I’ve been thinking of late about love & forgiveness & voila, this poem came to me. It’s only after I’d finished it that I called to mind the wiser, more beautiful words of Kahlil Gibran ‘On Love’ in The Prophet so after you’re read my words, do read The Master’s!
What is it to choose love
when that love may bring harm and hurt?
What is it to take risks with one’s heart, trusting that after hurt,
This week, the inquest into the death a beautifully lovely girl began-she was a former student of mine. She was a rare, exceptionally kind, bright, well-loved girl. I wept a lot when she died; I’ve cried a lot this week. And I’m just a former teacher who liked & admired her. I cannot fathom the pain & heaviness for her family & friends. This is my thought today:
And in typical LB fashion, we are already planning a celebration for when we reach 10 years in one year, five months and two days time (but who’s counting!). We LBs do love to celebrate (well I do, and David’s caught the bug through osmosis); but our desire to have a big party, blessing or some sort of celebration with friends & family goes deeper than just wanting to dress up, eat, drink, dance and generally have fun.
In our wedding service, as with all weddings to which I’ve been, our Vicar asked the congregation ‘do you, the family and friends of David and Natalia promise to support and uphold them in their marriage?’ And, as with every other wedding, everyone exclaimed ‘WE WILL!’.
Now, it has been said (on more than one occasion) that I take words too literally and seriously so maybe this is just me. But, to me, when I make this claim, when I shout out to my friends or family at the alter, making the biggest promise they’ll ever make, that I’ll support them in that, I mean it. But the number of people who announce their divorce to friends, family & acquaintances who are totally shocked shows that those friends or family likely haven’t been upholding or proactively supporting their marriage, or there wouldn’t be such shocked faces…and maybe there’d be fewer divorces.
But this isn’t just to tap away & judge the people who came, celebrated, ate, danced, meant well, gave a gift, and then buggered off. As adults, if we want support then we need to show that we are open to it. Yes, other people need to prioritise asking more than just superficial questions to which they expect and accept ‘yeh, we’re great thanks’ responses; we can ask ‘what’s been a highlight and challenge of marriage so far?’ or ‘what’s made you want to get divorced (this week!) and what’s made you glad you chose each other?’ etc. But we also need to be open to such input and, importantly, to provide opportunities for people to be part of our marriage (in a non-breaking of vows kinda way 😉 )…for me, that’s part of the reason I have a WhatsApp group with a couple of close, married mates wherein we can vent, seek advice, challenge & support each other.
And this part of the reason why we intend on marking our marriage milestones not just the two of us (though we do that as well), but as celebration within our community of family & friends. I love that because we so often have people live with us, they see the cuddles, the thoughtfulness, the not leaving the house without kissing each other goodbye of our LB marriage. They also see the griping, moaning, occasional shouting & swearing too (all me). Because of how open, honest & authentic we are (well, we try to be) our friends & family know that they can speak up, nudge, enquire etc about us. And what better opportunity to celebrate with, support and uphold us than at a big anniversary? Because our marriage is not just between the two of us-it’s a commitment and relationship which embraces and hopefully blesses and supports and help grow others we love too-and they, in turn, help us grow and be happier and better.
I’m writing from the Lounge at the airport in Switzerland at the end of a greatly enjoyable, beautiful, tiring, snowboarding holiday with my hub and a bunch of mates. Beside the stunning scenery & our friendly, handsome instructor (hee hee) was the Swiss Spa. Cue FULL NUDITY, no British prudish reservedness, just let it all hang out!
To be clear, I am quintessentially English in many an area, but when it comes to physical reservation (or speaking loudly or frankly!) my Ghanaian side wins over and I fully welcome the relaxing opportunity to set aside nonsensical British prudishness re nudity. I actually genuinely think more nudity in (safe, consensual, non-sexualised) contexts like this would be beneficial.
Firstly, if adolescents went to the local swimming pool & in a safe, relaxed, respectful setting regularly saw what NORMAL bodies look like-all different, with wobbly bulges, pokey bones & marks etc- it’d help British kids who use porn for ‘sex education’ (a commonly given reason) know that it’s fake, false & thus help their real-life expectations & awareness. Similarly, it could boost body confidence for teenagers and adults alike-esp females who are bombarded with adverts to correct our skin tone/texture/wrinkles/flabbiness etcccc. To see bodies that are normal, in all different shapes & sizes would be a great counterbalance to the deceit & stress of a society where even trim, toned, personally-trained, beautiful celebrities are routinely photoshopped! And as well as the relief gained from comparing oneself to normal, uniquely shaped bodies, one’s own body-confidence would almost certainly increase as nudity at the monthly spa would allow us to accept & relax with our bodies more easily & not to depend on external validation that all our bodies are wonderful, unique, beautiful things!
Finally, I think it would be SO helpful as a means to un-sexualising bodies! British culture is so hyper sexualised-again, mainly re women’s bodies but men get it too. Whereas seeing men of all shapes & ages wandering around, chatting to each other stark naked & not perving off me, or other women brave/relaxed enough to leave the towel, was so positive & so safe.
So, in a society where often the first & only body one sees aside from one’s own is in a porn clip or when having sex for the first time, I think it could help us be more aware, more confident, more relaxed, and more safe in our bodies if we were just around them more!