Missing Rituals, Healing, and Religion
Lately, I’ve been watching “19 Kids and Counting” and it has made me wistful. Normally, I think of the Duggars as freaks, bizarrely conservative and spreading the kind of religion I have barely escaped from. But Jill’s wedding got me thinking of what I have missed.
I remember being in my early twenties. I felt like I was thrown into the deep of a changing economy and expected to sink or swim. I almost didn’t invite my parents to my wedding because I was having issues with my dad. It was a civil ceremony. I cannot imagine my dad “giving me away.” I wasn’t his property to give away or withhold from anyone.
When asked at Jill’s wedding, “Who gives this woman away?” Jim Bob pipes up and says, “I do. Her mother and I do.” While sounding a tad medieval, it also symbolizes a release of his parental control. The torch is being consciously passed to the new generation.
Jill is not left wondering if she is an adult. She leaves the church a married woman and the entire church community acknowledges this new phase of her life.
My dad asked me after I got married, “How’s married life treating you?” My response? “Pretty much like ‘living-together life’.” I wasn’t trying to be snide; I just didn’t know what he was talking about. Was there supposed to be some sort of magical transformation?
Well, yeah, but I didn’t know that back then and would have had no idea of what it should have been or look like.
I was talking to my best friend the other day and told her that I suspected part of my wanting to move to Charlottesville, Virginia was because it is Virginia’s version of Ann Arbor: a college town filled with youthful, energetic people seeking new ideas and creative outlets (but not snow-bound!). I never lived on any campus while going to school. I was busy being married and a weekend stepmom, and trying to survive. I feel like I missed some stages of adulthood.
Can there be rites of passage without the inherently dysfunctional patriarchy and brain-sacrificing belief system? There need to be. I am understanding feminine spirituality more now, but find that some of it is just a reaction to the overly masculine spirituality so common in Christianity. It looks like the mirror-image of the problem, not a solution.
I am learning that participation makes things more real emotionally. I spent a few hours yesterday helping the Democrats. It felt so good to be helpful and contribute my time to being part of the solution instead of the problem. Most of our candidates didn’t win, but nothing substitutes for feeling like being a part of something positive bigger than oneself. I met a wide variety of fascinating people. I want this to continue.
All this makes me wonder how many problems people have are simply incomplete experiences. No one ever explains to the father of a new bride that his daughter will now start a new life outside of his control. A woman never grieves her sudden multiple losses and becomes a hoarder. A mother never gives up control of her son and becomes a meddling mother-in-law. These are simply a refusal to acknowledge that life has moved on, with or without us.
Problems do not get addressed and traumata accumulate.
I see our society spinning out of control. It has lost its spiritual rudder and it has not yet found a new, better way of handling the tough issues. Letting go of something dysfunctional is good, but not enough. We need alternatives. Going backwards is not an option. There is no putting the toothpaste back in the tube.
And I want to be part of the solution.