Monday, July 26, 2004

Scars

I have scars on my wrists. On the left wrist, the line is jagged and unsure. I cut that one first, probably because I'm right handed. I wasn't committed to the idea of killing myself just yet. By the time I got to my right wrist, it was little easier. That one is a clean, determined line, made once the shock of seeing the red beads of blood seep through my open flesh had died down.

The scars are very faint now, and I don't think about them much. Though, there are occassions when I'm handing money to a cashier, or something to a colleague at work, and I find myself hoping that they don't notice. No one has ever asked me about them, though. I guess it would be impolite to do so.

I remember that awful day, and the startling ordinariness of it. The sun rose, just as expected. I got up, started my day, went to work, just like today, the exception being I go to work at night now, and leave when the sun rises.

And then something went wrong, just like today. It was work related. Like today. I felt sad and hopeless, like today. I had Jesus, like today. So, why am I not dragging razor blades across my wrists?

I don't know. Maybe because like that day, I really don't want to die. You gotta admit, slicing your wrists the wrong way is a pretty punk attempt at ending your life. Maybe because I've grown up since then. Or maybe because even though I'm about to be fired, and I'm worried about how I'll feed my kids and keep a roof over our heads, I know somehow that Jesus will help. He'll have pity on me, because I don't have anything left but Him. And I'm not above the embarassment of throwing myself, hard, on His mercy.

Many people would find the idea of God pitying them about as distasteful as ragamuffins confessing their suicide attempts in their blogs. Unfortunately, I've told you all such awful things about myself it really doesn't matter that you know one more. I like God's pity. I find it somehow comforting. Besides, this raga is still here. There are no razor blades in my hands, which I stopped typing with to lift toward Heaven in thanksgiving, scars and all. I've discovered something that young raga was still struggling to discover. Jesus loves me. He has pity. He won't mind being my hiding place, and God knows, I've taken to my bed and am hiding like a fugitive today.

And here you are. Young raga didn't have friends like you. Isn't this an amazing thing? On this sad and scary day I can count on a community of people that I honestly believe love me. You show up, read, talk to me. You send me prayers, and tell me how you want to hug me. You quote the Word, and send me e-mails that let me know that I'm not alone. Jesus, I don't have to do this alone. I don't have to hurt myself, because all of you are here. Here with Jesus, and I know you're here. Thanks for coming. You don't know how much I need you. I won't be making new scars today.

But, I am crying all over my keyboard, so I'll stop writing and go get more tissue to blow my nose. The last thing I need is to ruin my laptop with all this snot and tears. So goodbye friends, if you don't see more for a while, I'm just seeking my sanctuary in Him.

"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God, "I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;I'll rescue you, then throw you a party. I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation." (Psalms 91:14-16 The Message)

I'll see you at the party. I'll be at the bar, drunk with His salvation.

God's raga




Saturday, July 24, 2004

Homeless

Luke 11:24 "When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn't find anyone, it says, 'I'll go back to my old haunt.' 25 On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. 26 It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he'd never gotten cleaned up in the first place." (The Message)

She is swept and dusted. She is surprised by a sense of lightness and well being that has alluded her over the years. She smiles more often. She laughs without reservation the kind of wide open laugh that shines and opens wide her brown eyes. The prayers she prays soar through the empty house bouncing off the walls, echoing like a strange and haunting melody she remembers from long ago.

She doesn't mind that the house is empty. Surely, He will fill it, the one she loves; the one who loves her. There is however, that brief interim when the house is vacant.

Now here it comes. It's been in the desert, and it'll be the first to tell you that when the Big Guy forces you into the desert, you can forget about an oasis. It is tired and foul, and a little bit sore because the Big Guy roughed It up pretty bad on the way out. It doesn't like being homeless. She was a comfortable dwelling place.

It sees her, it's former home. It approaches reluctantly, wondering if the Big Guy isn't hanging around somewhere. It knows the Big Guy doesn't fool around when it comes to His property. He is particularly smitten with her. It hates it that He loves her. He will protect her. It knows her weakness though. It's lived in her for many years, and it decides to get a few friends to help it get it' s home back.

There are seven of them; lust, discontent, fear, anger, self-hatred, unworthiness, and lies all come with it, and they have their gameplan. They just need her to believe the things she's always believed about herself that aren't true, and she's hung out with them long enough for them to seem compelling. It will be a simple task. They'll use the big one first. The wound that hurt and did not heal for so long. Easy. It'll be moved back in in no time. Home.

