From Living to Die to Dying to Live


Due to harsh circumstances both in my own life and in the life of my truest friend, I have been thinking a lot about death…

…what is death?

Is death the loss of animation, the exit of that ineffable spark undefinable?  Is it the fleeing of warmth and movement?

Or is it something more, something deeper and more final, more tragic and fatal?

Back up, waaaay back to when I was around 25 years old and torn asunder from myself and tromping all over me with the jackboots of performance and despair…at that time I considered that the days I had on this earth were a prison sentence that I had to serve before I was finally released through death and reunited with God.

I was living to die.

And in a very real and primal sense, I was already dead and just didn’t have the good grace to realize it and lay down somewhere.

But now?  Oh Constance, these days I endure “death” in so many ways…but it is in my deepest desire to live at last, so I am dying to live.  I have “died” in the workplace.  I have died to ever being able to go back and get a do-over.

And I have “died” to people…this is what grieves me most deeply as it is now that I am finally and fully alive and awake!

So I ask you:  does the declaration of others make me dead?  People who have not talked to me in forever?  People who resent me because in their hearts, I Charissa have killed their friend, their relative…

And yet they refuse to really know me, to taste my life and see that the Lord is good, good to me and thru me…

When someone doesn’t care deeply enough to experience my life, why are they so driven to declare me dead?

Honestly, it feels to me like they are the ones who are dead…they are dead to their responsibilities to the living.  They are dead in their hearts which should be tender and lively and rejoicing in good…at least it feels like that.

My very best dearest friend is facing death right now, stark and real.  Not some romanticised falsely tragic vision of death placed in service of a world view that is dedicated to self, but real, ugly, stinky, terrifying death carrying with it all of the ultimate and final separation that is the true horror called death.

I am sure she would get my heart cry:  dying to live rather than living to die.

I am thinking of her, as I was struggling with these ideas, and sending her all my love, and every single molecule of life I can channel from the Life Giver Themself!tumblr_nh42bx2QI21rpwlwto1_1280


Lamentation On Behalf Of My True Friend

Bad news swirls stark,
cold leaves on carny winds
and in this rising tide
I fear the ship is sinking.
I am choking on those
gall-soaked fingers of despair
jammed down my raw wracked throat
while I wretch and wrench
and heave to summon optimism,
that phantom failed-familiar. tumblr_n4u6ddhBr01rg18hao1_500I do all I can to bail the rising water,
even as I wrestle against fear and anxiety.
It’s in these times that sadness overwhelms me
in a blurry growing storm of weary longing,
a tragic tide of lonely isolation
sweeping deep over me, drowning me!
I have befriended long lament
and I take comfort in loud cries
and blasting mourning echoes throughout time
and history in crying, captured true in poems, songs
and statements of lament, a dolor
that submerges hope and quenches dreams.

tumblr_nccazgd7DU1rsisk5o1_500I groan in deepest cries of agony, of anger and confusion,
of disorientation, of sorrow, grief, and protest
that linger as mere echoes of a long ago lamenter of every human loss:

“Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved.
For the brokenness of the daughter of my people
I am broken; I mourn, dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” tumblr_m95cwnOMwD1rrfdrgo1_500But now I face realities that feel completely overwhelming:
illness, death and loss and being ever on the losing end of things
and that through no fault of my own but always in last place or left behind.

My cry of pain is this:
my deepest acknowledgment I am still not home,
here divided from my body and my own deepest desires
found in my dearest relationships.
I am separated and long for utter restoration
in this overwhelming sorrow…

I find myself within this crucible of transformation
and discover that the waters of despair that seek to drown
and overwhelm can become waters of
glad cleansing and repair.

lament may yet have
its own way of transformation.

“For if the Lord causes grief, then They will have compassion according to Their abundant lovingkindness.”tumblr_njhuuqfPpN1rf7p4to1_1280

and Shining *

crucifixion singing in the center
giving voice to what is broken
in this dark and dying world
and Shining

one song inextinguishable
paradoxical, inexplicable,
surging somehow inside life and death
and Shining

it galvanizes all things, transforms everything,
it plays, this lone hymn hanging
of the Hangman Finally Hung
and Shining

in dissonance, resolve,
tension and release
inexplicable black tragic tenor notes
unexplainable red suffering,
scrawling over bass drone
deep and purple-bruised
by perplexing dark despair

and I stare…I stare…I stare…
in mute horror mixed with wonder
and the jarring jangly notes
swirl and slash, they cut and caper
around that Body Broken
and Shining

the dissonant nightmare score
is writ there on His face
is writ there on His back
is writ there on His head
is writ there on His hands and feet
is writ there in grace notes
is writ there bloody, permanent.
is writ there permanent

and shining.


* (dedicated to my Tortoise, in her entirety)