Thursday, August 26, 2010
For awhile, I was tempted to go around the house and get rid of all my goddam madonnas. All of them. Take them off the walls and from around my neck and leave big empty spaces and replace my Virgin of Guadalupe calender with one that has puppy dogs on it or something.
I was having problems with the madonna. First off, she's always so damn submissive. Head bowed, hands in prayer, taking what they're givin' 'cause she's dying for a livin'.
Also, every person who comes in this house thinks I'm a closeted Catholic because the myriad of Virginal Images would seem to indicate that.
And frankly, I don't need that shit.
I don't need to be thought of as a closeted Catholic and I would sort of like to see an image of the Virgin where she's kicking some ass. Hiking up that skirt and kicking mean-person ass with that dainty foot of hers.
"Crucify MY son? I don't THINK so!"
Well, that is not the Madonna Way.
Although it certainly would be the Mother Way.
I had come to believe that the image of Submissive Madonna was another male-oriented way to control people by giving them this view of holiness as submission. Promise people that if they don't question and just let go and let god that everything will eventually be okay and even if it's not, by the time you die, you'll be rewarded in heaven.
That's some fucked-up shit if you ask me.
But then with the most recent spate of life-happening I am experiencing, I have come to profoundly realize that sometimes all you CAN do is submit. And there is great grace and perhaps even holiness in that. There are forces to which submission is the only answer. Childbirth, for instance. You fight the contractions and it's going to take three times as long. Hurricanes- can't fight those. Hunker down and let it pass. Don't stand out in the yard under a tree and yell at the wind and rain. Unless you like the idea of impalement by oak branch.
So yes, there are times when acceptance and surrender are the way to go. And maybe that's exactly what appeals to me in all of those madonnas. Shit happens. You get knocked up by god, give birth in a stable, raise your child and then see him crucified.
Or something like that.
There are times to fight and there are times to just look around, see what is and if it can't be changed and you can't get out of the path of whatever particularly buggery crap is happening, surrender.
Now of course, the hardest part is deciding what can and what cannot be changed. That's the part of the Serenity Prayer that I always get tripped up on. But once it's been determined that we are, in fact, powerless in a situation, I suppose it's a good thing to have those madonnas around to remind us of the grace of submission. Perhaps even the beauty personified in her sweet face, her bowed head.
And so I have decided to keep my madonnas and go ahead and light candles too. Why not?
But I will tell you this- I will also keep my images of Frida Kahlo because there is something so real and so necessary in remembering that sometimes submission and surrender are NOT the way to go. You can bow your head and close your eyes but it's simply because you're plotting your next ass-kicking move and then you open those eyes and you stare out and you refuse to submit or surrender no matter what the odds are, no matter how strong the wind or hard the rain.
That's what I think.
And I am not, no matter which image of the Woman I choose to worship on which particular day and in which particular circumstances, ever going to believe that I will be rewarded or punished when I die. No golden slippers, no fires of hell.
And even if there were, I wouldn't have time to worry about it now.
I'm too busy trying to decide whether to light a candle to the virgin or get up off my crippled legs and go striding down some particular path of determination to give life-after-this-life a second thought.
I give fire to the Virgin, I keep my Frida in a cool, dim room.
I am trying to figure it out; I am learning that submission and defiance are the two sides of the same coin. I am giving myself the permission to try and determine with wisdom and logic and intuition and knowledge which side of the coin I need to spend in each situation.
I have been given this mind to use for myself and I will not give up my ability to do so in the service of any god or goddess. I have been given this heart to use as well, and it too, is mine to give out as I wish and to keep when I do not want to give it out.
And I am finding that it is as hard to submit as it is to defy and sometimes, it is much harder.
But there is no grace in submission when defiance would serve us better and there is no honor to defiance when submission is the path to take.
And my madonnas and my Fridas remind me of that.
Now the pictures of Bill Murray I have in my bathroom right next to all those Fridas and Virgins?
Well, he's just for me. He's just for joy. He's just there to remind me that even though we're all going to die, in the grand scheme of things, we might as well crack each other up while we're still here.
And to me, that's as important as anything. Whether we're surrendering or defying, whether we're submitting or fighting, we can't be afraid to be goofy and glad and to not take everything so fucking seriously.
Holy mothers, holy artists, holy funny men, holy hopes and dreams and holy lives and holy births and holy deaths and holy days.
All holy. All filled with grace.
Holy motherfucking shit. Everywhere you step, everywhere you look.
Bow your head, stare into the eyes of life and death, laugh at the universe. You better believe it's laughing back at us. And if you ever come visit me and see all my madonnas, keep all of this in mind. That I think Bill Murray and Frida Kahlo are as important as the Virgin. It's not about religion, it's about living here-and-now and finding the grace in whatever path we're on at this particular moment in this particular life on this particular planet in this particular universe.
And my madonnas are staying right where they are.