Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Few Extraordinary Things

Last week a few things happened that were of note in my life. These were not part of the ordinary chaos and mayhem that invades my everyday life, but rather events that caused me to really take pause. The first happened the night after Obama's speech. I had gone to get my physical for my new job - imagine me carrying bricks with barbells inside and then dragging a cart filled with the same up and down a hallway all while looking over my shoulders, first one and then the other. Well, at least we firmly established I can safely lift 50 lbs without a problem. Oh and don't even get me started on the color test - I can now breathe easier that I am not color blind. After presenting my list of titers and immunizations as well as getting my 5th TB test of the year, I was cleared for work.

As I returned to my sister's house to retrieve my girls from my mom, I sat down to talk to my dad and sister. Conversation eventually turned to the Obama's speech the night before. We discussed the speech, the Republican response, Nancy Pelosi's giddy schoolgirl glee. Mainly we talked about Obama, the hope he inspire, the ambitions he has for this country. My father was particularly impressed by the impression he gets that Obama sincerely, unlike most other politicians in his opinion, cares for this country and the people that call it home. It was truly extraordinary to hears him wax poetic about how Obama reminds him of Bobby Kennedy. You see my dad shuns politics in all shapes and forms, he is not a registered voter and believes man is not capable of solving earth's problems. He became very disenfranchised after the Kennedy assassinations and the Vietnam War. My parents both became members of a faith that encourages remaining separate from the world, putting faith in God alone, and that includes not voting. I started a mini-war with my father last year when I arrived at his house with an Obama bumper sticker on my car. I tried at the time to explain my position, my hopefulness, the inspiration I felt, but it fell on deaf, disappointed ears.

The best compliment I ever received in my life came from my father when I was about 20 and had first fallen in love with my husband. He told me I was the most intelligent woman he had ever had the pleasure to know and that he wasn't ready for our relationship to end or change. I have so much love, admiration, and respect for my father. So, imagine how heartbroken I was when all of the brouhaha over the bumper sticker escalated. I shut my mouth, took it off my car, and did not speak to him of it again. I felt like last week, he finally got it, he understood where I was coming from and why I wanted to advertise and share my stand with the whole world. Okay, I wouldn't go that far.

Afterwards, as I drove home I got over my initial shock that he had watched the speech in the first place. It was only then that I could marvel at how well versed, informed, and inspired my father was. That intelligent man I have always admired, revealed a layer of himself I have never seen before. I was astonished at his responses and the depth of our conversation, mostly because it reminded me yet again how much like my father I really am. Baby steps, I keep telling myself...that is all I could ever ask for.

As for the second extraordinary thing that happened, I had what I would call a mild epiphany. I started a world religions class a few weeks ago. The instructor posted an announcement stating to work at our own pace, nothing had a set due date, all assignments just needed to be completed by the course end date. One of our first assignments was to write about our definition of religion and talk about our religious background. I could fill a book with my experiences, disappointments, questions, doubts, anger. I wasn't sure where to begin or whether I wanted to at all. So, I procrastinated knowing full well the assignment would open old wounds.

I finally sat down Saturday and began to write. What emerged was three, single spaced pages of soul baring emotion. It was scary, painful, reminded me of how much I have changed over the past few years. The person I am now would not hesitate to question, disagree, stand behind her own opinions. Everything was different once. I did not know myself, I buried my doubts and questions, fearing the repercussions. Once I stepped away and gained some perspective, I was able to find myself, and start to discover who I wanted to become as a person. I swore above all I would be open minded and examine all options as I explored myself. Then anger reared its ugly head and I closed myself off from faith and religion.

After I finished the essay, I realized I had shut that part of myself off for too long. That I was denying a part of who I was and who I want to be. In order to truly explore all aspects of myself, I needed to open myself up to the pursuit of my true spirituality. I pulled out a book I read recently called Blue Like Jazz. I was looking for a specific part about finding your true religious path. I read and then for the first time in a long time, I prayed. I prayed that God would guide my path to spirituality and that I would be open minded and accepting of where that journey took me. I don't know where this particular exploration will take me, but I am looking forward to the process, the journey, and whatever comes after -true enlightenment perhaps?

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