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Collect

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By Rhiannon C Hall – 21 July 2017

 

I look at my empty hands

Freshly freed from their beloved burdens

And I wish this season were more about collecting

Than letting go…

And I wish I could even hold my wishes,

But they slip through my grasp

Like the smoke accompanying the genie

From the lamp…

And in the emptiness I hold,

I see it,

I see what I have gained

Through all this loss:

The scars,

The tough and tender reminders

Of thorns

And wrestling

With what could have been

A meant to be

Or maybe always was

A never was…

And I close my hand

And feel the skin

Flex and stretch,

Ready to hold its destiny,

Ready to be seen

In its perfect reality,

Stripped bare and empty…

 

 

(This poem was written in 5 minutes as part of Five Minute Friday. The prompt was “Collect”.)

 
 

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Brave

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by Rhiannon C Hall 13- July 2017

Sometimes we have to be brave. Sometimes we have to put ourselves so far outside of our comfort zone that it doesn’t even make sense. Sometimes we have to risk getting knocked on our ass, punched in the face, or even getting our heart broken by the very dreams that fueled its beating for so long. We may call it horrible or amazing. We may even call it both.

And it will hurt. And we will cry. And we will grow. Why? Because if we don’t, nothing will ever happen for us.

I’ve spent over 2 full weeks in London now and I don’t think I’ve felt brave very much of this trip. I’ve felt stupid, scared, lost, tired, sick, poor, and pitiful quite a bit of the time. I’ve also been blown away by the beauty and the history. I’ve been flattered by attention and overwhelmed by crowds and comforted by friendships. I’ve felt a lot of things that come with new territory in life, but it wasn’t until a few minutes ago when a friend said she was trying to be brave like me that it hit me… I’ve felt stupid, scared, lost, and all those other things because I was brave enough to try something new. I was brave enough to get on a plane with too much luggage and not enough money and an unplanned plan and hope that something beautiful would come from this trip, that I would find the pieces of my soul that have been trying to surface for a long time.

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Parts of London have been amazing, but parts of it have broken my heart. It can seem so ruined and reconstructed and ignored. I found myself wishing it were a little less scarred by change and the lives that have hurt it over the centuries. Some have even hurt it by the very nature of surviving here. And yet, in our ruins, we are proved alive. In our scars, we prove the staying power to hold our ground and keep breathing, to shake our weary fist in the face of whatever tries to destroy us and say, “Sure, you took a pound of flesh and brick, but I live on.”

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I walked past a sandstone engine block at the Royal Arsenal Riverside with a danger sign posted. I looked at this pieces of the past, this beautiful ruin, and I wondered if, perhaps, that is part of the point of living… To be ruined. Only when we are ruined can we be restored. And somewhere in that restoration lies so much beauty and value and love. Can there be redemption if there isn’t loss first? Can there be healing if we aren’t a bit broken? Can we have true beauty if we haven’t been burned to ash? Maybe some will see us and post their own mental “Danger” sign, but others will see the beauty of our lives well lived, or at least, lived.

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So tonight, as I walked by the River Thames, so fully aware of the trash by the park bench and the grime on the barges and the aching changes of all the inevitable construction in every direction… I saw myself reflected back. I saw my scars and my fears and my less than sparkling aspects and I saw all of the “under construction” of my own life, not static and rotting, but fighting to grow and thrive. Bravely breathing and putting ourselves out there a little further, trying to be the best beauty that we can be, the truths of ourselves that dance forth from our depths as we remain inhabited by all of the variety of dreams and hopes and tears that we each hold, this city and I.

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The tears may flow like a muddy river, yet the sun shines on us both and our textured ripples shimmer in its rays. Sometimes it spotlights our scars, sometimes it casts shadows over them. Our lives blossom forth, sometimes wild, sometimes cultivated. We have been knocked on our asses. We have been punched in our faces. We have had our hearts broken by some of the very dreams that fueled their beating. But, neither London nor I can say that nothing ever happened for us. Because we are brave enough to put ourselves out there and live and we have the ruins and the restoration to show for it…

 
 

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Tomorrow

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poem by Rhiannon C Hall – 26 June 2017


The sun will come out
And shine on the world
When something I’ve dreamed of,
Something I’ve clung to
Through years of darkness,
Begins
Tomorrow…

Something I’ve worked for,
Hoped for,
Been scared of,
And cried so many tears over,
Will start
Tomorrow…

I’m watching the hours count down until
Tomorrow,
But it has been unfolding for so long…
Each and every today that has danced through my life
Has been a step along
The journey,
And tomorrow is merely another step.

