Saturday, February 26, 2011

Regarding Mr. Lewis

I'm in the middle of reading Robert Lewis's book, New Eve, and I have to say that I am having a lot of trouble taking what he says seriously. In this book he is trying to teach women what it means to be a woman by studying Eve. Unfortunately Mr. Lewis spends too very little time on Eve as a woman. For me, his book is yet another foray into this type of feminism tittled "New Feminism" which links womanhood explicitly with being a wife and motherhood.

Now my criticism does not lie with marriage and motherhood, not in the least, but I do have a problem with linking womanhood only to marriage and motherhood. It leaves a gapping hole for women who are single and childless. And while Lewis and many other New Feminist state that single woman with no children can become "spiritual mothers" to those around them, it doesn't seem as if this is enough. Now none of the information or writers that I have looked at says this in black and white, but one gets the feeling that spiritual mothers are not exactly equal to real mothers. This leads me to wonder over and over: if I am not a wife or a mother, am I not a woman? To which I have to say, absolutely not. It seems even ridiculous to me that even an idea can exist. However, it does. And its on that lately I've been coming against.

In his book, Mr. Lewis lists three core truths for a woman (at least one that is trying to be a new Eve). These core truths are: leave and cleave, be fruitful and multiply, and to advance God's kingdom. Now while I believe that these three things are necessary for any woman that is a believer of God, I do not think that they are the most important three of a woman's life (the last one is something that all believers have been charged with keeping). Why isn't a relationship with God, knowing who you are in God, knowing what God has created you to do part of a woman's core calling? I understand that Mr. Lewis is using Eve, but he, like so many other writers and thinkers, only start Eve's life when she is brought to Adam. The Bible, on the other hand, states that Eve had an existence before Adam.

Genesis 2:22 says, "And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man." The Bible tells us that God brought woman to man after woman was made. Therefore there was a time in the life of Eve that she did not know Adam. I have been wondering over this past week what that time would have been like for Eve. Was this the time that she spent knowing her God? Was this her bonding time with her Creator?

I have always loved to imagine the creation of Eve. I always picture her appearing in the shade of trees, in a clearing. It is a private place where no one else is allowed for this moment. There's a slight wind, the breath of God wavering over this place waiting for her to stir, waiting for her to open her eyes. But her's is a patient God, He will wait for her to come to life here in this place that has been set apart for only the two of them. She inhales, her lungs tasting and processing air for the first time. She moves her head, she twitches her fingers and toes, the first of their kind. She opens her eyes and turns her head. Has she heard something? Then she realizes that she has had a thought. They begin to flood her, but not to weigh her down, but instead link her more with the new world around her. Someone is telling her to stand. It is a voice that invites her to find Him, a voice kind and authoritarian though she knows nothing of either word at this moment. All she knows is that this is a voice that speaks to her at her core. It is a voice that she wants to find, to follow, to commit too. She figures out that she possess the ability to move. She sits up and discovers her hands, following them down to her arms. Her hands move over her body, not knowing what it is, but knowing that its her's. She is the ultimate baby. Her toes fascinate her, her legs something long and attached to her feet. "Stand" the voice whispers in excitement. She has never stood before, has never seen anyone stand, and yet she staggers to her feet, drawing herself up to her full height. She smiles in delight. She lifts up her head to the tree tops and squints at the slants of light finding their way through the leaves. Another word comes to her ears, "walk". What is walking, she suddenly knows. She moves a foot, lifting it in the air, and putting it down further then where it was. The next foot throws her off balance, and she stumbles, falling down into the moss under her feet. She's not hurt; there is no pain in this place. Nonetheless, the voice fills the clearing, washing over her, encouraging her to try again. She likes the voice. Ever since she became it had been calling to her. Telling her how beautiful she was, how much he loved her. She had no knowledge of beauty or love, but she knew this voice. It lived in her being; it was a part of her soul and essence. It's words were her sustainment and livelihood.

This is what I like to imagine when I think of Eve. I like to think of her alone with God. I like to think of her in this private place with only her Creator. Perhaps this is the point in her life that we as women today need to identify with first. Perhaps as women of God today, we need to get to this place where all we know and breath is God. Before we can meet our Adam, we have to experience our God on a personal level that cuts us to the very essence of ourselves. Eve isn't woman until she meets Adam. Before that she is a creation of God. She is His and no one else. I think this and all I can conclude is that I am God's first and man's second. Therefore my core callings pertain to God first and to man second. That means that marriage and motherhood fall in the silver pedestal while God takes the gold. To me, this is what it means to be a New Eve. It means loving God first and letting Him fill me till I overflow.

And in light of that, I cannot agree with Mr. Lewis. Not in the least.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kitchen Braveheart

*bad work in progress

The party was picking up. People were mingling, laughing, flirting, and doing all the other activities that make human interaction interesting.

Heathcliff slung back the last his punch and clutched his empty cup near his stomach. He was pretending to be interested in the conversation circling him, but the truth was his eyes were searching the room looking for her. She had disappeared a little while ago with a couple of dirty plates and cups, and hadn't returned to the crowd. Heathcliff had been to quite a few other functions with this same group, and he noticed that it never failed for this girl to disappear and not be seen till the very end of the festivities. He wondered where she went and what she did. Her unusual party habits had struck a nerve with him.

