Tattoo Chronicles #2 – A Miraculous Homecoming.

This is my second tattoo. My dragonfly.

I’ve always loved dragonflies. They symbolise new beginnings.

I got this tattoo many years after cancer and the survivor tattoo, after Ben and I separated and he went away to rehab. He was never coming home. Our marriage was terribly, terribly broken. And so were we.

I was on my own with the kids and I needed something beyond surviving to help me start again. I designed this piece and took it back to the same tattoo artist as did my first one. She sighed – again with the scrolls, she said. After I had this piece done, the place where we lived – on acres by a creek – was inundated with dragonflies. I imagined I was their queen, and they were sent to protect and guide on my way to my new beginning.

I want to sneak in another story here. My very, very first tattoo was actually a teeny strawberry on my back I got when I was in my early twenties. I never showed it to anyone. It was mine and Ben’s little secret 🙂

Some time after Ben was gone and I got my dragonfly tattoo, I was flicking through a magazine and stumbled across an ad for a necklace – with a dragonfly and a strawberry hanging from it. My heart leapt. I cut it out of the magazine and taped it next to my bed. My two totems, in one gorgeous picture. I thought perhaps I might even buy that necklace one day.

But I got something better.dragonfly tattoo

It was many months later when Ben woke from his addiction in rehab and wondered where his marriage had gone.

After six months separated, and after he completed treatment, Ben came home.

The first day, he was unpacking his things when I caught him standing just staring at the picture I had taped next to my bed. “Pretty cool, huh?” I said, smiling. He looked at me, and said, “I want to show you something.” He reached down into his bag, and pulled out the exact same picture, cut from the same magazine, which he taped up beside his bed in rehab too.

Miracles happen, I’m here to tell you. This tattoo reminds me they do.
Love, Jo xxxx

The Price of Peace.

Things are tense.

People are tense.

Hadn’t noticed?

Been sleeping in a cave?

Sorry, that was a tension loaded comment.

Things are tense.

We have been slowly awakening to the reality of what it will mean for human beings to be alive in this age.

And for many of us, it isn’t measuring up to the brochure.

This isn’t the world we hoped to leave for our children.

For a great many human beings, this world isn’t promising peace, abundance, safety, shelter, blessing, or even life.

The borders are being checked, tested, even closed. To keep us in. To keep “them” out.

We can’t even tell who “they” are any more.

The lines between tribes and tongues and territories were blurred and broken down, sometimes in the name of love, sometimes of God, sometimes of war.

And we don’t know who to fear any more.

Things are tense.

Dear friends, I know you’re feeling it. Even in the relative safety of our peaceful countries, we sense the deep collective outcry of suffering and pain and distress – of fear – is being felt across the earth. We all feel it.

Or we try not to.

Fear doesn’t want to be found going about its business in your head. So it will disguise itself as other things to go undetected.

It knows you’d be repulsed to realize you were inhabited by raw, visceral fear, would see it as a weakness, and would attempt to evict it immediately.

So it disguises itself.

And it’s veiled presence causes your vision and perception to be distorted. It adds it’s toxic energy to your thoughts, feelings and perceptions, and what is suddenly becomes something other.

Your grace becomes intolerance.

Your smile becomes a smirk.

Your non-reactive presence becomes restlessness, opposition, even open hostility.

Your skin crawls with criticism just trying to work its way out of you any way it can.

And while your attention is directed towards managing the unpleasant feelings fear gives you, you don’t see the mindless actions you direct towards those around you.

You can’t hear the poison in your words.

Worse, you don’t even notice your indifference towards the pain and suffering of others.

This is how terrorism works. Those violent, random attacks push us into “fight or flight”, shove us blind and stumbling into panic and self-preservation, so that even if a few days ago we were accommodating and at peace, today, we would trample someone who stood between us and the way out if this horrible, chaotic fear.

Stop, my friend.

Yes, I know there are feelings.

And our culture has done a terrible job of teaching us to manage our fear, loss, suffering, even death.

We may have not learned how to feel the feelings that come with the threat of losing all we’ve feel we’ve become entitled to.

And yet, here the feelings come, whether we are ready for them, or not.

