training the eyes

“I have decided,” she said, “to write about love on my arms.”

“I will write Love,” she said, “for every time I have spoken Hate,

“And every time I have spoken Wrong.

“For every scar. For every mark I’ve made, I’ll write Love.”

She said.

“Until I get it.

“Until I look at myself and see Hope

“and Love – until I see it where it isn’t written.

“Another month, ” she said,

“Another month and people will ask me Why I’ve Done It

“And I’ll say that I’ve Done It because It Needed Doing.

“Who’s going to write it if I Won’t?

“Who’s going to believe it if I Don’t?

“Look, eyes, and see Love. All Over.

“Thick, black Love like permanent ink.

“Believe it.”

She said.

i expect

Someday it’s going to come.

It’s going to come.

We’ve had our time of tears,

we’ve come to love the marks our bands have made upon our wrists,

but it’s close to being over,

this bondage.

This fearful song we’ve sung over and over again like it was the chorus of life itself-

it’s almost played out.

I hear the final notes being wept over in the back row seats.

Can you feel it?

Don’t your feet ache to move and dig naked toes into free soil?

The ghosts and skeletons are enjoying their last hour of haunting.

The chains are getting heavy and limp as link by link their strength melts away-

It cannot last for long now, we are in the final moments of our captivity.

Soon you can leave.

Your arms will miss the weight at first,

Your legs will tremble and your feet will be bewildered by the choices-

right or left

back or forth

north or south.

Your eyes will sting in the light and your lungs will burn with every new breath you take.

It will be a fearsome thing, but you’ll get through it.

I know because that is how it was for me

when it came.

When that first shackle broke and fell and startled me awake with its noise.

I felt afraid and empty and naked.

But that’s the last thing to go, that angry empty feeling,

The final sign that what you’ve been waiting for all this time has really come.

I expect

Someday you’ll be writing a random poem about the marks on your wrist where bondage used to be.

Someday you will bathe in the sun instead of turning from it.

Someday you will dance instead of shuffle.

It’s going to come.

Hang on.

to write love

I am going to write “LOVE” on my arms in thick, black, permanent marker letters.

I am going to wear short sleeve shirts so that they can see the letters scrawled out where my scars used to be.

I want that sad, skinny girl to see it. I want that overweight, loud girl to see it. I want that young man cloaked in black to see it. I want that middle-aged woman with the tired, dark eye-liner to look, and see it. I want the man with the guilty face and the little girl with “SEXY” written across the seat of her hot pink pants to see my arms, covered in LOVE. I want them to know that Love is real. Hope is real. I am living proof.

Have you any idea how many people swarm around you on a daily basis with words branded on them: WORTHLESS. CHEAP. OLD. HOT. MISPLACED. RICH. ODDBALL. POOR. UGLY. LOST. FAT. CLOWN. ARTSY. DORK. HIPPIE. JOCK. HARD. PUNK. CRIMINAL. SMART. ANGRY. STUPID. Invisible tags, unseen labels- sometimes given by other people, sometimes etched by their own doing, but everybody’s got one or three. We all realize this, we all know it happens, sometimes the brand is embroidered on a shirt, or pierced through a body part, or stained on the skin as a tattoo, or worst of all, just silently, secretly held in the heart.

What would happen if I decided to choose my own brand, my own word, my own label? And then, what would happen if I decided to make it utterly and blatantly visible to all who see me- written on my arm? I hid my arms once- what if I were to forget all evasive tendencies and be bold about it?

What would happen if I chose LOVE for my word? I choose LOVE. I choose to accept it, I choose to give it, I choose to show it, I promise to live it. Can I do that? Is that allowed?

I am loved; I am covered in Love, all around me, underneath me, up above me, through and through me, soaked in Love. It’s not a Love that will not fail or fade, either. God Himself has set His love on me and it’s something that the world needs to see- because it saved my life, it rescued me.

LOVE. This is my New Year’s Resolution. A little early, I know, but it’s on my heart now so I might as well get it sorted out and set to the page. And when the marker wears off, I want the world to look at me and still see LOVE written clearly and boldly and loudly.

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life…..” Psalm 63

What will you write?

** To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit organization that aims to help people struggling with depression, suicide, self-harm and addiction. Hope is Real. Rescue is Possible. Love is the Movement. Check it out…. To Write Love on Her Arms