Redemption Song: the imperfect wonder of You.

 

{Photo: Francesca Woodman}

{Photo: Francesca Woodman}

{this is for you. for all of the women who come to me, defining their worth by their actions at the weakest moments. the ones I have wronged and the ones i once believed had wronged me. for all of us, in the midst of creation and destruction, in our too much and our not enough. today, i sing your redemption song}

livingthepath

“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” ~ Miller Williams

We are all, at the heart of it, selfish assholes. And we are all, at the heart of it, good and decent people.

You have brought forth devastation and destruction. You have been cold-hearted and selfish and thrown some ugly sucker punches. You’ve been the asshole, the heartbreaker, the one who spoke without thinking and who acted in spite of knowing better.

You’ve been thoughtlessly cruel to someone desperately in need of your mercy. Your ego was bruised and you breathed some serious passive aggressive fire. You’ve cheated. You’ve lied. You’ve played a callous game of wrecking ball roulette with tender hearts.

You carry the guilt of all of this buried deep in your soul. You could do a lifetime of penance, and never find deliverance. It’s a heavy weight, this hopelessly flawed humanity that is our birthright.

“Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past.” ~ Buddy Wakefield

But remember, you’ve also stayed up night, wrapping body and heart and soul around a friend who was grieving the end of all things.  You’ve nursed the broken hearted and lifted up the beaten down. You’ve laid down your heart and done epic battle to shield the ones you love. You’ve answered the phone at 3 a.m. and been the voice in the darkness that stands between life and death.

You have been mother and warrior and protective goddess fire. You’ve dried tears and bandaged wounds and packed magical picnic lunches and changed lives with the force of your love. You’ve given and given and given and only let it fill you up.

You have sacred coursing through your bloodstream. You are howl of grief and the charity of a saint. You’ve got thief in your bones and courage just beneath the surface of your skin. And on the days you don’t want to feel and the nights you can’t sleep, when all you can remember is the moments you have failed your own divinity, know this:

In every moment of every day, you are living the path to your own redemption.

None of us is solely the best or worst of ourselves. We are all our kindest moments and our darkest hours. We are the deepest shame and the proudest accomplishment. Shadows can never exist without light.

Our higher selves and our shadow beings like to nestle together and do a badass bump and grind on the dance floor. It’s after hours at the club, and there’s a full on ecstatic rave going on in the center of the floor. It’s all heat and sweat and bounding bass. Bodies so intertwined you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. There’s the good and the bad and the sex and the shame and the want and the guilt and the freedom and the chains – all right there in the sliver of spaces where skin presses against skin.

This is what it is to live with the duality of our humanity. It’s sweaty and messy and hot. It’s pure and good and true. It’s the red-hot center of the paradox. It gets us into desperate trouble and it saves us, over and over and over again.

I have been selfish and ugly and weak and bold and brave and beautiful. I have had the audacity and the grace to follow the call of my own wild spirit, but only at the cost of the heart of another. I have been beautifully true and I have lived a ruthless lie out of nothing but cowardice.

I have walked a million wrong paths only to fall into one of my greatest truths in the middle of the weakest and darkest moments. This is what it is to live, and to love and to stumble through this life, as inherently flawed as we are the embodiment of the divine.

 

redemption

 

The most difficult task of redemption is offering the depth of our kindness to the parts of ourselves we would rather hide from the light. To be as tender with our own flawed and frail hearts as we are with the hearts of our children. To seek our atonement from within, instead of the relentless futility of searching for it in others.

Our redemption can never be externally delivered. It lives in the molten core of our animal beings. It breathes in us and beats in us and pulses with truth and spirit and the infinite grace of our tender human hearts.

Yes, we are all selfish assholes. We are all good and decent people. And we are redeemed, over and over and over again—just by our uncompromising insistence on living and breathing and loving in this world. By our continued willingness to reach our arms, meeting others exactly where they stand, and making a wide open offering of our frail and fierce hearts.

This is where redemption lives. In the spaces where we come together, and in the quiet moments where it all comes apart. In the wild center of this world. In the wild center of our imperfect selves.

