Friday, September 13, 2013

That is exactly how it feels!!

Apparently I have a thing for poets who write novels.
Perhaps one day I'll marry one, or better yet, become one. Anyway, my most recent pleasurable discovery came in the form of "Hannah Coulter" by Wendell Berry. I knew it was going to be good when I was reading it on the beach with tears coming to my eyes, warmth to my heart, and the frantic need for a pen! And in the margin I wrote -"That is exactly how it feels!"

I like to mark up my books - no I LOVE to mark up my books. It's the way I salute the author for their beauty and technique. But more importantly, it's the way I discover things I need.

 I needed this book. I needed Wendell Berry to put my feelings into words and also engage me in a good story. Besides the accomplishment of perfectly capturing a woman's mind in this faux autobiography, Berry also captured my own raw heart. Here's what I found:

1st. ME The perfect definition of my right now  = "I was a half lost, ignorant girl, trying to find my way into womanhood and a decent-paying job" and "Time doesn't stop. Your life doesn't stop and wait until you get ready to start living it"

2nd.  LOVE. I've been in love once. You can scoff all you want at that and claim I know nothing of true sacrificing love since I've never been married or given my "whole" self to someone, and perhaps this is true, but what I know of love so far is all I can go off of. When you are in love, it's as if there is no time and the clock on the dashboard is your worst enemy. I think I once described it as "the time when I feel like all those outside realities that clamp down on our being "us" don't really exist. It's a dream. It's another time and a different world where the possibility of us just being together actually exists and it feels good." But, Wendell Berry got it better. Here's his definition:
"The room of love is another world. You go there wearing no watch, watching no clock. It is the world without end, so small that two people can hold it in their arms, and yet it is bigger than worlds on worlds, for it contains the longing of all things to be together, and to be at rest together. You come together to the day's end, weary and sore, troubled and afraid. You take it all into your arms, it goes away, and there you are where giving and taking are the same, and you live a little while entirely in a gift" 
That is beautiful. I look forward to that room of love, but Berry writes that "you can't get there just by wanting to...the meeting is prepared in the long day, in the work of years, in the keeping of faith, in kindness"

3rd. Grief In many ways this goes along with the discoveries on love because "you can't give yourself over to love for somebody without giving yourself over to suffering" (Berry). Love requires vulnerability - the possibility to hurt and be hurt by the ones we most care about.  Sometimes break ups feel like new beginnings and sometimes they feel like deaths. When a part of you dies, or when that someone you loved has died (literally or metaphorically), you grieve. It's natural. It's the memories running through your brain as you fail to sleep, or the explosion that hits you in the morning when you realize -yes, this is still real. "But grief is not a force and has no power to hold. You only bear it. Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery" (Berry). 
And here's the thing. Life always calls you back and we are loved all the way through. We don't quit living. We beat on. Life "calls [us] into work and pleasure, goodness and beauty, and the company of other loved ones" (Berry). Soon times passes and we heal. Little pleasures return from the most ordinary of things -green grass, crickets, clouds, laughter. Love carries us.

So there you go. My gushing about my most recent read. Hopefully I've intrigued you enough to want to pick this one up at the library, but if not---thanks for indulging me and my raw thoughts. I know I've been posting a lot recently, but now i'm heading out of the country and you can have a break until I return with more musings.

Monday, September 9, 2013

And My Heart Aches

Syria. There's been a lot of talk about it recently: A lot of questions and opinions stored away and sometimes too freely given. I first heard about Syria a little over a year ago from my sister Tammy (who is much more informed and involved than I am - honestly, she should be writing this post). Back then the people in Syria were dying, children were dying, and it was as if no one was listening. Sadly, things have only changed for the worse since then. In my mind, I keep hearing the song that John Adams sings in the musical 1776 - "Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Does anybody see what I see?"

Yes, we are here. Yes, we see what is going on. Yes, we care....but we are scared and we don't know what to do.