They peek through the windows. Oh no! The house isn't even vacant. It was sure... How could this happen? Not only is the house not vacant, it looks pretty good in there. There's music, and comfortable places to sit and fellowship, and everything inside is new, but the worst thing, the God awful worst thing of all, is that *He* , the Big Guy Himself is living there. It knows it'll never get back inside. It turns to it's friends, "Jesus is in there, looking comfortable, and sitting on the recliner that should be mine."

Uh Oh. It said the Name above all names. It begins to wail at it's error. It's friends look terrified and they start running. Lies can't hang out if Truth himself is there. Lust, self-hatred, and unworthiness know they must yield to the Love of God, and fear, anger, and discontent. Well, they tear around the corner on two wheels to get back to the desert.

But it could have gone down differently.

Who lives in your house? Does Jesus recline in your heart?

Let Him sweep you clean and move on in.
In Love,
God's raga




Wednesday, July 21, 2004

One Thing

 
Nu 32:23
But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out. (NKJV)

One thing. One thing can alter the course of your life. One sin. You may know in advance, as in the case of killing someone. If I kill Suzy, I'm going to go to jail. Suzy will be dead. Her family will be devastated. My family will be devastated. On and On. But, sometimes, you don't know. It just seems like one decision, and you'll ask God to forgive you and it'll be done. Under the blood. Right?

Don't get me wrong, the shed blood of Jesus is the singularly most effective remedy for sin that ever was and will be, but you know what? He paid for sin, but you may have to pay a consequence or two. And while you can chose your sin, your consequences are the wild card.

My one thing was a boy. I loved him. I loved Jesus. I wanted the best for us, spiritually, and he wanted to make love. I'd like to think that maybe he really loved me, and honestly believed that it would be a good step for us to take. We did live in this world, and lies like this abound, and sometimes, even people of faith believe them. So, there I was, loving him, and Jesus, and I had this choice to make, and I figured, I'll get out of this; I have a plan, but I found myself too compromised. My plan went out the window. I remember the night before, when Jesus troubled my dreams continuosly. Jesus always says important things to me in dreams. I did not take heed.

One thing. I didn't even enjoy it.

My spiritual life unraveled, slowly, then quickly, and then almost completely. Just one incident. The boy and I didn't stay together after that. It was just that one time. I had no idea how it would change me, but it changed me. I asked God to forgive me, right away, but I did damaged I couldn't begin to see. Oh, young raga. 17 years old. If I could tell you what I know now. Sweet child of God. What did I miss because of that one thing that caused ripples like an impossibly big boulder in a bottomless ocean? Dear Jesus.

Did you know that some of your struggles are because of your one thing? Some of them are because of your parents one thing, or your great great grandparents. This is why we need salvation. One thing an angel did, who was so awesome, that he had a musical instrument built inside of Him, for God's glory. One thing a woman, fashioned by God's own hand did, because a serpent told her something, and it seemed like a good idea at the time. One thing a man did, because it seemed okay, and *she* did it. Did they know that thousands of years later, we'd be feeling that ripple? All of us. One thing.

I do want to share, fellow ragamuffins, that God is merciful. If you have one sin that turned to many, or if your struggles are of a simpler breed, God can, and will deliver, if you ask.

I am free. It is finished. My one thing was washed in a sea of mercy a few days ago. I'm sailing on that fine and lovely sea, and my sail is pointed in a whole different direction than before. I broke my life; I couldn't fix it. I was forgiven, but I still had to deal with the consequences--some of which, I wouldn't have dreamed would have happened. Like Much-Afraid in Hinds Feet and High Places, Jesus allowed Sorrow and Suffering to be my companions, and did not spare me their lessons. I am different because of them. Thank you Jesus.

Joe, I forgive you, and release you to the Love of God. And Claudia, I forgive you. You go girl! Enjoy this. Jesus gave it to you. At long last.

Don't play with sin, children of God. You can't know where it will lead, except in death, and you can't know exactly what or who will die. But, raga, you ask, how do we live without sin? We only read ragamuffin diva because we are jacked up like you. And to that, my sweet readers, I say, lean like a pimp in a Cadillac on Jesus' everlasting arms. I know that's an awful metaphor, but you saw it didn't you? Ha! Lean like you can't stand up straight. You can't. Lean like it's all you've got. 'Cause it is. Fall on mercy. Fall on Love. And for God's sake, and yours, too, choose life. Memorize 1 John 1:9.

