It’s still the magical thinking holiday known as the Fourth of July here. I know on wordpress time it’s already rolled over to 7/5.
I’m not going to go much into the politics of the day, at least not tonight. I “celebrated” by reading a novel dealing with Native American legal issues.
No, I’m thinking about the great American fallacy of independence. The insane idea that we are all little individuals and the ridiculous way we worship our Selves.
Let my start over and be political. Just who’s independence from who are we celebrating here? Those founding fathers depended pretty heavily on women and slaves. Not to mention the French.
It must be nice to have such a short-sighted view of independence and freedom. What about the rest of us? When are we going to get our piece of the freedom pie? We may, technically, have legal freedom. But we don’t, still, have real autonomy or liberty or equality. Don’t tell me I am free when rape is a legitimate fear in and equal pay for equal work is a pipe dream. Don’t tell me this is a free country so long as churches burn based on the color of the congregants and children are sat on by police officers.
Independence is a myth. No one and no country is truly independent. No, we are all very much dependent on each other, on the earth, on God. It is foolish to deny this. And it is cruelty to claim independence at the expense of others’ basic freedom and value.
I haven’t gone to church for the last two weeks. In part because there is someone there who loves power plays and stands on a pedestal of white male superiority and turns to me and demands that I fill his need for equality in human interactions. There’s something really sickening about it. (I’ve also had two good excuses in that one weekend the bathtub backed up and the next the cat got sick and was puking blood. Don’t worry, the cat is recovered and all healthy and the tub drain is snaked and working fine now.) I miss church. I miss the rituals. I miss swallowing my little crumb of dry bread and little thimble of juice. (That somehow still smells a lot like the wine next to it in the tray. But no wine for me.) I miss hearing the whole congregation say the Lord’s Prayer.
And I might not go tomorrow. The fireworks are loud and endless here. I’m already tired but there’s no sleeping in this artillery range. Even great big rockets are legal in this neck of the woods. I just don’t have the energy to wake up early and feel like I have to be on guard. Service is extra early tomorrow, too.
Little Not so little PB really wants to go and I feel like a shit mother for not doing better at looking out for their religious education. I already slacked on that a lot over the years. That may have been a huge part of the impetus that finally sent me back to church last summer. I wanted somewhere small and safe and sane. And it seemed like such a good fit. There is a lot I miss. (I did make Bible study on Thursday and even brought PB along. I did have to answer a slew of questions afterward but I am of the opinion that bright ten year-olds need the freedom to ask questions and get honest answers even when they’re hard and need to start getting tastes of grown-up food. Let’s face it, by that age they’re bored silly with reading the Bible as the same ridiculous stories over and over.) And it was good to go and have real face-to-face interactions and conversations and the chance to look word-by-word and a few short sentences.
But I don’t miss the drama of such twisted interactions. Actually, I’ve had to put this person into the spiritually abusive and generally manipulative and mean category. This is less judgement than it is maintaining my own boundaries. I think he’s just really damaged. And God keeps finding little ways of reminding me that some people don’t know what love is or what it means or how to do it and need taught and led and stubbornly loved. That we are all dependent and needy and broken beastly creatures in need of a whole heck of a lot of TLC. Me too. I am too.
I’ve known this particular troubling person for a long time. Most of my life. So it’s tough to deal with this new side to him. I’ve always known he could/can be a tad narcissistic. OK. I’ve always known that he lugs around a huge dark shadow of pain and unacknowledged anger and grief and this sometimes comes out as sadism.This is the loneliest person I have ever met. And I’ve got a knack for attracting severely damaged and damaging people. I know that God’s got good reasons for insisting I learn to teach love here. (I’ve even snuck off and sampled other churches and gotten there and discovered that this was the point of the sermon! Um…yeah.) But I don’t know how. And some rebellious part of me wants to go be independent and buy the lies that that works. (Independent thinking got me exactly as far as the doors of 12-step recovery….)
The thing is I am also hurt and angry and exhausted. The list of people I can depend on has gotten shorter and shorter this last year. And I’m just tired and hurting. I don’t have any magical thinking powder left. I can’t convince myself that I can do it all alone anymore. I can’t. I know this through my marrow.
Bits of this post have floated in and out of my head the last three weeks. Go read it, I’ll wait here. Yeah, I miss church and go find sermons to read… not sure what that says about me. Now, Pickle over there often as wonderfully wise words. But those have managed to be almost haunting. I’m not really sure just why. Maybe because she hits on something we all need to have and to give. And because I love how she gets the gardening metaphors Jesus used. It is my personal opinion that God is the best composter in the universe. And, in many ways, she summed up my method of growing things. Kids. Cats. Plants. They end up at my house, often diseased and nearly dead. I rarely loose them. Resurrecting dead things and having them thrive is my one little bit of “miracle” work. But mostly all I do is offer plenty of TLC, lots of water and nutrition and rest, and pray. And people bring me orphaned newborn kittens and ask what my secret for turning a little brown patch of desert into a tiny oasis is. There is no secret and no hidden miracle powers.
I think Pickle is right. Refuge. The total opposite of independence. Let the weeds grow. (They keep the topsoil from blowing away and make food for butterflies. And I remember reading somewhere that mustard is a particularly invasive weed and was actually illegal to plant when Jesus talked about mustard seeds. I have no clue if that is true or not and did not fact check my reading. I sort of figure it must be a bit like the rag weed I have here but I really don’t know. I just know that stuff grows eight feet tall from seeds I can’t see on nothing but sporadic desert rain in thin rocky soil.) And dandelions. I keep thinking about her dandelions. Those have tap roots. They’re as deep underground as they stick up above. And they have the magical ability of convincing every small child for miles to help them propagate.
Just what is it about this refuge idea that has wormed it’s way so thoroughly into my brain, like a dandelion root, that it has stuck around for three weeks now? It’s not like I don’t have plenty to keep my brain busy with these days. What would refuge look like for me? Safety. Sustenance. A nest I can return to and always be welcomed and fed and hugged. A nest I can fly from and am never confined by or chained to. I wonder what refuge looks like for my friend? Maybe that’s the piece I’ve been missing. He is someone who values independence above all else. I’ve watched this in action over and over and over. Anything with any hint of needing or being needed, of having or being a responsibility will send him in a controlling tailspin of anger. And the sad part is he doesn’t even seem to remember it after the fact. Independence is that antithesis of genuine human intimacy of any sort. And refuge is the prerequisite for any vulnerability of growth. Nothing grows well when getting walked on or kicked about or burned down or always looking out for rape and harassment.
The fireworks are still going off here. Almost 1,500 words later and it’s still too loud to sleep. That’s the fallacy of independence – so busy celebrating freedom they have forgotten that some of us need sleep. And that there are veterans who get flashbacks from fireworks. And terrified pets hiding under beds. Oh, the miserable irony of celebrating independence by torturing the people who fought for it! Maybe those are pieces of why I want to celebrate dependence day. We need a day to celebrate the web of connections that sustain us. We need a day to be refuge and have refuge. We need a day to remember that dandelions are edible. A day to water weeds and feed stray animals and kiss dirty children. A day to be a safe haven where no one needs to fear rape or arson.