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A Rose by any Other Name is Still the Burden of Carrying Someone Else's Baggage Around...
At least I think this makes sense?
Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything…a very long time. I could use the excuse that life has been busy-it has-or, that I have several projects I am plonking away on-I am- but the truth of it is that I have spent too much time reading. Yes, that can be a real thing. I have a notebook full of ideas for potential posts that will likely remain there, and I blame Substack, because you have to blame somebody when you don’t get things done.
I spend a lot of time reading other peoples work here, and the result is I am a little overwhelmed by words. So many good words, true words, beautiful worlds but all these words, for me, can become like so many conversations all happening at once. As an introvert, lots of different voices at one time turn me into that awkward kid at school hovering in a corner not knowing when or if I should jump in and then wandering off to the art room instead. I do that a lot, wander off to the art room. It’s my happy place. And it is quiet.
The other thing I spend a lot of time doing is not writing-mostly because I wonder if one more voice in the mix is really necessary. Then I read a lovely post by a dear friend, Laura Boggess, who asked “isn’t each life worthy of memoir?”. I can never hope to write as lyrically, or as beautifully as she does-but then I was never meant to-mine is a different voice (a decidedly snarkier one, if I am going to be totally honest) meant to tell a very different story.
I’ve also been reading a lot of Job lately. I can’t say what sent me down this particular rabbit hole, but most likely it was some random thought. Come to think of it, I recall contemplating Jobs’ wife and how she has one line in the ‘play’ and then disappears. But what a doozy!
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die.”
Job 2:8 ESV
I searched out this verse in several different translations and save for a few dost’s and thou’s it stays pretty consistent across the board, and the second sentence remains unchanged. Ouch. These are pretty harsh words. If I were to wager a guess, my take would be they are dripping with sarcasm as well.
While Job is sitting there, on his heap of ashes-which is a figurative way of saying worthlessness, literally scratching his… um, himself with a potshard, she has been dealing with the destruction of her family-the immense loss of all of her children, their financial ruin, and the near demise of her once vital husband-in her own way. But how, exactly, she does that isn’t recorded. She gets the one, tired line that typecasts her for literary perpetuity as unforgiving and a bit of a shrew-and any sermon I’ve heard on the subject supports that perspective. Do you ever wonder what was going on behind the words? I don’t believe the suffering was all Job’s, or the test was his alone, and I can’t understand why the collateral damage of ‘Job’s’ catastrophe wasn’t significant enough to warrant further examination.
I planted a rosebush in my garden yesterday. Her name is Julie Andrews. I didn’t give her that moniker, she, I am assuming it is a she, arrived from the rose fairy thus dubbed. If you want to get specific it is a tea rose, guaranteed to bloom a deep, majestic pink in early summer. However, by the looks of this stick, it won’t be this summer, or even possibly next, but miracles happen.
Julie was a gift, a thoughtful and loving one. The other day my husband popped his head in the back door to alert me the ‘rose fairy’ had left something in the back garden. A few days before that, he had heard me wondering aloud if the back garden we put in last year would get enough sunlight to plant a rose. I was thinking a soft pink rose would brighten a particular spot. Now, he was listening but what I said, and what he heard were two different things. In my mind I ‘said’ heavily fragranced cascading confection of everblooming pale pink roses-accompanied by violins. The language I used may have been a bit nuanced, but I knew what I meant. What he heard was she wants a rose. So, he got me a rose.
After thirty-eight years of marriage, thirty-nine next week, I have learned to listen to the nudge that reigns in my response (not always) and I knew if I mentioned that it wasn’t quite what I had in mind the conversation would end up in one of two places. I would get a dismissive “close enough, at least be grateful I got you a rose”, or a hangdog “I messed up again”. The first would irritate me to no end, but I would find myself backpedaling to cover. The second would irritate me as well and both would require me to soothe and smooth his ruffled ego. Either way I would hurt his feelings and since I wasn’t in a soothing and smoothing mood, I kept my mouth shut, thanked him, picked up the packaged rose and tucked it up close to the house to protect it from the predicted cold night. When I did plant the rose carefully following the instructions on the wrapper, I caressed the mulch into place around the tender base, stood up, brushed my hands of dirt, and lovingly rechristened the rose “He Tried”.
If this was all you ever read about me, you would certainly craft a particular image of what my character was like. You would have no idea all that had gone before, or what had happened that day. You wouldn’t even have a contextual outline of events like Job’s wife to base it on, but you would form an opinion and feel pretty justified. I, purposefully, have not told you the entire story. It is missing details, and backstory, and the fullness of my appreciation for both the fact that I am not the best communicator and the rose was really a generous, loving gift. I am left wondering if there are details in the life of Job’s wife that would account for how and why she spoke this way-or why this was what was chosen to speak for her in the ensuing generations? Who among us has never said something in the heat of the moment and hoped it would be forgotten? We have only a few words to go on to understand her complicated position-for it cannot be uncomplicated even if it is unexplained-and I will give her the benefit of the doubt, and a nod from my own sarcastic bent. While I can only imagine what her struggle was, I am learning a thing or two about Job along the way and that ‘the patience of Job’ might not be as flattering as some make it out to be. Her rebuke matters-and I am unpacking more than just some old baggage from a few misguided sermons.
I have reached that stage in the post where I have to decide whether or not to hit the continue button and publish. Nine times out of ten I delete the post and wander off to the art room. This is number ten so I will do what I do in public situations and drop this totally unrelated to anything comment/post in the middle of everyone else’s brilliant conversations THEN wander off….
…by the way, I checked on ‘He Tried’ today and both leaves are looking happy and healthy.
‘till next time…
What will you be reading this summer??
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What’s on you summer soundtrack?
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