Covered Chains

I can’t let this chains theme go, the way to freedom. My 31 Days turned into maybe a lifetime, which is good because October is over, and I didn’t actually write on chains for 31 days. The things I’m uncovering are changing me. The following post here is from one of my favorite girlfriends of all time, Dear Abby Leigh, who’s walked with me so well. Please soak in her words a little and then show her all the love in the world.

i’m fourteen when i cut my finger on the swing in evening, by the growing row of pines dividing neighbors.

baby sister swings alongside, chubby legs dangling far from grass. i play it carefree, hair dragging in dirt, count minutes to dinner, wrap my legs ’round the chains to make her giggle.

it works, like it should. we are bound here together by the bar above and the name in our veins, linked by fate and proximity and eyelashes.

blood rushes to my head.
i pull up, feel the pinch, slice my finger on the cracking rubber cover tight around the chains. rubber crafted in primary brights keeps the surface right shiny while the metal beneath rusts
a bit

wet tennessee heat seeps in where it can, doing its good work of breaking down chains. the blood i leave blends well with the red and the rust.

covered chains hold the weight of us all, not a foot off the ground, carving just enough swing-space to make us feel free. at the tip of each arc, gravity halts, and we can taste it – flight, unbound, within reach.

but it’s always snapped away, as a violent whiplash of the soul swings you back where you started and then some. freedom is chained by the limits of knowledge – gravity, sight, experience remembered.

the window for jumping is in that blink of false flight, when freedom feels just within reach. no timidity will do, you must fall from the heights, let the chains seek new captives, heads deep in the dirt, while you find freedom’s footing unhindered.

i mix metaphors to say what i’m not sure i know. i try to lean into truth where it’s heavy enough to hold me. it’s a hard and conscious work to remove the covers on my chains – the way i posture to make acceptable the things that keep me swinging in the same space day after day. i let the moment to jump pass me by once again, a sister scared to fall – it’s too soon then too late then too hard.

what’s binding me here, hair caked with dirt?
what freedom is possible at the end of that leap?

may the heat of my breath on its way to the heavens eat away at the covers on my chains, cutting me free, one link at a time, from the back and forth and back again.

Post by Dear Abby Leigh. She’s super to fun to follow on Facebook!
photo credit
About me


Where Healing Begins: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Sarah Jo Burch
November 23, 2015
When Home Is Within: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Mandy Mianecki
November 02, 2015
Dear Seth: A Marriage Letter on Your Sobriety and What it Looks Like to Come Clean
October 27, 2015
Learning to Bend: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Diana Trautwein
September 14, 2015
Who are you, really?
January 27, 2014
It is My Passion That You Know This
January 08, 2014
At the Crux
September 02, 2013
Poor and Powerless: My First Time to Speak
April 17, 2013
Let the Game Changer Change the Game: Part 1
April 10, 2013


Reply November 1, 2012

Absolutely beautiful.

Reply November 1, 2012

This experience, so universal: the dare to flight, the too lateness, the backtracing...repeat...yes. I know it well.

God, help me let go at the apex of my understanding, not delay.

Gorgeous imagery. Thank you.

Reply November 1, 2012

I love you Abby Leigh! I get every word of this. Thank you for sharing your good stuff in my space. It's certainly a gift.

    Reply November 1, 2012

    i'm glad you do because sometimes i don't, i swing back and forth in knowing what i even know. thanks for the space and the study on chains and being my amber friend.

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply November 1, 2012

Oh, sigh...that Abby-girl sure can write her heart out!!! Beautiful post!

Reply November 1, 2012

Wow, this is so rich. The shiny rubber causing the surface-level injury, distracting from your pendulum captivity. And the bravery and lunacy required to fly from such heights. Lots to chew on!

    Reply November 1, 2012

    let me know what you find as you chew, i think i've a lot more thinking to do on this! thanks allison.

      Reply November 1, 2012

      I've been thinking mostly on blood tie chains, how I've been trained in bucket seat safety by protective parents to love the back and forth. How this rocking never left me, and the leaping will always require flat out defying their voice in my head that insists my arm will break. It may or may not; they forgot to mention that even if it did, it would be worth it.

