Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Solemnity Rules The Day

I awake among the shadow of the sunrise
Eyes swollen shut and blinded by the rays
Slowly rolling away, my mind purges thoughts
And solemnity rules the day

I stumble forward walking tenderly
Rinse my body in the warmth of the rain
Then clothe myself in tufts of clouds
As solemnity rules the day

When you find me, I'll be crying
Crying or staring still
The moon rising along its way
And solemnity ruled the day.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Woman Who Gave All She Had

I imagine that she was an aspiring entrepreneur wanting to open her own perfume shop with exotic exports from all around the world. In realizing her limits, whether financially, societally, or whatever else, she could only devote herself to her one beautiful jar of her favorite scent.

The woman, although her dreams and ideals were high, was humbled by her circumstances. Never had she married, so her family had disowned her and moved away. She was depressed and lived below the poverty line. She experienced severe anxiety around others because of how often she had been rejected and belittled in her life. But again, she was just trying to make a living in this cruel world with her one bottle of fragrant oil.

She may share a drop or two with you if you find her on her route around downtown, and if you pay her the right price. After all, she had to make a living somehow, and she surely despised the way other women in similar situations resorted to selling their bodies to live a life of wealth. One day, as she made her way around town, she heard rumors of a man who seemed too strange to be true-- a man who hung out with homeless people and sick and dying men; a man whose friends were drunks, drug addicts, and gamblers; a man who was rumored to heal those who were ailing from some longstanding handicap; a man who calmed the voices inside the schizophrenic and bi-polar person's head; a man who spoke against oppression and stood for and with those who had no voice. This man traveled around the countryside speaking mysteries to those who were curious enough to listen, and this day, the woman heard that he had come to her town to stay for the weekend.

She hoped that she may run into him while she was around town but wanted to avoid seeking him out; what would she say to him, anyway? She often stumbled upon her words and stood in the shadows of others' conversations. What would she offer him for a hint of his healing powers or some sign of a divine spark? She had nothing but a jar of perfume that was even hard to sell in this tough economy. And did she even deserve to try and receive some magical healing? Others were in worse situations than her own, and how selfish of her to think that she was worth the trouble.

That evening, a friend of hers came to her home to have some tea and chat. She had heard that this man who had come to town was heading over to have dinner with a man, her neighbor, who lived just down the street. The man was well-known in the neighborhood for his involvement with a local church and despite his service to the Lord, he had been stricken with stage four cancer. Rumors were circulating that this strange man had healed her neighbor completely from his cancer in a moment. Despite her hesitance, the woman could not miss this opportunity to meet the strange man.

After her friend went home, the woman stood in her tiny kitchen, nervously watching out her window for any sign of his arrival at her neighbor's place. After about ten minutes of watching, she noticed a group of about 10 people walking up the street toward her neighbor's house, and without any indication or distinction, she was able to tell right away that one man was noticeable in a way that none of the others were. She watched them as they entered the man's house with many hugs, smiles, and handshakes. Knowing that the interruption of their meal was quite taboo, especially being a street-peddling, poor, single woman, she put on her jacket, grabbed her jar of perfume so that her neighbor may think she was trying to make a sale, and then headed over to her neighbor's. The man greeted her kindly, and without question or wonder, invited her in.

The woman saw the visitor and immediately began weeping, for somehow she felt that he loved and accepted her in a way that no one else in her life ever had. Somehow, his presence restored her sense of value and worth, her hopes and dreams seemed possible, and all her struggles in life seemed for a purpose. She fell at his feet and wiped her tears away with her hair, not really thinking how much more sense it would have made to use her dress or her blouse for the same purpose. Although she should have felt embarrassed, she felt proud and beautiful and free. Out of that freedom from worry, she poured all of her favorite perfume over the man's feet. She didn't fear losing her life's wages and what the consequences of her action might be, but she instead felt the deepest peace and belonging she had ever felt. How could one man inspire such inexplicable emotions in such a short moment?

At  the sight of this absurd action, some of the man's friends began to question the woman and her intentions. Who was she? Why had she come? And why the hell would she just waste all of that really expensive perfume? Was she mentally disabled or just stupid? The man rebuked his friends for scolding her because he saw her devotion to him. He sustained that confidence in her as he defended her, and he invited her to dine with them the rest of the night.

