Tuesday, January 30, 2018

more than the missionary position

Imagine, if you will, a conversation/debate between/among Catherine Deneuve, Oprah Winfrey, and Dr. Carol Christ

Oprah Winfrey is an American media phenomenon, actress, producer, and philanthropist. Her speech during the Golden Globes Awards, riveted audiences with its compelling rhetoric declaiming that the time for brutally powerful men was up. . . that the “Me, Too” movement was prelude to a seismic shift in society. 

Once called “the world’s most elegant woman,” Catherine Deneuve is the actress/singer/model/producer who was one of more than 100 French women who signed an open letter denouncing the #MeToo movement for conflating sexual assault with harmless flirtation. [She later apologized to female victims of violence.] 

Dr. Carol Christ is a feminist theologian, author, and director of the Ariadne Institute for the Study of Myth and Ritual. She twice annually leads women on tours of Crete to learn about Minoan culture. 

About three years ago, I spent two weeks in Crete on one of those tours, absorbing the archeological traces of the matrifocal/matrilineal/matrilocal society that flourished there for a couple thousand years. I was convinced: non-dominational societies are possible. 

Parse that word a moment: ‘non-dominational’ – no domination – no gender or sector or class with more privilege or power than any other. 

It is entirely possible that Catherine, Oprah and Carol would not argue or debate. They each believe in the self-sovereignty of women and their inherent right to be treated with respect. They have no objection to harmless flirtation. And they all know there is more to life than the missionary position.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Who the hell was Sarah?

In my last post, I reported singing “We Are Dancing Sarah’s Circle.” I was moved by the context of the hymn – a service featuring the personal stories of nine people in different stages of their lives – “sisters, brothers all.”

But what did it mean to be “dancing Sarah’s circle”? And who the hell was Sarah?

Thank goodness for Google. It has been a long, long time since I checked out Biblical stories. I have just spent the better part of the morning reading about aspects of the convoluted story of this Jewish matriarch – and prophet. A respected woman!

One of the reasons I abandoned my childhood Sunday school beliefs was the perceived over-arching misogyny of our Judeo-Christian heritage. According to Google sources, Sarah probably lived about 2000 BCE (Before the Common Era). Her spouse, Abraham, was the progenitor of three patriarchal religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Why was my non-patriarchal congregation dancing to a song honoring (by implication) a woman of these persuasions?

What I decided was that Sarah’s circle represents the long thread of human history – “every round a generation … on and on the circle’s moving.” And our connections to each of its strands. Patriarchal or not. I’m okay with that but will have more to say about the stain of patriarchy. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Tsunami of Circles

Over the past weekend I was flooded by a tsunami of powerful emotions. 

I was asked to participate in the wedding of two quite wonderful people . . . actually to write a poem for the ceremony. [I am not a poet.] What an honor. 

To get to the rehearsal and ceremony, I hitched a ride with my minister and her partner. What a pleasure. 

The rehearsal was held in the nursing home where the groom’s Alzheimer-stricken father is cared for. What compassion. 

Then we went to a family landmark restaurant and had pizza in a loud but delicious celebration of everyone. Fun. 

Before the wedding, the couple and the photographer drove to the Garden of the Gods to take pictures. I tagged along. Hooray. 

The ceremony, in an historic chapel in La Foret, was magical. When we left to drive back home, I felt as if I had acquired new family. 

Then the next day . . . a stunning service at church – our traditional ‘Decades Service’ in which nine people, each in different life decades, talked about who they are and what they hope to do with their lives (however much remains). 

People’s stories – when we take time to listen—are compelling. All people’s stories. 

To close the service, we sang ‘We Are Dancing Sarah’s Circle”. Verses included: ‘here we seek and find our history’, ‘we will all do our own naming’, ‘every round a generation’, ‘on and on the circle’s moving’. Each verse ends with the refrain: ‘sisters, brothers, all.’ 

In one weekend, multiple celebrations of the circle of life – still spinning in my heart. [In the photo: the bride, the groom, their dog]

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Counting the Days

I get it.

Twenty-nine organizations have sent me 2018 calendars. Twenty-nine! Some of these organizations are ones to which I contribute. The others would like me to contribute. Most are significantly worthy … but there has to be a limit.

I am used to getting too many calendars but 29 is a record. I use three – one by each of two desks in my study and a third on the pass-through wall. [The pass-through calendar covers an ugly fixture that I think once connected to a landline telephone.]

People who visit me this time of year can, if they wish, have one or more of their choosing, to take home and hang by their desks and/or cover their own ugly fixtures.

The rest will go to my congregation’s RE program, if they would be useful. Others will be recycled.

What am I to make of all this … all these… all these 29 calendars? Obviously, there are a lot of worthy organizations that need money. But I think it’s more than that.

This year, perhaps more than any other in my long existence, it is patently important that I pay attention to the days – all 365 of them. And make each of them count. To do that, I must pay attention to all that I do – write when I’m writing, walk when I’m walking, pet my cat when I pet my cat, etc. 
If we focus on each activity, each activity will become more significant.

And so will we. Anyway, that’s my theory. And I have the calendars to prove it.

Monday, January 1, 2018

crystal pigs

It's mysterious how some things lodge themselves in your imagination and personal traditions.

I've had Christmas trees since 1963. My first trees mirrored those I had known growing up. Eventually, I established my own traditions -- each year embellishing and amending according to circumstances and finances. After about 50 years, I realized that I had accumulated too many ornaments/traditions and began giving them away, getting (relatively) smaller trees. 

About five years ago the woman who published my first book, Tree Lines; A Memoir, came to my house for a holiday celebration. I'm pretty sure it was she who gave me the ornament saying, "Everyone should have a crystal pig."

I had not known that.

Still for me, Christmas is a time to accumulate and share all possible forms of light  . . and crystal pigs sparkle.

They also make the days sparkle. It's fun to challenge younger visitors to find the crystal pig. Sometimes they move the critter and challenge me to find her. 

And they do and I do. And every time we smile.

So that's what I wish for all of us. 
May we each find our individual crystal pigs.
And shine on.