The life you save may be your own. And your children's. And their children.

I am opening my blog as an altar call. Come, and confess and ask God to forgive you of one thing, or many, or anything. Let me hear you. I'll be praying for your freedom. It's time.


Yours in the perfect will of God, by His Grace and for His glory.
God's raga

Friday, July 16, 2004

For Twinnie

There was one I got to hold.

Imani. That means faith. My labor with him was the longest of them all, 24 grueling, induced hours. I wasn't supposed to go into labor. After the first C-Section and then that other surgery, the doctors said it would be too risky to give birth naturally. It could kill me, they said. But I didn't care. I pushed him out anyway, in a strange hospital, where nobody knew that about me. They were right Marie. It did kill me, but not because my uterus was frail.

He was so small. Have you ever been to a baby's funeral? I didn't go to his. There was a memorial service for all the babies born dead, that went to pathology at the University of Michigan. They sent me his autopsy report, and a kindly worded letter. They invited me to a memorial service where they would say words over the ashes of my baby, and many other grief assaulted mother's children, but I chose not to go. I was at Kinko's that day. I made copies. I would have done anything, but be at the University of Michigan that day.

I went to Tanya's baby's funeral. I was her postpartum doula. The coffin was so small. That's what I remember most, that awful, little coffin. No coffin should be small.

I held my son in the palm of my hand. I can't even describe how that felt. My son was dead, and in the palm of my hand. He had on this tiny knitted baby hat. Some dear soul sat and knitted an impossibly small, yellow newborn cap, just a bit bigger than a Barbie doll head, for my sweet baby who would never, ever take a breath, or smile, or look at me. Oh My God. Yes, Twinnie. It killed me. I still have that hat, and the square cut from a receiving blanket that was his blanket. Everything about him was smaller than it should be, except my grief. It was so big. I keep his things in a red plastic box that baby wipes came in, of all things. I don't let anybody touch that box. I don't even touch it myself.

You know what I did when I got home, and his death settled on me like ashes? I attacked a perfectly innocent piece of nursery furniture. There I was in the basement, and there was Imani's basinette. Ken had taken it from our bedroom and put it away so I wouldn't have to see it, but I saw it. And I pounced on it. I ripped it apart, crying, and screaming, and mad, until Ken heard the ruckus and pulled me away from the wreckage and I collapsed in his arms. Sweet man. I love him for that moment.

I killed my baby's basinette. You never know how you will grieve.

Ever the optimist, I was pregnant again, two months later. I lost that one, too, my third, and last pregnancy loss. And then came Nia Grace. I named her Nia--which means purpose, and Grace, which means God's unmerited favor. Her purpose was grace. That says everything. And then came Aziza. So don't you give up, diva. Don't stop hoping and dreaming more children to love.

These are things that helped me, soul twin, my sister in the Spirit of the Lord, and not the flesh. They're not gospel, just a little bit of what helped me through, from one sad mommy to another:

You will give birth to her soon, and it may be like getting your period, or it may be like any other labor, with water breaking. With contractions and release, and it will be a sad, birth. But Twinnie, angels are present when babies are born--when *all* babies are born. Take comfort in their presence. Listen for the rush of wings.

You can ask why, but don't be surprised if you never get an answer. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's just life on the wrong side of Heaven, Sweetie. It's tainted over here, and it can get really dark and cold sometimes. And don't go looking for a lesson in all this. God doesn't need to take your baby to teach you. He gave us His word, and the Holy Spirit to do that job.

Some days the peace God gives you, will be your sanity, but there may be days, well after you think the worst is over, that you may be like your evil twin here, a basinette assassin. Those days are okay, too. Whatever you feel is simply what you feel. Don't judge yourself or any emotion, and remember that the face of grief can change, day by day, moment by moment. Become your own personal psalmist. Praise God, or shake your fists in the air shouting, "Why!!!!!" God will receive it. No matter what it is, because it came from you, and wow, He really loves you.

You may never get over it. I assure you, you will feel like you again, and there will come a time that the raw, bleeding wound will become a dull ache that you don't even notice most days. But it never leaves completely. And if it does, tell me how, because Twinnie, it's been nine years, and I still feel it. I love them. I miss them. I'd rather they were here with me, even on my worst days.

