Archive for April, 2012

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our daily bread

April 19, 2012

Once Upon A Time…

There was a tale about a young woman.  A young woman whose life was made miserable by two step-sisters and an evil step-mother.  But a fairy godmother took pity, waved a magic wand, gave her glass slippers and a prince.  And they lived Happily Ever After.

Once Upon A Tale…

There is a ballet telling the story through dance.  Cindy’s slippers are bedazzled pointe shoes, and she and the prince once again find one another.  Glitter falls from the ceiling during the final embrace and we intuit that their Ever After is Happy.

Once Upon A Girl…

There is a mother wondering.   Should she bring her young daughter to the show?   I, either in great type casting or being completely stretched out of my persona (depending upon your view), am the Evil Step-Mother.  So a friend approached me with her concerns.  Her daughter is at an impressionable age and is forming core gender concepts.   What life lessons would be internalized when she sees women fighting for a man’s attention?  When Cinderella is transformed through the magic of another?  When it takes a prince to perform a rescue?

Once Upon a Loaf…

There is a tale about what is underneath.  On the surface, Cinderella is about a glass slipper.  But  shoes bind and glass shatters. The real story is about a loaf of bread.  Bread?  Bread.  Bread that is given in a quiet moment to a beggar woman who has come knocking at the door.  The Evils see only the woman’s exterior: her old age, her rank smell, her crippling body.  She holds no value to them, and they treat her with distain.  Yet Cinderella recognizes her interior worth.  Acknowledges her humanity.  Welcomes her in and offers comfort, touch, nourishment.

Once Upon a Life…

There is a lesson.  In the seemingly small ways, how do we connect?  Who do we chose to feed?  To whom do we offer shelter?  Generosity isn’t only about giving of things- it is about giving of our hearts, giving of our time, giving of our trust.  When we live a life with an internal compass of generosity, we change the landscape in which we live, we alter our own reality, we shape our own destiny.

Once Upon a Magic…

The hand that casts the spell is not the fairy godmother’s.  It is Cinderella’s.  In reaching out and touching the beggar, Cindy transforms her own experience.  It is she who reveals the fairy beneath the hag, it is she who shines brightly from within, mutating cloth rags into fabric riches.  It is she who dances with a heart of gold and enchants the prince.

So come, come and see the ballet.  Watch Cinderella wear a slipper, dance at a ball, fall in love, catch a prince.  And then applaud her generosity.  For we are all at an age of forming core concepts.  And seeing one soul connect with another?  That is the true magic.

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lost and found

April 5, 2012

Dearest Eleanor,

It all began with a toothbrush and a stranger.

Well, more accurately, it began when I uncharacteristically opened the window shade.  Late November in the Pacific Northwest is dark and dreary, and even though it was noon, I needed every available ray of light. I leaned against my bathroom sink, gazing absentmindedly out the window as I brushed.  I watched as an SUV pulled into our neighbor’s driveway.  Not a completely uncommon occurrence, for we live at the end of a quiet county road, and travelers often find themselves lost here.  The driver got out, glanced furtively about and carrying a piece of paper, walked to the front door.  My teeth were clean, but there I stood, rooted to the floor.  Why?  I don’t have a full answer.  There was nothing specifically wrong, yet a thousand small observations compelled me to stay.  After knocking and receiving no reply, the driver looked into the house windows, then returned to the non-descript MomMobile, opened the door, put down the piece of paper.

And removed a crowbar.

911.  Smashed door.  Stolen heirlooms.  Sheriff reports. A ride in an official vehicle to identify the pair of perpetrators roadside where they had been detained after fleeing the scene.  The next day our local paper identified me as the witness who lived across the street.  The day after that I woke up with shingles.  The following day you looked up at me and asked “Mom, may I please go outside to play?”  We had chosen the bucolic setting as an antidote to modern life.  A place where you and your brother could roam in the woods, skip pebbles on the surface of the Sound, and the only noise from traffic you’d hear would be the caw of crows as they circle and harass a pair of eagles.  So I took a deep breath.  Yes.  Go.  Go and play.  (and be free and safe and I will watch over you).

How to model coping with fear?  I am meta-living my experience, trying to have it and reflect on it simultaneously.

The driver and accomplice were women.  Ages 49 and 22 respectively.  The victim was a woman in her 70’s, and as life in a small town dictates, she was also my middle school librarian.  The cast of our small play is rounded out by the reluctant witness, me, and in the role of innocent girlhood, you, my daughter.  Items taken from the home included the neighbor’s wedding bands, too small for arthritic hands.  Now she has them back.  But despite the cut and dry case, the themes of this play are more complex than simple villains and heroines.

How did these women end up lost?  How, as a culture, did we lose them?  I’ve been lost, too, these past few months, floating adrift in a sea of questions.  The older of the two, even with a steeper bond, was quickly released from custody.  The younger did not make bail in time to be home for Thanksgiving.  What did she miss?  Who was missing her?  Was she thankful?  Was I?  What does it mean to be free?  What walking cells have we been imprisoned by?  Freedom isn’t defined as any place outside of jail.  Safety isn’t only a physical construct.

Do they feel lost?  Will they be found?  They are daughters of mothers unknown to me.  What words were whispered to them as girls?  What visions did they see when they went out to play?

The final act is not yet written, there has been yet another court continuance. Beyond jail, beyond verdicts, beyond lawyers and witnesses, life presses on.  What becomes of us?  Elder, crony, mother, youth, girl?  There is no final curtain call.  The window shade will continue to rise and fall, allowing the light to illuminate our lives.

What will you remember, Eleanor?  What lessons have I taught?  You are small enough yet that you fit in my lap, our cheeks pressed together, matching blue eyes, level.  Have you heard my lines?  The script I have written and rewritten countless times?

My hope is you will recall that we need to be stagehands as well as stars.  We must play supporting roles in the lives of others.  For without a crew, the stage is left dark, and the leading lady can easily stumble.  Connect.  Contribute to the creation of a more just world.  Missteps happen, we can all become lost.

So go, sweet daughter.  Go outside and play.  Be your own superhero cloaked in a cape of freedom and peace.  Give shelter beneath it to others in need.  Reach out.  Be thankful.  And brush your teeth.

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