Monday, April 20, 2009

beautiful baptist babies

the blog title may or may not make sense when you've read this, but i am a sucker for alliteration.

i have had a few blog ideas floating around in my head for a while, but haven't sat down and written them. ideally, they would have come at three very different times, each fully developed, written and posted before the next arrived, but here we are. they are very different, too: one is reflective/spiritual, one is more creative/subject to your own interpretation, and the other is a bit political/ecclesiastical. i'm just going to write them all here, now. that's right, it's a three-for-the-price-of-one sort of deal, except there is no actual currency involved, just thoughts and reading . . .


i do not have children. but i do, from time to time, take responsibility for my two young nieces. they are dears and i love them very much. there are, however, times when they are in my care that i am grateful that i do not have children.

one of these times was just this past week. i was babysitting, and, like the fun aunt that i am, letting them watch a new movie that nana had given them for easter. we were watching it in the 'back house' (not their house, though only a yard away - not yard as in the measurement, yard as in a grassy knoll). anyway, one of the girls (who will remain nameless, to protect her sparkling reputation) was being particularly whiny, even though, as I saw it, she should have been enjoying herself thoroughly.

from time to time, when she would express herself in an inappropriate manner, i would threaten to cut her movie-viewing short and bring her back to her house. these threats bounced right off of her grumpy little aura and it soon came time for me to prove that i was serious.

i threw her over my shoulder and carried her home.

she was displeased.

in her defence, she had been sick, it was getting late, and she is only 4 years-old (her anonymity is slipping).

i did feel bad, but i needed her to know what acceptable behavior was and was not. in fact, i tried to reason with her - telling her that if she was obedient, calmed down, brushed her teeth and put on her pjs, then i would take her back to finish the movie. these offers, like the earlier threats, went unheard. i could hardly hear them myself, above the crying.

in the end, i sat on her bedroom floor, watching her stand with her fists clenched toward the floor and her open mouth toward the ceiling, as if she were about to take-off.

eventually (after about 45 minutes), she stopped crying , apologized and was as cute as ever, but i couldn't shake her tantrum.

i love her. she knows i love her and she loves me. the terrible woe that had befallen her was of her own doing, but she built a sort of wall between us for those 45 minutes. she did not want my help or comfort, even resented it. there really was nothing i could do until she decided to warm up.

i was effected by this because, as i watched her in her out-of-control state, i couldn't help but see myself.

i know that many people don't get christianity, or why anyone would commit themselves to such a thing, but i think, in it's most timeless, simplest form, christianity is just a relationship with the Creator. that's all. kind of like being a sister is always just a relationship with a sister - something you can't really be rid of, but the nature of which, you can control.

what does this have to do with caelia (anonymous no more)? well, i can't help but think that what i experienced was a bit like what God experiences. i just wanted to give her good things, and then comfort her, help her make the best of the situation she had tainted, but she wouldn't let me do any of it.


i wanted to tell her how pretty she looked. and she did look pretty. her hair fell perfectly and it's dark hue framed her fair face and light eyes with stunning precision. her make-up was bright, but she wore it well. her green dress fit close around her body, and her dainty shoes lengthened her graceful stance.

she was beautiful. maybe more beautiful than i had ever seen her.

but i couldn't say so.

i was too hurt. i still am too hurt. i smiled and nodded, wishing that such trivial gestures could carry with them all that i meant to say. all that i wanted her to know.

to tell her she was beautiful would be to pretend that these compliments were the most important things i had for her. they were not. they probably never will be because my mouth would never form those words - forever frozen, bound by chains of inner conflict.

and so, i will see her again. she will be beautiful. maybe even more beautiful, but i will not say it. it will not be able to say it. it seems a crime to let such loveliness go unpraised, especially in one for whom i have such love. it seems a crime indeed. but many more crimes have been committed before this one, and it is these crimes that close my mouth full of honesty into a sweet smile.


evangelical christianity.

let us, just for a moment, compare christian denominations to ice cream flavors. i love vanilla ice cream. i think it's great. it's tasty, it's trusty and i know what i'm getting. but, i would never pretend that vanilla ice cream is the only flavor of ice cream worth trying. if i were to decide that it's vanilla or nothing for me, then i would be viewed as ignorant and borderline masochistic. why would i ever deprive myself of the joy of other ice cream flavors? they have so much to offer - endless horizon-broadening potential. sherbets, for instance, promise a tangy, fruity bite - something that vanilla, in all it's deliciousness, couldn't hope to achieve. why would i forever deprive my pallet of such an experience?

i wouldn't. i shouldn't. i wont.

to be honest, and forgive me for being a bit dramatic, i have felt oppressed by evangelical christianity as of late. despite all of the wonderful things that it has to offer, sometimes i find it short-sighted and bound by conservation conventions that have questionable roots in scripture and seem to be in direct contention with the heart of God. beyond that, maybe it is just sort of oppression i would feel if i were to only ever eat vanilla ice cream - like i'm missing out on other great parts of the catholic (universal) church because i've found something that i like.

i have thought very seriously on and off over the past few years of joining the episcopal church. especially after my time spent in the anglican church (in england), i think it would be a good fit for me right now - it's physical reverence and routine devotion might be just what i need to recover from years of very emotional and, at times, narcissistic worship.

i'm still not sure. i really do like the church i attend now, and it has a relatively faint few of the things from which i seek refuge. who knows, maybe i wont ever leave, i will just keep talking about it. i suppose it's different if you admit that there is more out there and choose not to partake - better than pretending you've found all you need.

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