Body Memory and God Bless the Broken Road

tumblr_m7l68yEdyS1qzq84io1_1280Last night, Mani told me about a Rascal Flatts song she’d heard on the radio. She said it made her cry in the car, even though she’s not usually a big country music fan. I understood why, when she told me the lyrics:

This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

That God blessed the broken road

That led me straight to you.

Four years ago today–June 3, 2010–my whole life changed in a matter of hours. Minutes. Seconds. I can’t not remember; the events and experiences of that Thursday and the days that followed live in my body, a cellular blend of quickening and slow motion.

It has only been four years. It has already been four years. Neither seems possible, yet both are true. What had been gradual became all-of-a-sudden. What had been buried surfaced so forcefully.

You could say I had been coming out my whole life, and continued to do so after that seismic shift. You could say I didn’t know until I knew. You could say move on, and I have. And there is also a kind of honoring, for me, in looking out the window today at the rain and in glancing back at the broken road that delivered me here, to a life I love and feel I can fully inhabit.

My faith served me well. And I did tell that story eventually, through poems and the silences and spaces between the poems.

Don’t Miss This was the book I had been trying to write for so long, but knew something was missing until I discovered what that was: Myself. After that, it wrote itself–because there was no longer any difference between the writing and the life.

A week after this day four years ago, I wrote a blog post that said everything and nothing at the same time. I’ve included part of it below. Rereading it, I am grateful, if a little incredulous. For where the broken open road led. For the friends and family whose love anchored me through. Even for the pain, without which I would not have learned to really pay attention. And especially for the day when I walked away from that broken road to board a plane instead, not knowing that the woman waiting for me at the airport in the desert would become my wife.

Life really is amazing. And my mantra remains:

Don’t miss it.


From Promise of a Dark Sky (June 11, 2010):

Through great pain, we get to experience how so, so loved we are.

Through blindsiding changes in our lives, we learn how strong and flexible our spheres are, the ones that hold us, hold us in, keep us from spinning out into chaos.

When something seismic occurs, a kind of spiritual and practical triage kicks in. We let certain obligations go, have breakfast for dinner, focus on keeping it together as the dust settles and we regain clear seeing.

Through being seen, we are witnessed as we break open. As we emerge. As life as we knew it ends and we are in the dark time before something new comes into being. We realize we can survive. We can do this thing that seems impossible, confusing, shattering, and healing all at once. Nothing makes sense; the mind wants to override the body and the feelings come with such force that rational thought has to be put aside when the waves come crashing down.

It is Rosh Chodesh tonight, the night of the new moon, a time when traditionally, Jewish women gather, connect, and mark life passages. The darkness contains all that is to come. We cannot see the moon, but we still believe in its presence, believe that it will grow full once again. This, I guess, is the definition of faith.

A week or so ago, early one morning, I had a dream about waves rolling in. Big ones, little ones, threatening ones, harmless ones. I was standing on the shore with some other people. That was all. Just watching them come in and go out.

Someday, I will tell the story of this past week and how it connects to my larger story. Someday, I will sit in a sanctuary and spot the woman on the other side of the room who is in so much turmoil, who needs a hand on the small of her back, a strong presence, some tenderness.

Everything will change, again and again. Except for the waves. And the moon. The women gathering. The promise of a dark sky.

Image: Paul Hill | Legs Over High Tor, Matlock, Derbyshire, 1975

6 thoughts on “Body Memory and God Bless the Broken Road

  1. Pamela says:

    I heard that Rascal Flatts song tonight. (Now that I live in the south I listen to country music.) now I will think of you when I hear it.

    This is my favorite line:
    because there was no longer any difference between the writing and the life.

    This is what I aspire to.


  2. Cheri Gurse says:

    “I was walking around in little pieces
    and I never even knew
    That the way back home to me
    was the road I took to you.
    That the way back home to me
    was the road I took to you.”

    Meg Christian sang it; Keith and Barbara
    wrote it.


  3. Katrina Kenison says:

    Jena, How I wish sometimes that we could learn to pay attention without the pain. Reading this reminds me that the broken road is also beautiful, that pain is inevitable, and that we suffer less when we bring the pain into the light. I agree with Pam and Denise: love that line about the writing and the living, too. Thank you for sharing your journey! xo



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