I mentioned in an earlier post that I pinched the title of this blog from one of Lucinda Williams’ newest songs, “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone,” which she took from a poem written by her father, Miller Williams. I swear I’m not trying to get Lucinda Williams to read my writing. Okay, maybe a little bit. The last verse of the poem:
“Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.”
The passage articulated beautifully and elegantly and even a little savagely what I have started thinking about for a while now and what I knew I wanted to spend some time writing about. Namely, the connective tissue that binds us up and holds us together in this “sweet old world.” This is also the title of one of Lucinda’s earlier songs about losing someone to suicide: “See what you lost when you left this world/this sweet old world.” Oof. The woman knows how to turn a phrase, burrow it deep into your heart, and make it feel so damn good.
What I love about Lucinda is her raw honesty, her unflinching gaze that cuts through everything from poverty and politics to sex and relationships to the Southern/Cajun culture in which she was raised. What I’m drawn to is the way she, like all great writers I believe, tears a corner of the page to reveal something else underneath. It’s the treasure map grafted onto the back of the oil painting, it’s the deed to the farm scribbled on the inside of the cereal box, it’s the VH1 Behind the Music, the story behind the story.
There’s a story behind this little piece of Internet real estate. But it doesn’t involve drugs, addiction, broken hearts, shattered dreams, or a long, painful dark night of the soul. It doesn’t include a summer in Paris or three-time Olympic anything. It’s less about a sexy road traveled with sexy travelers who belong on reality shows, who write books based on their Tumblrs of food and shoes, and instead more about a girl like you.
She’s equal parts sass, badass, and scared shitless half the time. A girl who is a writer, a wife, a sister, and self-proclaimed coolest aunt on the planet and parts of Canada; a girl who’s had her heart broken by boys who didn’t even know she existed and some who did and who’s had to “figure it out” when a tsunami of change roiled through her life on more than one occasion (spoiler alert: there was A LOT of crying).
A girl who’s drawing a line in the sand around what she believes for the first time in a long time, maybe even ever, and wants to talk about spirit and grace and kindness and compassion and belonging and being lost and getting found and showing up for ourselves and each other in really authentic and scary ways (scary because you know, when ooey gooey hearts are involved, I mean, sweaty palms just thinking about it…) and healing what’s diseased in our lives and this world and repairing what’s broken in those same spaces, but being wise and honest enough to know that GUS (God, Spirit, Universe) has a pretty big say in the matter if we let him, and owning failure and attempting forgiveness (that one’s a big Twinkie) and basically digging deep about what it means to
live & love
down where the spirit meets the bone