgy of the body.

To launch TARALOMA YOGA STUDIO I am in need of basic yoga supplies, a few pieces of art, internet, insurance, some office furniture and a computer software program.  I’m so excited to begin this work!  And I am excited to see what happens has I partner with others to manifest this dream.

Donors will receive an invitation to the exclusive Grand Opening Celebration and free yoga/meditation passes. Far away friends who cannot join us will receive a copy of the homemade work of art that will hang in our studio with your name on it as one of our founding members as well as a personal guided meditation and/or yoga routine and/or song created just for you.

This page is a work in progress and I look forward to keeping you updated!

Thank you!  And Namaste! (Leg kick!)
Jessica

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May 19, 2014 · 12:17 pm

Were You There When They Crucified My Girl

A spin on an old spiritual. Often in holy week we focus on the history of the story. I wanted to contextualize and feminize the modern idea of crucifixion. Also to bring to light the fact that the female experience and the Divine Feminine are still excluded from mainstream Christian worship. Maybe the modern crucified Christ is the feminine form of God that is devalued and raped every day. Maybe it is time for Her to rise from the shadows of our unconsciousness.
#RiseWithHer

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Filed under american society, christianity, church, culture, episcopal, feminism, good friday, psychology, religion, spirituality

Revealing Our True Selves

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It was a 6th grade assembly and I sat in the bleachers with my mouth hanging open as I watched a visiting jump rope squad perform a routine to Michael Jackson’s hit, Billy Jean.

“She is so cute!” Billy said pointing to the confident smiling girl in the center of the floor.  The boys quickly agreed that Jill (God I even remember her name!) was the cutest and I began to feel my skin grow hot and green.  It was another confirmation that what I needed most in life–to be loved–existed outside of my ordinary power.  If wanted to be like the confident girl that everyone adored, some serious changes were in order.

I began to grow out my hair (the whole mullet thing was seriously cramping my style).  I begged my mom for new clothes.  But even as I tried to change the outside, something was still fundamentally wrong with me.  I began making a list of all my physical inadequacies:  bony knees, glasses, no breasts (not much has changed in all these years).  I began to dread that since I couldn’t change these things that I would be doomed to live in the Land of Nerdom for all of eternity.

When my elementary school announced we would be starting our own jump rope team called the Jammin’ Jumpers I shed my usual shyness and ran to the front of the room to sign up.  Every girl was allowed to come to the practices, but if we wanted to travel to other schools and perform we had to make the cut.

I practiced for hours at home every night until I could do the routine in my sleep.  This was no small feat for a girl who didn’t even know how to jump rope and was called klutz by her family because she was often found splayed out on the ground with no explanation for why she just fell on her face.  Try outs were one week away and I was ready.

During our final practice the girls began to gossip about who was going to make the cut and who wasn’t.  Suddenly I realized the intense anxiety that filled the room as all of our eyes fell on Jenny.  If I lived in the Land of Nerdom, she lived in a land somewhere beyond it–in the next solar system.

Jenny was adopted and she looked different.  She was Native American with dark skin, wide chocolate eyes she looked at the world as if she had come from another planet.  I saw her jump rope tangled up in her feet. Tears welling up in her eyes.  I ran over to her and asked her if she wanted to practice with me after school since she lived on my street.  She looked up at me and smiled.

We practiced every day up until tryouts.  She told me how nervous she was.  I told her to watch my feet.  I promised to stand by her during tryouts.  I told her I would whisper the moves so she knew what do to.

Finally the big day arrived.  “Billy Jean is not my lover,” blared through the gym speakers.  “Criss cross,” I whispered to Jenny.  “One, two, three, four, heel toe,” I whispered.

The teachers made two initial cuts.  Jenny and I stood in the center of the gym with a few other girls. The teachers asked us to perform the routine one last time.  I was so relieved that I hadn’t made the cut yet so I could help Jenny.  I continued to watch Jenny’s feet and whisper the moves to her.  I was so proud of her.  She was nailing it.

At the end of the routine the teachers said, “We could tell which of you had learned your routine, and which of you were watching other’s girl’s feet because you had not practiced enough.”  Then they read the last cut.  When they called Jenny’s name we both screamed and jumped up and down.  But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

The teachers folded up their papers, stood up and congratulated the new Jammin’ Jumpers.  And I was not one of them.

