Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Last Day and Soft Candlelight

I was born in a family of beautiful women. They all seem to wield their loveliness as if they had magic wands, touching whomever they wished, coloring all the gray in a wash of watercolors. Gorgeous was easy to them, and somehow I missed their lessons. I never learned what they knew. I don't know how to enchant. I cannot break a man's heart.

But when I was a girl, before any man had made love to me, I met a most romantic Carpenter. He never made me feel self-conscious. To Him, I was altogether lovely. He didn't mind that I am quiet and reclusive, that I'd rather dream than wash dishes, or that I am mostly ruined for a normal life. He just loves me, inexplicably, and His love is wrapped in the most exquisite mystery.

But I thought I'd miss something if I gave myself wholly to Him. I would never bear a child. I would never see hunger for my love in a man's eyes. So, I walked away from my Beloved, and walked into the arms of man. Then another, and another. I remember my twenties sadly, thinking of all the men I lay beneath, hoping each would be the perfect love. All of them disaapointed me.

I wanted the Carpenter back, but I walked so far away that I could hardly remember where He lived anymore. Like the Shulamite woman, I heard my Beloved knock at the door, but I didn't rush to let him in, and when I'd finally flung open those doors, I didn't see Him standing there anymore, and I went out into the streets searching for him. And like her, I was mocked and I was beaten, and I begged anyone who would listen to tell me where He was. Have you seen my Beloved? My Beloved is gone from me. My back, even now bowed, remains curved in grief.

I guess I was fortunate to have found a man that really did believe that I was lovely. Sometimes, his love was so big and so beautiful, he made a believer out of me, too. I married him, but his was not a perfect love. He was my love, but not my Beloved.

* * *

The year I turned 40 I dropped 40 lbs that I swore I'd never gain back again. I pulled together scraps and remnants of beauty that I'd gathered over the years, and made a patch work quilt to cover my soul. I wore lipstick that lasts all day. I wrote poems and gave my heart and words to whoever would come. I made love like I meant it. I found my first, and heard him say "I love you" to replace the words he'd broken my heart with. Like the Colored Girl Who Considered Suicide Because the Rainbow is not Enuf, I found God in myself, and I loved Her fiercely. That was the year I turned 40.

* * *

I look in the mirror and I am surprised by the middle aged woman staring wide-eyed and bewildered back at me. I am 41. I am soft and heavy and my clothes don't fit. I seemed to have stored food for the winter like a hamster. I wear my grief as fat, padding my fragile heart. The fat keeps me from seeing it. It is an armour of sorts. I realize men don't look at me, and I grieve not ever really knowing if they'd ever looked at me at all. I grieve being the woman plastic surgeons get rich off.

* * *

Money in my hand and I realize there isn't much I want. Maybe a few books. Maybe a nice icon. I'd like some golden toe rings, because it pleases me to have pretty feet. I don't even spring for a pedicure. I'm a simple woman, really. Nobody notices me, whatever beauty I may have dreamed I once had, faded almost imperceptible. Like the light at twilight becomes a blush and then it is dark.

Money in my hand and the only thing I want is Jesus. I have had enough abuse and disappointment and running from His romance for a life time. I want to marry Him. I want to make love to Him, and hear Him whisper His secrets to me on my bed at night. I lay before him, and hear Him say, "I want to hear your secrets. I want you to ravish Me."

Money in my hand and I want something to remind me of this love play between my Beloved and I. I search for days for just the right thing. A posey ring. Yes, that's what I want. My wedding band for Christ. I special order it, a plain gold band with the words, "I am my beloved's. My Beloved is mine." It is perfect.

* * *

The last day of the year and children and music and laughter swirl about me. All the things I asked God for right here, even the children I thought He was too jealous to allow me to have. I sit typing on the computer, remembering my First Love. Thinking of how I always look like I'm sitting in candlelight with love in my eyes--that's how He sees me. I am stunning to Him. He's says touching my face, "I can't wait to get you home."

