D.L. Mayfield

living in the upside-down kingdom

Filtering by Tag: love

day 21

the kids cough at night, grating on me. the baby has had a snotty green nose for a few days now. i know where he got the sickness, he got it from other sick little kids, most likely from the english class that we do, or maybe his sister just passed it on. he got sick because he doesn't live in a bubble, he shares germs and spit and grubby fingerprints with so many other kids. we get sick when we risk being in relationship with others, is a truth I am learning. we suffer from being in proximity to others, especially those who are the most vulnerable. love is a wound, love is a cough, love is the Mother that pats our backs in the middle of the long, dark night. 

Upside-Down Art: Disappearing, Endless Love

I so resonate with Deidre in this piece. I am not a huge modern art fan myself, but when I do find a piece that speaks to me--it sort of takes my breath away. I am so grateful for this beautiful, succinct essay on finding universal themes of sorrow and love in art--and how similar we all are despite our world doing it's best to convince we are all alone in our miseries. Any piece of art that asks us to crack our hearts open just a bit wider is to me a blessing from Christ himself.   

 

Upside-Down Art: Disappearing, Endless Love

Guest Post by Deidre Sanchez

 

Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Untitled (Portrait of Ross in L.A.). Image from the Brooklyn Museum

 

I am not one for contemporary art. Most of the large scale displays in the big museums fail to evoke any emotion in me. I always feel so disconnected from whatever the artist is trying to say. As if we live on two different planes of meaning and we’re talking to cross purposes. It’s always the Pollacks and Van Goghs that I linger in front of. The O’ Keefes that steal my breath. The Chagall’s that draw me to wonder.  When I visit museums, I dutifully walk the floors of contemporary art, sometimes almost at a run. I don’t want to miss something creative and beautiful just because of my own prejudice but I am always prepared for disappointment. In the Chicago Museum of Art I was (almost) running the top floor, smirking inwardly at the two hipsters stopped in front of some tangled up string engaged in a very serious discussion on how this was so derivative of Lindberg. (I know. I’m the worst).

 

I enter a new room and a flash of glowing color catches the corner of my eye. I spin right. There is a luminous heap of something. Glass? Lightbulbs? I’m not sure what it is that's piled in the corner of the room. It seems so alive, iridescent, incandescent. I thought this pile must be lighted up from the inside: pulsing with color and light as I move towards it. I read the card. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (Portrait of Ross in LA). Ross Laycock was the artist’s partner and died of AIDs. The pile was originally 175 lbs worth of cellophane wrapped candy, which represented his ideal body weight. Visitors are encouraged to take a piece of candy to represent his slowly diminishing body weight. The artist asked that the museum replenish the pile “thereby metaphorically granting his partner perpetual life.” Love. The word rings like a gong struck in my head. All the pain of loss and love sitting on the ground in front of me. I reach my hand out to take a piece, meditating on the pain of watching someone you love shrink smaller with disease. Is that a universal experience? Do we all at some point lose one we love to deadly disease? Watch them disappear piece by piece. If we could all grant them perpetual life in the vast array of  colorful glory in which they lived!

 

I have the piece of candy still. It’s sitting in the basket by my bed. The cellophane wrapper dulled with dust, less stunning now that it’s separated from its mound. Every once in a while I take it out and roll it between my fingers. I don’t know Gonzalez-Torres. I wouldn't recognize him if I passed him on the street. I don’t assume that I have much in common with a gay, Cuban-American artist. And yet his work threw out a thread and drew me in. Into his pain. He tied our shared experience together with one stroke of breathtaking imagery. And when I close my eyes I see the glow of cellophane wrappers lit by a skylight overhead and I think of Ross.

 

 

unnamed-6Deidre Sanchez is a Jesus-follower, wife and mother, a disillusioned optimist, amateur cook and obsessive reader. She currently writes at agapeeverywhere.wordpress.com. Her blog is a personal exploration of the nature of love. It’s an experiment in how far love can go, what it looks like and how people experience it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on the Upside-Down Art series (and to submit your own!) click here.