I will leave my comfort zone.
I will step beyond a line
Of never again being able to say:
“I’ve never”
Or “I’ve always wanted”,
And my foot will fall into the space of:
“I am”
And “I have”…
When
Tomorrow
Becomes
Today…

 
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Posted by on 26 June 2017 in Blog, Poetry, Uncategorized

 

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London Summer 2017

My name is Rhiannon. I’m a writer and have long dreamed of seeing England. When I say “long”, I mean I can’t recall a time in 39 years when a mention of anything British in a book or on tv didn’t stir up feelings of longing and trigger a million daydreams. I believe God calls us to things, nudges us with desires that may seem ridiculous to others, but they are pieces of our path in life, our destiny. I believe this trip is part of my calling. Obviously, money is an obstacle or I wouldn’t be here asking for your help.

If you’d like to help, you can donate here: Rhiannon’s GoFundMe Campaign

Can you be a collaborator in my journey? Can you give (even small amounts help) to make this dream a reality? I promise that I will take you along with me, not just in spirit and in my prayers, though I certainly will do both, but via my blog and social media as well.

You can find my blog here: Be the Beauty – Rhiannon’s blog I will be including a “London Summer” Tab soon to make it easier to follow along!

So, let me explain my dreams:

As a writer, I know I can ramble for ages about being brave, taking leaps of faith, and following dreams. I have done my share of those already but, they have mostly been confined to the realm of my small and predominately risk-free life. I need to put that philosophy into action and spread my wings. Writers need adventures to fuel their imaginations and world views, to grow and connect with people so that their words can reflect that growth and return that connection to others. If I only live in a bubble, I will only write within that same scope. I want to use my writing to glorify God and show the realness of faith. As my friend Ronne said, “Faith isn’t airy or nothingness. It’s got heft to it. It’s weighty. It’s more real than reality.” This journey is my faith in action, following the voice of God far beyond my comfort zone and surrendering to whatever He wants to reveal to me.

SUBMERGED IN THE CULTURE

I want to take you along with me as I blog about my experiences. I’m sure there will be cultural differences between my small town life in the semi-rural US and the big city of London in the UK.

I don’t want this to be just a quick tourist visit. I would love to live there someday, but for now, I am making the most of this one trip by spending two months there, submerging myself in London as much as I can, breathing in the architecture and the history of the churches and libraries and museums, witnessing the grit and grime and beauty and all the intermingling gravity of the lives there. I want to stroll through parks and play the guitar in the shade. I want to write poetry and articles in coffee shops or on park benches. I want to take walks by the River Thames and try to discover why it seems so special in my mind.

SENTIMENTAL TOUCHSTONES

One of the first places I want to visit is 84 Charing Cross Road. After the book and movie, I need to know that I didn’t wait too long to follow my dreams. I want to see the plaque on the wall where the bookstore once stood and know that I really did it, I got to reach out and touch something that has eluded me for so many years. I need to know that this was finally real and not a forgotten wish-turned-regret when my life is over.

I’d love to take a pilgrimage to a tiny village in Somerset where a writer who greatly shaped my theology and my worldview is buried. I want to pay my respects and meditate on the impact that we make in the world just by being true to ourselves. I want to marvel with God that He uses every relationship to create ripples through time and generations that we may never witness.

PRIDE

Since I came out as gay nearly 2 years ago, I have longed for LGBT community. I live in a very rural and conservative part of Missouri where I am the only “out” LGBT I know, and definitely the only out gay Christian. That kind of community is nonexistent for me here. I will be there in time for Pride in London to be my first ever Pride event and will definitely be writing about that! (for perspective: Leicester Square alone, which will hold the women’s stage, has a capacity for 5,000 people. My entire town has a population of LESS THAN 3,000.)

NO RESERVES. NO RETREATS. NO REGRETS.

