Saturday, February 20, 2010

Our way to fall

Erica and I, pre-bloggers.

If you hadn't figured it out already, I'm blogging for Lent again this year. Last year I made my goal to blog about faith--this year I don't particularly care what I write about. I think a lot about faith, though, so that will figure prominently. As will the central question: what next? My sister is also writing for Lent, and I had intended to include a link to her site, but I suppose I should ask her first.

Today I feel the need to write a post about my niece, whom I love so much. My sister and her husband have struggled a lot with Sophia’s idiosyncracies. For one, she never wants to the be princess when playing make-believe. She always wants to be the prince. Which is great, as far as I’m concerned. Who the heck wants to be the voiceless, passive princess, lying around, waiting for someone to “kiss the girl”? No. Who wouldn’t want to wield swords and slay dragons? She doesn’t want to be the prince because of gender-netural parenting. She wants to be the prince because she’s awesome.

Maybe the way this ties into my faith is that I have such issues--maybe my biggest issues--with the church’s perspective on gender. What’s ironic about that is that Jesus’s teaching about women continues to be more progressive than any other religion. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.” I cling to that promise. In ancient Hinduism, women weren’t even allowed to do yoga. I grew up knowing that girls weren’t allowed to even touch Buddhist priests. And Islam? Forget about it.

Being the wonderful parents that Erica and Jordan are, they threw Sophia a fourth birthday party, a knight birthday party. Everyone had tinfoil swords and shields, with which they whacked at a dragon pinata. I’d like to think that Sophia was able to celebrate without worrying about any limitations the world might throw at her. She loves Star Wars, and I pray that she’ll be able to continue to use that force--the force of knowing she can do anything.

Sometimes she makes me want to cry with her beauty. Sometimes I believe that all of us as four-year-olds are at the pinnacle of our humanity, and it’s all downhill from there.

Here’s a quote from a New Yorker short story for the day, one that seemed to capture that feeling better than I ever could.
He stood on the balcony and watched his son crawl back onto the bed, pull himself into a fetal position, close his eyes for a moment, then open them. Meeting his gaze, Loomis felt something break inside him. The boy had the same dazed, disoriented expression he’d had on his face just after his long, difficult birth, when the nurses had put him into an incubator to rush him to intensive care. Loomis had knelt, then, his face up close to the incubator’s glass wall, and he’d known that the baby could see him, and that was enough.
--Brad Watson
And here, pictures of niece’s birthday party.

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