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big fat peonies

Two treats in the garden this morning – my peonies have opened to reveal their frilly crimson extravagance, and I picked the first ripe tomato and popped it right into my mouth. In fact, since I missed yoga on Saturday, I was going to go to the class at 9.30 this morning – but the morning was so utterly still and beautiful that it called me to stay home, sit in the garden, and work. That was zen enough; no need to downward dog.

Work; a productive and rewarding home class; supper with W*son, and the evening reading and messing around on the Internet (checking on the Tony reports, for example) – a great day.
A friend who’s a regular reader wrote to tell me that she thought I went too far with my post last Sunday on the woman in the hijab. Maybe I did, and I’m happy my friend wrote to tell me what she thought. But I do feel strongly about the hijab, and about many other things besides. I don’t want to be intolerant or narrow-minded or judgmental. But at the same time, better to care too much, to react too strongly, than not enough, no? I don’t know. I’m asking.
Here’s a quote from a wonderful book I’ve just finished reading, “Unless It Moves the Human Heart,” by Roger Rosenblatt, in which a teacher of creative writing speaks to his students:

For your writing to be great – I mean great, not clever, or even brilliant, or most misleading of all, beautiful – it must be useful to the world. And for that to happen you must form an opinion of the world. And for that to happen you need to observe the world, closely and steadily, with a mind open to change. And for that to happen you have to live in the world, and not pretend that it is someone else’s world you are writing about … You must love the world as it is, because the world, for all its murder and madness, is worth loving. Nothing you write will matter unless it moves the human heart, said the poet A. D. Hope. And the heart that you must move is corrupt, depraved, and desperate for your love.
P.S. I’ve been thinking about what my friend said – and I think she’s right. There on the trail, on that lovely afternoon, I felt rage and intolerance as I saw that couple approach. But how they choose to live, if no one is being harmed, is none of my business. She wasn’t walking meekly behind him; they were walking side by side with their baby, and he was telling her about hummingbirds. She has chosen to live with her face covered by a black cloth outside their home, or he has chosen for her. I don’t agree with this choice; it offends me. But it is her life, their life, their faith, and I should not judge it.

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3 Responses to “big fat peonies”

  1. I glean that what you are objecting to is the odious patriarchal dogma that requires women to be covered up because they are inherently a source of temptation and therefore represent the road to perdition. Most religions seem to favour this approach.

    Whether it is a pierced and tattooed kid dressed in skateboarding attire or a woman swathed head to toe in cloth (what Peggy Wente calls "walking shrouds”) we form opinions based on appearance more than on any other input. It is all we have at the start. The mistake I believe is not to try to go beyond the appearance.

    I have hope for the children of these New Canadians – her baby, who one hopes will grow up with a more open mind than her parents, as we did (or think we did) – rather than for the immigrants themselves, to whom our society must seem alien, incomprehensible and nasty.

  2. beth says:

    Chris, exactly – orthodox Jewish women must wear wigs or a hair covering and hide their arms, because women are such sirens that if their mesmerizing hair or elbows are uncovered, men cannot study. Okay. Whatever. But the face!
    However – much as I may disagree, just as I disagree with my son's choice to cover his body with tattoos, it's not my life and I am struggling, hard, not to judge.

  3. This is a great post and makes me think of where I can fit in. I do a little bit of everything mentioned here and I guess I have to find my competitive advantage.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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