The music, the blossom, the dreamer, all asleep underneath the soil,
The winter of life keeping its secret that new life will emerge from the point of deepest darkness.
Light will break forth, life will rise from the hardest places, I've heard it said... but I can't see it now.
We've sown in sorrow, we have collected these broken pieces and watched them
fall beneath our feet.
If it takes death to bring new life- we now wait for the rising.
This is "S" he saw me walking with my camera that I had just pulled out of my backpack. He called me over to take his picture. But first, I asked him his name and where he was from. From there he began to open up his life, like it was a book being cracked open for the first time in years. I could almost picture the dust flying off the pages as he eagerly turned from one chapter to the next. He needed someone to ask about his life, to show interest. I was ready. I wanted to see him. He admitted his loneliness after being away from his home in Sri Lanka for nearly 16 years. He does not have any family with him and has been selling papers and Christmas calendars with "Hus Forbi" as he lives on the streets. He is a brave and dear soul, but he's incredibly isolated. Sometimes my camera makes people nervous or cautious, and sometimes it brings them to life. I love when that happens. "S" wanted to be seen, remembered, he wanted to be photographed. I touched his arm as I was saying farewell, and his eyes widened as he politely asked me for a hug. As we hugged, he buried his nose in my hair and breathed in, while he told how it's been so long since he has been embraced. Oh my heart. I understood him. To be seen, to be valued, to have connection. Whatever we do during our days, whatever requires our time, energy and affections, may we never forget the incredible importance of caring for those around us. Not as a good deed or requirement, but that there is this beauty and power in that we can literally impact humans one on one, by showing care, respect, attention and ultimately--love. When we do that, we are also transformed, and that is how the world is changed!!
"Praise the mountain and the rain
All the gifts that still remain
But the greatest gift of all
And the law above all laws
Is to love your friends and lovers
To lay down your life for your brothers
As you abide in peace
So will your delight increase
As the mystery of the cross
Is the love joy lost, I toss
In the fountain in the rain
But my sorrow still remains
So I run to my friends and lovers
I lay down my life for my brothers
As I abide in peace
So will my delight increase." Sufjan Stevens (The Greatest Gift)
This is the view from Stephen's room, on the 11th floor at #rigshospitalet . It's strange, it's a beautiful view of the sea, the big park in the other direction, people and life within the city. Yet, it is also simultaneously a painful view. A life out there, that we only get to experience in fleeting, altered moments together. People might be drawn to these events of being in the hospital. Presently, or from 4 years ago. But no matter how graphic the details of these moments, to really understand our pain, you have to go back to before Stephen's injury. (Either 10 years ago before discovering his spinal AVM, or 4 1/2 years ago when it bled.) You have to understand the beauty, the normalcy, the hopes and dreams for our present and our future. The way our relationship moved and breathed and the way the kids could "be" with their father. It's there that we lost so much. It's there that the grief and the pain runs deep. It's not the challenge of his disability really, it's the chronic neurological pain and syndrome that stole a life that we had. Sure, there is gratitude and beauty to be found, but as our grief is also an ongoing and ever changing loss, it cuts fresh wounds each day. You have to understand that, you have to see the whole picture to recognize this unique form of grief. As I get acclimated to this life, my life, I will dare to be honest, I will push myself to be open, I will be brave to let people in so they might have an opportunity to learn something from this story of ours. And to you, the ones who might have a desperate, painful and complicated story, I am here, and I understand.
Sharing a photo from the other week. Today is full of rain, sprinting from my bike, to the metro, into the city, back home and into the city again. I feel like it's 2am (it's midday) and that my body might just strike a rebellion against itself and cease to move one more step. Stephen had to head into the hospital again last night to get some things taken care of that aren't healing properly. It was right before the kids were off to bed so you can imagine how well that went over. But he is back with some new methods for healing that are quite a bit painful (not related to his back, that issue still remains on top of it all.) We go round and round in circles, a bit like fire fighters attending to a room on fire, when another nearby room bursts into flames and back and forth, round and round we go. One fire ignites another. One friend asked today, " how can you do it? You must be so strong." And I replied, that I have no desire to appear strong, not in the definition most would understand. I am broken. This breaks us. Of course it does. And that's okay, but we can't do it without friends. However, I can hope to say we are resilient. That is worth something. And to all the people all over the world who face unbearable things, we may not be strong, but in our brokenness of life, we can be resilient." Everyday, let's just keep showing up to life.
