Hairy legs and lack-thereof

I shaved my legs for the first time this season.

Every spring, I make the decision to let my leg hairs maintain their winter state.  I determine to eschew cultural expectations and forgo the tedious work of lathering my legs and scraping off all my hair.  This, I tell myself, is not a ritual I will continue.

But it never fails that when the warmer, bare-legged, skirt-wearing weather has been around for more than a week, I take a razor to my legs anyway.

And it feels good – not the razor part, of course – but the silky-smooth aftermath.  I feel cool and soft and shorn of a winter coat.  I feel a part of a seasonal rhythm.  And if that were my main motivation for shaving my legs every spring, I would do so boldly and without any promises to remain hairy next year.

But it’s not a reason – it’s a justification, an incidental experience.  In truth, I shave because I’m supposed to, because to I want to be pretty and acceptable … but mostly because I don’t want my legs to draw attention to themselves.  I don’t want my hair to stand out and be a symbol I have to explain or defend any more than I want my silky-smooth legs to represent capitulation to unreasonable standards of beauty.  So I end up feeling a little trapped: no matter what I do with the hair on my legs, it means something.  But I don’t want to make a statement about femininity – either of conformity or liberation – with my choice to wield or renounce a razor.

I don’t want a cultural battle-ground on my calves.  

I just want them to be my legs.  And I want my choice to shave them or not to mean nothing more than how I felt that day about hair.

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Let my people go

(In honor of Holy Week’s Table Turning MondayI offer this liturgy of (in)justice.  This was originally a sung and spoken-word piece I did for a class presentation on the theology of anthropology.)  

 

When Israel was in Egypt’s land

Let my people go

Oppressed so hard they could not stand

Let my people go

 

Go down, Moses,

Way down to Egypt’s land.

Tell old Pharaoh

to let my people go.

 

Go down, Moses,

way down to the riverside

that runs with the blood of the mined-up earth

shining oil and topsoil run-off

dry-throated children crouch on the shores

with plastic pails they gather in life and death

and we, the blood-letters

don’t have to watch

their illness fester on the banks of the river of life

they ask for no parting of the water—

only a clear cup to drink

 

Go down, Moses,

way down to the city of tents

where a young girl kicks at a ball of rags

and tries to bury the sound of gunshots

in the swift, strong movement of muscle

sit with her there

and do not try to explain away

the horror she hides in the catch in her smile

give her that cup of cold, clear water

but don’t expect to be rewarded with the return of innocence

stolen by the greed built into our daily commute

 

Go down, Moses,

way down to the prison cell

where a tattooed man holds his head in his hands

and weeps

because he was a prisoner long before he got here

and yesterday during visiting hours

he saw his daughter’s face for the very first time

and he was afraid

afraid of the chains he saw growing around her tiny ankles

chains that snake through the houses of my neighborhood

and end at my doorstep

 

Go down, Moses,

Way down to Egypt’s land.

Tell old Pharaoh

to let my people go.

 

Go down, Moses,

way down to the path that leads to the tree of life

fall down on your knees in the dust of the earth

where I buried my hands and wondered

how can such fertile ground

shape such barren people?

Tell me, Moses, how I got here

And tell me, please, where all this is going

Tell me plagues have to do with freedom

Tell me the price of the firstborn was worth it

But most of all, Moses, tell me I am going with you

 

Show me a God who stretches out her mighty arm

and scatters our expectations

a God who holds our hearts and softens them

to each other

to Herself

 

Go down, Moses,

Way down to Egypt’s land.

Tell old Pharaoh

to let my people go.

 

Tell me, Moses

what do I do

when I discover that I am not in Egypt

I AM Egypt

 

Let my people go.

This hangs in my kitchen

A blessing for the pantry:

Gather in, Gracious Gardener,

a harvest of abundance.

Here,

let there be freedom from fear,

from want,

from fear of want.

We thank you for the land that makes our sustenance possible.

We thank you for the many, many workers

whose labor fills our shelves.

Feed us with gratitude, God.

In every jar, box, can, bag,

place your stories of providence:

of Elijah and the widow and the jar of oil,

of the boy’s loaves and fish,

of manna raining in the desert,

of Jesus tenderly roasting fish

when his disciples caught nothing.

We your children,

even more precious than sparrows,

place this pantry in your hands.

Teach us to fill it with stories and pathways that please you.

Re-routing

Embedded in the very definition of “sojourner” is the understanding that such a person is a temporary resident – she lives somewhere fully, but not forever.

Several years ago I was a “transcarpathian sojourner,” and, until this afternoon, this long-neglected blog named me as the “sojourner at home.”  I still identify as a sojourner, one who is both rooted and on the move,  but it is one piece of the liturgy that shapes me life.  I want to open up the margins of my writing and let in something – or someone – more whole.

What will you find here, now that the title of the blog is simply my name?  Poetry, prayers, life-happenings, musings about church and the world, ideas for new ways to practice the presence of God, favorite quotes, gratitude lists, challenges to the status-quo, meditations, conversations …

There is a piece of paper taped to the window sill above my sink that contains a quote about God’s presence in dish washing and then these two questions: “What is the daily liturgy you are writing?  Where is the Eucharist in it?”  A few definitions may be in order.  Liturgy = work of the people.  Eucharist = thanksgiving.  The goal is to share here thoughts on how to craft a daily work of the people shaped by thankfulness for the presence of Christ in our brokenness.  This encompasses everything: how we live somewhere, the food we eat, the people we laugh with, the stories we embrace, the way we are attentive to the water we drink and the air we breathe. In each moment of being, be ever thankful.