Sunday Morning ~ Fantasy Life
Wasekera fupa wayesa mnofu. ~ He was pleased with the bone, thinking it to be meat.
November 24, 2019
As the holidays approach I’ve been thinking of past Thanksgivings when our house was the center of celebration when my mother was alive. My siblings and their families would come and the political discussions of the day were moderate and civil. Disagreement between my siblings existed ever since we were old enough to have an opinion, but the heated arguments and fact flinging never devolved into anything permanently injuring our relationships. We had so much other common ground and went about the family weekend: hikes, bonfires, food, and fun, never doubting it. Surely I believed our family ties were strong enough to endure but I’m wondering if that’s true now, at least with a couple of us. The rhetoric has become vile and it saddens me.
As a kid I clung to a fantasy that one day I would walk into my house and there would sit the family I always wanted. Mom and dad would be happy, we’d laugh, tell stories, reminisce, help each other out. We’d all get along, agreeing, or respectfully pointing out a differing view, laughing at our differences with an admiration of ourselves. I felt like if I was only good enough, got good grades, lived a good life, it would all be rewarded. Was it church and school that taught me that? Probably, but no one ever clearly identified what the actual rewards would be for hard work so I made those up myself, assuming they were tailor made. I was continually disappointed when it didn’t happen. Praying and being good just didn’t work! When I was in college and crying to our parish priest about something going on at home, he said, “You’ve tried so hard to patch that family up with bandaids. You need to let it go.” It was good advice, and nudged me to look at the family and accept it as it is, or was. It let me move on and live a life I wanted. Soon after college I had my own family and diligently set about to create the fantasy I’d always imagined and I had that family for a good long while. We had a brood of little ones, cute, funny, smart, with an early bedtime and good appetites. They often slept piled up together like puppies. I’d look at them and swoon. We took up an entire pew at church. We were poor as church mice and I often obsessed and worried about money. Then one day after mass a woman came up to me and said, “You are the richest person in this church.” The statement and timing were right off a script and I stopped, took stock, and was so filled with gratitude I thought I’d explode.
When bad things happened I’d envision a family overcoming adversity and coming out on top. Once, my ex sister in law said, “Things always work out for you.” And I agreed with her, but she’d said it like the universe just sprinkled fairy dust upon us and magically the fantasy was restored. It felt dismissive of what went into making that happen. When our house burned, we were blessed by this community who came out of the woodwork to help us rebuild. We didn’t have jobs yet, we had no insurance, and were sure we were doomed. We kept repeating: but we are all ok, but we are all ok, we could all be in the hospital now…we are all ok. And then I would burst into tears again. We eventually recovered but her comment negated how much it took to claw our way out. We made sure the kids knew the value of community and how proud we were of them for reacting with such composure, leaving their toys and filing out into the freezing night without shoes or coats. (Never had I valued fire drills likeI did that night.) That fairly devastating experience led to a deeper commitment to this community and a deep sense of safety and security here.
Likewise, I always felt quite safe and happy in my country at large. I never worried about whether freedom or democracy would be threatened. I found the Nixon impeachment to be something that would take care of itself because our system worked. Of course justice would prevail! And it did! While I was politically more aware after that I still never doubted our system would work. Now I’m not so sure. Or at least the suspense is killing me. I want this to resolve correctly, the movie to end with the hero vindicated and justice prevailing, the background music triumphant as the credits roll. I have watched and listened breathlessly to every minute of the impeachment hearings over the past two weeks, fascinated by how the system works, how desperation morphs into wickedness, and how integrity is the sexiest thing I have ever seen. In this instant gratification time we live in, I am impatient. I want the bad guys locked up by the end of the two hour movie. Then I think of the innocent men on death row waiting a lifetime for justice. They’ve amassed what cost to mind and spirit? The others who have succumbed to our unjust system leave me wondering if there is any hope for a just future at all. But success isn’t always sweeping and clean and when there is no place to rest on the ledge, the only option is to keep going.
I so want to believe in good over evil. My fantasy that right is right and good will prevail isn’t as clean as airbrushed actors and stage sets. Birth isn’t like the time-lapsed videos. It takes a long time and is very painful. The hours we spend rubbing a mother’s back doesn’t make for good TV. But at the end there is a beautiful new life, which, though miraculous, is messy and loud and demanding. Still, who would trade all that in or say labor wasn’t worth it?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Love to all,