These thoughts have been percolating in my head for months now, but I've been too nervous to put them out there. The message feels pretty counter-cultural, though that could just be me, renegotiating what I thought I knew. My words aren't perfect (they never are), and they didn't come easily. As always, I'm still figuring it out, and this is what I've found true, for now.
Recently I started reading Birth Mattersby Ina May Gaskin, and she touches so fiercely and deeply on what I'm trying to comprehend and convey. So at the very least, I know I'm not alone. (It also doesn't hurt that Ani DiFranco, my teenage idol, wrote the book's intro.)
Deep breath. Onward.
When I was around four years old, I put together an elaborate Christmas wish list for Santa. I don't remember specifics (though the hard copy may very well be lurking in a box somewhere in my parents' basement), but I do know I didn't receive a single thing on it. "Santa" had already obtained all our presents that year, and none of them matched up with what my preschool heart desired. Turns out, it didn't matter. On Christmas morning I woke up to a sea of beautiful dress up clothes surrounding the fireplace. They were "nothing I asked for, and everything I wanted!" Direct quote right there, via my mom's retelling: "I got nothing I asked for, and everything I wanted!" Motherhood, for me, has been a lot like that. Minus the fancy outfits. I had no idea I could be so deeply satisfied as a wife and mom, that it was possible to find a soul-level calling in motherhood. I still feel like I'm not supposed to admit this. I'm not supposed to say that the thing that has taught me most about what it means to be a woman has been becoming a mom. Or that the most empowering experience I've ever had was giving birth, and I'm actually looking forward to doing it again. I've never been very athletic or physically-inclined. My brand of feminism growing up mostly had to do with wanting to be seen and appreciated for my mind, whereas my body was best ignored entirely. Sure, I picked myself apart with the best of them (feet too big, boobs too big, thighs too big, etc.), but damn anyone else who dared objectify me. Down with the man! In labor and delivery, though, I finally understood what I was madefor, made to do and to be. For the first time, I saw my body as an incredible, powerful gift. My body was capable of successfully growing, birthing, and feeding a brand new human being, and one that I instantly loved like none other. Predictably, this threw my sense of self into flux. Not because I was suddenly a mom--that part actually felt unbelievably natural; but because it was utterly counterintuitive to consider my body sacred when I'd lived my whole life half-heartedly trying to accept that I had a body at all. It's a lesson I'm still learning: That my body and mind must work in tandem, and neither is better or more necessary than the other in this all-too-human experience. In this way, my feminism is much more rooted in an understanding of the feminine--what it means to be female, body, mind, and soul. The experience of motherhood, of mothering, is an innate part of that. On a larger scale, I believe our society is craving a similar kind of balance. Pursuing "equality" within a patriarchal structure, where we essentially advocate for women to be treated more like men, does nothing to address or elevate the inherent gifts we bring to the table simply by being female. As Edith Stein said, "The world doesn't need what women have, it needs what women are." I wholeheartedly agree.
We spent Saturday afternoon at the orchard, enjoying the beautiful weather and picking a full peck of Gala apples. I was a little worried we'd have to get baking or give a bunch away, but Caleb has been chowing down on them like nobody's business. Although there is definitely still a warm apple crisp in our future, and I plan to grate a few into our oatmeal now that cool mornings have arrived. We went to the same place as last year--I guess that makes the family tradition official now? Crazy to look back and see what a difference a year makes! It was definitely nicer going early in the season this time around, and with a healthy, well-rested kid. Plus, he's just so much fun these days (I mean it! So far, the almost-twos? No so terrible :) ).
I'm having a little trouble sizing photos for the blog at the moment (all these fancy software updates on my new computer are throwing me!), so what you see above is it for now. Hopefully I'll get the kinks worked out soon and have a manageable system once again! I've been missing this space more than I realized.
LOVE, people. Love love love love love love LOVE, with a big side of forgiveness. Grace in motion.
Today I figured out where I stand on the whole Kim Davis thing. I know, you're relieved. You can rest easy tonight, America! Or at least, I can, since I was reminded that I am not, in fact, Atlas, and the weight of the entire world is not mine to bear. (False idols, anyone?)
Here's my job: To love.
Figuring out who is right and who is wrong and who said it better? Pass. Because a lot of times it seems like the only answer is: There is no answer. And the only question worth asking is: What would love do?
When I'm consumed by world events and the media, I do a pretty crappy job of loving my family and neighbors. I swear at traffic and frown at strangers, which is not good for unclenching the heart.
I know these things. Yet somehow over the past few weeks I grew increasingly convinced that if I only kept reading, stayed down the information rabbit hole long enough and late enough, collecting various evidence and opinions, I'd eventually find THE TRUTH in these problems that are not mine to solve.
Frankly, I don't buy the story of Kim Davis' victimhood. What I do buy, however (given that I've never met her and have been following her story peripherally at best), is that she's lost in self-righteousness. That possibly, she's just like all the rest of us: Broken, and a little bit afraid, and a whole lot human. Do you know what feels really good when you're in that void? Making other people wrong. Making yourself better than.
It's not about gay people, or God: It's about her. Her own ego and fear and insecurities and pesky human nature.
Kim Davis may want to feel better than. Maybe she just wants to feel good enough. If that's the case, then we have more in common than I thought.
If she shows up at my church next April wanting her feet washed (doubtful, but roll with me for a second), I'm washing 'em. Same goes for any gay/transgendered/divorced/post-abortive/addicted/homeless/fill-in-the-blank person, and for Donald Trump. Also millionaires and dads who wear socks with sandals. I'm not saying we should all necessarily hang out and be friends (or that the Donald's feet wouldn't gross me out); but every single one of us is still invited to the table. I'd like to see less political rallying and more rallying around each other. It doesn't matter if I have all the answers in the world if I'm failing to love the ones in front of me.
The other day I was listening to an old On Being interview with astrophysicist Mario Livio. He was talking about mathematics, and he said that, as with anything, we like the answers to be black or white. Most people can even live with grey. What's dang near impossible for us to accept is that something can be both black and white. This is also where he finds truth.
Both/and.The hardest and truest place to dwell. In math, and in life.
But WE CAN DO HARD THINGS, right? Is that not the rallying cry I've heard over and over again through certain places on the internet? And as Mama T (and, yes, Momastery) reminds us, we belong to each other.
Even Kim Davis.
. . .
"Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you, as you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus."
"In the end, dear friend, it is always between us and God, not between us and them."