Finally, hold on to the hope that is ours in Jesus. You said to me when you called tonight, after hearing me weeping on your answering machine, "She can't come back to me, but I will go to her." I marvel at the brave and beautiful woman that you are. Like I always say, "You're the better half of us." What a testimony to Jesus to have that hope. And you will, diva. You will go to her, and you'll be running, and she'll be running to you. But how we'll miss her in this world. And we will remember her name. I stop and say it even as I write this. God bless and keep you loved until we get Home, baby girl. We will always remember your name.

Here's a little from The Message for you. I love you, woman.

I'm so deeply sorry for your loss.

"Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there. If you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath." -- Psalm 34:17-18 (MSG).

Catch your breath. He'll help you.

Claudia

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

If I Were Her

I walk up to the house, and the oil I have, lavender, the best thing I could afford, is in my hand. Frankly, I'd probably have chosen lavender even if I could afford spikenard. He knows this about me, and I think, it'll mean more to Him. He's like that. He always loves you in the way He loves *you*. He makes you feel special. For Him, you are special. I smile when I remember this about Him.

I'm honest with myself that I'm not comfortable. These are *good* people at this gathering. They don't read Brennan Manning. They don't need to. I know some of them. Successful, religious, upstanding, and I don't begrudge them that. I just don't like the way they look down on me. They talk. They tsk, tsk. They feel sorry for me, and I hate that the most.

I'm not here for them. I steel myself. I'm here for Him. I make myself remember that. I think about this conversation I had with Him, and it's all about me flirting with men. He looks at me. He's got those eyes that look right into you. Not exotic eyes. They are simple, brown eyes, but when He looks at you He *sees* you, and oh, the love in those eyes! Even in that conversation about me flirting inappropriately. He looks at me and says, "What are you doing?" And I say, "oh." It is a tiny, breathy 'oh' that catches in my throat. It is not an interjection of understanding, it's an involuntary utterance, and I shake my head because something inside feels loose and fragile, and I want to cry, and I want to hug Him, but all I say is that little 'oh'and smile a strange, half, not-really-a-smile smile, because He's caught me. He knows my game, and calls me on it.

"I just want to be loved," I say, and I don't mean to be this truthful, but He always draws the awful truth out of me with His simple questions. As usual, He's gotten to the point, straight away, and in answer, He says, "You are loved." That's all He says, and it's enough.

I open the door and walk inside the house. I see a man that I know only too well. He thinks I have too many kids, and told me once that the only thing I was good for is breeding. I walk past him. I'm not here for him. Jesus is in the room.

I see Him. I'm across the room, and like radar, He detects me, and turns. The people grow quiet as they follow His eyes. What's got Jesus' attention? I can tell they can't believe it's me. Again, I think to myself, I'm not here for them.

I'm five feet away. Those eyes, they are so tender. I start choking up, and stop. I don't want to cry. I just want to touch Him. I want to thank Him. He didn't abandon me. He didn't disappoint me. He loved me, and here's the thing, He taught me that I could love a man with out an agenda. I'm nervous, because I don't touch Him when we meet, but I will on this night. I want Him to be the first man I've ever touched without some head game. And what's more, I don't want to abandon Him, or disappoint Him, either.

He lifts His face, just barely, but I notice it. He's beckoning me forward, and I come. I want to do this beautifully, but I don't. I am clumsy when I pour oil on His head, but He doesn't flinch. I wipe it though His hair, and I move closer, so I can smell the way his hair smells. It is sweaty. It smells like Him. I like the way He smells.

I plop down on the floor, the only grace between us being His. I don't care that it hurt my knees. I start bawling like a baby and I'm not sure why. I rub the oil between my hands, and I can't see because I'm crying so hard. This is not a beautiful gesture. It is raw, and aching, and terrible and amazing. He just sits there, oblivious to the stares and whispers, and there's an outcry or two. He just let's me rub his feet, and kiss them, and smell the sweet and musky scent of lavender. I don't sexualize this moment, because it is Him. It is my Jesus, and this moment is the prologue to my deliverance.

I love Him. I love Him. I love Him. And I cry so hard that snot falls from my nose and tears from my eyes onto His feet. I can't stop. I love Him. And I didn't think to bring tissues, because I wanted to be poised and elegant, but I'm a mess. I don't even think to wipe my tears with my clothes. I wash his feet, using my hair. My hair is very short and kinky curly. Afro hair, with just a touch of something straighter and finer, but not much. I don't know if it tickles Him. If it does, He doesn't let on.

He doesn't touch me back.

