Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Thanksgiving Traditions

This Thanksgiving, we're away from our extended families and are enjoying making some new traditions. Being that we're both the babies of our families, we didn't get a whole lot of say in forming traditions. We kind of had to take what was there. This year, we woke up and stayed in our jammies until noon. We ate cheese grits and eggs for breakfast and went to the park after an abbreviated luncheon. We also made some new food traditions for our good old-fashioned Grizwold Smith Family Thanksgiving:

This year, bone-in, grass-fed ribeyes. Big fat, ribeyes. With (of course, there is a with) sautéed portabella mushrooms, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, roasted fresh Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. (I know, mom, the CARBS!) We're also having apple pie with ice cream. Burk had milk. Because that is all Burk ever has and we all feel sad for him. Carrie is having cheese grits and raspberries with ice cream and sugary baked apples. And Brussels Sprouts. Seriously. (I KNOW mom, the protein. She did eat a little bit of deli turkey.) But the kicker...the absolute BEST PART is s'mores on the grill! I am so excited, I'm liable to pee my pants, y'all!

P.S. Today Carrie dropped something and when I handed it back, she looked up at me with a face of the utmost gravity and said "Da tu Mama." Perfect ending.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Helpless, but Healed.

There's something all at once cute and pitiful about tiny hospital gowns.

If God is teaching me anything, it's that when He ordains difficulty in our lives it enables us to regard the suffering of others with greater kindness and respond to their needs with a gentle spirit. My high-risk pregnancy required me to undergo weekly contraction stress tests at the hospital. Every week, almost without exception, I sat behind the curtain in my little cubicle and heard another woman receiving bad news about her pregnancy. It got to the point that I understood what was happening in the next cube before the nurse actually vocalized it. And yet every week, I received good news about Burk. He arrived at 39 weeks, fat and full-term, despite even my O.B.'s doubts that we could make it so far.

This weekend, Burk underwent surgery at Children's Hospital to correct infantile pyloric stenosis. Seeing my month-old newborn undergo surgery and all it entails was one of the more difficult trials of my life. Yet, for the surgery team and the nurses who cared for him, it was routine. No one expected complications and the prognosis, as it was explained to me many times, was that he would get the surgery and recover. "We'll do this procedure and that will be the end of that," is how his surgeon explained it to us. And it's been true. On Friday, we took our dehydrated baby for a diagnostic ultrasound. On Sunday, we were home feeding a milk monster all the formula he could drink. It's starting to sink in now that it's over and I'm teary and tired.

But as we wandered the halls of the hospital looking for a late-night cup of coffee or just trying to blow off steam, we met some of the parents who inhabit the hospital. "Inhabit" isn't an inaccurate word, either, as some of them are there for months on end only to expect to return again after a few short weeks at home. In the cafeteria, I met a father there to see his 14-year-old daughter undergo a knee transplant after chemo had destroyed her joints. (She is Jaden. Remember her.) In admitting, I met a young mother admitting her son for the umpteenth time for an intestinal blockage. She knew every surgeon and his or her staff personally. (Her son is Aiden. Please pray for him.)

We stayed on the seventh floor just down the hall from the NICU. I watched parents wander the halls in the pajamas like ghosts knowing personally how adrenaline is to sleep like soap to oil in water. The difference is that I went home after two sleepless nights. They won't go home for weeks.

And I contemplate this and realize that God doesn't always spare our children. Sometimes, good parents lose their children. I don't understand it. So many people contacted me over the weekend expressing how sorry they were for what we were going through and wondering how they could help. I couldn't explain how little we really were experiencing compared to the suffering of others. Yet the strangest thing to contemplate is that our suffering not only gives us gratitude for the mercy God has bestowed upon us, but it also makes real the smaller (relatively, of course) sufferings of others. God wields the tool of difficulty to give us hearts turned toward mercy.

So put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I can't stand the rain against my window...

Burk on his birthday.

Contrary to how it may appear, the rain is not falling from the sky. It's pushing upward from the ground and flowing out of the storm drains like some kind of horror-movie creature. I'm enjoying it with a cup of coffee because both of my children are sleeping. Burk will be one month old tomorrow.

My body is healing slowly from his birth. It's amazing how quickly you can recover from a c-section, but I'm still working to heal from the epidural. I'll start at least six weeks of twice-weekly physical therapy on Monday. Childbirth isn't pretty sometimes. But I think it was beautiful.