 I'm not saying this is an easy decision -cause it's not. In many ways, it is likely a lose-lose kind of battle. I'm not saying it's the United States job to go in and fix everything, but I am saying that the world should care. I believe in our unified humanity and is not the cause of humanity worth standing up together as a worldwide civilization and saying, "Hey, we won't stand for this"? And yet, it is so much trickier than that. I realize I don't know all the facts, nor all the consequences. I'm a humanities major who lived in the Provo bubble without news for way too long. I'm a "feeler" and thus my emotions probably too often sway my logic. But right now, I sense a lot of fear - fear about political sway, fear about unwanted outcomes, fear about stepping on others' toes, etc.  I don't want to go to war, but my heart aches for these people and their suffering.

Yet what can I do? My own country's hands are tied in trying to figure out what to do, so how can I expect to make any kind of a difference? Prayer -That's all I have. But what do you pray for when hundreds of innocent people are dying like this? Deliverance. Deliverance from suffering, pain, etc. What if death is the only deliverance happening? It's all so hard.

My sister says that sometimes all we can do is bear witness to one another's pain. The "I recognize that you are suffering and I am so so sorry." It's the tears shed for the pain of another. It's the comfort that someone out there does care. Is that enough? Perhaps not, but it's something.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

When I Grow Up

The elementary school library was empty except for a friendly mom and her camera set up in front of the green leather chair. The cool of the leather swallowed my awkwardly pubescent body and the combo of my red shirt and evergreen chair created the sensation of too much Christmas.

It was the end of 6th grade and I had a perm. We were filming for our graduation video and all I had to do was say my name and what I was going to be when I grew up. Simple enough. "My name is Jenny Thorup and when I grow up I'm going to be a Mom."

Apparently that wasn't the answer this PTA mom was looking for. I think she kindly said that it was great I wanted to be a mom, but proceeded to ask me what else I wanted to be. Like a job? Hmmmm... "My name is Jenny Thorup and when I grow up i'm going to be a Broadway singer." Great. That's a wrap.
Although I'm a 7th grader here, this is the same shirt and hair style I had in the 6th grade movie....
Fast forward exactly 10 years to another exciting graduation. Thank heavens I've finally grown into my body and left that perm behind. I suppose you could say i'm "all grown up" now. I've got a college degree on my wall, a savings account, and a retirement plan. But, if i'm all grown up...shouldn't I know what I want to be by now?

In my current phase of life, I get a lot of questions like "If you could do anything (for a career or job), what would you want to do?" or "What's your dream job, where do you want to end up?" or my all-time favorite, "well, what are you good at?" These questions are supposed to help me find direction, a career, a purpose after school, but somehow they often leave me feeling even more confused.
BYU Graduation
In some ways I think i'm still stuck in that awkward angsty 6th grade mindset. Can't it just be ok that maybe I want to end up at being a stay-at-home Mom making lunches, running errands, fueling dreams? Is that somehow a waste of my potential, my brain, my talents? Do I have to prove something by being a successful Broadway singer, a professor, a lawyer, a business woman, etc.?

Now you're probably pegging me as that "molly-mormon", brainwashed, BYU girl, who went to college for the sole purpose to meet a husband and ultimately fulfill her one goal of bearing children. WRONG! Despite how it may seem, that's not it at all. I went to college because I didn't want to be that person. I wanted to be the woman who was independent and fit to support herself if life needed her to. I wanted to be intellectual, accomplished, cultured, able to make some sort of difference in the world. I wasn't trying to get married necessarily, but trying to become the type of woman that the man of my dreams would want to promise eternity for. And although I really want to be a Mom, I didn't want to be an undergraduate mother. (I still don't see myself having children till the latter end of my twenties) I wanted to be knowledgeable enough to teach my children about the world and empowering enough to show my daughters how to reach for the stars! 

For some, their University years are about becoming what they wanted to be when they grew up - the doctor, the history teacher, etc. And that is awesome, but my education was more about becoming a better me. Becoming Who I want to be when I grow up, instead of What. Admittedly, I watch friends get married, go to grad school, pursue PHDs, accept salary-paying positions, and that little feeling of being left behind as if i'm not living up to my full potential creeps up and sits on my shoulders. But, I'm realizing those feelings are only poor comparisons and comparing never leaves anyone happy. I'm me and I'm great. In a lot of ways, I'm still growing up. But, when I do grow up I am going to be something / someone beautiful and sparkling like a word, or a curling wave, and one way or another I'm going to be in love - with my life, with my husband, with my kids, and perhaps even with a career.