Sunday, December 28, 2008

Character and Baked Bread

Though it doesn't happen often, occasionally there comes a movie that goes beyond mere enjoyment and entertainment and seems to speak to something deeper within me. When How to Make an American Quilt ( came out in 1995, I saw the movie I think three times at the theater. I watched it again recently and it stirred emotions that I'd forgotten from the first times I'd seen it.

Similar to American Quilt, The Secret Life of Bees ( moved me from beginning to end. From shortly after the credits started to the end of the movie, I had the feeling of actual movement in my heart. I cried easily throughout the entire movie, again an unusual occurrence.

Though some people would wonder why I bother to analyze my reactions to these movies, I've found that it's by looking at such reactions that I learn more about my past, myself, and those I love. In both movies, the experiences are ineffable. If asked to describe it, I would say it's as though something in both movies speaks directly to my soul, as though communication is occurring, but not a cerebral communication.

Both movies center around strong women who represent the sisterhood that exists among all women, the role of older women in younger women's lives, the beginning of teaching life's lessons, and where the older women share the history of their own youths, all while teaching the arts of quilting and bee keeping. But as is so often the case, quilting and bee keeping were only the venues used to teach life's lessons--its obstacles, loves, tenderness, trauma, beauty, its contradictions, honor, hard work, joy, and inequity, to name a few.

Each movie hearkens back to time spent with the strong circle of women in my young life. Though it was far from perfect, some of life's lessons were taught through similar venues---baking bread, canning, cooking the meals. It wasn't the task so much that was being taught, but somehow the life lessons carried by the tasks that were meant to develop our characters, to teach us about life, to learn to guard our hearts yet not so much that we wouldn't love. My lessons were about the strength and supportiveness of women, loving people who were difficult to love, that all women are connected as sisters and have endless love for one another, for men, for children, for nature, and the patience needed when viewed by the men in our lives as a human of a lower class. All of these lessons were delivered on the backs of loaves of baked bread, jars of canned goods, and three homemade meals a day.

To summarize this piece, here is a video sent to me by a good friend that somehow symbolizes all the strong and beautiful women in the world.

~ To Gram, whom I miss deeply. ~

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