I'm a little worried that I won't be finished with P.T. in time to get back in school in January. These days, I can't only focus on one thing at a time. I look forward to steak on Thanksgiving. I look forward to my very first fly-fishing lesson. I look forward to Christmas. And a trip to New York in the spring. (I hope.) I look forward to next summer when both of my children will swim.

I'm looking forward to Burk's baptism.

I wish I had the time to sink down into the mood to write like I used to for this blog. It takes a few drinks sometimes. But I do have time to chronicle what happens in the quotidian. (OH, what a delightfully pretentious word.) And what I am learning in the quotidian—as I battle what I battle day in and day out—is that the war is won in the minute. That is, most of us long for a kind of William Wallace glory moment. (FREEDOM! right?) But no one knows where most warriors fall. We win or lose in the way we consider our neighbors, care for our children, cook our suppers and love our families. The battle of the moment is a battle of years and the light of our glory is hidden under the bushel of the quotidian. And we are all warriors.

Can I get an amen?

Monday, November 09, 2009

I'm the boss. Need the info.

Do any of my medically-inclined friends have any info on the incidence of arachnoiditis following epidural anaesthesia? Not as the result of a dural puncture and not preceded by any epidural compromise and not accompanied by arachnoid cysts. Thank you muchly.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When D. Gets Tired of Trading Mortgages.....

I think he should trade cows. It's like Jeff Boomhauer on speed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"It was not courage...I was compelled...."

Bishop Rucyahana

The house next door to ours has been foreclosed upon. Of course, this isn't a particularly unusual happening these days and being that the house was owned and "maintained" by a slumlord, it isn't particularly upsetting. For the past few days, I've been watching the men employed by the bank as they cleaned truckload after truckload of junk out of the house and carted it away. They told me a little of what they found inside, though, and that was something I did find somewhat upsetting. They found the usual rotting food and filth, but they also found evidence of (I know the neo-pagans would disapprove of this moniker, but it is what it is) witchcraft and black rituals. They removed spell books and Voodoo dolls and at least one bag of animal carcasses. I don't think this happening deserves too much attention, but I do believe that there are forces in the world that act as opposition to us as we try to walk with Christ and share something of his Light with the world. Even if we are woefully negligent in doing so.

Our beloved priest and his equally beloved wife (who happens to be our deacon) prayed for us and blessed our home before we even knew what was happening outside. And God heard and delivered us.I recite a litany of faithfulness. I proclaim the faithful hand of God my Father on my life. And that he has cloaked my in His protection and favor is especially evident in the unfolding of these circumstances.

This morning, I was reminded of God's faithfulness again at church when we were blessed and anointed by our Rwandan Bishop (yeah, I'm that kind of Anglican) John Rucyahana. He spoke powerfully about the failure of the Church to withstand the pressure of culture and
boldly proclaim Christ and his faithfulness. It was humbling and it was powerful.
Then, I read an excerpt from this article in Christianity Today in which another Anglican bishop
recounts some of the problems he's observed in what has come to be known as the emergent
church. Here it is:

First, the emergents are so sensitive to issues of community, relationship, egalitarianism, and being non-utilitarian in their relationships, that evangelism has simply become a synonym for manipulation—a foul ball, relationally. If you and I were work colleagues and I built a relationship in which I could influence your journey toward Christ, that would be considered wrong in these circles. I cannot be friends with you if I intend to lead you to Christ.

Second, after 10 or 12 years of the emerging church, you have to ask where anything has been built. Evangelism has been so muted and the normal building of structures and processes hasn't moved forward because there's no positive, godly imagination for doing either evangelism or leadership. Such things are by definition utilitarian, and so they were made especially difficult.

And while I wholeheartedly agree that this is definitely the case in some of the modern churches who embrace the faddish appeal of the liturgy yet deny it it's power to transform, I must admit that some of these characteristics have been the hallmark of my own journey. This kind of Christianity lead me to near spiritual starvation and I've been in a kind of spiritual intensive care ever since. And I repent.

I feel somewhat compelled to share the words that our bishop gave to us this morning. If you're interested, you can find the mp3 here.

(And I have NO IDEA what is going on with the font in this post.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Autumn is a second spring, with every leaf a flower." Albert Camus

Carrie in the roses on her very first birthday.