Breathe, dear one.

Things are tense.

Want to rail and scream and pick everything apart? Want to smash something? Someone?

Fear brings its own terrible, destructive energy with it.

It’s your task to direct that energy where it can do least harm to you or to others.

Things are tense. Are you tense?

Do things seem different to you the last few days?

Don’t allow the fear to turn from a veil to scales.

Those bastards are far more difficult to remove.

The merchants of fear are awake and moving. So you must move away from the marketplace, my friends.

Out onto the path with you. Out, into the wilderness of awareness, awakeness. The path we all are on that leads back to God, to source, to ourselves.

One step in front of the other.

Things are tense, but you are not of the stuff of those things.

Peace be with you, and between us, here and elsewhere.

Selah, my friends.
Jo

Stop trying to fix people.

Stop trying to fix people.11220895_970766532969437_8425605342194546740_n

It’s enough for a great many of us to have gotten to the end of another day without hurting ourselves.

Enough.

When you’re tempted to suggest yet another self-improvement to your hurting friend, try celebrating the fact they’re still here and fighting their way through the day to be whole instead.

Your True Names.

Where are your names, dear one? What are your true names?

Do you know them? Can you remember them? Are they spoken proudly on your lips, written across your forehead, held in your hands like swords and shields, hung around your neck like an amulet, a symbol of power and identity and self? Or are your names hidden? Are they secreted away beneath layers, under covers, swallowed down and held tightly in the dark, closer than your heartbeat, lest anyone see them, hear them, mock them, take them away?

What names have you taken for yourself? What names did you once bear but have given up, lain down, thrown away?

When we are young, we yearn to be told who we are, what we are, where and to whom we belong. We join ourselves to tribes and to others who help us work out the edges of ourselves; where we blend, where we end. We drink their words and eat the portions meted out for us hungrily. Tell me who I am. Tell me what you need me to be. I will give you everything, do anything, I’ll be anything you need. Help me know what and who I am? And for heavens sake, don’t leave me. Don’t ever, ever leave me.

We took the names they gave us, we became what they wanted us to be, because we were afraid. We were afraid of the wild.

But they lied about it, you know. We won’t die out there. It’s what we are. We are made of the wilderness.

You do not need to be afraid of the wild. Your name is written there. It’s spoken in the wind. It’s carved in the rocks and hills and mountainsides. It’s in the call of the wild things. You are of the wilderness. They cannot threaten you with anything, nothing can hold you, when you trust the place they threaten to cast you into more than you trust them.

We will cast out all fear with courage, my friend, and the school of courage is out here – in the wild.

Nature – You Are NOT Helping :/

Been a bit melancholy this week. Lots of deep writing and Victorian winter weather, amongst other things. But we have lambs. A lot of lambs, and they are good for the spirit. They do funny things, as well as just being generally wrinkly, fuzzy and ridiculously spindly-legged.

Went out to get obligatory photos of frolicking lambs for mood lifting purposes. Start videoing and realise there is a lamb all alone crying for it’s mother. Crying? BAWLING. Oh, God, Supposed to be happy moment, you brat, you’re ruining my HAPPY MOMENT…..

Mother is standing on other side of gully, bawling back. Get over there you cow, your baby wants you.

Baby bawls. Mother bawls. Bloody hell, sheeple, sort yourselves out.

I cross gully to go and collect lamb. It runs to the protective side of another larger lamb. “Stay away from her, she eats lamb.” Shutup you little….ah, god, this is not going well.

Cross gully, try to herd bawling mother across gully. She backs off with a group of others, melds into the flock up on the rise. Oh, this is just going from worse to worse.

In the meantime I can hear and see the baby with a small contingent back at the shearing sheds. She’s so tiny her umblical cord is still attached. I am furious at the the stupid mother, who is now back at the top of the gully on her own again, bawling.

I walk towards the lamb, I am going to just get you and put you with that other lot over the gully, that’s it – I am doing it. The small group she has joined herself with back up into a small pen, and I fear panicking them. I back off. The mother bellows. The baby squarks back. I give up in despair. Angry, cold, frustrated. I decide to go and get behind the picket fence near the cottage and just keep and eye on them until Ben gets back. He’s good with these things.