"I can't say a true thing
It's hard to be that honest
I know you're not asking
But I told you that I promised
There's always two thoughts
One after the other:
No you're not
I'm alone no you're not
I know I'm pretending
When I try to have an answer
It's not what I intended
And I don't know what comes after
There's always two thoughts
One after the other:
No you're not
I'm alone no you're not." 'Honest' by the band JOSEPH .
When I heard this song and the words to the chorus began "I'm alone, no you're not." It made me smile. This is so often the battle I have going on in my own head and heart. Sometimes it's about actually being alone or maybe just feeling alone. And it's a ruthlessly painful battle. And at the same time, while I am so acquainted with this conflict, it's the one thing I want to say to those I see on the street who are struggling.. "you are not alone." It's important for me to express this to others, because it's important to me personally. Last night I was exasperated, it was a long weekend, full of kids melting down, battling for their hearts, and Stephen still unable to move much without enormous pain. And in the thick of it all, someone came to our front door. A friend from church had arranged a meal train for us, vegan dinners prepared for a few evenings. I could have cried. Tears full of weariness and gratitude. "I'm alone, no you're not." But the thing is, if we are going to make sure people aren't alone, we have to show up. Physically, practically, without ulterior motives or expectations of a return in the future. I will give and give and you will give and give, and it all matters. It has a way of breaking through the stigma and darkness of loneliness.
Rain, umbrella's and rubber boots. I biked in the rain to Esben's school, then hopped on a metro to make a very important pick up. I asked @yellow_rose_cph if they could make me a vegan pumpkin pie for thanksgiving tomorrow and they kindly said, "yes." Now I just have to patiently wait until tomorrow to try it.
On my short little trip into the city center, I ended up meeting 4 different people and having conversations of all sorts. I am thankful this year, that I have chosen the path of awareness, in response to all of our family's medical and personal difficulties. Instead of narrowing my vision, to only include myself and my struggles, I make daily choices to recognize how my pain connects me with the world around me. I am more aware of the small discoveries, the beauty and people. I have been altered through all of these losses, and it's easy to see the negative impact, but I am grateful that I get to choose what I do with all of it. I embrace my lack, my sadness, my disappointments and longings and let it create a new lens for how I see the world. A world that can thrive on love, grace, acceptance and humility. A world that needs everyone's hands to participate in this ongoing creation, no matter the amount of offering we each can bring.
It's the regional and local elections today in Denmark. As I was walking past Nørreport at noon, I saw #rolfbjerre with his big "Å" for the Alternativet party, displayed in the cargo bike. I saw him a week or so ago, campaigning and chatting with people walking past. Even then I recognized his face from the images around town with him wearing a pirate patch over one eye. I am so intrigued by the Danish political system, as they have several more parties than in America. I had the pleasure of meeting Rolf and asking a few questions as he also asked me some as well. He was kind, passionate, warm, respectful, empathetic and even humorous. I marveled at the fact that a man with a gigantic beard and laid back style could run for political office. It was refreshing to realize it had more to do with what he stood for and was working for, than if he was wearing a collared shirt or not. Even as we were speaking, another man walked past and hurled a rude comment at him. But Rolf just kept smiling and was kind. So, here's to another election in Denmark. I look forward to learning more and more about Danish politics, and I hope everyone values their freedom to vote and to not take lightly the responsibility we have to one another as we make these important choices. Happy Election Day!
Breath and smoke hang in the air. Icy streets and sunlit corners. Everything is illuminated. .
"The point then is to help break the false distinction between the idea that there are those who are whole and those who have a lack. For the true distinction is between those who hide their lack under the fiction of wholeness and those who are able to embrace it." Peter Rollins - 'The Divine Magician.'
Shadow and Light ....