      Thank you for asking, Abby. You inspire.

        Reply November 1, 2012

        ooh i hadn't thought about the person/people pushing you on the swing! WHOA. that's heavy, good stuff. thank you!

Lynn Morrissey
Reply November 1, 2012

What a breathtakingly fresh author you are, Abby, and how wonderful for Amber, another gifted author, to link up with you (a friendship chain is a good thing, I think). I have loved these posts because they've caused me to think about chains in my own life, often invisible and, therefore, harder to detect. I think your chain metaphor here is surprising and wondrous, and something that had never occurred to me before—how we can stay chained in place, alternately swinging between the feeling of faux freedom and the dizzying whiplash that whips us back to a bound reality. I love your profound post because it makes me think. On another note, it strikes me that if one is on a swing and feels bound, that that "captivity" is also false. There is nothing on a swing (save the baby swings that have harnesses) that keeps us bound. We're free to jump off at any time, and don't always do that (to which you astutely allude). But in the case of a swing, the chains are not actually holding us in. And it strikes me that there is something exhilarating about the view from the uppermost arc of swinging through the air. In this case, the chains actually become our means of helping us to pump (because we have something onto which to hold), and thus, they help propel us higher and higher. I love that feeling of soaring freely towards the clouds, higher and higher still, hair unloosed, the breeze whooshing through and scattering strands helter-skelter. I ask myself: What if I could use my chains to propel me to greater freedom? What if they didn't hold me, but I held them? I reflect on those times, too: For example, how God helped me turn the tables on chains of alcoholism, clinging to Him while I let go the bottle, and making me far more empathetic to others who struggle. Those chains no longer control me, but I (with God's help!!), control them. And now, thanks be to God, He has given me greater freedom to "fly high" in Christ and not on wine. Thank you, Miss Abby, for such a deeply felt, insightful post which has helped me rejoice freely anew in what God has done. You are wonderful!

    Reply November 1, 2012

    Lynn, i am overwhelmed with gratitude for this comment and your story-sharing-grace. thank you for pushing the metaphor to its apex. i love the way you see things so beautifully through the lens you've been given. these chains do not hold us, they are a tool. thank you so much for your kind words and what you've added to this image in my mind. you may be my new favorite person on the internet.

      Lynn Morrissey
      Reply November 1, 2012

      Abby....or is it Abby Leigh (one word or two? :-) . . . Oh, thank you so much for *your* gracious words--quite unexpected, and so very much appreciated!! I LOVE what you said about our chains being tools! This is a wonderful depth insight. I couldn't help but immediately think of the apostle Paul and how God Himself put him in chains (via others) in order to spread the Gospel. Phil. 1:“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” So not only can chains of our own making be transformed into tools to implore God’s help and to lean on Him for freedom, but He uses chains of His making for His greater purposes—to share His Good News and to set others free and/or to make us more like Christ. He has superimposed chains of discipline in my life a number of times to set me free from bondage. Oh, Abby! Just think of it: God can even use chains to free us. What a great God we serve. Thank you for such rich writing and sharing!

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply November 1, 2012

And then sometimes, the One pushing the swing gives a shove at just the right moment and you fly freedom's arc. And you land hard and breathless and frankly a little out-of-sorts for the suddenness of it all.

Then you turn around and say, "Do it again!"

Reply November 2, 2012

Ok. I have to admit that reading this once...I just couldn't grasp it (please don't tell anybody). But, as is often the case, I came back, read the post again AND the comments...I got IT and so much more! (How are the people who comment here as amazing as the writers?)
I'm still chewing on this whole chain series and how it applies...but I like the idea of turning my chains into something useful for Him...that's what HE does, right? If we let Him...and often even if we don't.

Reply November 2, 2012

What a gorgeous, piece. Steph from Adventures in Babywearing sent me over and I'm thrilled to have found two amazing writers at one time.

LoveFeast Table
Reply November 2, 2012

"may the heat of my breath on its way to the heavens eat away at the covers on my chains, cutting me free, one link at a time, from the back and forth and back again." The visuals you have painted in my mind this morning, will linger with me throughout the day. Thank you.

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