Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Crying With China

When I listen to touching or sad stories on NPR, often tears come to my eyes. Sometimes they fall down my cheeks. Rarely do I start having to catch my breath because I’m really crying

Last Wednesday was one of those rare times. It was a devastating story about a young Chinese couple frantically searching for their young child in the rubble of a collapsed apartment buiding. Two days had passed since the earthquake, but this couple still had hope their son and some grandparents were still alive.

Maybe it’s because my toddler is exactly the same age as their toddler. Maybe it’s because of the heart-wrenching wail of the mom towards the pile of rubble, “Wang, Mom is coming for you!”, is exactly what I would have wailed. Maybe it’s because of that final description of the dead boy cradled in his dead grandfather’s arms.

I cried for a good 20 minutes over this story. And when I had finally gotten myself together, it struck me that I was profoundly grateful for that story. Grateful. What a strange emotion towards something that had made me so sad.

Hearing this couple’s agony was devastating, but it also made me feel… human. So many days of my life I just do my thing in my comfortable life. I bristle with annoyance at bad drivers, I try to maintain patience in the face of toddler tantrums, I buy the groceries. I am encircled in the everyday.

But to have those few moments when I absolutely transcend the mundane, when I feel a stranger’s pain and mourn with those who mourn, when I feel overwhelmed with empathy - it was exhilarating and awful and wonderful. These were moments of infinite depth, moments where my soul recognized a sister and brother a world away, moments where I truly felt my humanity and my oneness with God’s children.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

By the Way

I'm giddy with happiness that the CA Supreme Court has overturned the ban on gay marriage.

I think Jerry Sanders, Republican mayor of San Diego, says it all. Well done, Jerry.

"You Know You Have A Cheap Watch...

...when the 10 year old in front of you in the theater is wearing the same exact one."

So says Mike after an excursion to watch the carnage filled Vantage Point. It was Mike's turn to pick. But I didn't object too much. He deserved it after I forced him to watch Caramel.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Prayer of an Unbeliever

Prayers from various religious traditions uplift and expand my being.

Ironic since I haven’t prayed regularly for 5 years now. The patterns of my Mormon prayers feel constrained and empty to me at times. I know the fault lies within myself, that there is a way to connect to the divine in the thank-ask pattern I’ve learned since primary.

But I haven’t quite figured out how to make my Mormon prayers click yet. So I turn to the prayers of others.

I was intensely touched by holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s prayer. In his book Night, he describes his loss of faith as he surveys the bodies of murdered children. He writes, “Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust….”

In an interview by Krista Tippett, she asks him what happened after that. What happened after he lost his faith forever.

His response: “I went on praying.”

Here is his prayer:

I no longer ask You for either happiness or paradise; all I ask You is to listen and let me be aware of Your lisening.

I no longer ask You to resolve my questions, only to receive them and make them part of You.

I no longer ask You for either rest or wisdom, I only ask You not to close me to gratitude, be it of the most trivial kind, or to surprise and friendship. Love? Love is not Yours to give.

As for my enemies, I do not ask You to punish them or even to enlighten them; I only ask You not to lend them Your mask and Your powers. If You must relinquish one or the other, give them Your powers. But not Your countenance.

They are modest, my requests, and humble. I ask You what I might ask a stranger met by chance at twilight in a barren land.

I ask You, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to enable me to pronounce these words without betraying the child that transmitted them to me: God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, enable me to forgive You and enable the child I once was to forgive me too.

I no longer ask You for the life of that child, nor even for his faith. I only beg You to listen to him and act in such a way that You and I can listen to him together.*

My soul resonates with this prayer. In it I find room for questions and answers, for anger and mystery, for faith and doubt. It is transcendent.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

It's been a long time

I've been avoiding my blog recently. Probably because I found out that my brother discovered my blog, and that traumatized me.

Anyway, things are going along swimmingly. The kids at school are rambunctious and loud, but they do make me laugh. E is really starting to talk. He's moving beyond just nouns and is saying things like "no pull, daddy." "hold, mama." His interest in moving vehicles is as fierce as ever, and he still likes women's shoes, too.

I'm still thinking that next year I'll go to grad school on a trial basis, and from there decide if I want to apply for the Ph.D program. It's a scary decision because I really have enjoyed my part time teaching job. Giving it up is a gamble. And by going to grad school, Mike and I will be taking a major financial hit. Luckily Mike is being very cool about that.

Other things on my mind:
  • I'm looking forward to my woman's retreat at the end of this month
  • I'm excited about our trip to Hawaii this summer (thank goodness economists deliberately pick awesome locations for conferences.)
  • I'm preparing a reading list for this summer so I can go into some of my fall classes not completely in the dark.
  • Still trying to get pregnant - will see a fertility doctor soon if there's no action.
  • I'm trying to brainstorm ideas for more humanitarian activities - so far we've done Habitat for Humanity, beach cleanup, school supplies for African orphans, Christmas adopt a family, clothes swaps. But I need more!
  • Life is good. Mike and I are doing great. E's doing great. I'm super lucky.