Monday, September 17, 2007

The Triumph of Hope over Common Sense & Experience

MadPriest has been raising all sorts of provocative issues on his blog today. PJ has been brave enough to take up the abortion issue in response...but I'm going to go her one better:

Marriage---What is it good for?

I read Grandmere Mimi's beautiful post about her 46th anniversary and it made me teary. That's what I wanted for myself. That's what everyone wants when they march down that aisle, I think.

But how many people really achieve it?

My friend Susie says that she believes it is mostly a matter of luck that you find a person with whom you can grow old---a person with whom you can learn, change, and grow without losing your own identity. I think she is right. I think luck has more to do with a happy marriage than any amount of hard work or commitment.

I have not been very lucky---or maybe I just wanted too much. Because, really, I wanted it all. Love. Friendship. Passion. Connection on all levels---spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual. Call me crazy...

It seems to me that only those with an unquenchable optimism can make a case for the institution of marriage--and yet, everywhere I turn, people keep getting married. Why?

If you are married, are you really happy? (And define "happy," please.) Do you see your spouse as your lover, best friend, soul mate---or more as a partner in the "family business"?

Is your marriage what you thought it would be when you made the commitment? And would you do it over again?

How much of your support for marriage is based on the legal and financial protections it gives you? (Right now, I'm not feeling too sanguine about those, but we'll leave that for another day...)

Most important---what do you tell your children about marriage in this day and age? What can I possibly say to my two beloved children about the "joys" of marriage?

I believe in love. I believe in commitment. But I don't much believe in marriage as an institution. (As a friend of mine says: "I support the institution of marriage, but I do not care to be institutionalized.")

I realize this stacks the decks against my GLBT friends, since, for the most part, they don't have the option of "institutionalizing" themselves. So tell me why you want to get married. (Leaving aside all the legal protections...that's a given.)

I will be allowing anonymous comments to this post. You can be as honest as you feel moved to be.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wild and precious life...

I have long been a fan of the poet Mary Oliver. It was her poems, West Wind #2 and The Journey, that ultimately gave the me the courage to leave my marriage.

(Anyone who says that poetry is boring has never been to the edge of madness and been pulled back from the brink by the "best words in the best order.")

This morning, I received (as I do each day) my e-mail from Writer's Almanac. It was another Mary Oliver poem:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I know that my blogfriend LJ named her own blog after this poem. And it speaks to me as well.

So much of my life has been lived according to other people's rules and expectations. I have done all the "right" things---college, grad school, career, marriage, motherhood. Climbing the ladder of social and financial success. Ticking off accomplishments on my To Do list.

But my wild and precious life has been largely ignored or forgotten, except in my relationship with God. It is in that relationship that I have felt precious and cherished. Despite my many sins and failures, I have known--do know--the unchanging, unfathomable, love of the One who created me.

In the midst of the Current Unpleasantness, I do not want to forget that I have only one wild and precious life. That I owe it to God, to myself, and to those who love me, to live it with all the passion and joy I can muster. That I have the power to choose happiness, even in the midst of trouble.

I taught a combined 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School class this past week, and we talked about the story of Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. We discussed Joshua's challenge to the people of Israel: "Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

I believe that challenge is ever before each of us. Whom (or what) will we serve? Will we focus on the anger, fear, and sorrow in our lives, to the exclusion of joy? Will we get so caught up in the day-to-day grind that we forget how to be "idle and blessed"?

Will we miss the forest for the leaves?

I will not. I will take the one wild and precious life that my God has granted me, and I will drink it to the lees. I will laugh and sing and pray and cry, and I will not allow my heart to be hardened.

Because everything dies at last, and when I do, I have decided that my tombstone will read:

She lived her wild and precious life!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ora pro nobis peccatoribus...

We are going to court. I signed the papers this morning. I handed over a credit card to make a large downpayment that, from a financial standpoint, I cannot really afford.

But I have realized it is a downpayment on my self-respect. I have signaled that I will not be browbeaten anymore. In that sense, it is an investment. I hope I have invested wisely, and without malice.

But whatever my reasons, for good or for ill, I have called his bluff. May God have mercy on us all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I want to write something beautiful...

I want to write something that will move you to tears.

I want to write something that will make you angry enough to move out of your comfort zone and do something.

I want to write something that will make you experience the love of God in your life.

I want to write something that will change the world. Even if it's only one heart at a time.

But the well is dry.

I'm covered over in work, which is a good thing, if exhausting. Things on the homefront are awful---I was told we had settled, but my ex apparently feels like I haven't given enough ground yet, and is demanding more. I'm afraid we are headed to court.

I want to write a new life and fall headlong into it.