Underbelly: 10 Things - Velveteen


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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly
#141 in a series of wild and precious observations on becoming real.

This week I contemplated legacy. I had just finished the book “21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act” by Bob Joseph and had just started “5 Little Indians” by Michelle Good when Friday came. I had been deeply living into the idea that my legacy, my work, my love, is what actually matters when Friday came.
Friday was the second annual Day of Truth and Reconciliation to honour the children who never returned home from and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.
Last year, in September, at the same time as the first Day of Truth and Reconciliation, Rain Ministries published The First Nations Version of the New Testament of the Bible.
It’s that clash — the same group who orchestrated a cultural genocide (and, at a 50% death rate at certain points, genocide) also contains great good, great beauty, great potential.
Whether we identify as a certain nationality, religion, gender, ethnicity, or other demographic, the Truth part requires sitting with the fact that your group inflicted great harm at some point, on some other group. Sit with that. Try not to weasel your way out and immediately look to a different group who did something arguably worse.
It sucks. It really does. As a Christian, I had a fairly miserable time of it.
It’s funny — when I named this project The Underbelly, I think I knew why. I believe, deeply, that we do actually need to learn how to care for ourselves so that we can care for others, so that we can live in a world where we care for each other — even when it’s hard.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is never jealous. It does not brag or boast. It is not puffed up or big-headed. Love does not act in shameful ways, nor does it care only about itself. It is not hot-headed, nor does it keep track of wrongs done to it. Love is not happy with lies and injustice, but truth makes its heart glad. Love keeps walking even when carrying a heavy load. Love keeps trusting, never loses hope, and stands firm in hard times. The road of love has no end.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — First Nations Version of the New Testament
“Real isn’t how you are made,‘ said the Skin Horse. 'It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
3. Prompt
I can feel the weaseling happening already. Sit with your Truth. I believe that it’s a part of becoming “real” — perhaps not mentioned explicitly in The Velveteen Rabbit but I do believe that when you actively love, you get better at sitting with your own truth, so that you can move to reconciliation.
Sit with and then move through. It’s easy to get stuck for awhile in either or both of these places.
Loving and allowing yourself to be loved is not for the weak :)
Start with loving yourself. I know, lots of “self help” is all around a kind of “love” that looks pretty and calm and well lighted. Read the quotes I chose.
Loving yourself hurts sometimes. And honestly, in our current zeitgeist, I want to be very, very clear here: Do not wallow in your hurt. Do not seek it out. Do not feel as though you deserve to hurt, or anything like that.
You have to sit with compassion (not pity) with yourself and give yourself space to see and feel the things that are not okay. Things you did or failed to do.
Can you love your beautiful, real, imperfect self?
4. Quest
Because…when you can sit with your Truth and love yourself, in spite of everything, you can love someone else. And love them well. And yes, it will hurt sometimes. And again, when life/love hurts, do not wallow in it. Do not seek it out. Do not feel as though you deserve it. Pain happens sometimes when we love. We hurt someone and have to face that. We get hurt by someone and have to face that.
But through this love, through this sitting with Truth, flows the capacity for Reconciliation.
Coming to harmony in relationships. Harmony is where we can rest and enjoy our realness.
5. Level up
I believe it’s a lifetime of work. Owning who you are and were and will likely be (imperfect). Gaining humility and loosing sharp edges.
Are you still with me? I’d love feedback on this one. Did I miss the mark? Did I hit at maybe 80%? 70%?
I am (if it’s not obvious) in the process of a huge time of growth. I had no idea that my beginning a newsletter would accidentally coincide with a nearly(!) impossible period of growth in my own life — one that has been dragging me along, teaching me — willing or not — about the importance of caring for myself so that I can care for others.
And I am dragging you along with me :) Thank you.
6. Article
The Cultural Conundrum of the Indigenous Christian – The Episcopal Church
7. Video
True love explained | Abraham Twerski
True love explained | Abraham Twerski
8. Poem
Abraham Lincoln Turns to Listen to the Lower Ninth by Monifa Love - Poems | poets.org
9. Hero
10. Connect
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Wendy Kelly
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Wendy Kelly
Wendy Kelly @wendykkelly

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Nelson, British Columbia