Archive for the Christine “Clarity” McDonald Category

One of My Super Powers, Invisibility… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags on June 22, 2019 by paulthepoke

One of my super powers, when I was on the streets, was invisibility. It seemed that the only people who see you, a prostitute, are the ones who intend to exploit you. Truthfully, though, I wasn’t that different from other young women.

I loved clear, blue skies with marshmallowy clouds floating lazily across them. I loved hot bubble baths and lovely smells, be it the smells of flowers growing in the spring, bread baking in the bakery on the Avenue, or freshly cut grass. I dreamed of times when I had felt safe and wasn’t hungry. I loved girlie colors, and things that were soft to the touch. I loved the sounds of music, and my heart always skipped when I heard the church bells in the distance on Sunday mornings. Somehow, those bells promised that everything would be all right.

I hated mirrors, as I think many of us do. I’d look down when I was near one, only peeking at the clothes I was wearing. I never dared to look myself in the eye. Somehow, that kept me safe and disconnected from the life I lived.

I think that at one time I had dreams, before prostitution, violence, homelessness, addiction, and hopelessness. But in the midst of the life I lived, I dared not dream of a life outside of it. Something better did not exist for people like me.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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No Strings Attached… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags on June 8, 2019 by paulthepoke

Let him who is without sin among you throw the first stone. John 8:7, Jesus

We all at times experience a sense of disconnection from the world around us. We wonder if anyone truly sees us. We can be completely surrounded by people who know our name, yet they are completely clueless about us and what is really going on inside. We crave connection, acknowledgement, validation—some sign that we exist, that we are known, and that we have purpose.

As we explore some poignant moments of recognition that once gave me glimmers of human connection in an otherwise invisible existence, let us consider how we can give others in our life the gift of visibility. Intentionality, appropriate touch, and eye contact are free and simple to give.

If you are feeling that disconnect today in your life, don’t wait for someone to see you. See someone else, and they will see you back. Just as we will discover in my story, if we will acknowledge others’ humanity, even after years and years have passed, they will acknowledge ours back. I will never forget the woman who never forgot me.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

72 Summer Hours… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , on June 1, 2019 by paulthepoke

Caution: Very Adult Content

Isaiah 29:20 For the ruthless shall come to nothing and the scoffer cease, and all who watch to do evil shall be cut off…

I read somewhere that an individual’s mental and emotional psyche can be altered and changed forever in as little as 72 hours under the right conditions, such as sleep deprivation, food deprivation, and violence (or the perceived threats of violence) intertwined with random acts of kindness. A lot can happen in 72 hours that can affect an entire lifetime.

It was a scorching hot summer day. I had been standing on the corner through most of the heat of the day. I’d taken my shoes off blocks before as I was walking up and down the Avenue in the hope that someone would pick me up. My hair had been uncombed for days, if not weeks. I’d also been without a bath for a long time. Flies swarmed around me. It was too hot even to think about my hunger. By now I was hoping I might even make it to jail for a shower and some sleep.

Finally, a guy in a fancy new truck pulled up next to me. He was in his mid–to–late thirties, and he had a warm smile. He made eye contact, his teeth were straight and white, and his face was clean–shaven. His clothes were nice, and his hands were clean.

He rolled his window down. “You hot?” he asked. His voice was mild and soft. He held out a bottle of water. The air–conditioning from the truck felt cool. So I got in. I drank the water. He asked what kind of music I liked, and if I was hungry. At the time I was just hot and thirsty. I poured water on some napkins and wiped my face and hands clean as we drove.

He gave me 20 bucks. “That’s for food,” he said, “No strings attached.” Then he handed me a $50 bill and said, “This is for our date.” He said he would find a shady place to park, and noted that he was in a hurry. He said he was between meetings for work, so we drove to the cemetery down the street and parked under a tree.

…The zip ties grew tighter. He grabbed my hair and put strips of tape across my eyes and across my mouth. He threw a blanket or something over me as he used his hand to force me farther down on the floorboard. He spoke calmly, “The more you move, the tighter those zip ties will be. We have a long drive, and I’d hate for you to cut off your circulation before we arrive at our destination.”

My ankles still had multiple zip ties on each. Whenever I moved, I felt them grow tighter. As for my hands, he readjusted the ties so that they were zip tied in front instead of behind my back. “Thanks,” I said. I was crying. I was scared.

“You know,” he said, “you could live through this.” Then there was deafening silence.

…I could hardly get my legs to hold me up. I was shaking uncontrollably from pain and fear. When he returned, I smelled fire, and figured he planned to leave me there to die. Then there was the burn, the searing pain. I smelled my burning flesh. At last it stopped and he left. I had been branded like a piece of cattle.

