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In which I write about benches, restoration, and egalitarian pleasure parties

Who thinks that words of domination and conquest have any place in a marriage?

Brian’s eyebrows nearly hit his hairline when I told him a bit about the whole fall-out of an offensive post, and the subsequent challenging (read: crazy-making) discussion spinning out of control. In fact, he was disbelieving that anyone would really say or write or mean that, until I read a bit of it out loud. And when I reached the phrase “egalitarian pleasure party”, he chuckled, he said, well, if it’s not an egalitarian pleasure party, buddy, you’re doing it wrong. Me, I was thanking Jesus for Rachel Held Evans, she’s got more guts than me, I need more practice, I guess.

Next morning, I woke up early, dressed swiftly, left the house without brushing my teeth, a mint from my purse would have to do. I picked up a coffee from Timmy’s, took the cup for a little walk around the lake, like I do. I’m no power-walker, and running isn’t even on my radar these days, I just want to walk, to stop and look for the bald eagle that roosts in the tallest tree, to listen to CBC Morning Edition on my little earbuds, nod hello at all of the senior citizens that are my company at this hour of the day. The sun has been up for a while now, it’s summer after all, I’d have to be up at 4 to catch the sunrise in the north country, but this bit of space, in the mornings, it keeps me for the day. 

I heard about the Colorado shootings, and about the failed UN resolutions from the Security Counsel, world affairs, and local politics, the weather, back to Colorado, a discussion on gun control.  The lake path is edged with memorial benches. In our town, people sponsor  park benches as a memorial, and then the city puts a plaque on it, with the name of the person they want to honour, maybe a phrase. I like these benches, each one unique, I feel a kinship with the one that claims he was “an old rascal to the end.” I would have liked that guy, I bet. When Anne was a baby, and I used to walk here, I cried every time I rounded the curve and saw the little iron bench, painted pink, for a little four-year-old girl, “rainbows and pussywillows forever” on the sign nailed to the back of the bench, I couldn’t bear that pink bench. I still can’t, to be honest, every time I pass by, I pray again for her mama.

I walked, sipping, listening, watching, I noticed that most of the benches said the same things in different ways: Rest a while. Sit and watch the water. You have time to sit here. Sit a spell. Take your time. He loved to watch the sunset here. Rest. Sit. Slow down.

I hope when I die, someone gets a bench for me. And I hope by then I’ll know what I’d want on that little plaque.

Because right now, I have no idea what my bench-plaque would say. Probably something about how laundry did me in.

I arrived at home, starting line already set up, breakfast, baths, make beds, errands, friends, phone calls, diapers, defrost something for supper. I’m off and running. Brian is gone for the day, with a kiss that missed my mouth. It’s pouring rain.

That night, we drove to our it’s-payday-let’s-go-out-for-supper treat. An hour later, the floor is littered with cheerio pieces, tinies are fed and happy, chattering magpies, and I’ve caught him up on the day, we’ve plotted the weekend, swapped bites of our supper, shared the last gnawed chicken strip from the tinies.  We are so happy, sitting in this suburban chain restaurant, with three pizza-sauced-faces around us, like tiny moons to our gravity. His arm is slung across the back of my diner chair, he smells like work, and I smell like fabric softener and baby lotion, there’s a smear of something – heaven help me – on my leggings. We’re full.

We have made plans for a date night this weekend, we’ll drive to the ocean, walk on the pier, watch the sun set on the water. Who needs the ballet? expensive restaurants? high heels? I have starfish to count on the rocks.

Now the tinies are sleeping in their beds, under the quilts my mother-in-law made for them, and he’s downstairs watching the news, I’m upstairs, reading, our nightly rituals. I go online, send a few emails, find an apology for the offensive post, it makes me feel thankful, hopeful even that God is at work in us, taking steps, we’re all such a mess, and half the time, I wonder if just listening to each other, hearing the cry of each other’s hearts, a bit of tenderness given and received, would help more than any conference or book or proper worldview. Who knows? I left outrage behind long ago, I feel sad, instead, usually. Broken, still so in need of grace, we are. There are too many words.

