Posts Tagged ‘God’

A Risky Move

It is never a good idea to write about a beloved icon, especially after he dies. It is particularly risky when said icon represents all that is good about the place you live, as a transplant. But bear with me here and I promise to tread lightly. Andy Griffith, or more accurately Sheriff Andy Taylor is a legend, a representative of good clean living, where right and wrong stood clearly on opposit sides of an invisible line. For those of us watching reruns in the turmoil of the 70s, where latch key kids and divorce and free love were being played out in real life, he was an ambassador of morality where things were literally spelled out in black and white.

But going back to the real person, Andy Griffith, it appears much more complicated. Born on the wrong side of the tracks and considered “white trash,” show business was a a way out of town and a destiny which looked less than promising. Perhaps that is why the Sheriff in the show seemed so patient with the wrong doers. While right always prevailed, it seemed to pain Sheriff Taylor to have to punish the culprits who had made poor decision in the 27 minute episodes. It was as if he was saving the bad guys from themselves. And so to did the show save Andy Griffith from himself. When the show left the air, the good appeared to get pushed to the back burner. The human Andy Griffith divorced two times and lost an adult son to drug abuse. It was easier to parent Opie on film where the script was clearly written. How many times as a parent have I longed for clearly written words to spell out a solution to my daughters complaints and issues? But like most Hollywood endings, Griffith got it together, revived his soul and career with Matlock (a show I have never seen) and passed away a legend with strong religious faith, happily married to his third wife. Those of us longing for our own Mayberry here on earth are sure he entered the pearly gates whistling his theme song to Saint Peter.

Information about another public persona was also revealed this past week. Anderson Cooper admitted to Andrew Sullivan -and the world- he is gay. Cooper claims he has never denied or publicly discussed his orientation because as a celebrity and journalist he wanted to keep his private life, private. And while it shouldn’t matter or surprise anyone that the the best looking news anchor who is the younger son of the writer Wyatt Emory Cooper and the artist, designer, heiress Gloria Vanderbilt  is gay, the information is somehow newsworthy.  For someone who has a made a career of uncovering the truth, this does not seem like such a leap. Perhaps he was fearful we would tie Anderson the person to Cooper the reporter? Maybe. As a culture we are obsessed with celebrities, thinking we are one big break or stunt away from being the next star. One only has to watch half an episode of The Kardashians or Jersey Shore to realize no talent -except for showing the world how much air is between your ears- is required. Maybe Anderson Cooper was worried we would become so obsessed with his life, we would no longer pay attention to his work. Valid concern.

It seems we choose what we want to know. The Pa of Andy Griffith Show was always patient but firm; does it matter the off air Griffith was less stellar as a Dad? Anderson Cooper’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina revealed the gripping details of the suffering of NOLA citizens; who cares who he sleeps with? Maybe it matters to some. But what if we used a filter not to judge but to take everyone at their best? What if we suspend disbelief long enough to imagine the scripted sherriff could be the real Andy Griffith? I think God does this for us each day. It’s called grace. He knows we are broken sinners making the same mistakes. But somehow we are given the chance to try again, with a little more patience, more humility. More knowledge. Through God’s unconditional love, we are given the grace to become who God sees us as-perfect in the image. So as you walk about whistling the catchiest of all theme songs, remember the ideal Mayberry may be Mt. Airy, NC but it’s our choice to live it.