 

 

 

 

Bittersweet Miracles

Well hey, in the craziness of everything I forgot to link to my post over at a Deeper Story yesterday. I wrote a bit about the baby turning two, some emotions it brought up in me. The anniversary of my brother's death is on Thursday, so this is all very fresh for everyone around here. You can read it here.  

In a different way it was very cathartic for me to write this piece in this time of transition, in the midst of the process of being excited about our future and yet grieving relationships. Ah! We fly to the exotic midwest in less than two weeks!

 

I keep telling people to at least pretend we can get coffee together before we leave. I am terrible, horrible, no-good at goodbyes. But this is all starting to get real.

 

Pray for us, won't you?

Holla

We went to Imago this morning to catch the Holla if You Hear Me Tour, a panel of some amazing minds talking about justice and mercy and the American Black Male. It was waaaay too short (25 min), and it stirred up so many questions I felt dizzy. Here is where I want to be honest: in the past, I thought racism was simply not a thing. That is wasn't around anymore. That we had solved the problem many years ago. Now, the light is slowly dawning that things are not right. In fact, something is horribly wrong.

I struggle with this hidden racism, the tendency to only draw towards people who are just like me. Living in low-income housing has shone a spotlight on this unlovely part of myself, my complicitness in a culture that only glorifies the majority (which happens to be white, educated males).

Where we live, you can classify residents in two ways: refugees and immigrants, and (mostly) single-parent families of a lower socio-economic status. Many of the latter are African-American, although there are plenty of Caucasian families as well.

They are divided into tribes, of sorts. The refugees and immigrants have racist undercurrents all their own, but they are bonded by the commonalities of their experiences--past horrors, present confusions with American culture. I have cheerfully flung myself into this tribe, immersing myself into whatever the culture is of whatever apartment I am visiting: drinking chai and playing with babies with the Bhutanese, watching terrible TV and having loud conversations with Somalis. I love them, know most of them from years spent doing homework clubs, art classes, English classes. They know me, know my husband, know my baby. We chat on the elevators, on the playground, at the mailboxes.

The other tribe scares the hell out of me. I don't get their cultural experiences or their expectations of me. They all seem to be bonded together as well: sharing cars, watching each others children, lending toilet paper and cooking supplies when needed. I hear them, engaged in loud and bitter arguments in the parking lot, but back to being best friends by the next day. They smoke, they swear, they scream at their children. They blow up, forgive quickly, laugh and commiserate together. They never talk to me. I have made it clear which tribe I am in.

I don't know how to change this. The neighbors who surround me are strangers. They speak the same language as me but for some reason this makes it all the more difficult. I am not good at loving these people. It has been easier to stereotype them, to "tut, tut" under my breath, to walk quickly into the apartment and not engage in what is taking place in the doorways around me.

But something has to change. Sunday mornings are still the most segregated hours in America. We can't even pray together with people who are different from us, much less be good neighbors. And I have it easier than most: they are my literal neighbors. Most of us have taken life paths that have led us to places where our neighbors tend to look exactly like us. But proximity isn't everything, of course. Moving in does nothing, if you have not love.

I want to grow in love. I want to walk slowly down the hallways with my baby, and engage (the slow-baby-walking actually has down wonders for getting to know people. I can't rush around to more "important" things, plus babies are the best ice breakers in the world. Period). I think about trying to not glorify whiteness, about shifting my perspectives. I think about learning how to laugh and commiserate, to lend food, to appreciate new thoughts and new music and new styles. Sometimes I think stupid things like "what if I got my ears pierced and then wore big hoops?" or "what if there was like this awesome lady-rapper who threw down beats about social justice?" or "what if I am supposed to be a rapper?" And it is ridiculous. And I laugh, instead of cry, which is what I really want to do when I sit down and stare all this sin in the face.

But mostly, I want to stop thinking about things in terms of tribes. Instead, I want to think about opening wide my doors. To whatever makes me love Jesus more.

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