Right here, in the vastly complex and utterly priceless wonder that it is this life.

 

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*****

 

 

{Forgive Yourself}

 

 

*Decorate with Inspiration. Inspired design (now in six fabulous colors) by {Peace. Love. Free} from Jeanette LeBlanc available here.

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Jeanette LeBlanc is a writer, photographer and inspirationalist. She regularly consumes ridiculous amounts of dark chocolate, craves the sound of crashing waves and wishes people would stop putting olives on pizza. She has a love affair with words (all of them, especially the bad ones) and is inspired by the intersection of shadows and light. Hopelessly idealistic and impossibly pragmatic, Jeanette fully believes that she will one day earn a very good living with her camera and her writing. In the event that Plan A doesn’t work out, she is willing to settle for a huge lottery win, or the generosity of a very rich benefactor. Either way, she has no intention of being a starving artist. Jeanette lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her delightfully unruly children. Jeanette writes about life, love and beauty and creates inspired design at Peace.Love.Free. Her fine art prints are available for purchase here.

19 Comments

  • Myriam commented on June 3, 2013 Reply
    Beautiful. Thank you!
  • Andrea Balt
    Andrea Balt commented on June 5, 2013 Reply
    Jeanette, I don’t know how to thank you for this article. Shook me to the core.
  • Celia commented on June 6, 2013 Reply
    You have to dance,sing,shout and speak….
  • Alison Nappi
    Alison Nappi commented on June 16, 2013 Reply
    Brava! Woohoo! Encore! [clapping]
  • juliagarfield commented on June 16, 2013 Reply
    lovely! thank you
  • Margaret commented on July 28, 2013 Reply
    I did not want this to end.
  • snowboardcarl commented on July 28, 2013 Reply
    Exquisitely written – thank you!!! Namaste – Carl
  • Zoe Quiney
    Zoe Quiney commented on November 5, 2013 Reply
    just perfect… I wanted to keep reading and reading :) thank you for sharing your wisdom
  • Tricia commented on November 5, 2013 Reply
    This is so helpful, so beautifully written, so universal, thank you!
  • Jessica commented on November 5, 2013 Reply
    I want this big. Big enough to paper a wall with. Big enough to be able to stand and read the words over and over – day in and day out. I want it big enough to remember and maybe memorize. I want it big because it’s huge. Thank you.
  • Tasha commented on December 7, 2013 Reply
    wow I cried like a baby
  • chantelle commented on December 7, 2013 Reply
    “I have had the audacity and the grace to follow the call of my own wild spirit, but only at the cost of the heart of another.”…….. i am currently living this scenario..it is not easy to be kind and keep one’s resolve while being emotionally assaulted. we are all fed the idea that finding one’s true love is the end all be all of our existence, but i know that there are other worthy aspirations out there. thx to all the rebelle ladies for their continued sharing, through sharing we give strength to each other. let the adventure continue!!!
  • Rajat Mishra commented on December 7, 2013 Reply
    Jeanette, why have you excluded men from this redemption song? Don’t they need redemption? It is for me and more for those who have feelings in their tender hearts. Heart to heart!
  • Lea Ann Webb commented on December 7, 2013 Reply
    This great paradox is at the heart of the grace I experience every day! Amazing.
  • david commented on April 7, 2014 Reply
    Truly amazing it is.. So beautifull; I will share
  • Kathy commented on May 29, 2014 Reply
    Probably one of the most beautiful pieces I have read. Thank you.
  • Reaan Fourie commented on May 29, 2014 Reply
    Beautiful!
  • Teresa commented on September 23, 2014 Reply
    Guilty. And grateful. It’s all true. Coming through a twelve year transition that was all of this. The winds of fall have scattered the ashes and left me standing, clear eyed and naked. I’ll wrap these words around me today as I go about this business of living. Thankful as always to my sisters known and unknown and especially now the Rebelles, yourself in particular.
  • Kyrin Veritas commented on May 31, 2015 Reply
    By the end of this article, my inner-child unwound adult me from the fetal position I didn’t know I’ve been in for a long time. The season for tears is past.

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