I was unable to hold my body weight; my legs had given way. I was still taped and strapped to the table. He returned and threw what must have been large buckets of water on me. Then he moved me and locked me up again. Somehow, I found sleep. When I woke my eyes were still taped shut, and my clothes were dry.

He proceeded to zip tie my legs and carry me out. I had no idea what he would do next. He put me in the truck on the floorboard of the passenger side, covering me with a blanket. We drove. “Are you scared?” he asked. I nodded my head yes. Then he asked me if I wanted to die. By now I was sure that days had passed since the beginning of this whole ordeal. I hurt so much, and I was scared.

“It’s your lucky day,” he said. “I’m going to let you live. But I know how to find you.” He told me he had been watching me for weeks, and he knew no one would come looking for me. He even told me about some of the cars I had been in and some of the corners I had stood on. He even knew the last day I had changed clothes. I was terrified.

We drove on and on. When we stopped, he said he was going to untape me and let me out, but he would find me and kill me if I said anything to anyone.

By the time he removed all the tape, it was dark. We were in that old, empty, closed cemetery where the nightmare had started, blocks from anyone. He shoved me out of the truck. My legs were shaking from pain, and my face was raw from the rip of the tape. I felt air on my skin once again after days with the tape across my eyes and mouth. I began wiping the oozy, caked–on crust from my eyelashes, squinting at the brightness of the lights. Then I saw he had no license plate on the back of the truck.

I began walking back to the Avenue, my hands in the pockets of the sweat pants he had put on me. I realized then that he had put the money he had given me at the beginning of this ordeal in the pockets: the $50 and $20 bills.

I walked past an open gas station and grabbed some food, a soda, and some ibuprofen. I called my dope dealer to pick me up and give me a ride the rest of the way. Getting high would ease the pain, remove the fear, and once again be the coping mechanism that my life seemed to dangle by.

I had survived another nightmare. I had endured another buyer of sex who sought a victim to act out his fetishes with. I had been reduced to an object without emotions or feelings once again. I had been dehumanized, objectified, and tortured for another person’s pleasures.

But remember: He had looked like one of the good guys.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Stranger Danger

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , on May 18, 2019 by paulthepoke

Sometimes what you think is true, what you think is safe and good, is actually evil in disguise. Evil is so enticing, so deceiving, that you don’t know it’s evil until it’s wrapped you up and caressed you as a lover. You gaze into its eyes, enraptured by the pretty words whispered softly in your ears, realizing too late that the pretty words were all just twisted lies. —Quinn Loftis, Beyond the Veil

From birth, children are taught what looks good. They happily respond to the soothing voice of their caregivers; the caregiver’s smile comforts them, and they see that smiles are good. Smiles mean safety. They draw us in, allowing us to put our guard down. As beneficial as this reflex is in the right relationships, it is equally dangerous when we come across the soft–spoken guy with the puppies, or the guy with the lost kitty, or the individual behind the mask of a computer screen presenting himself or herself as a youth so the targeted victim is willing to meet in person.

I believe one of the largest injustices we can commit in this day and age is teaching our children a stigmatized version of “stranger danger”—the version in which we caution them to steer clear of the greasy–haired, yellow–toothed creepy guy who must intend great harm, or the white van version in which vehicles like that snatch children who are never seen again. Why is teaching them this a great injustice? Because individuals who intend to do harm have evolved so that they often don’t look like bad guys. We must do the same in our teaching of what to look for in a bad guy.

One thing I learned from my time on the streets is that most of the time, a bad guy will not act like a bad guy right away. Bad guys spend more time looking like good guys so that they can create the opportunities to be that bad guy. Smiles, eye contact, clean–cut faces, and kind voices are the façades of these individuals. After all, our children and even adults are busy steering clear of the beer–bellied, snaggletooth bad guy with creepy eyes. Their prey is unaware; their opportunity is primed.

Like an animal that lies in wait for its prey, today’s bad guys are deceptive, cunning, and intentional in their actions to do harm. Instead of black ski masks, they wear masks of smiles and charm. Instead of guns and knives, they bear weapons of manipulation and coercion. They are human predators, seeking, waiting, and hunting their prey.

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

My Purple Flowers… Christine McDonald

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , on May 10, 2019 by paulthepoke

While I was walking along, keeping an eye out for a spigot, I saw some beautiful flowers in a yard behind a fence. Knowing that the owners must have a water hose around somewhere—and drawn by the flowers—I climbed over the fence. I just wanted to smell them at first. Then I saw the butterflies fluttering around and saw the sparkles from the morning dew, like tiny pearls on the petals. It was all so beautiful: the rich mixture of colors, so bright, with the lush, vibrant green grass that blanketed the ground in front of the flower bed. So I walked over and began picking
some flowers of each color: a red one, a blue one, a yellow one, and a few purple ones. The purple seemed so calm, so peaceful and rich.

