Saturday, January 17, 2009

Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels

Starr Ann and I were watching cartoons this morning, when she stood up, walked calmly to the TV, and turned it off. Her voice had that calm, controlled quality that lately means she's fighting off tears over the children of Gaza and all the others who are suffering and dying because of someone else's politics, greed or religious beliefs.

Over the last week, Starr Ann and I will be going about our merry way, laughing, working, playing and being amazed by our animals, when something will suddenly bring home the reality of so many lives being lived in misery. Last weekend, Starr Ann read an article by Suzanne Baroud, Children of Gaza, Run to the Angels. And then I read it. And we've been wrestling with the seeming inappropriateness of our own, personal happiness ever since.

But when Starr Ann turned off our cartoons this morning, she had something more useful than guilt to discuss.

She said, "Margo, I've decided to go ahead and watch the inauguration on Tuesday."

I couldn't believe it! We've both been so sickened by the inclusion of Nazi-admiring Rick Warren having a part in the festivities, we'd decided there wasn't much for two gay women to celebrate at the swearing-in ceremony.

Starr Ann could see my surprise, of course, so she explained, "Last night, Jodie and I were discussing the horror in Gaza, and at one point, she got all passionate the way she does, you know? And she just started ranting a little bit, and saying 'What could possibly be worth all that suffering? How is it possible to see those pictures of those bloody, broken babies and not just put down the weapons? Just walk away?' And you know what, Margo? All of a sudden, this feeling came over me, and instead of feeling contempt for the aggressors of the world, I only felt like scouring my whole being for animosity and simply putting it down. Walking away."

I said, "I'm not at all comfortable with that, Starr Ann. It sounds like a recipe for letting the bad guys win. Plus, it makes me start hearing Kumbaya, and you know I hate when that stupid song gets stuck in my head."

Starr Ann said, "Yeah, intellectually, I didn't like that feeling either. And by the time I went to sleep last night, I thought I'd rid myself of it. But this morning, I woke up in the middle of this real frustrating dream."

Goddess, I love the place where Starr Ann's expression shifts to when she starts telling me about one of her dreams.

Her face got all beautiful that way and she continued, "In the dream, I had all these threads lined up parallel to each other." Starr Ann ran her fingers across the sofa seat, showing me how the threads were all lined up even. "And it was understood in the dream that I was supposed to be making cloth out of these threads. Only thing was, as long as I lined them up alongside each other, they stayed loose. And the more threads I lined up, the harder it got to keep control of them, and I was getting real angry over the fact that I was working so hard, but still didn't have any real cloth, just the same old loose threads."

I said, "Well, Starr Ann, it makes sense you'd have frustrating dreams. It's been a disappointing week."

"But listen to this, Margo. All of a sudden, that conversation with Jodie came to my mind in the dream, and when I pictured everybody laying down their weapons, everything seemed clear."

I started humming Kumbaya loud enough for Starr Ann to hear, just so I wouldn't have to be the only one infected with it.

Starr Ann kinda chuckled, and said, "What a jerk you are. Anyway, I started running threads cross-ways to the ones I'd lined up, and all of a sudden, I had cloth."

"Then what?"

"Then I had cloth."

"But what else?"

"Nothing else. It was a dream, silly."

"You're unique, Starr Ann, you know that?"

Starr Ann puffed out her chest, just like she used to do when she was little and proud of something, and said, "Anyway, we voted for the man. We bargained for change. We've entrusted certain decisions to him. If we can't find it in our hearts to lay down the bitterness we feel over Warren, how can we sit here and shake our heads over the fact that other humans can't lay down their bitterness? We're going to watch the inauguration. And we're going to resume hoping. Not blindly, and certainly not without criticism when it's called for."

I said, "Starr Ann, you're getting dangerously close to the phrase, 'Be the peace you'd like to see in the world.'"

Right then, Starr Ann took unfair advantage of my engagement in deep thinking, and tackled me. As she tickled me beyond the ability to speak or breathe, she sang our June Cleaver version of Kumbaya, the way we used to sing it around our campfires when the nuns couldn't hear:

Someones laughing, Ward, kumbaya
Someones laughing, Ward, kumbaya
Someones laughing, Ward, kumbaya
Oh Ward, kumbaya

Someones crying, Ward, kumbaya
Someones crying, Ward, kumbaya
Someones crying, Ward, kumbaya
Oh Ward, kumbaya