This morning, I feel like I've just woken up from a very long sleep in a very dark place. It's taking me a minute to fully come-to and remember where I am. I can tell that my writing has gone musty and frayed with misuse like the quilts I stack on my hope chest during the summer. I need to shake it out and put it to use.

This summer—this interminable summer—is finally fading away and leaving me as completely ready to see it go as I ever have been. I wore it out like a good pair of jeans. By the Labor Day horse show in Tennessee, it was soft and broken in and unfit for public wear. So, I let it go. And felt grateful. I spent two weeks at the beach at the end of August recovering from pneumonia and enjoying beaches that spread out like Caribbean travel brochures under an uncharacteristically cool sky. I made it to Lake Martin for a weekend and reveled in the way the water smells (and unfortunately, tastes) like decades of fishing and skiing and lazy Bourbon drinking. It was a beautiful summer. And it surrounded one of the hardest times of my life.

This summer, we seemed to go from difficulty to difficulty. My pregnancy became decidedly high-risk somewhere in mid-July and I've already been in the hospital three times. Our Golden Retriever has been diagnosed with untreatable lymphoma. And our spirits have been tried with any number of smaller troubles and clogs that probably wouldn't bear mentioning even if I could remember them all. It was a strange fusion of sweet and sour. To say the least.

But we have thrived in this rocky soil and we find it hard to attribute it to anything other than the grace of a benevolent God and the trials he wields like a surgical scalpel to dissect our sinful spirits. Whereas I began the summer in a perilous state of unbelief and rebellion, he has used difficulty to bring me back to faith and to further reveal and heal the collateral damage caused by too long a time in too dark a place.

These last few weeks (days?) before the baby's arrival are pearls He has given me to savor and admire and enjoy. And I am grateful.

The end.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What a difference a year makes...

This year, I watched the fireworks TRIUMPHANTLY. (And cried like a little girl.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

I don't wanna be a good girl scout...and love for each of these, my two babies.

There was a time in my life when I realized I might never have children. And as my grief started to subside (or perhaps in order to kill it) I became intoxicated on the easy indolence of childlessness and on the redemption of graduate school and on all the hedonistic pleasure I could muster. I set aside two hours of every day to sit on my front porch and relish good beer. I gloried in the roughhoused messiness of this neighborhood and on the freedom offered by a little bit of money in a good economy and the opportunities I had to eat and drink on the long-fabled (and now sadly diminished if not entirely extinct) investment banker's expense account. And I made art. Not good art. But art nonetheless.

And then, I found out about Carrie. And everything changed. It has taken me some time to get back on my feet, so to speak, and to begin to make sense of my position as mother. Soon, B. will be here, too and I'll have to make some more adjustments not so much to who I am as to my perception of myself.

This is part of a much longer post, but for now, I remember who I was and accept who I am and relish the idea that the two are reconciled. At least for now.

Someday, I'll suit up again and pour some iron. But for now, there is Tom Waits. Who I hope to introduce to my babies. Here you go, babies.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Had another ultra sound today....saw parts. And OH my poor poor uterus and its adhesions. It is punishing me for making it work overtime. It is telling me that it needs a break. I can't believe its already been 16 weeks! I learned today that it is difficult to find an "I'm the Big Sister" t-shirt in a size as small as the one I'll need.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The TMI post. So, stop reading now if you aren't feeling compassionate.

So, I think most of my friends now know that I am going to have another baby in October. That's right. I have a 9-month-old. They will be 15 months apart. I don't think I've blogged directly about this subject, frankly, because I don't blog about painful subjects too often. Moderately painful? Yes, but seriously painful? Not too much. I had a vision of some beautiful eloquent blog about my birth experience. It ain't going to happen, though. So, sorry. Here's what I've got:

When I was pregnant with C., I had a problem with P.I.H. that resulted in an induction at 38 weeks. Medically, it was a sound decision for my doctor to make. I wasn't pressured or pushed or compelled to go into labor so my doctor could go on vacation. I had a pretty good experience. Spent the night in the hospital and by three the next afternoon, I was minutes away from delivering. But, a totally unpredictable complication arose and I wound up having a very emergent c-section. The time from "decision to incision" was less than three minutes. Carrie was born in less than 7 minutes. My OB saved my baby's life. When she had finished repairing my incision, she came over and gave me a kiss on the head. We've kind of had a weird bond ever since.

