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.