When Women Create

September 19, 2011

While celebrating our anniversary, my husband and I recently wandered into a small gift shop.  Amused, we picked up a book about brides and their beloved wedding plans.  Apparently, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman will exhaust more time, sweat and tears on her wedding plans than will her male counterpart.  The book attributes this phenomenon to some sort of feminine “rite of passage.”  I can understand this line of thought.

The year of 2010 witnessed a host of mischievous bands intruding upon my parents’ household: a small army of votive candles, a happy troupe of silk flowers, a whirlwind array of bright papers and ribbons, and a luscious company of fine apparel and accessories.  Why mischievous, you ask?  Quite frankly, these dear objects will never organize, tidy, and arrange themselves.  Such is woman’s work.

Thus, I watched (sometimes helped) the magic that unfolds when women create.  In Carey’s hands, flyaway beads and threads on our antique dress became neat and pristine.  Sandy’s cathedral veil vision transformed a pile of tulle and lace, while Emily handcrafted a unique set of jewelry.  Anne, meanwhile, stitched seven modest and flattering gowns with only pictures as guides.  Says Anne, “Who needs patterns?”

Most exciting were the days (and they were many) when my own Marmee rolled up her sleeves.  Each centerpiece was wonderfully unique.  No two pale pink and forest green invitations were exactly alike.  Yet all spoke of beauty, tenderness, and care… just like the home that had sheltered me always… just like the marriage I hoped to create.

Times of transition are never easy; an engagement is no exception.  Yet, I will always cherish the wedding planning season, when I observed young mothers, widows, and middle-aged mothers with daughters, all plying their creative and painstaking trades.  I noted their gracious ways of helping others.  I felt their joy in a job well done.   And I hoped to emerge from my “rite of passage” with not only a new name, but a woman’s heart to match.

Ideas Have Consequences

July 25, 2011

An idea takes hold in a woman’s mind.  It permeates her consciousness, molding every thought, infecting every dream.  The idea grows into a monstrous belief, leading her to make the ultimate sacrifice.  And, one man is left to grapple with the incredible potency of an idea – a single, life-shattering idea.

The film “Inception” makes a thrilling query.  With every great novel and stirring biography, it asks, “Would you die for an idea?”

Once, in a colonial province, the idea of freedom stirred in the hearts of men, both unschooled and learned, young and old alike.  The idea took shape in a corporate belief: that all men are created equal, with certain unalienable rights.  We know the story.  We have not forgotten their pledge of lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.

In the weeks and months following July fourth, however, the idea demanded more than a pledge.  Writing in blood, not ink, was required at the altar of belief.   Living out their devotion to the freedom cause, Americans fell, one by one, from the General’s ranks.  At the battle of Long Island, August 1776, Washington bemoaned, “What brave fellows I must lose this day!”

What of us, in our bright and rollicking world?  The ideas are ripe to be gnawed at and chewed.  Yet, how seldom we give attention to truth.  Perhaps we are uneasy with deep, relevant thoughts.  Ideas have consequences, after all, and few among us desire to embrace a belief.

We hear the old rugged idea, from our Sunday pews.  You are not your own… you are bought with a price.  Is today the day I let it take hold in my mind?  It might cast shadows on my memories, giving definition and direction to future plans.  This idea might grow into an overwhelming belief, forcing self-will to die for something higher than myself.  Perhaps the world would see and wonder.  And I could share that one idea.

Eye to Eye

June 17, 2011

“What makes you happy?”  A strong, gentle voice asks.  A moment of reflection steals over Terry’s brow, before she turns to answer: “I guess I’m happy when I don’t want to be anywhere else but where I am.”

As the story develops for this screen couple, happiness begins when the chase for elusive ease and affluence ends.  Only as they learn to accept their own talents (however limited) and embrace their present circumstances (however tragic) do two searching souls find a home.

Although once prone to wish that my life was a musical, I’ve discovered that the secret of contentment is not relegated to the world of romantic films.  It is, in fact, a choice we make each and every day.  It’s not so much something we learn, but it is something we must do.  And we must do it often.

As I finished reading a memoir by Luci Swindoll, I was struck by her rare and priceless outlook.  Doing Life Differently: The Art of Living with Imagination recalls nearly eight decades of Miss Swindoll’s life, a life brimming with adventure, art, personality, and grace.  Her story overflows with memorable occasions because she made it her habit to always be fully present, fully engaged, fully embracing the moment.

Do we make contentment a way of life, embracing the moment despite our feelings, our fears, and our past failures?  I don’t speak of the times when our spirits are heightened by familiar joys and favorite pastimes.  I mean the still, quiet morning after a grueling move… the social gathering with unfamiliar faces… the prospect of a rote, unhallowed task.  Do we view our neighborhood – and our neighbor – eye to eye, intent on seeing the beautiful and the good?

More importantly, we face a choice in the midst of life’s heartaches.  We can slowly withdraw, or be fully alive.  We can fortify ourselves against loss, or choose to love through the pain.

The true heroes and heroines are not stars of the silver screen, but men and women who choose to love when life is fragile.  They are the wise few who understand the truth of human life, and dare to engage it with the truth of divine love.