But, what I remember about my birth experience is having a nurse jump on the bed with me and running down the hallway to the O.R. I remember the frantic instructions being literally shouted back and forth between the medical staff. I remember feeling the tug of the incision before I was all the way on the table. I remember the bright lights and the way I spread my arms out so the anesthesiologists could get the lines they needed. I asked the doctors if I was going to die. But, all that was really ok. I didn't mind not having a "normal" birth experience too much. I was grateful to have received the care I needed.

The hard part came after everything was over. I didn't get to see my baby because I was upstairs with a morphine drip and she was downstairs in the NICU. As I write this, I realize I'm not ready to write about the details yet. Suffice it to say, it was hard.

I was shocked at how many people have some pretty mean things to say about C/S in the U.S. Doctors are blamed (a lot) for doing unnecessary surgeries and inductions. It seems that all of a sudden, some people don't even believe in the possibility of a needed intervention. And people come out of the woodwork to criticize your decision (except for that I didn't really have a decision) or to let you know that if you had chosen a different kind of health-provider you wouldn't have had the experience you did. So, it becomes your fault that you had an emergency c/s and a baby in the NICU. And it sucks. (And this is not to say that whatever you did or whatever you choose is awful. You have freedom, too. It's just to say that I wouldn't have a baby if I had made another choice. And that is black and white.)

What has also been hard, though, is that I am now faced with the prospect of going through the whole process again. But this time, I have the choice whether or not to have a C/S again. And it's a choice I've made. And I'm feeling okay about it. But it's pretty soon to be making that choice again. And I'm not going to lie and say that this is going to be easy, or that I'm not nervous.

And that is all. Except for this: I don't have a scar. Not even a little tiny scar. I mean I have NOTHING to show for all of this trauma. Who comes away with a 7-inch incision (emergency c/s incisions are large and uneven) with NO SCAR? I do. Thanks, wonderful OB fairy.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

From USA Today

"A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic President supports abortion and supporting him 'constitutes cooperation with intrinsic evil.'"

Well, he might be celibate but he' tact.

le pain quotidien

1. Icy water in a soft-spouted sippy-cup is nice when you have a new tooth coming up.

2. I relish the idea of taking two semesters off to spend with my Big Baby and my Little Baby and David. I eat and breathe literature, but I need some time just to be a reader and not a student. My little one will be four months old when I go back, and I'll be ready.

3. My mother-in-law said that being in graduate school, toting around a 9-month-old, selling a house and being pregnant is a lot for one girl to do. That validation was like honey.

4. I have decided to forego the organic co-op in light of the fact that the farmer's market will really be kicking it up before too long.

5. It isn't popular to say, but this little family really is the work of my life. Obviously, not the only work of my life, but the sweetest.

6. A meal from Chez Fon Fon would feed more than my body right now.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Caro and the Cheerio Bib

My Aunt Sister gave me a Cheerrio bib. I can keep my Cheerios in the little pocket at the bottom and eat them up when I'm feeling hungry. I might like to eat them in church and smile at Father L. I can always make him laugh when he is trying to deliver his sermon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What? Are you looking at me?

Today, we had the unexpected chance to have lunch with D. at his office. C. and Corduroy loved eating the grass and I loved spending time with D. Somehow, I can't get tomato pie out of my mind. Time to plant a bucket-o-basil.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kool-Aid for All

This is one of those entries that started as a comment-reply and grew beyond its banks like the Red River.

I've been thinking about what got our country into such a mess. I've read several interesting articles about the rise and fall of the sub-prime mortgage (and more importantly of the sub-prime mortgage-backed security) and I've found them useful. My husband is a great source of information as his market-color has come to be read and praised by traders all over the country. (Sorry to embarrass you honey, but it's true.) So, I feel that I'm probably more educated on the matter than the average aspiring English professor. Which is to say, not very. Nevertheless, I think the media has taken a complex soul-issue and boiled it down to WALL STREET VERSUS MAIN STREET binary with a great color graphic and a few choice soundbites.