“But you knew the routine!” Several of my peers gathered around me to console me.  They knew that I knew the routine.  They knew that I had worked with Jenny all week.  But the teacher’s did not.  I remember that pain of being unseen.  Of having no words and no power to change the outcome of the situation.  I remember the dark clouds that rolled in that day.  The way I curled up under my covers and cried when I got home.  I remember that feeling of exclusion, as if my exile from belonging was now publicly official.

The teacher’s were right, though.  I was not looking at them and smiling.  I was looking at Jenny’s feet and whispering her the moves.  I was sacrificing my best so that Jenny would make the cut.  Only I had no idea how much I was sacrificing.

As a woman, I find that sacrificing everything–even my success–is a very easy thing to do. I was raised in a Christian home that valued service and shunned selfishness.  I looked to Jesus who gave even his life away for others.  I learned how to be a spiritual doormat.  The nuance I was missing was seeing clearly who I AM.  Often when I let others define me I feel like I am a nobody.  On the other hand,  Jesus (as ego-inflated as this may sound) knew he was God (at least in some of the gospels)  and it was this radical audacity that really pissed off the religious leaders.  He was claiming his own power.  A power that he knew was divine.  I had yet to find a connection to that kind of power in my life.  For so long that power remained outside of my self.

Psychologists tell us how important mirroring is in forming our early identities as children.  When we have been abused or neglected that work of seeing our true essence is even more difficult.  As I have grown up I have often had women confess that they hated me initially because I was tall and beautiful, which I still don’t get because when I think of “me” I think of the picture posted at the top of this article.  I think of the girl who didn’t make the Jammin’ Jumpers.  How blessed are we when we are surrounded by people who see our value and divine worth.  (Even when we sport mullets.)

What I am finally learning as I near 40, is that belonging is not about fitting in at all. Brene Brown reminds us that actually fitting in is the ultimate barrier to belonging.  Her research has shown the tolls of trying to twist ourselves into something else for others.  Belonging begins with self acceptance.  For me it begins by loving the nerd that I am.

I still don’t know my limits, I don’t know exactly who I am and what I am capable of.  But I am testing those limits and gathering the courage to face whatever learning opportunities present themselves.  I am becoming mindful of the twisting that I can do for others (this has nothing to do with yoga)  in order to belong.  I am learning to distance my true self from the voice that is constantly hounding me:  “You’re going to get run through the ringer for that one.”  “You’ll never make a living doing what you love.”  “You have nothing to give.”  I am learning that this voice wants to protect me from future harm.  But it goes too far when it protects me from truly living.

So I am learning to live with less judgement.  To accept each day as having an abundance of grace and all that I need on my path.  I am meditating on the great I AM.  When I meditate on I AM I cannot see myself separated from the mystery of creation.  Instead I become keenly aware that the life force of the universe dwells also inside of me.  Jesus called this God.  It has also been called Love.  A love that is stronger than death.  And it’s this realization of incarnate love that allows us to make the great sacrifices in life.

I remember watching Jenny run down the hallway with all the Jammin’ Jumpers.  I had never seen her body radiate so much joy.  And in the midst of my own feelings of rejection, her joy touched my heart and I was able to share in her bliss.  The illusion was that I had been cut off and separated from that joy–but the truth was that I had been a part of it all along.

Today, I know that I am not the outcast I thought I was.  I am the fruit of creation’s ancient journey.  I am made of star dust.  I am a miracle.  I am enough just the way I am.    And so are you.

Michael Jackson was right, Billy Jean is not my lover.  I am the lover I have been looking for all along.  And you are yours.   May you have compassion on yourself this day, and receive who you are.

Happy Valentines Day!

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Filed under christianity, feminism, psychology, spirituality

if my body is church

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if my body is church,

then my arms are doors

swung wide

and waiting

to pull you close to my heart.

come, sit here and wait

for the music to start

for the quiet to come

so you can hear what i have to say to you.

watch the cynical parade

recess from the sanctuary

and hold tight to my promise of bliss

until the veil is torn in two

and my taste is on your tongue.

for once the water drops into the wine,

there is no separating

you from God.

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Filed under church, poetry, spirituality