Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Word for Wednesday: Daughter (A Series of Posts about Words)

When I was a junior in high school one of my classes was a creative writing class focused exclusively on poetry. I had no patience for poetry, I'm afraid to say. I believed that words are best when they are in the good company of many other words, strung together in sentences and contained appropriate punctuation. But after a semester (and then two more) of living in poetry, I learned to cherish words, just words, for their power and joy and unexpected meaning. So I take some time every Wednesday to think about a word with you. Glad you are here.

This post today is for Lisa-Jo, my DC mama, who taught me that being a daughter and being a mother and being a woman is all about God, being God's child, returning back into the warmth of daughterhood. I have sometimes wanted to claw my way into adult life, into the rhythm and independence of my own self, my unconnected, liberated self. I want to be self-defined, my own image of my own body and my own heart.

And then Lisa-Jo, and good food and laughter, and her face of earnest remembrance. Hilary it's about loving them, she said when I confessed that conversations were hard with some of my most beloved friends. It's just about loving them so well and letting Jesus do what He is going to do. And she said, over and over, until I could hear it in my own heart when I was back in my cold room in Massachusetts: He washes us in His love. He washes us clean in the love and the blood and the waiting and the hoping and the gift, Ann's eucharisto, the full life.

And a daughter, that precious word, has just been born. And she is so small and before the beginning, and she is the reminder that daughter is Zoe, is life. Is Grace.

So the word for today, my friends, is daughter.

Definition: Daughter means the female offspring of human parents; a female adopted child; and an atomic species that is the product of radioactive decay of a given element. Yes, the last is science's beautiful and atypical definition, an insertion into the word a whole new kind of conceiving of life.

Daughter, noun. The word for my grandmother's wrinkled hands that shake as they put paper plates in their wicker holders. My own mother, her cheerful voice ringing out from the puzzle on the card table, trips into the room and helps set out the glasses, and I put out the silverware, tucking napkins beneath forks and knives. And we three are all daughters, two of us mothers, me also a sister, and the word daughter binds and promises us to each other. I am Grammy's, Mom's - their hands smooth my hair and hold me tight and I am daughter and granddaughter and they repeat the motions of their own mothers and grandmothers.
(Photo Credit: Mandie Sodoma)

Daughter, noun. Me the day that I saw Dad in DC, saw the lines of smile and joy and sorrow around his eyes crease into recognition when I walked into the Newseum in my pink sweater and pencil skirt, my high heels clacking "I am a grownup!" And he looked so proud of me, so glad to know that I am his. Daughter is being Dad's, caught up in a hug of all the years of England and Pooh-sticks and lambs in springtime and reading out loud (always with his glasses on the end of his nose and a cup of tea cradled in his hand). I'm Dad's daughter.

Daughter, noun. The clamour of their voices, occasionally clear and harsh, occasionally soft whispers, the  other women gather round me, take me into their mama wings when my own mama is not near - and they teach and tell the truth - that I am His, really, only, always. That it is about the still more beautiful way of obedience. That I, too, am offered Mary's Annunciation (bear Me, Hilary, into the world), and I must say "Yes" to God. I am somehow their daughter too.

Daughter, noun. The look of joy when she arrives dressed exclusively in Jasmine costume, or with stripes and polka dots and flowers and a hat on her head and twirls for you. And when she plays pirates and sleds and chases puffs of milkweed through the backyard. And when she cuts her doll's hair right there in your nice bathtub, and when her sister cuts her bangs crooked, and when she barricades herself in her room because the hallway of sixth grade artwork is the first place she discovers how to have a crush on someone, and when she, flushed, hears her own voice ring clear in the solo, in that French address, and when she cries and laughs and lives. Daughter means alive. Daughter means watching her grow, and singing joy. 


1 comment:

  1. Oh Hilary - what a gift this post is! I am constantly amazed by how much you *see* Your heart eyes are so so much better than mine were at your age. You are wise and beautiful and beloved by so many wonderful women. What a gift.

    Thank you for pouring it back into the community of women that surround you. YOU are the gift to us!

    Big hugs from me and Zoe!



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