What we have here is not as much a tale of corporate greed and Wall Street traders gone amok (Because corporations and Wall Street traders have always been greedy. Seriously, that's their JOB.) as it is a tale of the average American and his and her feelings of insecurity and entitlement. What we have here is a bad case of use-my-house-as-a-piggy-bank to fund the lifestyle I can't afford. People got ARMs without considering what would happen if their rates reset before they got better jobs and used their HELOCs to fund their vacations. And it doesn't take an economist to deduce that when you spend money you don't have in the hopes that an investment you made will pay off at a rate of 20%, you run into trouble. And then, when the real estate market Fairy Godmother didn't come through, these people felt owed something. By the government, by the Wall Street folks who thought up those crappy securities, and by those people who paid their mortgages and didn't try and go to the Bahamas on HELOC money. This is overly simple, and David is probably going to find all kinds of problems with it. Maybe I'll let him amend and correct.

But my point, and the really sad thing about all of this is that people all over the country are busting their guts to make an extra $30K on their houses. They're pulling teeth (sometimes each other's) over that extra $300 a month they got from their ARMs that they needed so desperately to construct the veil of prosperity over a false face of debt. And don't get me wrong, $30K is a lot of money to me, too. A LOT of money. But I'm thinking, even as our little cottage is on the market, about the value of an extra bedroom and an extra 300 square feet. And you know, the conclusion I come to is that it just doesn't matter. It doesn't really matter at all.

What does seem to matter to me increasingly are the sweet faces of my children (the tiny little baby who I've seen only once and the little bigger baby) and my husband. What matters to me is that spring is here and summer is coming and my roses are blooming. I care that the broad fields spread out along the banks of the Tennessee River are plowed and black and ready to plant. I remember seeing acres of dead corn because of the drought, but God sent the rain and this summer there will be corn and tomatoes and peaches and okra and watermelon for everyone. And this is important to me.

I care that my parents are strong and in their right minds. I care that my nieces and nephews are all growing up in to the people God made them to be. I care that my priest notices when I don't come to church and writes to ask how I am. I care that Jesus has called me by my name.

It matters that when my head hits the pillow, I sleep with a clear conscience. It matters to me that when my baby is hungry, I have enough for her to eat and when she is dirty, I have clean water in which to wash her.

And what does it matter in the end if you or someone else judges me by what I have or don't have? I have everything. So, I'm not going to spend a whole lot of time trying to impress those people who I don't really like anyway. I'm not going to talk about whose house sold for what and how mad I am that I didn't get more. I'm not going to lose my temper over money I never really had in the first place. I'm not going to scramble to cover the nakedness of an impoverished soul with clothes I don't like. It's time to loosen the burden of the phony baloney suburban-urban, housewife-corporate wife, spend-the-money-you-don't-have-on-stuff-you-don't-need-to-impress-your-neighbor-who-you-really-hate culture we've grown here. I'm sick to death of it. Literally, to death because it's a pernicious little grub in otherwise fertile ground. If that makes any sense at all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Shouldn't we be pissed?

Our President scares me. It's not cool to say, I know. It isn't socially acceptable for me to admit the niggling fear that the leadership of this President might facilitate a more complete embrace of the "Culture of Death" that J.P. II envisioned, but when I heard him make a crack at the Special Olympics on Leno, I had a vision of my country somewhere in the jack-booted future and I thought about my little daughter and the little baby coming in October and I wondered if I would love them less if they had disabilities. And I thought about the mothers who do have disabled children and how the President's comments must have cut to the quick. Our President didn't refrain from cracking jokes at their expense and this is a reason for grief. I don't think that this offhanded comment can be dismissed without frank consideration of what intention it may belie. This is our President speaking in public.

I am afraid that the last vestiges of an American culture that protected and valued the weak are being broken away and we're all too concerned with the Almighty Economy and the Thrill of Expected Change that we aren't noticing. We're being lied to when we're told that many of our methods of birth-control are "safe and effective." We're being lied to when we're told that it is harder to face an unplanned pregnancy than it is to have abortions. We're embracing lies when we don't admit that there are indeed abortionists and pro-choice individuals who really do embrace the radical ideas of eugenics and hierarchies of individual value that fueled the industrial murder of the Third Reich. We understand. We have compassion. But we must admit that many of the little girls marched into abortion clinics are the "weak who have no choice but to submit to the will of the strong" as J.P. said.

I'm not a Republican or even a Conservative, really. But I am a mother, and I can't bear to see the value of these little ones swept away in a tide of misplaced patriotism and the pursuit of some kind of nebulous concept of Change that no one has yet to even define. Christ have mercy on us. We fall off the cliff like lemmings because we fear for how others will perceive us and trust in anything to preserve our money. Human beings haven't evolved some kind of better conscience or moral fiber since 1938. Rest assured.

