You may not know that about me. I was once told by a southern relative (and she would know) that a lady never speaks about politics or religion at a dinner party. I think her advice may have had something to do with aiding dinner guests in the comfortable digestion of their meal. Which is very important. Very, very important. So I listened to her. And to this day, I only engage on those two impolite subjects in certain circles and at certain times. Apparently, I think life is one big dinner party. Which if you know anything about me and my love for food, is not that surprising. Despite my old guard southern etiquette, I have very large opinions and a husband as interested in the affairs of state as I am. There are nights that Riley and I fall asleep talking about public policy (most effective method for for quick slumber...ever.) It is not uncommon for me to shout at the TV/radio/latest celebrity awareness campaign when I don't agree or agree completely or wish that they would all just be quiet and put on a re-run of Psych already. Sometimes when I am pushing the girls on the swing at the park I look at the the sun in their hair and the smiles on their faces and the floor falls out from under me. Because this place we live in is so big. And I can shout as loud as I want and maybe no one will hear me. And maybe nothing will change. Or maybe too much will.
Last week I read a book that addressed many of the social and fiscal issues we are facing as a country. The author was intelligent and many of the things he said made sense to me. I was on the phone to Riley five times a day, quoting economic figures and comparisons to the decline of the Roman Empire. He finally started sending me straight to voice mail where I left him very long, very urgent messages. On Saturday night, I sat on the floor of the bathroom and read the last two chapters of my newest addiction while Margaret took her bath. She splashed water all over and I pretended not to notice. When I finished that last page, I put the book down in one of the puddles she had made. Riley says I always ruin my books, but this time it didn't matter. It was already wet from my tears. My little girl played in her bath and I felt like there was nothing I could do, nowhere I could go. I felt helpless. So I called my Dad.
And he said the same things to me that Riley had been saying all week.
Megan, The world has always been messy. This time is no different than any other. You live in a beautiful house in a beautiful place. You have a husband that loves you, that will take care of you. You have two beautiful daughters. You have the Word of God. You are blessed. You are safe. You are loved.
And they were right, those two good men. (Let's not even get into how annoyed Riley was that my dad said the exact same things he had already said to me, even using the same words. And that somehow talking to my dad was more calming. My only defense? I was a pathetic girl sitting in a waterlogged bathroom, I just needed my daddy.) It has ever been thus. There have always been wars and poverty and fear. And in the midst of it all Shakespeare wrote his plays, the Magna Carta was carved into history and man went to the moon. Difficult times have never kept good men and women from doing great things. And then in my little bathroom in my little house, I really understood something I have always claimed to know. There are truths worth fighting for, darkness that needs light, and beauty - soaring, bright, beauty - waiting to be created. And you and I were born at this moment because there is something we can do about it.
I pulled Margaret out of the bath and dried her off. We read stories, said prayers and Riley and I kissed our little girls goodnight. They giggled in the dark for an hour before they finally fell asleep. My lovely daughters, for whom I will change the world, even if it is just our little corner of it. I didn't feel like shouting anymore. Instead I took a deep breath and knelt next to my husband and said a prayer. And we gave thanks for this life, for this moment and we asked for inspiration and help. And for a good nights sleep.
Because in the morning we had a great work to do.