Sunday, September 12, 2010

New life! And an ode to Hair

My life is blossoming in many directions right now. I am starting a new full-time job in San Antonio soon that will really challenge my mind and give me opportunities to grow in my profession! The "agape letters" I referred to a number of posts back were letters of recommendation from supervisors who were all also friends.

I am posting excerpts here from an e-mail communication I had with a new friend, someone who reached out to me about my postings here. Thank you, God, for friends! I would post her replies, but I don't know if she would want that.

A Conversation with a Friend

"I enjoyed our meeting and I can never have too many thoughtful and thought-provoking friends to share experiences with. I feel I have only a precious few people who accept me as I am, and can offer feedback without being judgmental!

I think it’s quite common these days to grow up outside the church. Perhaps living in South Texas, it seems different, but I would say my kids, who are faithful church-goers, are an exception, particularly in the public school setting. I guess many of the other deeply religious people are home-schooling!

I don’t remember feeling left out of religion, growing up. We live in a pretty secular society, and the separation of church and state does help protect children of different backgrounds from being judged in that way. I always was drawn to God and curious about him/her, and mad at him/her quite often. So I never was really an atheist because I always had a running commentary with God from a young age, and was always wondering why this divine, all-powerful creator had allowed so much violence and evil to happen. And sadness and despair.

I’m not sure why some people have such a strong – instinctive – sense of God, and others do not. And why me, of all people, with relatively unbelieving parents? I don’t know.

On the sin issue, I see my own sin ever more clearly as I grow spiritually. I don’t think we are complete in ourselves, and capable of becoming outward-focused, without an awareness of something much larger than our own little existence. I still believe in sin, and evil is undeniably real. I also believe in an evil power that opposes God, not just random evil but an organizer behind the scenes, in some sense. Evil is quite powerful, though not as powerful as being bathed in the light of creation and love. It’s a mistake to underestimate it. It can be quite draining, when encountered in the personality of other people. I’m sure you have met those people who cause chaos, drama, and conflict to swirl around them. It’s rather exhausting to figure out how to resist it. We have some people like that at our church right now, and it has caused a lot of strife and division.

I do enjoy talking about and exploring many aspects of spirituality, and I would welcome that. I also wonder about the idea of grace. To me, this sort of means that some people get it – have grace – and some people are stuck in suffering and struggle. For example, some alcoholics can overcome their disability, and others cannot. Some people use adversity to grow stronger and wiser, and others are destroyed by it. I always long to pass along what grace I feel I have received in my life, but yet it seems almost impossible to give it to another person; just as I can’t give them the faith that I am blessed with."

That was all a combination from two separate e-mails. We are meeting again soon at The Foundry, a environmentally conscious coffeehouse near downtown San Antonio, recommended by my friend.

Hair -- the Musical; the Movie; and My Life

Yes, it's ironic that I, a person blessed with multitudes of hair myself, should adore this movie! (I never saw the musical that preceded it.) I believe that I went to see this movie in the theater when it was first released. I know I saw it with my mom. More and more, I see her influence in such a positive way throughout my entire way of being -- my thirst for knowledge, my openness to many ideas, my constant desire to pass along life lessons to my children.

So, the fact that my mom took me to see this movie when I was about 13 years old is very telling in itself.

This movie was a pivot point for me, an absolutely life-changing experience. There was life before Hair -- not too exciting -- and life after Hair, with a brand-new sense of freedom and possibility, the radical message of peace, the pervasive sexuality, the anti-establishment humor, the wonderful music and choreography. I have carried all those gifts in my deepest being ever since.

When I sat down to watch Hair again, this time to encourage my kids to watch it, it was as though I had just seen it quite recently. (Sidebar: Usually, my specific memory of experiences and people is embarrassingly poor. My past is quite a fog in many ways. It could be an excess of mental chatter; it could be that I was protecting myself from certain emotional blows in my childhood, and the forgetfulness became such an ingrained habit that I had trouble retraining myself. It could be that it's just my ingrained personality. One of my sons is just the same. Anyhow, I am the perfect candidate in need of mindfulness of the present moment, because it's something that is quite lacking in my usual nature.)

I remembered every character from Hair in vivid detail. Most of all, the one I adored for his raw sexual power, his gentle humor, and also his strong message of peace in a violent world, "Berger" (Treat Williams). This movie was a game-changer for me.

I must, must, MUST get the Hair soundtrack. How on earth have I survived so long without it? It is right up there with Jesus Christ, Superstar -- that's the music I listened to while in labor!


  1. When you mentioned the Foundry I figured out who your friend is. She's coming by my house tomorrow morning :). You know, my kids were in public school and I think almost all of their friends were church-goers. Ellie was told by a teacher that dinosaurs were not proven, or something to that effect. I can't believe you think most people here don't go to church - I know I am in the homeschooling enviro...but I'm also a born and bred local - and I still feel that the majority of the area are church-going Christians. Even Ellie says her school friends (and she knows a ton through music) are church-goers. Have you been following the discourse on the Meming of Life blog? Uber interesting. Oh! I have another friend you would love talking to...check out :). She was discussing grace, recently. I am currently void of all spirituality - feeling pretty good about it. Don't know that I'll stay there but it is where I need to be right now. Thank goodness my faith crisis is over - wasn't the ending I was hoping for but it was the one I got. Good luck with your job and let's get together again soon (although I guess it will be dinner now???)

  2. Carol, you may be right that Floresville-ites go to church more than my classmates in San Antonio did. I didn't take a poll! But I don't see the results in terms of ethical behavior in the students here. There is a disconnect between secular education and ethics that Dr. Vinson is trying to remedy with the character-education program. There is also a disconnect between church-going behavior and ethics, in many cases.


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