I will be uncool. I will admit that these are frightening times.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I caution you before you click on the link below, that the story contains some BAD WORDS. I don't approve of BAD WORDS (despite my facility with them) and I try not to use BAD WORDS in my blog because I know that many of you just don't want to read them and I am sincerely trying to cut back. So, click at your own risk, but be prepared to laugh your BAD WORDS off should you proceed.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday Nibbits

1. I found this article entitled The Qualities of a Godly Woman this afternoon and soon thereafter got a little nauseated. Whether it is because the article is nauseating or because of the condition I'm in, I'll leave you to determine. The only commentary I have right now is that I truly believe the human courtship ritual would be about as lively as tofu if women weren't allowed to wile the objects of their affection just a leetle bit. (Or a lot, actually.) How sad.

2. I don't even have a comment for this article except for that I'm pretty sure the decision to breastfeed or not is still a choice. There are no weaning police at my door, not yet anyway. It's probably a mistake to bemoan the passing of a right that hasn't actually passed. Gah.

3. This article is absolutely fascinating. I can't wait for Lifetime to make a movie. It will be worth getting cable for.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I don't really know if the saints in heaven can see us or not, but I am sure that they intercede for us when they do become aware of what's going on down here. I often ask my grandmother to remember me to Jesus and I think she does. I need her intercession this morning and I also ask St. Anne to remember me as I become aware of how distracted and diffused I have become. It is so easy to listen to all of the voices that speak into the wind. They want to be engaged and entertained, but deep down I know that to engage them is to depart from what I should be doing. (This isn't coming out right at all.) Suffice it to say, I confess. I confess to being too susceptible to the influences of the voices I should ignore and too deaf to the voices I should heed. This Lent season, I pray that Christ will allow me to be offensive when it serves his purpose and quiet when it serves his purpose. And I pray that he will grant me the wisdom to know where to speak and how. I am a finite person with a small capability, but what I have, I rest on him. All other ground really is sinking sand.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Coming Undone

Elberta Peach Blossom

Today I would be fooled into wearing my summer clothes if not for the crisp shadows of the trees and rosebushes and birds on the flat surface of the grass and the sidewalk. In the summer, in Alabama, shadows grow gray and diffused as if they are pressed flat under the languid brutality of the sun on the fields and the fruit trees and the insects. In the summer, not even the rupture of rain relieves the heat, but I still love the smell of the rain on the hot and oily asphalt. I love the syrupy indolence of the summer in the Southlands. 

But today is cold and my floor (long ago brutalized by termites) allows the chill of the basement to encompass my feet (five toes polished and five toes bare) and I realize that they won't again be warm until I tuck them under the quilt tonight. But I don't wear socks and I don't know why. And I've got a pair of cold feet in my mind, too. I'm constantly aware of how uncomfortable they are, but I'll tolerate their niggling chill until they break through the soil of my unconscious and force me to some kind of action. It's a fine balance of comfort and misery with which I am familiar. 

Lately, I'm finding myself on the periphery of a few conversations that overlap like Venn diagrams and raise more questions than answers. They're about something I haven't really delved into in a few months or years: the proper roles and positions of women in the Church and in the family. 

Two years ago I left the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination that had nurtured me from babyhood, and the next year joined an Anglican congregation. I've been a closet Anglican since the first time I attended an Episcopal service at St. Dunstan's parish in my college town, and taking this step feels like getting off of an uncomfortable fence. And something I love about my parish is that we don't talk about women. Ever. There are no bylaws to circumvent or negotiate. There are no questions regarding the gender of the person serving you holy communion, yet the elements themselves are handled with much more respect and care than any Presbyterian would care to offer them. And it is such a welcome respite for me when I remember the months of negotiation and exegesis and debate that went in to making sense of what women can and cannot do in the Presbyterian church. But lately, I find myself back in the fray (at least in my own mind) as I struggle through issues of submission (oh, blast!) in marriage and community. 

I don't believe in the Biblical Submission of the Wife. I just don't. It's sexism in a fancy hat. And yet that realization begs new questions. Was Paul a sexist? (Because I still find his writings in Timothy troublesome.) And if the answer is yes, does this open up a fracture in the carefully wrought veneer of my Cradle Calvinism and allow for an error in scripture? (Gasp.) And I venture...oh so slowly and on trembling say maybe.

