Monday, December 03, 2007

Let us eat cake!

Last week while grocery shopping with my mother, my 9 year old daughter spent some of her allowance to buy a celebrity mag at the checkout. When she arrived home with it I felt as God must have as he watched Adam and Eve exit the garden. So far she has no detectable insecurities about herself--she's a happy, healthy, and confidant being. Then comes the magazine, highlighting and glamorizing every superficial, narcissistic, vapid and self indulgent impulse of humankind. It's then a slippery slope to comparison, self doubt, envy, greed, self loathing and all their accompanying lifesuck emotions. Name one good reason a young girl should waste an hour of her life on such. I used to "read" those magazines and they're as irresistible as junk food. I still find myself reaching for them on occasion at the doctor's office or in waiting rooms and inevitably afterward feel like I've eaten a dozen twinkies. Sickly. Defiled. And always inferior. That cultural battle lasts a lifetime and I'm not quite ready to see her have to take it on. I want her to learn what creates real beauty and for her to aspire, not to designer fashions, riches and empty lifestyles, but to a life of substance and meaning--one that will enhance and affirm not only her life but the larger world around her. God save us from US.

Wayne celebrated a birthday this weekend and after blowing out the candles, our daughter did what we all do on our first birthdays: a faceplant in the cake. At age one, we acknowledge the fact we have taken our spot in the human parade and begun what we hope will be a long journey, witnessed and aided by the very ones who have gathered around the cake to celebrate. The child does not then eat the cake as much as plunge herself into it. Cake! Yes! The whole big cake is for me! So, why don't we plant our faces at age 9? or 43? or 102? It's still our cake. The theme of the current issue of Sojourners magazine is aging which, although our culture has conditioned us to fear and dread it, should be cause for joy. Aging is life lived, wisdom earned, cake eaten, cake worn: aging is creating the story that is you. The cake baked just for you.

And you are part of a bigger story, one that is playing out for eternity. Richard Rohr asks in Sojourners, "Is my life passing by without me? Am I so caught up in my life dramas and daily situations, that I miss the Big Life, the One Life, the Shared Life that is floating and immense underneath it all? Once we contact The Life, which is consciousness itself, Being itself, God, then we are not so afraid of aging. In fact, old age almost seems like a misnomer. Then we have tapped into the Stream that only grows deeper, stronger, and ever more living (John 4:10) because it is infinite." Not something you'll glean from a celebrity mag. In fact, they're designed to throw your cake out in the rain.

Yesterday morning as I knelt to take communion, thankful for my life and the years I have been granted, and for the world without end, I was certain I detected, in the wafer melting on my tongue, a lingering sweetness, tasting something like cake.


jenni said...

I usually look through my Mom's In Style magazines, but I couldn't finish the last issue I borrowed.

This is such a beautiful post - thank you.

By the way, Johnny does GREAT impersonations of models' and celebrities' poses in such magazines. :)

allison said...

Johnny is welcome to video them for upload here :)