(Given the sensitive times we live in, I am making myself a bit vulnerable by publishing this. How you, the reader perceives this, is, in the end, up to you. If, however, you are moved to something that resembles anger, know that one of two things are likely at work, either I am an insufficient writer – which is likely – or – you may be reading something into this which is not intended. Only good is intended. I hope, if anything this lifts us up, all of us. Oh, and about the title, it is far more provocative than was called for ;-))
The recent Woman’s March in Washington and around the country, if nothing else, has caused me to consider with more seriousness how I ought to view women. I’m not sure anything I saw or heard changed my mind very much. The women calling for equal pay, equal access, equal opportunity needn’t have bothered on my account. I already agree with their desires. For those whose agendas’ were wanting ‘freedom to choose’ (freedom to have an abortion), while I would hope they would in most cases choose life, I am all about freedom, so I stand with them, at least legislatively. Those women who chose to present themselves more outrageously and provocatively….well….you didn’t change my mind either. Nevertheless, you all caused me to think a bit, and for that I thank you.
Whether I agree with these women and their motives or not, or to what degree, is less important to me now than the fact that while processing these things I was led to try and quantify what it is about women that I hold as ideal. What follows is what I see as ideal. You don’t have to agree. If you are a woman, understand there is now only one woman who has any incentive or real interest in pleasing me, and she is certainly under no threat of compulsion to do so. If you are a woman and choose to live your life with a different ideal than mine it is of no consequence to me, or at least certainly not for very long. I’m too old now to matter much. I’m not yet in the check out line of life, but I am starting to check my grocery list to see that I got everything I intended.
You may choose to define yourself by how you earn money, how appealing you look, or how you are resistant to these notions. You may choose to define yourself over and against men. I do not. Your ideal may be quite different than my own. I am not arguing that all women should be this or that. I am merely attempting to praise what I love, not to deride that which I do not. At this point in my life I am powerless to either oppress you, or to elevate you. I am neither harmful nor helpful to you or any cause you may wish me to join. I would add that much of what I hold to be ideal can also be lived out by men, and indeed most men I admire exhibit these qualities, but the women in my life have done it better. So take my words for what they are worth, which is likely little more than they will cost. However, know that what I consider ideal, has next to nothing to do with genitalia, employment, or politics. It has entirely to do with with what I consider to be the ideal. It is borne out of great love for three women and what I see in them. My wife, my mother, and my sister, none of these are perfect people, but these three have largely been responsible for what I consider to be ideal. There are others, millions of others, I am sure who embody these things I love and admire, but these three I know best. These three have taught me. They have, these three, mostly embodied these things I consider virtuous and beautiful. So from them allow me to paint a picture, my own Mona Lisa or Whistler’s Mother, if you will:
My portrait would not be necessarily one of great physical beauty. She would not be some shapely young full-lipped winsome creature with smooth soft skin. My picture would be of a weathered woman. Her face would be tender with a touch of gravitas. Her body, perhaps a bit heavy, perhaps too thin, perhaps a bit bent. Her hair would be graying or white. Her gait would be just a bit hobbled or awkward. There would be little jewelry adorning her. She would be unscented. Her hands are a bit rough, made so by years of toil and bearing the burdens of others, weathered and seasoned by the salt of others’ tears she has wiped away. She would have a halo, but not one of light. Hers is an aura created by words borne of her actions, the words of those who know and love her. “She is kind, faithful, brave and wise.”
It was, after all, this woman, these three, these millions who with great courage, since Eden have gone down to the very gates of death to retrieve the souls of billions like me. They risked their own life to give me mine, and since have saved me from myself more than once. It was their tender breasts that gave me and all humanity sustenance that caused us to grow strong and tall. It is in the crook of their arms that our tiny heads were cradled until we could rise and walk and needed that strong arm no more. It was their patient wisdom that taught me to tie my shoe, taught my children to tie their shoes. It was she, these three and millions of other women, who taught me, and all of humanity the necessity of God. They taught me tp pray and at times when I could not, or would not pray for myself, they prayed for me when this was all they could do. This woman was also a visionary and builder. She saw in me, in humankind things we could not even imagine. She laid the foundation, drew up the plans and drove us to work. I love this woman, be she real or just an ideal. I carry her picture with me. It is with me now and always, kept apart from my corrupted self and soul, in a special secret place. I don’t often visit that place. Usually I am too busy or distracted. Often there is too much noise. But sometimes I go there to that secret place, in the silent darkness of the night, or the gentle light just before sunrise and look at this portrait, when the world is quiet. I pull this picture from that pure and noble and virtuous part of myself that is unstained by sin. I look at her and I remember. I remember Eve. I remember Charlene, I remember Tina, I remember Michele. I remember them then, and also in this moment. I am overwhelmed be her beauty. I am drawn closer to God.