Monday, August 6, 2012

you are, too


from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: 

Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensible center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as "the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body, so that it might be still, as the exis of a revolving wheel is still."

This beautiful image is to my mind the one that women could hold before their eyes. This is an end toward which we could strive - to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities. Solitude alone is not the answer to this... The problem is how to feed the soul.

I leaned forward to brush my teeth last night after reading this and noticed my dress's circle pattern on my chest, a flower at the center. I remembered wearing it for the first time and laying down for a moment on the center of a circle made of bricks in a castle's tower in Spain. I remembered night swimming a month ago in a round pool with my sons, planting myself in the very middle, holding Gideon like a baby as Rilian swam around us saying, "The Royal Mom! The Royal Mom!" I thought about the roundness of breasts, nipples at their centers.

Ten minutes later I tried to take a wine glass away from Gideon to clean, and he said "Hold on, I'm trying to see if I can see all the way down the middle, through the center" and he pointed it at me. He laughed. "I can!"

The church has always been a great centering force for women... Here, finally and more deeply, woman was whole, not split into a thousand functions. She was able to give herself completely in that hour and be completely accepted. And in that giving and acceptance she was renewed; the springs were refilled.

I had a great conversation with our realtor on Friday (her name is Betsy Bass Miller and if you live in Nashville and need a realtor, she is GREAT) - she is a Methodist, the daughter and granddaughter of Methodist ministers, and "will always be Methodist," but she attends Catholic mass with her Catholic husband and takes communion. "It's Jesus' table," she said to me. "Not the church's. Not the bishop's. Jesus's."

"I want to go to church tomorrow," I thought last night, remembering our conversation, reading the words above in Gift from the Sea. "I want some communion. It's time." I went to look up the schedules of the Catholic church a few blocks from my house (whose bell has rung for me at two key moments when I needed it), and the Episcopal cathedral downtown where my mentor attends, and for kicks, the Greek Orthodox church five minutes south of here. I'm to the point now where I know that I belong anywhere, and that there is shit everywhere, and I can take or leave what I need to. The Catholics and Episcopalians won't mind me falling on grace, and I am still technically Eastern Orthodox on the books, so all those tribal-minded "insider/outsider" members have no grounds for booting me out.

Aha! The feast of the Transfiguration was going to be celebrated at 9:30 at Holy Trinity, perfect timing after I dropped Gideon off at school.

I took a seat this morning in the corner of a pew near the back. I didn't feel super emotional. I wasn't processing old feelings of hurt from spiritual or spousal abuse, though I was guardedly aware that the priest up front could very well be one of those Jedis with a red light saber. I held at bay mind-whisperings of fear, unworthiness, super-obedience, outsiderness.

I found myself scooting over to the other side of the pew to be closer to the center aisle, closer to the other people attending. The priest processed out with the incense shaker; I must have moved because I remembered that part of the service was coming. He censed all of us, symbolizing that we are all real icons of God.

Random thoughts about house plans filled my head, then some boredom, then I decided to sit down because I'm not a pharisee anymore and I don't care about proving to God or man that I can stand the whole freakin' time.

The priest came out once more to read the epistle and gospel selections. I began to squint because the sun was starting to pour through a window in the ceiling overhead. I looked around; I had moved myself right into the only square foot in the church to catch all that sunshine.

Words about light filled my ears from the gospel reading, the story of Jesus up on a mountain shining in supra-earthly glory. The sun grew even brighter. My body and face warmed up, and I heard them speak the words up front, "You are the Father's radiance." I could not stop what I can only describe as a shit-eating grin from taking over my face.