Sunday, July 1, 2012
Broken, but not beyond repair
Broken, but not beyond repair
“I don’t want a doll this Christmas,” I remember saying over and over again when I was around 10 years old. “I want guns and a holster.” Please, Santa, please don’t bring me a doll!”
But it was a doll I got!
Then again at age 11, I said the same thing. “Please bring me a football.” But another doll was under the tree with my name on it. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a boy or I didn’t like girl stuff, I did! I just knew what I wanted and it wasn’t another doll.
My mom brought the muddy doll into my room and asked me how my new doll got buried in the back yard. I very honestly said to her, “She died and so I buried her.” I guess it was the only way I knew how to end this doll thing. And I just didn’t know why I even wanted to.
I guess I was called a tomboy. I loved playing cowboys and Indians, running around outside with the neighborhood kids and I loved playing in the woods behind my house. We played house and I cooked mud pies and fussed at my “husband.” I did love playing house and imagined I would get married and have 5 children, all adopted!
But from as far back as I can imagine, I just didn’t understand why there were these “rules.” You know, girls get dolls for Christmas and my brothers got the cowboy guns and the footballs. I wanted both if I really admit it. I just didn’t want someone telling me that there were things I couldn’t have because of my gender. But I didn’t have the words for it, yet.
“What do you mean I can’t acolyte?” I asked the Pastor. “Only the boys can light the candles in church,” he told me. “But who came up with that stupid rule? Who decided that girls aren’t good enough to carry the flame down the isle, go up into the altar and light two candles? Tell me who. Did God?” My questions came to my parents and my Pastor over and over again in my adolescence.
So finally, probably because my Pastor got tired of me bugging him, or maybe it was because it was the end of the ‘60s and every thing was changing, he let me have this sacred honor! In fact, he told me that I was probably the first Lutheran female to ever be an acolyte and he could get in trouble for allowing me this privilege. Once it started, he had to let the other girls take part also. I was very pleased.
And then the next gender rule set in at church: we would have a Processional Cross and would need Crucifers! Ah but, only boys were allowed to carry this Holy Cross down the isle and put it in the Processional Cross holder. In fact, this was such an honor that the church established “The Order of St. John” for the boys who were deemed worthy for this service to the Lord.
“Why can’t girls carry this cross?” I asked once again questioning all these rules that excluded half of the population. “Is it too heavy?” “No,” the answer came, “only males are allowed to serve the Lord in this way” So once again I asked boldly, “Who made this rule? Did God make this rule?”
I was 55 years old and attending seminary when I finally got to Processes to the Altar with the Cross held high!
It was never about being a boy or girl; it was about being a Person. How confusing it was to me when I heard in church that all were made in God’s image (including me), but yet, (for some reason), God didn’t think women were good enough to serve God in the church.
This is the beginning of a book I would love to publish one day! I was thinking about my writing this about 8 years ago this morning as I was sitting at the computer on a Sunday morning. Eight years ago I could never have imagined how my life is now (can any of us?). "Going to church" was top on my "whatcha doin' on Sunday" list. In fact, it didn't even have to be on the list....it was what ya did! But the messages that flowed from the pulpit and Sunday School classes permeated the society in which I was raised. And I rebelled. I rebelled since I can remember. And many times I was broken by it and I gave in and I believed everything that was told to me. But deep inside; you know that place where the Goddess lives and breathes; I would pick up Her pieces and repair and give Voice to what was so damaging about the patriarchal brainwashing coming from every place I walked!
I am still in Repair! It will be a life long journey I am sure. I don't blame the Church, or my parents or even society. I don't blame anyone or anything. We are all trying our best to live in this Garden and understand. But what I do regret is that it took me so long to figure at least this part out.