* * *

I don't have any new year's resolutions. I am in Love, and tonight, there is nothing that I need.

I leave you with a poem that expresses everything I feel right now. It was written by a woman who as a child was separated from her parents, kidnapped and sold to a brothel. For years she was forced to sell, to whomever would pay, what was meant for her true love, but like me, she found her Beloved. She held him until she died. Her name was Rabia.

The poem is simply called One Day:

One day He did not leave after

I say to you. He is here. He is kissing me right now.

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Let Nothing Trouble You

Let nothing trouble you.

Let nothing scare you.

All is fleeting.

God alone is unchanging.


Everything obtains.

Who possesses God

Nothing wants.

God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

God Would Kneel Down

Hey ragamuffins and divas (and those with the paradoxical combination of ragamuffin diva:o)! I thought we'd bring on the new year with some mystical vibes. This one is from one of my favorite saints, St. Francis of Asissi.
I think God might be a little prejudiced.
For once He asked me to join Him on a walk
through this world,

and we gazed into every heart on this earth,
and I noticed He lingered a bit longer
before any face that was
and before any eyes that were
And sometimes when we passed
a soul in worship
God too would kneel
I have come to learn: God
adores His

From: Love Poems From God, copyright 1999 by Daniel Ladinski.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Incarnation is a blast from the ghost of Christmas past (December 2004). Enjoy.

You came to see the baby.
You didn't? You thought I was going to say something beautiful, or deep, or profound. That's really nice of you, but listen, I'll tell you a little something about me, and it's really all you need to know, my bio, so to speak. Personally, I don't really have anything for you. I didn't come with anything, and when I go, I ain't taking nothing with me. I don't even think I'd be here at all if this wasn't free and easy to use. I'm only here to show you the Baby, and whether or not you know it, that is the only reason why you're here.
I know. It ain't what you expectected. It's kinda chilly, and that's a hell of a draft. Makes you worry about Him. Is He going to be okay out here? Look, don't worry about Him. He didn't come all this way to catch His death of pneumonia. It's you you need to be concerned about.
Yeah, you're right. It smells like shit out here. And animals. This ain't the Ritz Carleton. It is what it is, but this is what God chose. I think He's making a statement. It's messy, too. This wasn't no hippie, home birth, candles glowing situation. It wasn't no sanitized, sterile, hospital. And it ain't the Inn. It is what it is. It's what God chose; dark, but starry night, hay, dirt, manger, animals, shit, cold breeze, blood, placenta, embryotic fluid. That stuff can get funky. It ain't what you expected, is it?
Come on in, and kneel down. The hay is scratchy, but it is what it is. Look at Jesus. See how tiny He is. You forget how small a newborn is until you see one. It don't make sense, do it? God coming here in the night, outside, where there ain't nothing but animals and shepherds. It's a trip. I don't understand it, but like you, God just wants me to sit here and see Him. This Baby. This God. It's a mystery.
You can touch him. Don't worry about washing your hands. Your germs aren't going to make God sick. I know He don't look like God. I know. It's crazy, but it's what God chose. Put your hand in there. His little fist will grab your finger. Amazing ain't it? Just do that for a minute, don't rush. Where you got to go so fast?
Smell him. It's not quite Johnson's baby lotion is it, but it's nice. It's the smell of a real baby, still moist from the waters of the womb. You gotta love how real that is. It's a coppery, acrid smell. Kinda like the smell of fresh blood, but this ain't the spilled blood that will kill Him. It ain't time for that yet. This is birth blood. It's different, and similar, at the same time.
You can kiss Him. Go ahead. He loves it. Look at how He responds to you. He loves to be kissed and cuddled. You ever hear that old wedding vow, with my body, I thee worship? They don't use that any more. Probably scares people. But you can worship with your body. Kiss Him some more. He's a baby. Love on him. Take your time. It's the most natural thing in the world.
Pick him up. It's okay, He ain't as delicate as He looks. Hold him. Don't worry about him spitting up on you. Whatever He gives you it's all good. Believe me, you can do a lot worse than have the Son of Man projectile vomit on you. Hold him well, though. He's resilient, but you can still drop Him, and that would be worse for you than it'd be for Him.
Adore Him. Take your time. Sit here all night if you have to. Sit here until you're different. Stare at Him. Breath Him in. He's a wondrous, amazing Grace. Immanuel. God with us. God for us, looking like us, drinking milk from His mama's breast, tiny and vulnerable, showing us that He's down with us. He's out here in the dark and cold, and He's needy like all babies are. What is God doing here? What is this nativity? Maybe if we sit here long enough, adoring Him, we'll figure it out. We'll understand what God is doing.
Take Him with you. I'm for real. He's yours. You can keep Him. Maybe if we take Him with us, we can get over all this crazyness about December 25. That's just a day, but this here, this baby is Christ. If we take Him with us, maybe we'll figure out that we're supposed to have a relationship with Him. We're supposed to keep adoring Him. He really belongs to us, in the same way we belong to Him.
Sounds like a lot of responsibility doesn't it? Nah. You're gonna be alright. Thy kingdom come is in your arms.
You got everything you need.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Out of Commision!