As for the girl herself, she wasn't particularly striking. A little on the chubby side, with brown hair trying to be passed off as auburn. Her teeth were a little crooked, but her smile and laugh lit up her face when she allowed it too. However, Heathcliff loved her eyes. They were blue and they betrayed her emotions more than she could have known. When she was happy, they burned like stars at the birth of an evening. When she was annoyed, they pierced like arrows. But when she was sad, they betrayed her the most. Sadness seemed to flow out of her eyes like a raised river during a heavy rain. It would flood her. Sometimes she would try to hide those eyes, but that just betrayed her all the more. Heathcliff had observed all of this and hid it to himself. Sometimes it made him feel creepy watching her like he did, but he couldn't help it. She mystified him on a number of levels. He decided that this would be the night when he took an active role in his study of this girl.

Detaching himself from a conversation he wasn't really a part of, he took his empty cup to the kitchen,where standing at the sink was the girl. She was running water and squeezing soap, a pile of dishes waiting to be washed on the counter. Heathcliff could only imagine that the water filling up the sink reflected the color of her eyes as she stared into its depths. Spotting the trash can beside the door leading from the kitchen to the dining room beside him, he threw his cup away as noisy as he could, even going so far to shake the bag to make more room for the trash he didn't have. She turned off the water and turned to look at him. Heathcliff didn't move and she smiled at him. It was a smile that said, "I'm-not-as happy-at-seeing-you-as-I-look-but-I'm-going-to-be-friendly". Seeing that he wasn't going to leave, she asked him if he needed anything.

Heathcliff saw this as the perfect place to make his move. He put his hands in his pockets and sauntered over to the sink. Placing one hand on the counter he looked at her. She was staring at him, slight apprehension and puzzlement on her face.

He looked down. "Well, aren't you just the Martha?" he asked her smiling, trying to prove that the question was as jovial as he was.

She shrugged and turned back to the sink. The water had filled it halfway and the soap was billowing on the surface. She picked up a few of the plates and dropped them in with care.
"Perhaps"was her only verbal reply.

"Do you need any help?"

"No, I'm fine." she said without hesitation but with a hint of a sigh. Her hands were moving through the water, one of them holding a scrubbing brush the other reaching for a plate. She proceeded to wash it, moving the brush around the plate, from the outside to the inside, following some internal rhythm.

"I don't mind to help. You wash and I'll dry. Then you can get back to socializing with everyone out there." Heathcliff said as he looked for a towel.

She didn't look at him, but instead held the plate she had just washed and said to it, "That's very nice, but I don't want you to miss out on talking to everyone"

Heathcliff tried not to laugh at her stubbornness and secretly applauded her for the subtlety she had used to get him to leave her. "I rather help you then talk to everyone else."

This one caught her attention. She handed him the washed plate, but didn't let it go when Heathcliff took hold of it. Staring at his collarbone she said, "You would rather help me? No one ever wants to help me. No one ever seems to notice that I need help."

Her hand dropped from the plate and reached through the soap and water to grab another. Heathcliff dried it and put it to the side. He wasn't sure what to say to this. But before he could, she stiffened up and started to wash another dish. "You know, someone has to wash the dishes and clean up the trash, and I don't mind to do it. It allows everyone else to relax and have fun." She sounded as if she was trying to cover up what she had said before.

Heathcliff didn't say anything. He could feel that whatever he said at this point would be dismissed. Instead he finished helping her with the dishes. As she wiped down the counters with a cloth he leaned against the fridge. She always seemed so sad. Heathcliff had noticed this every time they were at an activity together. She needed something from outside of herself. Why did she seem to be fighting the world from the inside. She needed someone to fight for her. She needed a braveheart. And what was more, he wanted to be that braveheart. He had a moment where he imagined himself smearing his face with blue paint, and ridding out on a horse to prove that he was worthy to fight for her.

She had finished the counter, and was folding the dish towels on the corner of the sink. "Well... thank you for your help, I guess now we can get back to the party." she said.

Heathcliff wasn't ready to leave just yet. He finally had a moment alone with her and he wasn't going to let that go. His mind hurtle through quick small talk topics, but none seemed right. He bit his lip trying to think and panic when he saw her give him a nod and turn to leave through the door.

"Wait!" It was desperate, and Heathcliff felt the pressure even more when this made her stop and look at him.

"Yes?" she asked.

"Uhm... Uhm...I've been wanting to ask you...Uhm... Uhm... What's your favorite book?" It was lame and he knew it. But he might not have another chance this evening to talk to her one on one.

She smiled and her face went soft. "Jane Eyre. I love her and Mr. Rochester. She's so frank with him, and he loves her for it even if she's not of his class or status. I also like Wuthering Heights."

This made Heathcliff smile. "Wuthering Heights is my mother's favorite book."

"I figured your mother must have some attachment to it," she teased.

Her teasing made Heathcliff feel more at ease. He smiled and the banter continued as the clock swung its hands. He made her laugh and smile, now the polite stuff she usually did, but laugh like a monkey, real and substantial. Her smile stretched all the way across her face and made her seem more alive.