Sunday, January 13, 2008

Room With a View

Confinement has its moments. I was able to finish Jesus Land (Julia Scheres). Was this good? Let's just say on page 349 you will read a sentence requiring you to gasp and struggle for breath. This pain, and not yesterday's intestinal revolt, will be your first waking memory. And confinement helped me remember that I live surrounded by great, simple beauty. The vase is a thrift store find and the carved box comes from Poland.

I also poured through The Abstinence Teacher (thanks Mrs G!). The section I'm currently starting is called: "Hot Christian Sex." !! Yum.

My friend Shannon won a Guggenheim that took her to New York to do art. She went through a major post-Catholic phase, during which she did a lot of saint-like stuff, as in the photograph below. This is in our bedroom. She also went through a dead Victorian era (who in Art doesn't mess with those hysteric Victorian girls?!) and I was one of her models, limp and folded. We have a few of those around the house.

I can also tell that I feel better because acid wit, as opposed to acid reflux, as returned. But before unleashing said acid, one must grapple with Self: if the matron has four sisters-in-law yet is only on genuinely comfortable, good terms with one, does the problem lie with the other three or the matron herself? This is not uncomplicated. Here's what I see when I reach for a pencil. Lucky girl!

We got the very dark news that one of my sisters-in-law has breast cancer. Important side note: my family does not know about this blog. Of course, everyone is just a click away from exposure, hmmm? And I remain bound to my own blethic, or blog ethic, that prohibits snarky from escalating to downright mean or from snaring someone else's story as my own. But I have one ethical question regarding the sister-in-law with breast cancer: is it possible to make Jesus jokes and be empathetic? Funny how this question emerged on the brink of reading "Hot Christian Sex."

Here is Scarlett's first art work, preserved and on my desk.

Now, I am not anti-Christian. I was raised Catholic. We are now practicing Buddhists, but those Ten Commandments and all the other Christian ethos are infused in my bloodstream. I have profound respect for Rick and Kay Warren who seem to embody the selflessness that was Jesus. But I find it hard to navigate our family landscape, in which we are notified about the cancer by email and the language runs along these lines: "I live in the body of Christ already for Jesus has entered me. His Glory will hold the surgeon's hands and the Holy Spirit will perform the surgery."

I'm just not sure how to answer that. "Yup!" or "Go Jesus" come to mind. Can I say I hope He has a steady hand that day?

I had plenty of time to consider this yesterday while recovering. Plenty of time to give my snarky shoulders a little shake and remember what my own religion tells me: my sister-in-law and I are one. Separateness is an illusion.

So I will set aside the Jesus jokes and stick to "Hot Christian Sex" for wit and verve. Set aside judgment (isn't that what all religions ultimately ask us to do?) and just be one, part of her, part of the whole.

After all, my sister-in-law and I are on the same journey. We all suffer and die. Buddhism can be very stark. It's very clear about that suffering stuff.

And about living in the moment. The view from the window. Lucky. Now.


Tracy said...

Beautiful view.

I loved "Jesus Land" and yes, I was completely thrown by page 349. The book itself hit me in many ways, having grown up surrounded by what some would call "Jesus Freaks." Too long of a story for here... and my peeps were not nearly to the extent that those in the book were (fortunately!)

But wow. What a read.

Kalynne Pudner said...

Hey, I was browsing through Suburban Correspondent's mouse/sickness (mouse sickness?) comments and yours caught my attention. First, because when I had four (under five), we also did that sequential chicken pox quarantine you describe of your relative. Second, because I also use the Doctor signature whenever I need to make a power point. (Unfortunately, as my last blog post implies, it doesn't fool the administration at my kids' high school anymore.)

Pleased to meet you!

Patti said...

I'm glad you're better! We are all surrounded by beauty everyday.

bipolarlawyercook said...

I'm sorry to hear about your SIL. I think your instinct to keep it simple until she's begun the healing portion of her journey is right.

SILs are hard. I have mellowed a lot as I've gotten older and get along better w mine than I once did, but my husband kindly agrees that she still has Older Sister itis and that I am not wrong to be occasionally irritated and sometimes enraged. I wouldn't give yourself too hard a time, as long as you're working on right intentions.

Beth said...

Good to see your acid wit has returned - sorry to hear about your sister-in-law. And, yes, it would be a bit of a struggle hearing the news in such a way but her faith will certainly help her.

Jocelyn said...

Good work on evolving your attitude about the sister-in-law's announcement. I, too, am put off by heavy Christian rhetoric--especially when it seems like hollow solace in the face of hard pain and work. However, you damn Buddhists got it wrapped up. We are all just being human together, so why not be nice about it?

Minnesota Matron said...

Thanks for the well wishes! I'm writing on Monday and am 100%. It's fun getting to know some of you . . .

Lisa Milton said...

I have a pile of books to read right now, but Jesus Land sounds like a must read.

I've been all over the map - the only woman in a ministry program, didn't attend church for 10 years, went back and still feel restless. There's something about Buddhism speaks to me. The here and the now.

Anyway, I never know how to respond to christianese. To me, it seems like a way of avoiding pain, dealing with what is, but I guess it gives her some kind of solace.

Ok, I rambled enough for one post. I'm so glad I found your blog.

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