I go back to my book, but, soon I’m just thinking, God, be near my sisters that struggled under these words, and God be with us all, as we learn to be gentle with each other. We’re all fighting such a hard battle, may we live like we are loved. And God, be near to Colorado, and be near to Syria, and be near to me, too. The most beautiful part of this life in Christ to me, is the wonder of restoration and redemption, the words “God with us” in my real-walking-around-life. Walk around a bit more with us, Rabbi? I want to love more wild.

And then Brian comes up the stairs, grins at me through the banister. He moves me down the couch, sets my book on the coffee table, I’ve seen that look a million times over 13 years now, and I chuckle that we can all agree: the real win, in all of this, is the addition of the phrase egalitarian pleasure party to our lexicon.

 

brian, church, faith, women
  • Fiona

    Absolutely! Yes to it all. I’m loving the addition of “egalitarian pleasure party” to my lexicon. Beautiful words, Sarah x

  • Erin

    Love it. ;) As a single gal, I sure hope there’s an egalitarian pleasure party in my future. The posts and their comments just exhaust me, so many of them like clanging cymbals. Requests for forgiveness are not easy to make. Who are we to judge a man’s heart? Goodness. Anyway, I know you know what I mean. How anyone is brave enough to blog with so much criticism is beyond me. God be with us all.

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    Ha, the ending is great. Maybe if we all say it enough, it will get added into the dictionary at the end of the year.

  • http://loveiswhatyoudo.wordpress.com/ J.R. Goudeau

    So many things to love about this piece, but your ability to turn a phrase is my favorite: “Probably something about how laundry did me in” and “tiny moons to our gravity” are perfect. I was knocked out all day yesterday by world events–refugees are streaming from Syria and I can’t help but wonder, am I going to be adding Syrian faces to our refugee neighbors soon? It breaks me. In response, I cleaned out my closet. Sometimes, organizing my world helps me face the chaos better. Thanks for writing this.

  • http://expectinghope.blogspot.com/ Suzanne

    Brian’s comment was virtually the same as my mother’s when I was describing the quote to her.

  • Jessica Stock

    love this. And this: I wonder if just listening to each other, hearing the cry of each other’s hearts, a bit of tenderness given and received, would help more than any conference or book or proper worldview. Who knows? . . . is the greatest moment of clarity I have read in a while.

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    fantastic:) loved this most of all: ”
    may we live like we are loved”

  • http://lilablackbird.tumblr.com/ Charlotte

    The one bit of humor I took out of that awful article (which I used to deflect the gross feeling it gave me) was when I said “Egalitarian Pleasure Party sounds like the name of a band.”

  • http://www.putdowntheurinalcake.com/ Beth Woolsey

    Gorgeous. True.

  • http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com/ D.L. Mayfield

    you are so fabulous. like, almost too fabulous for the internet. i need to read your words in print, stat!

    • http://annieathome.com Annie | annieathome.com

      Agreed, on all counts!

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    So grateful for married couples like you to mirror Christ’s love for (not domination of) us.

  • Kristen

    Shoot. Don’t add it just to your lexicon. Put it on the bench plaque!

  • http://twitter.com/LeahColbeck Leah Colbeck

    I cried and laughed (last line) reading this. I agree in my 30’s sadness has usually replaced outrage. But the egalitarian pleasure parties have aged well too, so I will take it.

  • http://www.adamshome.blogspot.com Erin Adams

    Great post, Sarah! I am encouraged by it, convicted by it, inspired by you…
    I was not expecting any sort of apology to come from a Wilson. Jared pleasantly surprised me. I wish I hadn’t been such a skeptic…

    Love you! I just linked an old post of yours in a post I wrote today, too. About busy & space.
    I love a good egalitarian pleasure party! Woo!

