Tuesday, September 30, 2014

an open letter to mi hermana

forgetting how softly Eros walked 
in the nineteenth century, 
how a hand held overlong or a gaze anchored in someone's eyes 
could unseat a heart, 
and nuances of address, 
not known in our egalitarian language 
could make the redolent air tremble 
and shimmer with the heat of possibility 
--Romantics, Liesl Mueller

Dear Sister:
Here's something you don't hear every day but perhaps you ought:
you are filled with gift.
Everything about you, from your radiant soul down to your meticulously crimped hair to the tips of your toenails, worn down by dancing, are gift.
And an infinitely precious one, at that.

Sometimes, I would find Christmas mornings of childhood just a bit overwhelming, because there are so many gifts.
Spilling out of underneath the Christmas tree, there would be such a jumble of Barbies and trains and puzzles in the living room, that it was hard to appreciate the value of each one of those gifts. In the chaos of abundance, it became more difficult to appreciate each gift's unique status. When inundated with the cornucopia of gifts spilling out from underneath the Christmas tree, each one just bleeds into the other.

When a gift is precious, you hold it in your hand, barely wanting to breathe on it, in case it would break.
When a gift is precious, you can't take your eyes off of it. If you do, then it'll disappear.
When a gift is precious, you can hardly bring yourself to look at it, and yet you can never let it out of your sight.
Your gift--more precious than any mere thing-- is you. 
There is nothing greater you can give another person than every part of you: your humor, your memory-- so sharp it puts me to shame, with the details you remember that I'd never bothered to record, your heart-- so empathetic and kind, your will--so sweet and good, and in a word, irremovable.

Purity and chastity are loaded words, and they are flung around carelessly, which is rather shocking, since they deal with perhaps the most delicate and precious gifts that humans possess--
themselves.
And they are kind of scary words that make some people squeamish, and others scoff. That color some people as prudes and others as profligates.

But really, all they mean is a harmony between reality and you.
A harmony between your heart and your body, which we call your sexuality.
A harmony between the love underneath the Universe and how you bring that love into being in your own life.

As you grow older, you are going to hear a lot of 'dos' and 'don'ts'. You might have thought/think that being an adult meant being free of 'dos' and 'don'ts' but surprise! It doesn't. In reality, they just multiple like hydra's heads. They fly at you from all directions, and you never know which ones to listen to. The world has a multiplicity of voices, and none of them will explain the longing in your heart. None of them can talk away that emptiness inside of you, the love-shaped hole in your heart.

And one thing they certainly forget to tell you is how utterly precious you are.
Should they forget to tell you that, just take it as a reminder for you to recall how the beautiful, intelligent, talented, passionate and unique soul inside of you is more precious than anything else.
 Not a biological part of you, nor just an aspect of your brain, but you--your entire self in all your glory--you are precious.

We are told many stories about what to be: what our lives as women and men should contain. We are told to look like this and talk like that, but ignore all those stories.
Instead, listen to the silence in your heart. The deep, dark quiet that lies within that love-shaped hole. Listen to that story. For what it says to you is that you can only love someone when you do not need them. It says that in order to be that gift to another, you must know whose gift you truly are.
Intimacy is found not by grasping at another's soul, but by opening up slowly, like a little morning glory in the dewy dawn air.

For you, all of you is precious, and cannot be understood in just a day.
It will take you a lifetime for you to understand who you truly are.

Which is what "chastity" really means, of course. It means not rushing in where angels dare to tread. It means knowing that we are creatures divided in two, who are meant to be whole, creatures who strive everyday to make their broken parts whole again. And it is more painful for our selves, in the long run, if we insist on forgetting that we are meant for unity, and continually split ourselves in two.
Our bodies and hearts are meant to act in accord, and how often we divide them, stifling each of them from growing into what they ought.
The mystery of ourselves deserves to be given time to unfold, and even more time to be shared. Which is why they tell us not to share so deeply of ourselves unless that other person is going to stick around to witness to our self unfold. For the most precious gift you can give is you, not just your body, nor your words, nor your thoughts, but you.
The you who is alive.
The you that you are becoming.
The you that you are slowly growing into being.

I hope someone tells you this each day.
And if they don't, remember that I have.

Love,
Your Sister.

P.S. I'm sorry I borrowed your iPod without asking.
I'd say "it won't happen again" but it probably will.

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