I go back to the cottage and as I am wiping my shoes, I turn in time to see the small group of mamas and bubbas the little one fled to walking single file down from the shearing sheds, quietly mewling. They walk about 100m towards the cottage and across a little ford in the creek near us, then silently, with the little lost baby, up the rise to meet the panicked mumma just a few feet from the garden where I stand.

The baby runs to mumma and nudges her udder, suckling frantically as her tails goes bananas.

I cry. Because mother sheep, other people’s babies, lostness and periods.

I’m going inside. I can’t cope with nature right now.

Invisible.

I’ve picked up this peculiar habit lately here on the farm. I’ve become addicted to wandering around the old, abandoned houses and cottages, scouring the paddocks and the sheep ruts, my eyes fixed on the dirt and silvery stubble and grass, looking for – well – stuff.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I noticed a few pieces of broken pottery in the field next to our cottage. Blue and white china, the edge of a smashed plate. And glass; thousands of pieces of broken bottles, glasses and other household sundries. Blue, green, brown, clear, and some the tint of amethyst.

We’ve lived here almost a year, and I’ve never seen it before. But now, I see it everywhere.

Every little fragment speaks to me. They are like treasures. They hold the story of the whole they once were. A piece of plate, once part of a valuable dinner set stacked in a cupboard. Probably saved up for, in pennies and pounds. Carted out in a crate, out back of a horse. Brought out for guests and washed with care, lest it be chipped or broken. Now laying in a million pieces in the dirt. Forgotten.

Invisible.

I shard of broken glass, half an inch thick, the same minty colour of the sea. Once a bottle? Medicine? Wine? Champagne? Some tincture, ointment, perfume? A vessel discarded once the contents were emptied? Or did it spend months, years on a shelf, guarding whatever was once within, keeping it safe, suspended in time? How did the beautiful whole come to be smashed in the grass, it’s fragments frosted by weather and years? How was it shifted from the gaze of a proud owner to the grasp of the slow, reclaiming earth?

Invisible.

Wine glasses for joy, for celebrations. Dinner plates for family reunions and end-of-day meals by fireside. Medicine bottles for fervent prayers at a beside. Liquor vessels and beer bottles for raucousness, ignorance, addictions and violence, sorrow, loss, stoic perseverance, repentance, forgiveness. Scent and cosmetic for luxury. Milk bottles for sustenance. Coffee and teacups for conversation. Sit a while. Pass the cup. Share with me.

They think it’s funny, my family. Whatcha want with all that busted stuff? I brought my treasures home in bags and the apron of my shirt front, and washed them carefully in the kitchen sink. Scrubbed off the dirt and washed out the pond scum. I held each one up to the light and enjoyed it, gave it a story, blessed it, placed it with all the others.

I put them all in bowls and sat them where I can see them. Owned.

No longer invisible.
………..
Went out again yesterday and walked in the pre-twilight across the dirty common where the sheep scour the ground like a shallow plough on their way down to the creek. And there was more again. Bits of plates and bowls and bottles. Every little piece a postage stamp sized snapshot of an era in human taste and fashion. The leaf-shaped scallop of a plate edge. The crazed blue and white brushstrokes on a teacup fragment. The smooth, clear bevel of a bottle base. The story of us, and the story of the ones who lived here. Stories; love, loss, joy, growth, riches, poverty, prosperity, lack, life, death. Owned, they were once. Whole they were once. Like us.

Like me.

Treasures, they are. Treasures to me.

Once invisible. I see, I see.
……….
I lay last night in a half sleep, after two weeks of increasing low, grey skies and cold winds both out there on the farm, and in my head. We haven’t had a summer, and I feel trapped by seasons that refuse to turn, refuse to give. It’s too long we’ve been not knowing. And I’ve felt stuck here; not home, and not travelling, just biding our time in three month increments of wait-and-see. I love the farm, but this is not my home, and may never be. I am ready to move on. I feel like I’m slipping into obscurity here. Like the world is forgetting about me. I write my stories and think my thoughts, and wonder if a person exists of nobody is there to see them, hear them. If a tree falls, and all that. Day after day, out here miles away from anyone, surrounded by a hundred and fifty years of attempts people made not to be forgotten. And yet, here I am, and I know them only by the broken things they’ve left behind.