I believe it's because it was my time to do the touching. I think, if I ever stop crying and get up, things will be different for me. I can touch without the stain of evil impossible to cleanse. I can love with some measure of purity. Maybe I'm not perfect, but He's taught me something big here tonight. He taught me that I am not a whore. I am not a breeder. His love is His hands. I am touched by His love.

When I can rise, I stand and look at Him, and there are those eyes, again. I am still crying, but now I am laughing through my tears, and I am so happy, and He laughs with me. He is my laughter. My Lord.

I bow to Him, kissing His feet one last time. It is a long, lingering kiss that I don't want to end. It is time for me to leave. I walk out of the house, and the night air is warm and moist. It's like walking in a cloud. Fireflies light the night-time sky like a string of Christmas lights. I don't care what they say about me when I leave. He loves me. He *loves* me.

He will remember me.

Always.

Let Him love you, too.
raga d

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Beast

"Do not arouse or awaken love, until it so desires." Song of Songs 2:7.

We awakened a beast. At first it was a cute little thing, and it had been so long since we'd seen it last. What a lovely beast. We watched as it opened it's eyes and blinked away the sleep. It cat stretched, and we stroked its fur, and smiled at it. We loved it. We played with it for hours, until it left us spent.

The beast grew, as all beasts grow when you love and feed them. It needed a lot of food, and beast food is expensive, but I paid for it, feeling guilty as I handed over the things I needed to keep it satisfied, but oh, what a loved and lovely beast. I didn't count up the cost.

You were smart. You put on your protective gear, muttered something about slippery slopes, and left me with it. Again. I found myself alone with this wild thing. I shouted, "Down beast", and pounded it with my fists. With one paw it knocked me across the room, leaving me crying and shaking. I begged my God to kill it.

But He would not. No, I awakened the beast, and it was up to me to lull it back to sleep. So I wrestled with it, and most days that beast beat the hell out of me. I'd gather up what little bit of strenght that remained, and try again, until I finally got it to the altar.

Here is grace. God didn't kill the beast, and wouldn't let me kill it either. Everybody needs a wild thing, and if you kill it, you destroy something magical inside. It was never meant to be a beast, you see. So, you've got to save it, until such a time as you can tame it. And you will learn some vital things, when you wrestle with your beast, and in the end, you wouldn't trade those lessons.

Having placed my beast on the altar, I sang God worship songs, and the beast listened, and growled in agreement. I prayed, and the beast grew quiet. I lay prostrate, and the beast grew still. I read God's word, and the beast closed it eyes. I served, and the beast yawned and rested its head on its paws.

But it still wakes up, biting and scratching and demanding, and I start the process all over again. But it is my beast, and I'll take care of it. God has given me the grace and will to do so, but how I wished I'd just let it sleep. It's work to keep a beast.

Let your beast sleep, or you may find yourself bleeding.
Like me.
raga d

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Looking for Wings

It's 5 am. I'm not at work, it's actually my day off, and even though I wanted so badly to go to bed on time and sleep like a normal, I'm not a normal anymore. My body rebels, and I bolt up at 4 am. I am obsessed with seeing the sunrise today. I am looking for wings.

And I am thirsty.

I am thirsty for a big, body of water. The engine of the minivan is going, going, almost gone, but I have to make my way, somehow to a beach or a lake today. Desires drives me to the water, like this hunger for a sunrise. I need something beautiful and real to take the edge off life and it's innumerable griefs. I am a junkie for beauty today.

It is a wild heart day. It is a day that I feel like I am dying, and want to live like that. I feel like I am In Love. I feel like there isn't much time. I feel keenly aware of magic all around me. I feel like God wants to make Love to me today.

There are days that are gifts, days with wings that swoop down on you--grace days that you can seek, but you can't manufacture, no matter how hard you try. When I reach the water I so crave today, I'm going to go inside it and be baptised. God is calling me to a baptism of Love today.

Beloved, when you are so blessed to have a wild heart day, embrace it. Feel the flutter of it's wings beating about your hands, and then release it. Don't worry about the groanings, and how you will ache for wings on those days that you feel dead inside. Just grab a hold of it in the now. See the sunrise. Sun bathe like it won't kill you. Kiss somebody. Fall in love. Live in the moment like you mean it.
Lose yourself. That's what ecstacy is, after all. Just lose yourself to the beating of those wings drumming inside of you, filling you, opening up Heaven. Just for you.

Seek and you will find it. Open your heart, and wings will appear, and when they do...

Fly!

raga d