Embrace Your Star

There has been a lot of talk recently about two things. The first is quite flattering but not global in nature (yet) and that is my lack of blogging. It seems summer vacation with three kids and two jobs does not allow much in the way of time to think let alone write. Back in May I wished I could hire a personal assistant and driver to figure out what end-of-school event, party, poetry contest, thank you volunteer lunch, recital, performance, field day bonanza I was supposed to be at and what I was supposed to bring. I threatened to make tshirts that said end of school put the MAY in Mayhem. Now I am on a witch hunt for whoever came up with the saying “lazy, hazy days of summer.” If you have ever been to a swim meet or helped out with Vacation Bible School you know this is saying is an oxymoron on the scale of “sleeping like a baby” or “it’s a dog’s life”. I have yet to find a Mom who has not looked jealously at the sleeping mutt -satisfied with a quick scratch behind the ear and leftover sandwich crusts- and longed to change places.
The second is the story of Karen Klein, the New York bus monitor and grandmother of 8 who was bullied by teenagers. I have not read much of the story, don’t really need to. It is an age old tale of people being mean to someone who is perceived as an easy target, weak, somehow valued as less. Why didn’t anyone else on Karen Klein’s bus speak up? Some have, with financial donations, to the tune of $618,000 – a sum so large that what started as a vacation stipend from internet supporters has turned into a potential early retirement fund. At the heart of the matter for me is how intertwined we all are. At some point or another, we have all been the victim and the bully. I am not saying we have taken a turn making fun of the fat kid on the bus -maybe we just contributed through silence. But more importantly we are all related to the story because we are all broken and lonely in some way. Our hurt, our soul holes -as Glennon Melton of Momastery blog fame calls it- create dark vacuums sucking light and energy out of others. Unless these holes are filled with light and love.
I escaped childhood and puberty relatively unscathed except for an incident in 4th grade I remember so vividly I can tell you what I was wearing. It was recess on a beautiful spring day in New Jersey. I was wearing my favorite London Fog khaki skirt and sleeveless green lacoste shirt purchased at the factory store in Redding, PA the previous summer. We were playing kickball and two boys were picking teams. Being a good kicker I felt confident I would be picked early on, once all the boys had been selected. As we stood in line, one of the girls leaned over me to talk to a girl on my other side. She said: ” Melanie will never be picked because she has arms that look like a boy.” Already self conscious about the hair on my arms (and barely thankful it was blonde) I asked what they meant. The said your muscles look too big when you put your hands in your pockets with that shirt. Luckily I got picked before I started to cry and I never had to formulate a comeback. In truth, they were right. My arms were strong. They still are. They helped me be a college athlete, carry 3 babies uphill and down dale, and cook and write and hug. Last week the barista at Starbucks held up the line to have a conversation about my arms; this time to compliment me on how beautiful and toned they are. As I smiled and said thank you, it brought me straight back to 1979 and Rumson, NJ and I secretly stuck my tongue out at the 2 girls whose faces I have forgotten but whose words still stick.
The picture above of a girl on the bus was shown to me yesterday. It is of Hanna Hall, the little girl who plays Jenny in Forrest Gump. I remember seeing the movie in 1994 and thinking she was beautiful -both inside and out. When Forrest is being ridiculed on the bus, she is the only one to offer him a seat next to her. Not an overly friendly invitation, she says: “You can sit here if you want.” Which of course he does and they go on to be just like “peas and carrots,” one of the most famous lines of the decade. The movie goes on to show just how broken Jenny is by abuse and loneliness. Perhaps her familiarity with these feelings is what spurs her to speak up against the bullies. The picture below is of my middle daughter, Anna. The two are so similar in looks, the Hall photo even tricked my 6 year old. She said: “I don’t have a dress like that and when did I ride a bus with a brown seat?” This has all come within two days of Anna’s friend Mimi Kirkland being selected for a movie role and showing up in UsWeekly ( Flutters of fame and movie stardom have riddled the house in the form of  giggly excitement as well as threatful parenting. I have caught myself saying, well if you ever want to be in a movie, you have to stop arguing with your sister-follow directions-brush your teeth-look people in the eye-read 50 pages a night-do swim team without complaining etc. Which in reality have nothing and everything to do with getting what you want. And it brought me back to one of my favorite friend quotes from Becky: “I just realized at age 32 that I won’t be famous unless I open fire on a McDonald’s near the LA Freeway.” Fame is a funny thing. Those who have it don’t want it and those who want it can’t have it.  Or maybe it is on a different scale than we are thinking.
We are all famous to someone because we are in community -virtual, social, spiritual, actual -whether we want to be or not. A facebook page alone connects us to about a bagillion people. We have made a difference in somebody’s life, probably for the good and the bad. On the bus in our silence and in our offering of a seat.  We are also known to God. Your dreams, your hurts, your bullies, your inner superstar. You are the most famous you there is. Embrace your star and let it shine.
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