Hiya Readers,

My sweet little six-year-old daughter, Aziza, dropped mama's iBook. I had to take it to be serviced. I'm out of commission for about three weeks.

Catch ya when I get my *other* baby back.

Keep your holidays holy days.

Much love,

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We'll Leave the Lights on for You

Tonight we prepared to meet the Lord. I'd made an Advent wreath--not bad if I must say. That's on the entertainment center, along with my collection of black angels, an icon of Christ, and one of the Virgin, Our Lady of Sorrows.

Just across from the Advent area, is the Kwanzaa display. There we have the seven symbols of the seven principles--except for the black candle. Who can find a black candle? You practically have to shop at Witchmart. So, we subsituted with a gold one, standing in the center, just as proud and just as strong. The African Saints grace the Kwanzaa display, and they don't seem to mind. They're placed so that they face the Advent wreath. They watch for him with us, as we groove to our collective cultural rhythms. Even in this, Jesus is real.

Across the room is the little Christmas Tree. Ken keeps his office/studio in the livingroom now, and we didn't have much room. We got a wee speciman, but my, it's lovely tonight. We sang while we strung the multicolored lights. We laughed, putting on red and gold ribbons, jewels, and baubles. We stoped to dance, because Vanessa Williams and Bobby Caldwell sang Baby it's Cold Outside. Then we got a little crazy as Donny Hathaway crooned to us how this Christmas will be a very special Christmas. We all danced with each other, even the girls with girls, and there was so much love in that room, that I could hardly contain my joy. All this because of Jesus.

Oh, gentle Babe, we're waiting for you. Hope of the prophets. Rock of the Church. King of the Jews. God with us. We await, once again the rebirth of the Wonder that is You come to dwell among your people.

Tonight, we'll leave the lights on for you.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Becoming Mair

When I was 23 years old I fell in love with Gabriel. He was tall, fine, and dreadlocked. The first time I looked into his face I saw a lion! He had skin the sun-ripened color of golden delicious apples. He was brilliant, and had traveled the world. He called me his queen. Together we would change the world. He would take me home to Africa.

There's this segment in Ntozake Shange play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Not Enuff, where one of the ladies says, "Somebody walked away with all of my stuff." That's what Gabriel did. He walked away with all of my stuff. He walked away with my name.

He didn't like Claudia. He didn't care for the meaning (It means lame, but intelligent), and it was a "slave name". But as far as he was concerned, I had not shown myself worthy of a new name. So, he simply stripped me of the old one, and called me "C."