That night the woman walked away with a sense of joy and provision. Never again would she have to worry about the food on her table, the reputation she held in the town, the money to pay her rent and bills, or the clothes in her closet that were beginning to tear. That man had shown her true, untainted love, and within that love she had found the power to pursue new ways of making a living. She began to think creatively, outside of the standards of the society, for ways to obtain food, clothes, or anything else she would need. She now had a community that she could depend upon who also saw the man's beauty and devoted themselves to following him. She knew she would never again be forsaken or alone, and she praised the God that she had always known was there but had never really been able to grasp, for now he was within her reach.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The "Just Not Quite"

All my life I have had this intrusive feeling that I am just not quite... fill in the blank. In school, I remember being in honors/gifted classes, but always getting good grades, but "just not quite" the best I thought I should be earning. My family was always pretty well-off, but "just not quite" well-off enough to buy me an American Girl doll or a TV for my room. As a musician, I have had the training to make me "just not quite" good. I have always had an easy time attracting people, whether friends or partners, but when it comes down to maintaining those relationships, I am "just not quite" sane enough or "just not quite" controlled enough or "just not quite" outgoing or sensitive or consistent enough. In heading to college, my parents made "just not quite" enough to avoid taking out loans. With recent health issues starting in college and still continuing, I have "just not quite" long enough to take advantage of my health insurance under my parents.

Granted, I think I have suffered from "compare-yourself-to-others" disease all of my life, which is probably where the qualifier mostly comes in handy. Also, I have a hard time not getting what I want or think I deserve. Entitlement, I guess. But, I have since become more humble, I think. I am grateful for who I am, faults, failures, and circumstances included, although I still struggle with accepting those things. I see the benefits of thorns in my side reminding me of my dependence on others and God, that I can't do life alone. I have grown and matured through the experiences that frustrate me and stretch me and make me want to throw a tantrum.

I still come in contact with those moments, though, but I am grateful that I have evolved from actually throwing a tantrum to calmly accepting my circumstances. Thank God for anti-anxiety meds, also. Today, for example, I went in to apply and interview for Food Stamps. I have been struggling financially because I make "just not quite" enough money to pay for all my expenses. Rent, food, gas, utilities, student loans, counseling, prescriptions, etc. My counselor gave me the permission/idea to apply for Food Stamps. I had never considered myself to be eligible for that assistance, but knowing my own circumstances, it made a lot of sense, so I went for it.

My interviewer informed me that I am earning "just not quite" low enough to qualify for food stamps. She also reminded me that with recent tax hikes passed through legislation, they have not yet changed the income threshold for Food Stamp qualifications...awesome. I mean, we are in debt, so it makes sense, but not for my life. So I left with a chip on my shoulder from my run in with our lovely legislative system and yet an understanding of all the stuff I have been hearing on NPR for the last few years and how it is finally starting to affect me personally.

I've decided government student loans are a horrible idea. Innocent, naive young adults with their bright future and high ideals in sight are robbed of their ability to practically pursue their dreams. They offer short term instant gratification during college and then disappointment and near poverty after. The government will continue to make money off of me even if I try to put a forbearance on my loans because I still have to pay interest and my loan amount never goes down if I do that. As I look back, I suppose I could have taken out no loans, gone to a cheaper school a shorter distance from home, worked all through college, majored in something uber practical in any job market, and lowered my chances of being in such high debt. Yet, I see my experience at a private Christian school and the ways that I grew and the quality of education I received and the value of being away from home, and I know it was worth every penny.

So here I am, stuck yet again in the "just not quite" stage of life. I am "just not quite" paying enough on my loans to eradicate them before the government pillages my bank account. I am "just not quite" experienced enough to get a job that pays me what my degree is worth or at least provides me with benefits. I am "just not quite" wealthy enough to put money in savings or think about investing.
ent will continue to make money off of me even if I try to put a forbearance on my loans because I still have to pay interest and my loan amount never goes down.

Ultimately, my solution is to go on a hard core spending fast, trim the fat as much as possible, pay as much as I can on my loans to eliminate debt as quickly as possible, try to make up any missed hours at work each week, and just try to save every penny I can. Time to be a real life grown up. I thought I was already doing this, but I guess there is always more you can do to avoid being "just not quite."