My great-grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. She'd been sick with various ailments for a few years, and spent the last few months in bed. I saw her this summer and said my good-byes then, so I didn't travel with the rest of my family to Alabama for the funeral. She was 99; lived a great, long life with lots of compassion and quite a family legacy.
Her death is affecting me differently than I thought it would. I feel as though a part of my childhood died with her. No more summers catching fireflies in jars and sitting on the porch swing and clogging my arteries with Southern cooking.
Simultaneously, I'm getting married next summer. Societal expectations assume that marriage equals growing up. You can be 21 and married and a grown-up, but 35 and single and not a grown-up. Explain that to me. So whatever societal constrictions I fight against, I still feel them.
I don't want to be a grown-up (why do you think I've stayed in school so long?). I don't want to be a kid, either. My mom says 27 is a great age because I can enjoy the benefits of being young and the adventure of growing older. Or something like that. She says a lot of smart things that I try to let seep into the way I live. My dad says I should have a daughter my age getting married, that would make me feel like a grown-up.
Being engaged is terribly fun, but it presents a transition in identity that I could not have anticipated. How do I go from being one (me) to being one (us)? My sister says to think of it as adding to yourself, not taking away. Becoming one does not indicate losing yourself, and my partner is my best ally in the process.
But there's still a sort of mourning that happens... now I know why historically and in many cultures the women take the bride-to-be away for a week and really embrace that transition. I was a pretty content single woman, and now I'll be a content married woman. It's a lot to take in.
I think the reason I loved the fireflies so much was because they looked like stars, yet I could catch them. I could put them in a jar and make them my own personal miracle. So I'm taking them with me into my adulthood, or maybe I'll say growth journey. Because childhood miracles sustain and inspire us as we move forward, synthesizing all the parts of our complex and beautiful existence into one.
Monday, October 22, 2007
The children at my church are really cool. They come from pacifist homes and are more articulate and creative than I am. And so funny. Here are some of my favorite kids lines from this Sunday:
From a 6 year old: Do you know what Turkish medieval music sounds like? I can't show you because I don't have the instrument, but it's kind of like a bagpipe and flutes.
From a group of boys, after they pinned my fiance to the ground and pelted him with fake food: You are going to die from rotten death mold! (Apparently the pacifism hasn't quite caught on with them)
From a 3 year old: Cute boots! Mine are broken.
From a 4 year old: Hey! You are not the boss, you can't be... because you're a girl!
From a 7 year old in response to this comment: Dun dun dun... (think the music on movies that signals impending doom)
(And don't worry, I set him straight... and so did his mom when she came to pick him up)
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Whoever said feminists haven't done anything good for the world?
While I disagree with some of the politics of the National Organization for Women, they put forth a lot of initiatives that no one else does. The Love Your Body Campaign is one. "Give me your curves, your wrinkles, your natural beauty yearning to breathe free." Amen, sista!
Body image is a huge issue for women and men. We say that so often I seldom stop to think about it anymore. A few minutes of advertising analysis and you realize how screwed up the media is (check out the "Positive Ads" and "Negative Ads" on the website). Ads are over-sexualized, terribly focused on the superficial, and not to mention confusing.
All that to say, this is a good reminder to slow down and remember that "the King is enthralled by our beauty." I believe wholeheartedly that God intricately knit us together and made us unique and stunning. Our bodies are temples.
So exercise, eat right, take pride in the way you look... not because you hate your body but because you LOVE your body!
I leave you with the newest Dove Campaign for Real Beauty video. Dove launched this campaign after conducting a study in which 2% (that's right, two percent) of women said they thought they were beautiful. Sure, it's a clever marketing strategy, but I really applaud them. They have lots of educational outreach and good data to back up their media.
Remember... celebrate on October 18!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
"Love Wins" has been the theme of my church community for the past year or so. It reminds me that love never fails, the oft-quoted verse in I Cor. 13. That mantra means several things to me presently...
1) Most importantly it means that God, who is Love, never gives up on me. That might sound cliche, but it is so not cliche when you are doubting if God has any idea what He's doing with your life or the world, as I have often questioned lately. My health has dipped for longer than normal and even when I have been on the edge of totally isolating myself because of it, I have this really clear sense that God won't let me fall.
2) Love Wins also means that love triumphs over the strife and oppression in the world. Oppressors need to be loved, too. Victims need love. And I need to love them all, especially when I feel like I can't end slavery, or fix my foster brother, or stop discrimination, etc., by mere force of will. Love is where it all begins, out of deep compassion for the souls who suffer, and aligning myself with the high and the lowly, to love in an unconditional and profound way that I am only capable of doing with the full capacity of Christ's love.
3) And finally it means that in all my human relationships, love will never fail. That means that love hasn't failed in the relationships I have cut off or have been cut off from. And it doesn't and won't fail through all the changes and difficulties and nuances of my current and future relationships.