Saturday, July 04, 2009
This evening I was watching a movie about a young woman with a protective father, and how her feminism, by the end of the movie was softened, granting her not less, but more independence. This one tempered by a greater wisdom, one gained through a greater understanding of love.
Suddenly I was struck as I considered my own history. How I had to be "independent", and therefore, a "feminist" long before it was time. How my own ventures in adulthood through a few careers were, in a sense, seeking what I lacked. Not only was I seeking God, but I was trying to become what I didn't have.
I don't really know how to say this, and yet, it's so true, that perhaps all I can do is be blunt.
It has to be said. Please bear with me as I try to find the words.
The Psalms Speak God's Heart
When I pray the words of the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours speaking of the "precious daughter", almost always, I tear up, at least a little. If not that, then I at least pay closer attention to what is being said. Trying to find the meaning, to understand it, and even to identify with it.
When I consider great Biblical women, cherished by their fathers, and Mary, held so close to her own family and then given into St. Joseph's protection, well, I can't really understand that from a personal perspective. I have a "romantic" sense of it, knowing it was real, but it seems like a fairy-tale to me. It's never been my experience, so even praying these psalms is a scary act of trust.
Never in my life have I EVER felt "protected". I've never dwelt in the security that comes from knowing there is someone to defend me.
I've never been defended.
In The Princess Bride, the Dread Pirate Roberts quips to Inigo, "You have an overdeveloped sense of vengeance."
I'm not interested in vengeance. I've no need.
I have an overdeveloped sense of defense.
Everything I've done as an adult is about...defense. Defending the less fortunate. Defending the law and seeking justice. Defending the powerless. Defending those whose lives have been in danger. Defending the Church, defending our Faith. Defending myself from those very same threats.
It's as though, at some point in my teenage years I went into full survival mode and I've never found the occasion to come out of it.
Even now, living alone as a single woman, I'm very conscious of my safety. I chose a German Shepherd partially for defense, partially because I've always loved Shepherds. I still have my guns and consider my training. I'm still willing to shoot first and ask questions later if someone breaks into my home.
If there is no one to defend my honor, even honor that has already been lost, then I will do it myself. I have no choice. There is no one else.
If I called for help, all I would hear is crickets, if even those.
But I weary of this state of vigilance. For once, I want to be able to relax and know that someone else cares, someone else is there to defend me, and...dare I say it? I want to finally know that I am that cherished daughter worthy of defense.
Perhaps this has been so much of my struggle in my discernment. Even as God invites and says, "All that I have is yours" I have a hard time believing it.
Even as He welcomes me home from the battlefield, I flee from His care, not trusting, never having been given a reason to trust.
God throws open the doors, He kills the fattened calf, He holds out jeweled rainments, and still I stand ready to flee, not believing any of this could be for me. I don't want to be a daughter for a day. I want to be a daughter for life. I want to be that cherished daughter.
And yet I fear that if I step through that door, I'll find that it was never what I wanted or who I was meant to be. I fear that I'm sentenced to a life on this battlefied without backup, skulking in the shadows so as not to be noticed, staving off the attacks because there is no one else to do it for me.
Can I ever let go of my vigilance? Can I ever stop being on the defensive?
Can I ever really, truly believe...and live...the reality that abandonment to God is where I'll find true freedom and protection?
Can I ever really believe those words Our Lord whispers in the silence and through the psalms, that they aren't speaking to history, but through it...to me?