I shiver.

I closed my eyes and thought about how a thousand years ago all I wanted in this world was to be famous. Known. Seen. I taught myself to sing because people see you when you do that. But I don’t sing any more. I am too honest for that any more. I write instead, which is like drawing a different naked picture of yourself from different angles every day and posting it on a telegraph pole. And yet, even though I get out the paste and post my bill as a habit, I feel unseen, unknown.

I wanted for so long to be free. I did not want to be owned by others, to need to sell what I could do for money and approval. I wanted to be allowed to be broken. Because I was, and I couldn’t help it. And I wanted to tell my story, to anyone, everyone, and not care what they thought.

And I was broken, and was not owned, and told my story. I was free.

And something happened, so slow I didn’t see it. I found out what happens to things that get broken, to things that are disowned and unowned, to things that get themselves lost or misplaces, things that are allowed to fall back into the earth, that have nothing left to prove, that are unfashioned from their utility, allowed to chip, to break, to fall into the ground, to be honest, to be untied from their apportioned function. I felt in me the process of what a piece of earth endures when it stops being a thing of value to people because of it’s use, it’s beauty, it’s colour, it’s use, it’s imbued value, it’s transferable status.

They end up in a thousand pieces in a sheep paddock. Forgotten. Untied. Free.

Invisible.

Then God said something to me.

“Are you willing to be invisible?”

Me? No! Who would want to be invisible?

“Are you willing?”

Is that even a question? Seriously?

“What if this is what it takes for the ones who need you, who need what you are, to find you?

“For you to be hidden?

“For you to be secreted away?

“For you to be needing to be found?

“You go seeking treasures in the field. You want them because they are hidden, unseen, unknown, forgotten, rejected, abandoned, unwanted.

“But you want them.

“Those who need what you have are also seeking a treasure in a field.

“Think on this; they seek what they themselves are, not what they are not.

“Are you willing to allow yourself to be what it is they seek?

“Are you willing to be invisible?

“Are you willing?

“You need only let go. Like those broken pieces in the field, you must yield.

“Yield to the brokenness, to the breaking.

“Yield to the rejection, to being abandoned.

“Yield to being and becoming forgotten.

“Yield to being covered, subject to the seasons, trampled into the ground.

“Yield to rain, to feet, yield to weight, to dirt. Yield to becoming a part of where you fell.

“Yield to anonymity, invisibility.

“Yield to the discovery. Because they will find you.

“If you wish to be treasured, you must be willing to be lost, then discovered.

“Your work is to be the treasure.

“You are already worthy. Worthy is who and what you are.

“The losing is not for you. It’s not because of you, or anything you’ve done. The losing is because seekers need to seek.

“Seekers need the seeking.

“Let it all be broken, lost and forgotten.

“Let it be and become invisible.

“Let the treasure be buried out there in the field.

“Your your treasure be buried in the field.

“Seekers need to seek, and they need to find.”

……………..

I trust you may also find a comfort in the season you’re in at the moment. A rest, and a letting go. God bless.

Selah.

Jo xxxx
………………
– (c) Jo Hilder 2015

Invisible.

I’ve picked up this peculiar habit lately here on the farm. I’ve become addicted to wandering around the old, abandoned houses and cottages, scouring the paddocks and the sheep ruts, my eyes fixed on the dirt and silvery stubble and grass, looking for – well – stuff.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I noticed a few pieces of broken pottery in the field next to our cottage. Blue and white china, the edge of a smashed plate. And glass; thousands of pieces of broken bottles, glasses and other household sundries. Blue, green, brown, clear, and some the tint of amethyst.

We’ve lived here almost a year, and I’ve never seen it before. But now, I see it everywhere.

Every little fragment speaks to me. They are like treasures. They hold the story of the whole they once were. A piece of plate, once part of a valuable dinner set stacked in a cupboard. Probably saved up for, in pennies and pounds. Carted out in a crate, out back of a horse. Brought out for guests and washed with care, lest it be chipped or broken. Now laying in a million pieces in the dirt. Forgotten.

