My Best Present

My best present this holiday — well, besides the cool new MicroPlane Zester — is from someone who here goes under the cover of “Ms. Rachelle.”

If I think of what I want for you what comes to mind is a line from a prayer found in the Reconstructionist Jewish prayerbook.  The traditional poem is one of asking for God’s blessings for the world, and of course, God’s four letter name in Hebrew usually receives the euphemistic translation Lord.  In this book they come up with terms, such as Infinite, Eternal, Parent, that match the setting.  In the particular prayer the requests are for others, but then the person speaks to God on her own behalf.  So the line is addressed to God, but I’m addressing it to you:

And as for me, Gentle One, my prayer is for You, that it be for You a time of desire.

This is the magic I seek for you, that desire return to you, the desire for magic, the desire for life, the desire to be free.  The Romans celebrated Saturnalia at this time, which featured a leveling, a time in which the slaves are free.  In the Mithras mystery religion of Rome, the sun is reborn, triumphant, on Dec. 25, just after Saturnalia.  Sol Invictas! they cried, in joy and celebration.

And as for me, Gentle One, my prayer is for You, that it be for You a time of desire.

Bono Saturnalia,

“Ms Rachelle”

The best present I think I give to people is the gift of seeing and encouraging them.   To be understood and valued is what most people really want, and I am no exception.  One of the last lines in Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking “Gender Outlaw” (Routledge, 1994) take from the fact that in the TV fiction she loves, trannys are discovered, and she goes on to express one of her most tender wishes, one of her her most plaintive pleas: “Discover me.”

And that is the gift I feel so often denied.  I know most people see me as too smart, too fast, too visionary, too weird (heck, even Kate has called me the queerest person she knows), and that means I’m too challenging.  “People read you and wonder how someone with a voice like yours could ever need emotional support and caring, ever use what I have to give?” an old friend said, echoing the standard response of my youth: “Well, if you are smart enough to see and describe the challenges, even your emotional needs, then you are smart enough to fix them.”

But Ms. Rachelle, well, she knows that I have done the work of moving past desire, which may have left me clear-headed but which also has left me clear-hearted.  There isn’t anything there to repair the damage, anything there to be tender and healing, anything there to nurture the flame. 

My mother got a brochure from Omega Insitute on a weekend conference they are running in Manhattan called “Becoming Fearless.” She wondered if my sister or I would like to go.  I laughed at this, because they don’t want me fearless, they want me normative, back on the grid and quiet. 

It’s not fear that holds me down, it’s pain.  I have been fearless for way too long, as evidenced by that fifth grade incidident where I challenged the teacher’s assertion even as the whole class voted against me, ignoring the fear of social stigma that controls most people.  But too many decades of that fight leaves you pretty well toothless (lit.) and the pain just keeps you from going out to get hit again.  The last time I was coerced into one of these newage helpshops I ended up telling Ms. Rachelle that I shouldn’t go because my resources were so thin that one more big hit would crippple me more, take me down, and that agrument she agreed with.  But I went and got hit and hurt again.  The price of having other people’s expectations placed on me, even expectations made with a good heart, just seems too much to bear without any tenderness for healing my battered heart.

I have never thought that I am unlovable.  I know my mother in the sky loves me very, very much, and that I have worked hard to become clear and loving in my own life. 

I just know that I am undesirable, one of those undesirables that society tries to sweep to the edges.  I bristle too much, illuminate too much, challenge too much.

And that’s why Ms Rachelle’s gift of the prayer that desire comes to me is so moving and potent.  The spirit may need only heart and mind, but the body needs desire, both coming and going, both to desire and, maybe more, to be desired.  I have never really been able to twist the power my mother in the sky gave me down into a package pretty enough it meets the limits of desire, and now I know that my own broken and crippled life isn’t something anyone healthy really wants to enter.  It’s not like I ever really had desire and lost it, it’s like I knew that wasn’t for me.

But Ms. Rachelle wants me to know that it is for me, and that moves me, in ways that I can barely speak.

But can I see any way that I can invoke the energy of desire in my life in a way that it will return to me as healing energy?   No, I think.  That just seems all too much.

But to you, dear reader, Happy Saturnalia to you.  May your desire for intimacy — desire for the heat of another,  desire for loving the world,  desire for clear vision & thought, and desire for a spiritual connection with the creator — be full and lead you to victory over darkness, lead you to a triumph of the light.

That is my desire for you.

No Grace For You.

I cooked and cleaned and shopped and listened and supported and made a Christmas Eve party for my brother’s family, a big Christmas for us.  Lots and lots of work.

At Christmas dinner, my mother started to tuck in without anyone saying grace.  I spoke up, and she began to mumble something about thankfulness.

I stopped her and said that while I thought gratiude was important — we should have that attitude every day — that Christmas was for miracles, for the magic that the Puritans feared when they banned it.  I started to talk about moving beyond expectation, about the light from within, and such.

My sister worked hard to listen.

My mother started cutting her meat.  She tuned out.

I saw this and started mumbling, trying to indicate to my sister that she should look at my mother. When my sister saw my mother ignoring the grace, I stopped.

My father, sweet & slightly confused, said “Amen,” even though I never got to that point.

Once I was quiet, my mother started telling a banal story about some orphans from Kahzikstan and their first Christmas here in their new church.   I just sat and ate without grace.

She later sincerely thanked me for everything I do, everything. Just not everything I am, everything inside of me, which doesn’t deserve grace.

No grace for you.  It’s Christmas.

Time to go take out the garbage.  The truck comes early, you know.