I cannot know what it feels like to walk in your skin, different than mine, walking on the same streets where I pass freely
To feel the shame of having your body slammed by words of condemnation or sexual connotations fit for no one. Words that fall on you like acid rain as you pass by
Or experience the barb of the slurs you’ve heard slung at you like daggers to your soul screaming at you to go back to where you belong, that place where death stalked your every breath and fear was your constant companion
I cannot know your journey.
I cannot know the terror of gun-toting wild-eyed men invading your village and burning your home and stealing your children and raping you as an act of war
Or the hunger that gnaws at your bones as your children cling to your sides begging for food when your hands, and your belly, are empty
Or the deep all-consuming grief of burying your sons and daughters beneath the blood-red soils that claimed their lives because others coveted the land you love
I cannot know your story.
I cannot see the courage it took to trust strangers with what little money you had as you and your children huddled in a boat to take a perilous journey across seas you could not know for sure any of you would survive
Or feel the faith you had no choice but to hold onto as you lay beneath the mud that covered your home as you waited for rescue or death, whichever came first, to embrace you
I cannot know your tragedies.
I can stop minimizing the shame of those who sling words that make your walk a hellish passage where dignity lies struggling for breath beneath every step you take
I can stop judging you for our differences, shaming you for your lack of means, blaming you for your situation
I can stop condemning you for leaving your war-torn lands or storm-ravaged towns far away to seek refuge here to become my neighbours on this land where I live but do not own. This land that is not our land but everyone’s land, for no one can completely own something that is part of everything that is this planet upon which we walk.
I can acknowledge your journey is different than mine. That I do not know what you know but can learn from you how to be courageous, brave, kind, even in the face of fear.
I can start believing you without insisting you repeat your story again and again.
I can start listening to your story and honouring it as your truth so that all our truth has room to breathe in freedom.
And I can let go of my judgements so that together we can find a more peaceful path to living side by side on this planet spinning through space where each of us is searching for our place to belong. This planet all 7 billion of us call our home.
I can do this. I know I can because I am learning from you what it means to be human.
There are mornings, like this one, where the muse awakens and writes her way into being heard, seen, known.
I am grateful on these mornings when I let go of my agenda, my ‘knowing’ of what I will write and give her full reign.