Transparency, and Other Risks

The internet is forever. So is publishing a book.

A few weeks ago, a good friend from this season of life picked up the books I wrote while still in Africa. And my heart felt like it plummeted straight through the floor.

I don’t regret writing those books. I am absolutely grateful for generosity of my publisher, my editors who taught me how to craft a manuscript, and all that I have learned from the experience. The stories I told were true and accurate to the best of my ability— and I would not trade them for the world. I cherish my years in Africa. And I am completely humbled by the way readers have been encouraged by the lessons shared in those pages.

Those books were a reflection of where I was at the time, thoughts shared with a very specific audience for a specific purpose. But they were also a time capsule of the echoes of the brokenness of the box that then framed my world, the voices that shaped the movement I was in, and the theology that was held sacrosanct within it.

Words are permanent things once they escape onto pages. Snapshots of where we were when they were written. A measuring notch on the wall reminding us how far we have grown beyond them. And that too is humbling.

Transparency is a dangerous risky choice. Letting your journey be seen by others. I get it. It can be terrifying. But it’s the only way for our hearts to become fully alive.

I’ve been hesitant to write here, holding a part of my own heart at bay, lest these words be judged by a structure I am no longer a part of.

But coming up on the year anniversary of my Mom’s death, it really is time to talk more about the things that have been rooting deep in my soul. Some for well over a decade.

I have a renewed push not just to spill words at the edges of my days, but to write consequential things. Things that give you permission to ask questions that stretch your comfort zones. To move deeper than accepting easy answers and farther out from the four familiar walls around you.

I’m not here to give you my answers. I’m here to provoke you to ask your own questions. And I hope find more of who you are in the process.

counting breaths

This poem was written May 26, 2020 shortly after the death of my mom. I still can’t get through reading it without tears taking over.

But in the middle of so much loss so many are facing in the face of this pandemic, I felt it might be an encouragement to know you aren’t alone. You aren’t. Not today. Not ever.

counting breaths
dm perry

we get the news, 
the findings are in,
and so it begins, this dance with
endings

first, we count years, 
then months and days,
then hours,
and finally... we 
count
breaths.

life rattling in bones and flesh
too tired, too weary to
contain it.

we count breaths,
measuring their rhythm
the rise and fall
as
i pray silent
SCREAMS to
heaven

OH GOD, PLEASE LET IT 
BE BRAXTON HICKS

but wait, contractions?

is this rattle the end, or the
universe expanding, contracting, 
surrounding,
as a womb
bringing forth

push, don’t
push.
crowning,
is it here yet?

you breathe,
struggle to break free,
to let go, to be,
to become

and then the waiting

between

breaths.

still, you hold on
through the night till
the dawn
hanging on
to the cocoon,
to the womb
of what was.

clinging to the edge
of realms till you know
i'm not alone.
you're not 
leaving me to be
swallowed by need
or fear 
or on-my-ownness 

morning comes
with the keys,
exhale here,
take your first breath
there

born free, broken free, above
brand new

and now i count breaths

breaths wracked with sobs.
breaths that rail
at the empty spaces.
breaths held
because my heart
is aching, stretched
open, it’s breaking

i count breaths

then moments and hours

time stops
caught in the spin
cycle of what used to be,
wave after wave
pulling me under
WAIT. just breathe.

find air.
breathe again.

days,
one runs headlong
into another
and another
until days
feel like weeks
and weeks like months,
but wait.

it's only been 14 days,
336 hours

breathe.
i’m counting days now.

soon it will be weeks,
then months, &
god-willing,
years.

because in the middle of
that long night, in that
liminal space between
worlds,

there counting breaths
as time rushed and 
stood still,
as it froze
we both let go…

and in letting go,
we learned
to fly.

the fractured land

broken ground bleeds
injustice, 
pain pulsing red
from fractured clay
fissures,
cliffs, canyons
divided       so      wide
so deep we grieve
lurch forward halting
come be, re-member
together

no longer weaponize
comfort 
or turn words
into knives 
to stab the silence

tumbled in chaos,
cacophony staged
locked in echo chambers
algorithms the chains,
shackled to screens in
the matrix we made

this uncivil war between
red, white and blue
while hope dares to breathe
fractured facts scatter
in discontent’s winter,
contagions rage

alternative truth unashamed
house of mirrored illusions
trust eroded 
like sand standing guard 
in a storm surge,
battered by winds
blown in circles we spin
the power flickers and dims
but the gas light is ON...

...until...

we turn it OFF

and begin
again.

—dm perry
1/20/21

Written in response to the lies about election fraud that gave rise to the Capitol insurrection. I pray now with this new administration we can begin to see truth and trust restored.