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When you say you are imperfect, you mean
that you may have uttered some unkind words
to one you have promised to love. You mean
you may have once or twice slept past the hour
when you should have been breathing life to
an act of devotion, using your hands to heal, or
build bridges, or uphold the holy. You mean you
may have allowed yourself to be overtaken by
your humanness over the long haul of your
journey to heaven.

When I say I am imperfect, I mean that I have
been damaged, marked. I mean that I have
spiraled down and reached dirty rock bottom.
I mean that I have been in contact with the
serpent and have engaged with its charmed
tongue until I could recreate with artistry the
intricate scale patterns of temptation and hang
it up so I could gaze at its dark beauty. I mean
that I have used my flesh and the flesh of
others to satisfy longings, curiosities, egos and
addictions. I mean that I have stained sheets,
insecure walls and a tainted soul. I mean that
I have struggled with questions dangerous
enough to take your peace hostage while
holding a serrated blade against the throat of
your convictions. I mean that I have consorted
with the sinful and broken bread with the infidels,
that I have gotten drunk with them, on life, on
alternative truths, on the elixirs of broken rules.
I mean that I have danced with storms, over
graves, and with strangers. I mean that I have
lain my faith down on places where blights of
doubt grew rampant and some of the shadows
are more graceful than the light. I mean that I
have been intimate with forbidden fire, and
understand it enough not to fear it.

I really tried to step into your circle of comfort,
the grand chandelier room for the virtuous who
have passed the test, burnished with fervor and
rallied by goals trained since birth to lift and
harmonize. But I can’t find my voice. I found
some familiar words in your language but none
of my meanings. All my hard work in putting my
pieces back together is dwarfed by your success
in remaining intact.

And the day I get tired of pretending it may look
to you like I’m falling. But in my heart it will feel
like I’m rising.

“Beautiful Young Woman on the Sea”
by photographer Evgeniya Litovchenko


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