I went to the library the other day and after walking past the "westerns" isle without a glance (as usual) a realization struck me and I stopped in my tracks. Wait. I'm reading a western novel right now!
How did this happen? At the recommendation of Oliver DeMille, I guess. And I am underlining something almost every five pages. Astounding! I'd always been programmed to belittle the category "western." That wasn't something I could read, right? I was a cultured musician or some nonsense like that. (Or maybe it was to avoid that painful subject of horses--those amazing animals I am deathly allergic to, but have some unexplainable--and therefore painful--affinity for.)
In any case, the trip to the library reminded me that our culture categorizing books and movies etc. into genres like "western" has been a wall keeping me from great books; books like Bendigo Shafter! I had already learned this lesson with the category of "fantasy" and "sci-fi," so it really must be the horse thing. Anyway, now I'm on the hunt. Down with categories!
I think my quest is even more passionate because of my experience last week.
See, you have to know: the category I like least of all? Alien movies/books etc.The only alien anything to ever sneak past my category wall was the movie Signs--sneaky M. Night Shyamalan--but that's it. So when I heard of the movie, Home, I planned to miss and was relieved my kids didn't seem interested (the trailer was annoying, right?)
But last week, the night begged for a date with my two youngest Daysies as everyone else was gone to camps, and Home was the only movie at the dollar theater that was kid-friendly. Dang it. I was going to have to stretch WAY outside my favorite categories zone if I was going to pay three bucks to be super mom. Fine. I'd endure.
Surprise: by the end of the movie, I had cried nearly three times. I walked out of the theater holding my two little girl's hands tightly in mine, kissing their heads and thinking of my other loved ones off at camps, or away living their lives in other states. I was grateful for the many loving relationships that had been cultivated in my lifetime; grateful for the divine love that bound me to so many cherished humans on this planet and how they each blessed my life. I wanted to bless theirs more abundantly.
When AD and my other two children returned in the following days, we all went together again for a family night. I thought perhaps I'd be a little annoyed by the humor or something this time, but no, now Adam and I both left the theater in tears, wanting to kiss and cuddled all our Daysies. (Oh, and another category wall broken down: R&B music. They actually found a way to use that style of music to uplift people. Wow.)
"How have we not heard about this movie until now?!" Adam asked as we walked out of the theater. umm...I'd tried hiding it from any of you because it was an alien movie. After reading some of the critics reviews online and seeing the low Rotten Tomatoes rating, I realized that many people don't like it because... well, either the alien thing or they can't relate I guess. A happy home. Loving relationships. Such things are becoming more rare. So rare, critics find movies that portray happy homes and loving relationships "annoying." That's all I can come up with. Or, maybe I deserve to be categorized?: Woman Who Likes Alien Kids Flicks.
Okay. So be it. But this Woman Who Likes Alien Kids Flicks is determined to learn from just such a flick the following:
If I start to find my home isn't a happy one, if the relationships in my world make me want to leave the planet, then I am going to stop and reflect on the lessons of Home. I am going to stop running away from the reality. I will open my eyes to my own part--to the Truth (not the more or less than true facts I rehearse in my head). I will stop accusing. I will not make those I could love into "Gorgs." If they let me, I will spend time with them. If they fly off to alien worlds and don't come to the party for now, I will give them time, but I will not let their scary armor fool me. I will remember and see always the real them hidden inside.
They are a child of God. I am a child of God. God's children are here to learn to create and build together, to strengthen each other, to nurture and shape each other and this world. We are here to experience Real love; Divine Love. And it starts in the home.
Create a wholesome atmosphere in your home. Let seeking minds find adequate family support for growth and development... Face the fact that true fatherhood and true motherhood are fast disappearing. The failure of fathers and mothers to assume their rightful responsibilities actually creates the disturbed conditions we face... we must resist the thrust of the world against our homes. Repentance is in order for many of us. We must put our values in proper perspective. Put time and attention and means on the things that matter most. Few, in their more sober moments of reflection, do not know where true values rest. It takes a reminder, however, to keep them properly in focus.
I am learning that I hate categories. They hide things. They make you feel stuck.
This is what I mean by 'feeling stuck': experiencing other people or circumstances as having more power over our own happiness than we do. We believe they have the ability to cause troubling feelings in us that we cannot do anything about, no matter how we try. We wonder how we can ever be genuinely happy, inwardly peaceful, and fulfilled. Obviously we can't as long as we continue feeling offended or provoked or hurt, but we cannot stop feeling that way because we can't see how to stop.
Can we ever get out of this box once we find ourselves in it? ... On no subject has more diverse advice been given. Every profound ethical or spiritual teaching speaks of it under some label or other. So do many of the more superficial teachings that focus on success. Some of these offer strategies for cultivating tranquillity amidst affliction or adversity. Some show us a path of love they claim will lead us away from fear and frustration. Some, with a much different approach, encourage us to assert ourselves and defend our rights in order to keep others from aggravating and taking advantage of us. Some supply negotiation techniques for winning the respect, deference, or cooperation of others. Some recommend suspicion, pessimism, or resignation as tactics to make us less vulnerable to offense.
Generally speaking, such prescriptions for happiness don't work very well. They don't work because they fail to show how our hearts can be changed, and with "hearts" I include the troubled emotions and attitudes that keep us "stuck." That failure is fatal, because without a change of heart whatever we do will carry the smell of our manipulative, selfish, or fearful intent, and other people will readily discern it... when we are "stuck," we think, falsely, the problem lies with other people, when the truth is that the problem lies within ourselves. We develop strategies for relieving ourselves of our unwanted feelings without retracing the path that got us into them in the first place... with emotions and relationships, the truth is the cure... Until we get hold of the truth about our condition, our continuing self-misunderstanding will guide us to do things that only make matters worse.
~ Terry Warner, Bonds that Make us Free, excerpts from chapter one.
I see so much "mad sad" in this world. All around me. Friends hurting. Family suffering from feeling stuck. Maybe even the word "home" is a category that is making things worse? Is it a category that makes us sometimes want to run away (like the Boov)? Run away because our home is a bad home, or not a good home, not a loving home, a broken home, or not a big enough home, or happy enough home, or perfect home etc? Well, down with that wall! No more feeling stuck. We must find the truth:
Home is just people bonded together by webs of inexplicable spiritual connective tissue (genetically related or not). Walls have nothing to do with it!
Either that tissue that connects us to others is diseased with accusing feelings, lies and self-justifications, or flowing with nourishing love and truth (or somewhere in-between). Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the bond, yes. But isn't it Truth that love must still stitch the wound, or it will fester? Whatever the state of the bond, I am reminded again (by stepping out of my categories this week) that running away from the problem is not the answer--thank you alien kids flick! We are not stuck. That is a lie.
Let us go and build like Bendigo Shafter. Let us act. Let us break down walls that make us feel stuck and build homes and heal homes; let us build bonds of Divine Love that make us free.