This is Kate Braestrup's second memoir. Her first, Here If You Need Me, was also very good. Kate is a minister for the Maine wildlife wardens. (I want an exact job like this when I retire from teaching.) Kate was a radical feminist in her 20's, was a widowed parent of four in her 30's, and was brave enough to marry again in her 40's. She articulates a theology in both of her books that I find very appealing. God is love. No more, no less. And our job as humans is to love. We are to be as loving as we can be, for as long as we are able. Period. Simple. But never very easy, of course.
I often remember this one Saturday, a little over a year ago, before I lost custody of my girls. My 11-year-old daughter, Easter, had spent enough Saturdays at my mom's house to know all about "Saturday Jobs". (On those same Saturdays my dad also taught my girls about organized labor.) But on this Saturday we were living back in our own house. We were just relaxing and talking about our plans for the day. We were curled up on my bed with our darling kitten named TJ. When she suddenly started to realize that I might be about to follow my mom's example and assign her some Saturday Jobs Easter fiercely declared, "MY ONLY JOB IS TO LOVE TJ!!!"
Me too, Easter. My only job is to love---to love you and your sisters, to love my students, to love the very kind man that I am sharing my life with, and to even love my enemies and my ex-husband. Although, thank-the-universe, Kate says we are not required to like everyone. But then what does this kind of love even mean? Just that we have a deep desire for others to be happy and whole; to have a sincere hope that they are able to live in peaceful joy. And that we use all of our relationships to become more and more compassionate and understanding and patient. All of which becomes a wise and gentle love that we can offer to our own stumbling selves as well.
My own theology and understanding of love and God are connected to two distinct spiritual traditions. Mormonism and Taoism. I would like to keep writing about how I weave these two starkly contrasting paths together. Starting tomorrow. /smile