I was C. until I met Joy. I remember how I met her. Gabriel and I were vendors, selling African and Asian Artifacts at craft fairs and festivals. I saw her artwork and fell in love with her. We became fierce friends, and I'd told her some things about how difficult Gabriel was. I don't think I told her how abusive he was, but she could tell. One night, we had a secret ceremony in the way that women somehow scrape up all the magic they can muster and give it as gifts to one another. I don't know what magic I gave Joy, but she gave me hers. One night, we stole away, and I dressed in all white and wore my hair in this big wavy afro. We had a ceremony and she gave me an African name under a moonlit Maryland sky. In those days, I wanted to connect with my African heritage. Many people I knew had taken on African names. Gabriel didn't think I was worthy of one, so Joy gave me one without his permission. She crafted me an amazing ceramic plate. Oh, it was so beautiful. She captured me in the image of the woman centered around lotus flowers. She named me Seshine, "The Lotus Flower". A flower that can bloom in anything. Even shit. That was me, alright. Let me tell you that was one beautiful plate. But Gabriel found out and raged at me, and may have beat me up. I don't remember anything but that I fought with him, and like all fights he won. I remember I smashed that plate to pieces that night. I threw away all the poems I'd written.

And I had to be C. because he wouldn't let me be anything else.

Later, after I'd worked like a dog for him, he decided I could have a name. I picked "Kai," because it means lovable. I named myself lovable because I was a constant object of his hate, and I'd hope if I called myself lovable he would catch on and love me himself. But he did not, and it was only when I realized he was going to beat me to my death that I left him.

I came home, and reclaimed Seshine, but it was never the same. I distanced myself from Kai, too. I didn't want an African name anymore. I just wanted to be me. But because I didn't know quite who I was anymore, I just went back to being Claudia.

Six years later, when I had my worst bipolar episode, I became Indigo Blue. I didn't know how to deal with being crazy. I needed a safe place to record my journey and I did it here:

and here:

Indigo gave me courage to face a disease that nearly took my life, and after a year I was stronger, so I tucked her inside my heart and moved on.

Later I was ragamuffin diva. I started off anonymous, until it became necessary to reveal who I was. Being ragamuffin diva did for me spiritually, what Indigo did for me emotionally. She gave me courage, and a safe place to stumble, and love God anyway. But more than a name, ragamuffin diva is a state of being. It is being always poor. It is always being completely dependant on God. It's having nothing so God can give you everything. And diva is being always part divine. How easily we forget that we are made in the image of God. How hard it is to do the "greater things than these" that Jesus said we'd do. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

On a brilliant spring moring, I became Claudia Mary. This name was given to me by a priest, and I came right back here and told you all about it. Everytime I take communion I do so with this name. I use the Welsh version of Mary now, Mair, because it's beautiful, and I love it.

But few people call me by that name. Besides the obvious confusion about how to say it, people just don't understand why I took it. For an Orthodox Christian, taking a saints name is a continual affirmation. On being called by your saint's name, one writer has said:

"When we are addressed by others with this name, whether they are Orthodox or not, they show honor to the Saint and invoke his or her blessing. We also directly show pious honor to Christ Himself, when we accept and use a Saint’s name, since Saints are precisely those who have been joined to Christ, "small Jesus Christs within Jesus Christ."

So, here I am, with this shiny new name, and a saint in heaven who has given me her blessings. And it makes me feel so bad when people don't acknowledge it. I guess some people think it's a phase like the others, but it's not. When I stood in that church and made solemn vows to God, I became someone else. In fact, I'm still becoming. I am becoming a new Claudia, because I was given that name right back, but I am also becoming Mair, and that means everything to me.

Only God knows how much becoming Mair has cost me, and will cost me in the future. You have big shoes to fill when you are named after a woman who spent 47 years in the desert repenting. I've only begun to turn from my many sins, but every single day that I live I hope, like St. Mary of Egypt, to turn away from my sins, to battle the desert within, and to live for one thing, that taste of His Body and His Blood--that taste that will change me from within. But you can help me if you do me one favor.

Call me by my name. Not just Claudia.
Claudia Mair