  • Laura_InTheBackyard

    Awesome.

  • http://ashleighbaker.net Ashleigh Baker

    I love you and the way you love Brian and I love your life. It is all fabulous.

  • http://www.leannepenny.com Leanne Penny

    Clearly I have some online catching up to do after my traveling absence… I am out of the pleasure party loop.

    I love the benches around our park, I had to select all the text for my parents headstone and I went with a peaceful loon on a still new england lake and Romans 8:28, God always working for the good of those called to his purpose. God in all.

  • Shannon Stoltzfus

    good point, love the ‘egalitarian pleasure party’ didn’t think of adding it to the lexicon. Totally doing that right now. Adding it to the lexicon that is. ;-)

  • Amanda M.

    ” I wonder if just
    listening to each other, hearing the cry of each other’s hearts, a bit
    of tenderness given and received, would help more than any conference or
    book or proper worldview.” Beautiful – that whole paragraph in which this sentence is tucked made me tear up. Pray for me, as I sort out my sadness from my outrage in the many issues I have with “the church” these days.

  • CareyMorford

    I told my husband the other day, “sometimes i think Sarah Bessey reads my mind.” You can make me glisten soft tears and grin from ear to ear all in one post. Thank you for sharing your gift!

  • alwaysalleluia

    good heavens, this is lovely. Wow, seriously, the end– the “look” oh my….. ;)

  • Loma Kath

    You hit the right note there with your last line… finding a win in all the ugliness. Certainly an act of grace on your part, perhaps all the comments could have started with that… it might have changed the tenor of the whole dismal fight.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com Ed_Cyzewski

    I identify with your sadness over such things as that post. Who wants to stand up toe to toe to fight for a scrap of the internet?

    While I’m really grateful that several strong voices stood up to the insanity of that post, I also need to keep in mind that there are some huge needs all around me that I dare not overlook. There is a single mother who is moving and needs a ton of help, 5 other families in our church have had babies this month (one of whom had twins), and who knows what the community resource center down the street from us needs this week by way of help. We are surrounded by pressure points for sure, but as I hold our own newborn son in my arms this week, I’m reminded that such controversies can only occupy a small scrap of my time, as my family and immediate community are places where I’m not only needed more but I can also have a greater impact.

  • http://twitter.com/erikalifeartist Erika Morrison

    Oh, Sarah. Just now my heart is all a-puddle and your words made it feel even more so – in the good kind of way. I’m just going to sit in the dark with my tenderness and broken bits for awhile. Thank you, sister.

  • http://asteadyinvitation.wordpress.com/ Kathleen

    I so hope that when my thirties arrive they’ll be like this. Loads of wonderful stuff here, but mostly I adore the way you spoke grace and light into that whole ugly mess. I love Rachel’s guts and her enthusiasm for picking the good fight, holding people to account and constantly using her platform as a rallying base for other people’s voices, and I love just as much how clear it is that you have no desire to enter into debate in that way, that your love for your family and your God will sing its own song of witness, no arguing involved. … as for me and my house indeed!

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  • erin

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Marilyn

    There are so very many things I love
    about your beautiful post.

    Rather than criticizing TGC, you
    tell a better story. In your story, she doesn’t submit to his leadership in the
    bedroom. Rather, he initiates and she responds. IMO, that’s what healthy desire
    most frequently looks like.

    In responding to TGC post, I think
    it’s also worth pointing out that erotica like 50 Shades isn’t anything new. In
    the early 70’s, authors like Erica Jong wrote books that captured a female
    longing for sexual fulfillment. The existence of this earlier erotica at a time
    when patriarchal marriage was more commonplace, provides strong evidence that women
    did not find fulfillment in the He Leads/She Submits bedroom model. Of course,
    in advocating promiscuity, Jong and her contemporaries got it every bit as
    wrong as the domination advocated by the author of 50 Shades.

    Thanks for showing us a more
    excellent way!

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