Invisible.

I shard of broken glass, half an inch thick, the same minty colour of the sea. Once a bottle? Medicine? Wine? Champagne? Some tincture, ointment, perfume? A vessel discarded once the contents were emptied? Or did it spend months, years on a shelf, guarding whatever was once within, keeping it safe, suspended in time? How did the beautiful whole come to be smashed in the grass, it’s fragments frosted by weather and years? How was it shifted from the gaze of a proud owner to the grasp of the slow, reclaiming earth?

Invisible.

Wine glasses for joy, for celebrations. Dinner plates for family reunions and end-of-day meals by fireside. Medicine bottles for fervent prayers at a beside. Liquor vessels and beer bottles for raucousness, ignorance, addictions and violence, sorrow, loss, stoic perseverance, repentance, forgiveness. Scent and cosmetic for luxury. Milk bottles for sustenance. Coffee and teacups for conversation. Sit a while. Pass the cup. Share with me.

They think it’s funny, my family. Whatcha want with all that busted stuff? I brought my treasures home in bags and the apron of my shirt front, and washed them carefully in the kitchen sink. Scrubbed off the dirt and washed out the pond scum. I held each one up to the light and enjoyed it, gave it a story, blessed it, placed it with all the others.

I put them all in bowls and sat them where I can see them. Owned.

No longer invisible.
………..
Went out again yesterday and walked in the pre-twilight across the dirty common where the sheep scour the ground like a shallow plough on their way down to the creek. And there was more again. Bits of plates and bowls and bottles. Every little piece a postage stamp sized snapshot of an era in human taste and fashion. The leaf-shaped scallop of a plate edge. The crazed blue and white brushstrokes on a teacup fragment. The smooth, clear bevel of a bottle base. The story of us, and the story of the ones who lived here. Stories; love, loss, joy, growth, riches, poverty, prosperity, lack, life, death. Owned, they were once. Whole they were once. Like us.

Like me.

Treasures, they are. Treasures to me.

Once invisible. I see, I see.
……….
I lay last night in a half sleep, after two weeks of increasing low, grey skies and cold winds both out there on the farm, and in my head. We haven’t had a summer, and I feel trapped by seasons that refuse to turn, refuse to give. It’s too long we’ve been not knowing. And I’ve felt stuck here; not home, and not travelling, just biding our time in three month increments of wait-and-see. I love the farm, but this is not my home, and may never be. I am ready to move on. I feel like I’m slipping into obscurity here. Like the world is forgetting about me. I write my stories and think my thoughts, and wonder if a person exists of nobody is there to see them, hear them. If a tree falls, and all that. Day after day, out here miles away from anyone, surrounded by a hundred and fifty years of attempts people made not to be forgotten. And yet, here I am, and I know them only by the broken things they’ve left behind.

I shiver.

I closed my eyes and thought about how a thousand years ago all I wanted in this world was to be famous. Known. Seen. I taught myself to sing because people see you when you do that. But I don’t sing any more. I am too honest for that any more. I write instead, which is like drawing a different naked picture of yourself from different angles every day and posting it on a telegraph pole. And yet, even though I get out the paste and post my bill as a habit, I feel unseen, unknown.

I wanted for so long to be free. I did not want to be owned by others, to need to sell what I could do for money and approval. I wanted to be allowed to be broken. Because I was, and I couldn’t help it. And I wanted to tell my story, to anyone, everyone, and not care what they thought.

And I was broken, and was not owned, and told my story. I was free.

And something happened, so slow I didn’t see it. I found out what happens to things that get broken, to things that are disowned and unowned, to things that get themselves lost or misplaces, things that are allowed to fall back into the earth, that have nothing left to prove, that are unfashioned from their utility, allowed to chip, to break, to fall into the ground, to be honest, to be untied from their apportioned function. I felt in me the process of what a piece of earth endures when it stops being a thing of value to people because of it’s use, it’s beauty, it’s colour, it’s use, it’s imbued value, it’s transferable status.

They end up in a thousand pieces in a sheep paddock. Forgotten. Untied. Free.

