the unforced rhythms of grace


Immensely grateful for the experiences and learnings that steered me to wrap myself up and rest in this wisdom as I approached the new year.

Abundantly blessed by all the experiences and learnings that have unfolded since.

Clarity. Ease. Holy Listening. Awe.

These have been the gifts of aligning in the unforced rhythms of Grace.



[Image Description: Photo of Lake Michigan in winter. Bright sky with clouds, blue waves cresting against the sand. The quote reads “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” — Eugene Peterson, Matthew 11:29 MSG. With printed above it.]

woman horizontal | tonglen in four parts

today, the exhale was the hardest.

a trust fall in giving and taking —precious tears and shadowed fears, irrupted hopes and radical imaginings — into a world that cannot hold them gently.

where supple lungs now resist the inhale, constricting to protect me from inviting in a swirl of noxious fumes (engineered to smother epiphanous dreams and embolden all manner of delusion).

i can only manage a sip of air: a shallow 4-count laced with doubt that queries for fulfillment.

then comes the subtle pause. a fleeting moment to contemplate beginning again.

i tentatively measure my next release: 6 counts, loosening and softening toward relief.

the next pause, extended, to steady my racing heart and test the limits of suspension.

but i cannot sustain emptiness for long and concede to the will of change.

quaking. inevitable. relentless. burning and swelling into an elastic 8 beats of oxygen.

palm pressed to heart, i yield to the sending, taking, giving, getting, sharing, receiving, filtering and transmuting of sorrow and despair into joy and wonder  —

a persistent rally for life-love-light.


woman horizontal | elder song


i hear the mothers whisper-chant: do not abandon yourself, dear one.

blending with the harmonies of grandmothers singing: seek refuge in the dance between heartbeat and breath.

buoyed by the infinite canon of their prayer-magic, i have trusted myself into love,

loved myself into healing,

healed myself into death and rebirth,

becoming more and more of myself, and still something new.

woman horizontal | ich bin mary

Today I honor the memory of my great-great grandmother, Mary Roth Rhodes, who was born on this day in 1863 in Würtemberg, Germany, the daughter of Dora + Gottlieb Roth.



14 years ago, in July 2003, she became a beacon, a catalyst and a guide for me on a pathway of reclamation, transformation and healing. Not only from the trauma of living in Brooklyn through 9/11 and numbing out in the aftermath. But for examining, understanding, compiling, and righting/re-writing a family’s history where men don’t survive and women carry on, in spite of profound loss and because of profound love for those left behind. For seeing clearly generational patterns that created heart aches and breaks, too many what-ifs and if-onlys. For parsing hope, bravery, fortitude and tenderness from this seemingly meager inheritance. For committing to build a new legacy upon her foundation of mother-wisdom.

With help from my sister Tamara, who followed the leads I’d dug up in NYC libraries and picked up those threads in the National Archives in D.C., we learned of her journey from her native country to NYC, with a friend, at the age of 17 and eventually on to Hamilton, Ontario where she would marry my great-great grandfather Wesley, a former slave and Civil War veteran.

Because of her, I decided to leave New York after 9 years. My only vision: to begin anew as she had the courage to do, to live simply and to be engaged in community. Because of her, I returned home. Because of her, I eventually decided to stay. (Not necessarily an easy or simple choice after living away from home since the age of 14.) Because of her, I recognized that the true gift and power of researching our past was in the opportunity to rebuild and nurture connections bolstered by this new understanding of all the stuff we were made of — in blood and spirit.

25 july 2017