Tuesday, 1 March 2011

i am thankful for my ability to make love

I've been participating in e-groups for a number of years now, and it is not only Tunisia, Egypt, Libya where revolutions happen. The empowerment of isolated individuals via social networking is a widespread phenomena, and it is one of those stories: we don't know how or where it will end. 

Here is a story I had to tell, fresh from my morning's walk in October 2008, and the response of a friend, on storytellers playspace, an e-group for indigenous woman writers.

Jules at play

i am thankful for my ability to make love

cherry root rises from the grass
curls protective

mushrooms nestle
Last week, Jules and I found a cluster of little yellowish mushrooms had sprouted at the base of the cherry tree, and Jules was moved to see them. 

We stopped, and he carefully counted the eighteen mushrooms huddled together against the trunk, and the two more side by side against a protruding root a couple of inches away.  He was swift and sure in his counting.  He asked permission to take one, and I gave it.

As we walked home, he said, "I'd like to put it in a glass of water." Hm, I thought, unusual application of the gathering flowers motif. I quickly agreed.  Later that day, he showed Flora his find, and gave her a mushroom of her own, and carried another away for himself. The three are sitting together, in a little chinese tea cup.

Thursday, at Brian's last market for the year, Flora found a broken flower and Brian gave her permission to take it away.  On the way home, she removed the stem at the base of the flower, and so, once home, a slightly bigger bowl was found to encompass it. She specified a bowl just big enough to do the job, she didn't want to see any water around the edges if possible.

These two things, a teacup of mushrooms and a small bowl bearing a single flower, i have been looking at for four or five days now, nearly a week. The flower is in great shape, and the mushrooms while intact have had a big impact on the water, which now looks like soup.

One day, too, two different neighbours stopped Jules and I on our walk home, to discuss (with me) how tiny he is, and young looking. The second neighbour, when Jules showed her his find of a small mushroom in the palm of his hand, responded with a small lecture on poisonous mushrooms. She said he must wash his hands and pick no more. Further, she linked his vulnerability to poisons to his smallness. 

We like to get out and enjoy the autumn, Jules and i. Fearmongers await even that far away from the tv.

This morning, Flora Jo invited me to come into her classroom, as she had some work she wanted to discuss with me.  With the teacher's help, a small round chapbook on the theme of thanksgiving was located, and I sat in the teacher's chair and read it through.

First and foremost, my daughter gives thanks for the wolves.  The fourth page was, I think, the problematic one. The text read, "I am thankful for my ability to give love."
"I wanted to write, 'I am thankful for my ability to make love,' but my teacher made me change it. But look," she said, "I already drew the picture. I'm making love, not giving it, see?"

The picture shows a girl with a lot of colourful energy around her, her hand to her chest, and she is clearly making/producing the love that she gives. In the picture, the situation is clearly laid out.  She is clearly a manufacturer of love, and not some sort of love merchant/love shark or any other kind of secondary player. 

"Yes, I see," I said. "The picture is clear. You are making love."

I glance at the teacher and see she is glistening with humour. She explains her position again vis-a-vis the use of the language.

I remind Flora Jo that sometimes, even though what you are saying is the most accurate way to represent what you believe to be true, adults hear some other meaning to your choice of words, and think you are saying something different. So, they might ask you to change it because of that.

"Oh yeah," she said.

Walking from the elementary school to the high school polling station, to cast my vote, i think about Flora Jo making love, and other ways to express her thought that are more accurate than what the teacher proposed: I am thankful for my ability to produce love, to create love, are both alternate statements that change the meaning and intent of her communication less than to give love.
What is invisible to the teacher, and very pertinent to the seven year old, is the issue of agency.  She is not passive in the realm of love, it doesn't arrive as a package to pass on or hoard or to idly wish for. She makes love, and she makes worry, and she makes all sorts of emotion, and she puts it out into the world through all the many expressional routes that are possible.

wishing you all a very good day! 

Dear Jo,
 I am so enthralled by this magical account of the teachings of children, I am also thankful for my ability to make love.  I love how that is expressed because I feel that is a huge part of my lifework right now is to make as much love as I can so as to surround everyone and everything with its healing qualities and light.

I am so busy today...got up task oriented ready to take off and just nose to the grindstone work work work...but I offered myself one indulgence to step into our playspace and enjoy something uplifting to anchor my day and the Creator guided me to this beautiful storytellers story.
Thank you

Offered in loving memory of a beautiful teacher, and full of thanks for the little gurus who grow up through the grasses... and for all of my e-companions, who send love notes and personal sketches & poetry through the e-space, and news, and critical thought: sharing humanity and nourishment in a web of gentle light.

Photo of Jules in the courtyard (c) His Auntie Casey
Story/vignette (c) Joanne Arnott
Letter by Vera, electronic delivery to storytellersplayspace on 14 October 2008.

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