Invisible.

Then God said something to me.

“Are you willing to be invisible?”

Me? No! Who would want to be invisible?

“Are you willing?”

Is that even a question? Seriously?

“What if this is what it takes for the ones who need you, who need what you are, to find you?

“For you to be hidden?

“For you to be secreted away?

“For you to be needing to be found?

“You go seeking treasures in the field. You want them because they are hidden, unseen, unknown, forgotten, rejected, abandoned, unwanted.

“But you want them.

“Those who need what you have are also seeking a treasure in a field.

“Think on this; they seek what they themselves are, not what they are not.

“Are you willing to allow yourself to be what it is they seek?

“Are you willing to be invisible?

“Are you willing?

“You need only let go. Like those broken pieces in the field, you must yield.

“Yield to the brokenness, to the breaking.

“Yield to the rejection, to being abandoned.

“Yield to being and becoming forgotten.

“Yield to being covered, subject to the seasons, trampled into the ground.

“Yield to rain, to feet, yield to weight, to dirt. Yield to becoming a part of where you fell.

“Yield to anonymity, invisibility.

“Yield to the discovery. Because they will find you.

“If you wish to be treasured, you must be willing to be lost, then discovered.

“Your work is to be the treasure.

“You are already worthy. Worthy is who and what you are.

“The losing is not for you. It’s not because of you, or anything you’ve done. The losing is because seekers need to seek.

“Seekers need the seeking.

“Let it all be broken, lost and forgotten.

“Let it be and become invisible.

“Let the treasure be buried out there in the field.

“Your your treasure be buried in the field.

“Seekers need to seek, and they need to find.”

……………..

I trust you may also find a comfort in the season you’re in at the moment. A rest, and a letting go. God bless.

Selah.

Jo xxxx
………………
– (c) Jo Hilder 2015

Bound and hobbled in the dark; the lie of fear-based thinking.

Fear. It’s got nothing for us, it’s got nothing on us. The Bible tells us to fear not. Says that perfect love casts out all fear. We know fear twists and stunts and drives us hobbled and naked into the darkness. Fear is dysfunction, it’s paralysis, it’s toxic and its debilitating.

And yet, a great many of us are living under a fear-based psycho-emotional and spiritual regime. Many of us are so programmed into fear-based social and emotional practices, we don’t recognize there is any other way. And the problem with fear is by its nature, it is vision-limiting. When you’re in fear, you can’t see all the options before you. Your options seem limited, your choices few. You suspect whatever you choose, all you’re left with are varying degrees of your not being able to cope. You choose the option where your failure will cause the least fallout. This is the character of fear-based thinking. Holding the status quo is all you ever truly hope for. You cannot go forward for fear of failure, change or loss. You cannot go backward for fear of revisiting a great sorrow or untenable situation. So you’re stuck. You never go anywhere or do anything, because fear has you convinced hurt, rejection, failure and shame await you on every side. Fear based living says that failure is not inevitable, and is to be avoided at all costs, because failing is proof you are less than, unworthy and wrong. Fear tells you that you are all the things that happen to you, and you are intrinsically bad, weak, foolish and unworthy. This is a recipe for mental, spiritual and emotional illness.

Love-based social and emotional practices are characterized by an intrinsic belief in your strength, goodness and capacity. They do not offer guarantees, but instead count on your ability to handle whatever comes. Love-based living presumes your worth, and does not assign badness or stupidity or weakness to any failure or difficulty you experience. Love-based living says you’re not what happens to you, and you have within you now the resources and capacity to traverse any challenge. Love-based living says failure is inevitable, is to be expected, essential for creativity and success, and is a teacher. Love-based living is the way of Christ, the path toward healing and wholeness.

It’s difficult to give up our addiction to fear, but like all addictions, break away from it we must. We need support, we need good teaching, we need wholesome spiritual and emotional food and lots of exercise. As with any addiction, with fear based thinking, there has to come a time where you’re willing to imagine a life beyond the prison. Sometimes the first step is simply agreeing with your deep suspicion if you take that step forward, you will be able to handle whatever comes, believing you will not be alone. You will not be alone.