As I was picking them, a man came out from the house with a phone in his hands. He was yelling, and he had an accent. “Get away!” he said. “I’m calling the police! Get away from my house!”

I had spotted the water hose, and I was thinking about how badly I needed that drink of water. But I realized the man would not let me near it.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and headed for the gate, with the man still yelling at me about my trespassing in his yard and picking his flowers. I still had them in my hand, and I dropped them by the fence as I exited the yard. I turned as he yelled once again that he was calling the police.

“I’m homeless,” I said. Then it hit me that I was barefoot, that I was standing in the cool of the grass, and that his flowers were beautiful. “I don’t see much beautiful stuff,” I said, and then I started walking again.

I realized then that he had stopped yelling at me. In fact, I heard him behind me, saying, “Hey, lady.” I turned, thinking for sure that the police had arrived at his house to arrest me for trespassing. Instead, I saw that he was holding the flowers I had dropped. He handed them to me.

I smiled and said thanks. He made eye contact with me very briefly, as if for a moment connecting with my humanity, something that happened so rarely for someone like me. And then he looked down. When he looked at me again, it was with a stern glare.

“Now go,” he said, “and stay out of my yard.”

I walked with those flowers, smelling them along the way—the smell so sweet, so fresh, and so pure—looking at the bright colors against my hands, which were riddled with open sores and blisters. My hands were so dirty, so
dark, but the purple stood out against them, so vibrant, clear, and bright. The color itself seemed to shout happiness and goodness. The brilliant colors of the petals across my blackened, filthy flesh were so beautiful, and the smell was so fragrant and sweet!

That day in the sunshine, I slid the flowers behind my ears as I walked to the corner where a trick was waiting, flashing his brake lights as a signal for me. My beautiful moment was over; it was back to my reality.

Rays of Hope

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Christine "Clarity" McDonald with tags , , , , , on May 4, 2019 by paulthepoke

The story below is excerpted from my book Cry Purple.

Christine McDonald

Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Life has a way of beating a person down when they think they can’t sink any lower. Such dark moments can squeeze you until you feel there is no hope. But somewhere deep down we all have the tiniest bit of faith that the darkness isn’t supposed to be the norm. Somehow we all have a sense, though perhaps buried, that darkness is the intruder, even if darkness is all we have known. Something in us cries out for the light even if we have never known it.

Photo: Shutterstock

We see these glimmers of hope in the world around us, the sunlight warming our faces, flowers demanding our admiration, a gentle breeze hinting that change will come. It’s easy to take tiny freedoms, these small displays of beauty or simple breezes, for granted. Some of us see change or even our redemption right around the corner. Yet others live on these small moments for years, barely surviving, but surviving all the same.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

~

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

Glimmers of Hope

Posted in Christine "Clarity" McDonald, Culture with tags , , , , , on April 26, 2019 by paulthepoke

Hope simply deals with possibilities. If something is still possible, even in our wildest dreams, if there is still a glimmer of hope, it is worth hanging on to for as long as it exists. —Peter G. Doumit, What I Know about Baseball Is What I Know about Life

In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable to illustrate the kindness and compassion He wants His followers to extend to those around them, particularly those who are often invisible in society. He says, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matthew 25:40, NLT)

Who are “the least of these” today?

Not much has changed since Jesus spoke those words. There are still the “invisibles” around us. They aren’t truly invisible; we just make excuses and justify our choice not to look.

Photo: Shutterstock, Pikul Noorod

“The least of these” could include a good friend who you know is struggling with something, but whose struggle you’ve not wanted to wade into with them. However, “the least of these” may also include a whole population of society you may not interact with often, or perhaps you only interact with professionally.

Jesus’ expectation of us is to be so full of His love that we love like Him by default. That means we allow our eyes, as well as our hearts, to be moved by compassion to action. Feeling sad or feeling sorry isn’t enough. We must be moved enough to be His hands, His feet, His smile, His words, His deeds.

Compassion is free, except that it demands what’s most valuable, our hearts. We must be careful to not close our hearts off to what we don’t understand. Sometimes the very thing we have guarded and protected most is the thing God purposed for us to share. Perhaps the thing you have tended with care and passion is meant to give hope to someone else.

https://www.gofundme.com/crypurplemovie

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

https://crypurplemovie.com/

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