My flight is booked. My savings are nearly wiped out. My budget for the next couple months is incredibly tight. Can you help me to make this trip a really special experience? I don’t want anything fancy. Hostels and friends’ sofas will help. But there is still a deficit and I want to be able to follow where God is leading me.

My pastor recently spoke of a man named William Borden. He felt God calling him to be a missionary in Asia. When he died, found written in his Bible were the words:

“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”

To me, these have come to mean: that I reserve nothing from God, I’m laying it all on the line to follow where He is calling; there is no turning back, no matter how difficult the journey gets; and I will not live a life of regretting the dreams I haven’t chased or the callings I’ve not heeded.

FAITH THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE

I am stepping out in faith that I will be taken care of along this journey. I know that God will provide my needs. It is possible that he will provide them through some of you.

I’ve never been good at asking for help, but I’ve noticed God often makes us rely on other people when we least want to. Even the apostle Paul had people giving money to support him as he travelled around to various churches to preach the Good News. As a Christian, I believe that all of our lives, every aspect of them, are part of our witness and ministry. As a writer, I know this adventure will have long-lasting effects on my career. As a girl who has wrestled with her faith and asked God to show her clearly the direction He is calling, I have come to this place where I lay my hopes, dreams, and needs out before you and trust that Yahweh Yireh (the God who Provides) will do as His name suggests.

Amanda Palmer, singer and writer, has a philosophy called “The Art of Asking” which illuminates the exchange between people when they undertake a partnership of seeing and being seen by one another, that one person giving money to fund another’s passion is a two-way exchange where both come away with something of value. As you give, you will be helping me reach me dream. As I live out that dream and write, I will be carrying you with me and reaching back to you with my words and my gratitude.

THANK YOU

Seriously, thank you for taking the time to read about my dreams. Thank you for any prayers or positive thoughts you can spare me, including prayers for my safety and health during my travels. Thank you for any money you are able and willing to give. And, whether you can give or not, would you be willing to pass this on in case my story resonates with someone you know? If so, thank you for that, too. Perhaps some day I can return the favour and help you follow your dreams.

This is a song I wrote last year about following God. That is what this trip is about, but it is also what my life is about. (Apologies for the slightly rough recording quality and that it wasn’t memorized since I recorded it the day I wrote it!)

 
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Posted by on 24 June 2017 in Blog, London Summer

 

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London’s Calling!

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London is calling and I need help to get there! The following is from my gofundme campaign which you can find here:  Rhiannon’s London Adventure

 

For those who don’t know me, my name is Rhiannon. I’m a writer (translation: poor) and have long dreamed of seeing England. When I say “long”, I mean that I can’t recall a time in my 39 years that a mention of anything British in a book or on tv didn’t stir up a feeling of longing and trigger a million daydreams. I believe God calls us to things, nudges us with desires that may seem ridiculous to others, but they are part of our path in life, part of our destiny. I believe this trip is part of my calling, even if I can’t explain exactly how yet. Obviously, money is an obstacle or I wouldn’t be here asking for your help, so let me explain my dreams:

 

I don’t want this to be just a quick tourist visit. I want to submerge myself in the city. I would love to live there someday, but for now, I would like to make the most of this one trip and spend about two months there. If I’m really careful with my budget, I can eat cheaply and stay in the most basic hostels (and, perhaps, occasionally on a friend’s couch); but, there is still a deficit between my savings and the ability to afford even the bare minimum. (The least expensive hostels are still more than my mortgage here in the states!) I’ll also need (occasional) food and laundry, random incidental expenses, plus travel around the city and a couple of side trips; for example, a pilgrimage to a writer’s gravesite in the southeast and a few days at the shore. I’ve seen the ocean just once in my life and only for one afternoon last autumn. I’d like to spend a little more time hearing the waves and smelling the briny air.

I was in Delaware in this pic and England is about 3,500 miles over my left shoulder. October 2016

 

Most of what I want to experience will not cost much. I want to stroll through parks and play the guitar in the shade. I want to write poetry and articles in coffee shops or on park benches. I want to see churches and libraries and a few museums, breathing in their architecture and their history. I want to take walks by the Thames because it feels like a really special place in my mind.