And yet, as I think of my own marriage – this union of  stubborn and sharp-tongued loners, really—  I start to believe that in order to allow Christ to move through it and make it wholly His, I must lie down and die. Die. That is what it has come down to. I must relax my grasp on my own right to single-mindedly pursue my own goals. I must become pliable and forgiving instead of rigid and demanding. I must choose to nurture the unity of this relationship at the expense of the chaff and chattel of my selfishness and ambition. And I realize that I've never been here before. Never before has life offered me the choice of self or family. It makes me boil it down to this: am I such a uniquely flawless human that the elevation of my own good over the good of my family is justified? Honestly, as a feminist who loves well myself, I have to answer no. No, it isn't. And then I start to wonder not only if I can let this part of myself die, but how I can help to kill it. 

God help me. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thank You

I so appreciate all of you who read what I write here. I know some of you and don't know some of you, but it is significant to me that you are even a little interested in what I have to say. Thank you. 

But see, I'm running dry these days and I'm tired of spirit. So, I'm taking a computer sabbatical to concentrate on my thesis and my baby and my real-person friends. (The very few that I have.)  I'm not enjoying things as I should. And it's JANUARY after all.

I'm sure I'll be back in the spring and I hope you will be too.

Much Love,  (Really)


Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Conflux

For a while now, I've been stewing on the ideas of community and sanctification. They seem so unrelated, so at odds. Yet, from a theological perspective the case isn't hard to make that Christians belong in some kind of community of faith. Lately, I'm beginning to see the Darwinian aspects of community and human development. We are born helpless into a family. Give a baby and mother and a father (better yet a mother, father and two sets of grandparents) who love her, and she thrives and grows. But we don't, I'm seeing, progress beyond our need for family.

I've been terribly ill for about a week. In fact, I've been more ill than I have ever been before. Recovering from all of my surgeries was the French Riviera in comparison to trying to recover from this invasion of my body by one angry little bacterium. I was helpless. Helpless to feed myself. Helpless to give my little one a bath. But I have a family. A community. A network of support. And I am sure that the time will come when I take my part to cover and protect a member of my family who finds herself helpless. This is family and it is blessed.

From a spiritual perspective we are dependent on each other to know God. I pause to consider the implications of this notion. I, as quarrelsomely introverted as I am, am dependent on other human beings to know God as He intends. I need to be baptized, take part in the Eucharist, give my confession, pray for and be prayed for.

And the idea of community I'm seeing emerge (and the word "emerge" I select intentionally) is a group of fellow "seekers" who will "sit in the mud" with you as you negotiate life's often painful quotidian complexities. And I guess I can distill some measure of validity from this concept for some people. But I can't seem to get over the danger inherent in inviting the "unwashed masses" of the local church to participate in the sacrament of your own struggle. And by "dangerous" I don't mean exciting and risky, but beneficial. I mean perilous. As in watch out Will Robinson. As in flirting with irreparable harm and schism and woe. And what is the benefit of all this mud-sitting? Did Jesus come to sit in the mud and ruminate with us. Surely, there was some level of condescension in his willingness to clothe himself in flesh. But to what end to we celebrate our frailties and weaknesses when perhaps what we need is a hand up? 

I'm beginning for form a new concept of community for myself. No, that's false. I'm beginning to understand and work out the concept of community embraced and cherished by men and women much wiser than I. I wonder if this engagement with each other is something to consider more carefully. Surely, I have lent ears to fools to my own detriment. Surely the selection of an inner circle must come with prayer and great trepidation. And surely, we should not long allow ourselves to marinate in the excreta of our own repugnant sinfulness in the name of community. I don't think I care to have a community who would condemn me to such a fate and call it benefit. 

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Oh. My. Goodness.

Tonight I am left to wonder just what kind of parents:

use the BUMBO seat as a car-restraint system and/or a flotation device
put the baby to sea afloat on an Exersaucer
leave a child at the top of the stairs in their walkers to play Picabo Street
put a cozy plastic bag in the crib for a little late-night entertainment.

Probably the same people who eat the little packets that come in shoe boxes.

I read all of these warnings and I realize that somewhere, someone loaded up the Tahoe with little Betty in a BUMBO or thought to fill the Exersaucer with tea and I am dismayed at the state of the world.