The Saggiest Wins

At the Denver Zoo, I become amazed with the number of animals who give prestige and power to other animals based on how much skin sags on their bodies.  I’m serious.  In a herd, the animal with the saggiest chin (dewlap) has the most power and prestige. 

And another thing:  Animals regularly make themselves look larger in this zoo.  It’s best to be wrinkly, big, and old.  It’s beautiful, powerful, and important. 

The other day, I notice the thin little wrinkles that have formed around my mouth.  I’m noticing all the sagging on my body and how nothing stays in its place.  I notice my own hands as I type–leathery and sketched with crossing patterns in skin that’s getting old.  I notice that it’s harder and harder to have a waist when you age. 

But, oh, where these hands have been!  Oh, the great conversations I’ve had with this very mouth!  Oh, the places this body has taken me!  I want these marks and sags to signify the beauty and prestige that they should. 

I like the zoo.  I like communities where old means beautiful. I want to foster that cultural shift in my own community. 

______________
Journal:  How can I see signs of aging as beauty, power, and importance? 

Share

The Real Oscar Moment

I’m walking down the street, balancing two fruit tarts in either hand.  The neighbor at the end of my street (the Italian Mama!) has invited us for dinner.

They weigh a lot for fruit tarts.  As I walk, I start thinking about the task of carrying things in my arms for long distances.  It doesn’t happen very often.  Something about living in America, something about prosperity, something about modern conveniences means I don’t carry things anymore.

I know women in other nations who carry laundry to a river to wash it against the rocks.  Those same women carry rainwater into their homes to bathe their children.  Women in Kenya, at this very minute, are carrying their sick family members to villages miles away to find medical help.

I’m carrying fruit tarts.  

What are other women carrying in their sturdy arms today?  What physical burdens do they bear?  I thought of the woman in Proverbs 31 whose “arms are strong for her tasks.”  People who carry heavy loads often have a strength, a resolve, and a hidden joy.  Theirs is a particularly robust form of flair.  But nobody celebrates them with recognition or reward. And they don’t seek those things.  

We ate the fruit tart, and all evening I’m thinking of people carrying heavy loads.  Who honors them?  I wake up, still thinking of them.

As the morning progresses, 3 events transpire in rapid succession.  First, I read a paragraph about the temptation to build a reputation, to seek fame, to chase reward.  The author quotes Philippians in the Bible and shares how Jesus was “of no reputation,” and did not seek to exalt himself in any way.  He “made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant.”

Then, I help a friend pack up her apartment for the moving truck.  She’s a professor who has served me on many occasions, and her whole vocation involves serving students.  At one point, she brings over a golden statue.  It’s an Oscar!

I take it in my hands.  It’s heavy.  Somebody gave her a fake Oscar for a present, and for a few minutes, we give each other imaginary acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards.

I carry it in my arms–this symbol of fame and wealth.

I’m not thinking of movie stars.  I’m thinking of women carrying heavy loads.

And lastly, my daughters return from Vacation Bible School with a craft that displays the exact same verse in Philippians about the servant of no reputation.

Might I live as a servant with no reputation?   They carry the heaviest of loads and shine brighter than any star.

Share

Admiring the Raw

I’ve been practicing a new flair attitude. I want to admire people.

Admiring somebody seems gushy and cheesy; we think about valentines or romantic movies. But the real meaning of admire is to esteem, respect, and have a high opinion of someone. I want to be the kind of woman who thinks highly of all kinds of folks for good reasons. What I admire about people can reveal to me what I value. It tells me what my heart thinks is good, noble, and right.

I used to admire wealth, prestige, and my appearance more than anything. It’s embarrassing to admit how much. For almost 2 decades I pursued every accolade possible. I admired people with advanced degrees, people with political power in Washington, and couples with the kind of wealth that lets them own several vacation homes. I admired beautiful women who dressed fashionably and went to the salon on a weekly basis. I had the time and means to live that way. I hung around people like that, at those sort of houses, and at those kinds of parties.

I wasn’t happy.

Today, I’m a completely different person. I can tell just by what I admired over the last few hours. My days, not surprisingly, are devoid of material wealth, prestige, or a salon appearance. I live in a small town in a rented house; nobody even cares about my academic degrees; my hair is still in a pony-tail from this morning. I can’t remember if I washed it.

But I did something right today:

I admired—with flair—my daughter’s incredible 2nd grade teacher for her creativity, devotion, and genius lesson plans. I admired a man battling cancer while I ate biscotti in his kitchen. I admired a salesperson who treated me kindly. I also admired three girls who rode their bikes up a huge hill without stopping to catch their breath.

I even admired the dogs in my neighborhood for their consistently joyful tail wagging.

I just admired my youngest daughter for enduring strep throat with a good attitude today. And now, I’m off to admire my husband who just left to pick up a new prescription of antibiotics.

Living with flair means learning to admire the authentic thing, the raw parts of really living, that show me what is so good and right about my life.

Share