Probably the first place I want to visit in London (and maybe again as the last place when I have to say goodbye) will be 84 Charing Cross Road. After the book movie, I NEED to see that plaque on the wall where the bookstore once stood. I need to know that I didn’t leave my dreams too long, that I got to reach out and touch something that has eluded me for so many years. I need to know that this was finally real and not a forgotten wish-turned-regret when my life is over.

Since I came out as gay nearly 2 years ago, I have also wanted to go to a Pride event. I live in a very rural and conservative part of Missouri, so that hasn’t been a possibility yet. What if this year I could do both? What if this summer I’m in England by the 8th of July, in time for Pride in London to be my first pride event? I have only once been in a large gathering of LGBTQIA+ community. There were about 300 people at a Gay Christian conference a couple years ago, the vast majority of whom were LGBT+, the rest were allies. But where I live, there isn’t an LGBT+ community at all. To think of the community present at Pride when just Leicester square alone holds 5,000 people? That is nearly double the entire population of my town and only one part of Pride in London! That thought almost moves me to tears.

Due to extenuating circumstances, I’ve not been able to save as much as I need. I am hoping some of you would like to virtually take this journey with me. I will be blogging my trip and writing poetry as usual. You will get to see some of what I’m up to, knowing you helped me get there. If I don’t reach my goal, I will still be going, though perhaps not in time for Pride and perhaps for a shorter duration. If I surpass my goal, I will be able to include a few extras like tickets to the West End production of Annie with Miranda Hart as Ms. Hannigan. (I adore Miranda, but have you seen ticket prices? It barely ranks as a “maybe” now, but would become a definite with enough money.)

Click this link to read my poem Love Letter to London in case you missed it here on my blog. I will put up a “London Summer” tab soon so you can follow along easily.

 

I’ve never been good at asking for help, but I’ve noticed God often makes us rely on other people when we least want to. Even the apostle Paul had people giving money to support him as he travelled around to various churches to preach the Good News. Amanda Palmer, the singer and writer, has a philosophy called “The Art of Asking” which illuminates the exchange between people when they undertake a partnership of seeing and being seen by one another, that one person giving money to fund another’s passion is a two-way exchange where both come away with something of value. As a Christian, I believe that all of our lives, every aspect of them, are part of our witness and ministry. As a writer, I know this adventure will have long-lasting effects on my career. As a girl who has wrestled with her faith and asked God to show her clearly the direction He is calling, I have come to this place where I lay my hopes, dreams, and needs out before you and trust that Yahweh Yireh (the God who Provides) will do as His name suggests. I have my passport, my laptop so I can write anywhere in the world, and a little savings. Can you help me make the rest of it happen? Can you be part of helping me realize this dream?

I am in a time crunch to get the plane ticket. I need some funds within the next week or two to get there in time! But if you can’t give right away, that’s alright! I will leave the gofundme campaign open through part of the summer for continued donations that will cover ongoing costs like room and board.

Every little bit helps and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even if all you can offer is a prayer and a share… Maybe someone you know can donate and I can definitely use all the prayers I can get as I undertake this journey of a lifetime.

 
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Posted by on 11 June 2017 in Blog, Uncategorized

 

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Trouble the Waters

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“I didn’t know I was wrong…”
“I meant it in love…”
“I was trying to help…”
“I firmly believed…”
But God troubled my waters.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin…”
“Of course, you’re welcome, but…”
“We all fall short…”
“This is tough love…”
But God is troubling the waters.

“The Bible clearly states…”
“It’s just not natural…”
“Abomination means hell…”
You didn’t have to look past the surface,
Until God troubled your waters.

Except that God did,
And God is,
And that’s why I repeat
My identity to you.
Am I how God is troubling your waters?

Inviting you to dive deeper,
Inviting you to take the fullest breath,
Inviting you to see past the surface
Where you are so confident and sure,
And let enlightenment rise swirling from troubled waters?

When the angel stirred the pool,
The first one in was healed.
When God’s children shake your view
Deeper truth may be revealed.
And isn’t it Truth that sets us free?
That’s why God troubles the waters.

