Tuesday, March 25, 2008

how to make an(other) american quilt...

In the film adaptation of Whitney Otto’s How to Make an American Quilt, the role of Anna is brought to life by the incomparable Maya Angelou (Everyone defers to Anna, who is the master quilter. She used to work for my Aunt Glady, but these days it seems they're all working for her.) There’s a scene where Anna and Finn (played by Winona Ryder) are standing out on the front porch together. Anna has just taken the time to lay out the story quilt that has been in her family for generations, since her great-great-grandmother’s release from slavery. The quilt stitches together a story of survival, freedom, womanhood and, of course, discovery of love. Anna shares pieces of her soul with Finn that night, but she is also discerning and aware that Finn’s mind is elsewhere.

Finn: Oh, god. Look at that.
Anna: I never liked full moons. They give people an excuse to do foolish things.
Finn: I'm young, I'm supposed to do foolish things.
Anna: And spend the rest of your life paying for them.
Finn: Well, it's better than spending the rest of my life wondering what I missed.
Anna: I'd rather wonder than kick myself.
Finn: Well, I'd rather kick myself.
Anna: Fine. You will end up with a deeply sore backside.

Sometimes, as in this illustration, we receive a deeply sore backside as the result of our own immaturity and foolish decisions. Sometimes, however, the swift kicks come at us during periods of growth and serve to spur on the development of wisdom and maturity. They come through friends, through books, through blogs, through music and television and movies and nature and random encounters with people on the sidewalk. If God wants to get to us, He’s going to get to us in any way, and as many ways, as He can.

God’s been kicking my butt a lot over the last couple of years. A few weeks ago, He used Galatians. I’ve been reading Galatians for sixteen years, and have tons of verses underlined, a variety of notes in the margins, multitudes of stars and arrows and question marks. However, lately the book has looked very, very different… and there seemed to be things there that weren’t there before. Last week He apparently saw fit to work through Madison Greene’s …Think the Dancers Mad album. I’ve listened to this album a million times, but much like Galatians, it has taken to screaming at me over the past few weeks:

Shifting Silence
When these words come down, I confess I have not begun to see clear through his eyes. I have not begun to relate to his pain, and when these words fall on me I confess I am too old to believe I can hide from what the savior has spoken to me, from how this creator has made me alive.

Cry Water Prayer
My pulse is born of rhythm and my cycles turn in rhythm. Is it sad the seasons change and I am still green? I cry water, pray for your living water – wash my earth stained fingers.

Well I’m not the king but I’m not afraid to separate the two. You make religion of your compromise when you hold tradition higher than the truth. You frustrate me, you divide us, act like you don’t care. Turn back to your dusty books and watch this pagan world come and disappear. And I hear, I hear you perfectly clear. You can’t accept the change, you say, you won’t accept the change, it’s pretty where you are. Well it might be pretty, it might be clean, but it’s not enough to change the world we’re in.

I may never be granted the dreams I thought meant the most to me, but I know I’ll understand it because I know what it means to be living now – thank God you are alive!

Hear, oh hear America, I have something to say. I will not pledge allegiance to this lie, but I’ll sing about the truth, the life, the way. And I don’t know if you’ll notice, but I will stand my ground. And I don’t know if you’ll follow, but I will not turn around. No matter what you say of me, let it be said that I stood. God said he is a lion and his spirit is within me.

Poinsetta’s Here
Does anyone have some attention? Maybe someone has something to drink?
Maybe someone has a little diversity all in the way we think.
You can make mountains right out of your delusions.
You can learn a lot from how you’re deceived.
You can say your soul’s on fire and the world’s at an end and everyone takes their turn,
But it’s not that long a turn.
I guess that we’re here for some questions, because the answers are too plain to find.
We’d be happy to take some suggestions about living a life worthwile.
Have the crossroads come between us, despite the prayers that we have cried?
Is there wisdom in the solace of knowing we have lost ourselves, just trying to be ourselves?
Are you waiting to save me now?
Let the blood rain down from a backdoor sun and a river that has no end.
Pardon my resistance toward good intentions.
I’m still trying to figure out this picture we’re in.
Your pale shaded mirrors that have no dimensions, they make me feel like I’m still a child.
And can you believe it that I’m still sitting here, wishing I was someplace other than this?
One bright December in the cold heart of anyone and it’s certainly something to miss.
Are you waiting to save me now?
Are you waiting to save me now?
Let the blood rain down from Sodom and Gomorrah and the saints who damn them all.
Are you waiting to save me now
- with your deaf and silent gods?
- with your gods of wood and stone?
- with your gods of money and greed?
Are you waiting to save me now
- from everything I believe?
- with your gods of this American dream?
Are you waiting to save me now?
I ask you, how are you going to save me now?