"After a while, even the densest of us may have our eyes opened to that something which transcends all superficial distractions of disability: the unimaginable beauty of every person. That beauty is ours for the seeing if only we have the eyes to see, if only we pay attention." --Tim Shriver / Chair of Special Olympics
The other day I was chasing the sun-- which is my affectionate term for following the sun down every street and alley, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the elusive Nordic sun. It's my favorite thing to photograph these days. Anytime the light is breaking through darkness, I want to find it. In the depths of my soul I want to find it.
The sun was peeking through the Nørreport sign and it was breathtaking. But right after I took this picture, I felt something tap my foot, and a low voice speaking near me. I took off my headphones and lowered my camera and saw a man standing right next to me. He was gripping his white cane and asking for directions to the bank. In Danish I told him that it was just ahead and to the left, but then he started walking off to the right. So I went alongside of him and asked if I could help him. I put my arm next to him so he could hold onto me. I asked him his name and he told me it was Henrik. My name "Dawn" is always a little confusing to Danes, so I explained that it is the English word for sunrise or "solopgang." That explanation usually results in a little clarity and a smile. So Henrik wrapped his arm through mine and as we walked step by step he laced his fingers through mine. He adjusted his grip and held tighter and tighter. My fingers were icy cold but he didn't seem to mind. Henrik needed help. He is blind. He needed eyes to navigate the crowds and bikes. He showed up at the station, hoping for someone to have time to walk with him. And I was chasing the sun, so when he bumped into me, I was already looking. I could lend my eyes for a brief moment in time, and he gave me his hand to hold. I needed a hand on a difficult day and he needed my eyes. That walk to the bank was so ordinary, so simple, but it was a gift to me. It reminded me that when we need help or when we lack the ability or capacity for something, we have to ask for help. Where I lack, you may have something to give and where you lack I may have something to give you as well. That is the ebb and flow of life. We give and we receive. And whenever we do either one of those things, that is when light breaks into dark places...[continued👇🏻]
What song can I sing ?
While I wait for deliverance ?
While I ask to not be forgotten ?
A song of lament is all I can utter. --A song of brokenness and anguish.
How long must we wait ? --For light to rip through this darkness,
--For light to surround us. --For all that's been lost, to be restored.
The weather is getting cold, Christmas decorations are up around the city and soon the last remaining golden leaves will be gone from the trees. But it's always a pleasure to get warmed up with a hot drink in hand. While waiting at Hope's school, we saw Hope walk out of the library (bottom floor of her school) with a cup in each hand. She told me how her sweet classmate wanted to buy her a hot chocolate, but Hope kindly asked if she could also have one for her brother too. So minutes later, Hope, her friend and Esben were all sitting outside the school, sipping hot chocolate, as dark rain clouds were rolling in. I adore my daughter's precious heart. Despite her bother giving her hell sometimes, she is always thinking of him and watching out for him. /// ---- I loved this shot because the lighting was fantastic. With a little light overhead, darkness in the background, the reflection of the school and the tones of Esben's clothes matching the environment. It was perfect
Look! There laying beside the trash bin is our brother.
He's alone, he's tired, he's fighting for survival.
Look! Here beside me is another, he's in pain, he's tired, he's fighting for survival...
I am thankful for the psalms that can express the anguish of humanity, even Jesus uttered similar words from the cross.
... "God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning." (Psalm 22:1-2 The Message)
Steam rising from the vents this morning in the city ..... ///
When I get asked how I am doing or how are things going..... I would ask for you to stay with me for a few moments. If you really are asking because you really want to know, you must realize I am still trying to figure out the answer to those questions myself. And if I give an answer, it is accompanied with different measures of vulnerability, hope and pain. So you sharing a heart felt response helps soothe the aches from my brave offering. I have also learned that when I ask someone a question that requires them to share something, that I also need to offer something personally vulnerable as well- otherwise it can feel like an interrogation. I want to keep staying honest, it's the only way I know how to be, but it's always a brave act to really share my daily life. But please keep asking. And also know that when I ask you how you are doing, I always really want to know. It's not about getting information from you, but stepping into your story with you.
The sunlight while biking this morning was magnificent. It warmed each person that passed in front of it. Each one, regardless of gender, ethnicity, personal choices, struggles or situations. It shone on everyone. That is a lot like love. It's for everyone.