 

 

 

This is breaking my goal/guideline of posting a piece that I wrote in the preceding week as this one is from January. But after experiencing some disappointing dialogue and even a little trolling over the weekend, it was brought fresh to mind. We can become so certain in our faith journey (which is the antithesis of faith) that we forget we have healing left to do under that certainty. We judge others for being in a different place and we try to bring them to where we are, not realizing that they have already done the hard work of healing from the very wounds that God has already called them out of and we are trying to call them back to. We can do better, in grace and love. We can brave the places where our current beliefs are being shaken up, troubled, if you will, and see if it isn’t God inviting us to a better understanding.

God troubled my waters of belief a few years ago when I realized I was gay. I sorted through my faith. I laid all of my doubts and fears and pain at God’s feet and prayed there would still be a God to believe in after the sorting and diving deeper was done. It was terrifying and painful and the most raw and vulnerable I’ve ever been. I can say, from this side of that ordeal, that it only brought me closer, it only made me love God (the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I’d always believed in) even more. My peace that passes understanding came from that ever faithful Triune God who never left me, never stopped loving me, and was strong enough to handle my honesty. It felt like the biggest risk of all to step into the troubled waters and yet, there I found such healing and a deeper understanding of God.

 
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Posted by on 2 May 2017 in Blog, Poetry

 

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Room in the Pew

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I took my fear to church today,
It sat there in the pew,
It tickled all across my spine,
It tore my heart in two,
So many breaths I had to hold
And tears that still broke through…
I felt the whisper of my Lord say,
“It’s okay, there’s room.”

I took my pain to church today,
The hurt I’ve tried to hide,
And no one seemed to disapprove
When it sat on my other side.
My trembling hands were kindly grasped,
I was greeted with gentle smiles,
While I wrestled with the message
Of a hope beyond our trials.

I took my doubt to church today,
And it whispered in my ears,
“Remember I’m the only one
To stay close all these years.”
But another whispered, “Liar!
She has always known I’m near.
Just because she can’t see answers now,
Doesn’t mean I’ve disappeared.”

I took my love to church today
And I offered it up to God.
It looks a little weathered now,
It’s weak and bruised and lost.
While they spoke about the empty tomb
My broken heart still fought
To hope my love would be redeemed,
To hold one precious thought,

And there it was around me,
That thought I yearned to find:
I knew a Love that never ceased
To say, “This is my child.
I will always hold her near Me,
Make her gifts and burdens Mine.
There is always room for all of her.
She doesn’t have to hide.”

I took a lot to church today…
But there was room there in the pew
To sit where God could speak to me
Through many others who
Also had more visitors
Than those there in plain view,
When it hurts, we keep believing
God is up to something new.

The Easter story has room enough
For pain and impossible odds,
Miracles, betrayal, fear,
And a crucified Son of God,
The waiting and the in-between,
A tomb with rolled-away rock,
And a risen Saviour calling our name,
For nothing’s ever too far gone.

My life has recently been in a seemingly perpetual season of Holy Saturday: waiting in the unknown, grieving and change, anxiety and uncertainty. Today, Easter Sunday, I struggled to celebrate the hope and joy of Easter. I have hope this season will pass, but right now it is still difficult, it is still too freshly present and messy to celebrate that hope some days. I cried through most of the church service, my broken heart feeling a bit out of tune with all of the happiness of those around me. I felt my soul lingering in the spirit of Holy Saturday where I was not alone in my waiting and tears. I love that I have a church where that was acceptable, a body of Christians with compassion and grace enough to hold my space of conflicted sorrow sacred alongside their own variety of emotions. I love that I have a church that acknowledges that the beauty of a Risen Christ can bring us to tears in the best of times, and life is rarely “the best of times”.

Had I been attending one of my previous churches, though they were full of lovely people, I wouldn’t have felt that space sacred enough for my vulnerability and honesty. I’d have stayed in bed under my quilt. I have been blessed to find a church family who is willing to walk alongside each other. Though it was painful and I was tempted every few minutes to leave, I stayed and let God speak hope and beauty into my despair in ways that I did not have to unfold just then. God spoke in ways that would bloom as I carried their echoes throughout the rest of my day. I’ll even hazard a guess that they will continue to unfurl and spill fragrant praise for many days to come, even if I’m still crying Holy Saturday tears for a while yet. Isn’t that the glorious truth of a God who meets us where we are, even in our humanity? There is room enough for us to come fully unedited before our Creator.

 
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Posted by on 18 April 2017 in Blog, Poetry

 

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