Anyway, when I start whining about this subject, how SK and CW have better voices than I do, and Misswg is around, she tells me that she loves my voice because it sounds warm and embracing. And I was thinking about that, and I started to form a vague resolution: be as loving as your voice sounds. And when Mary P Jones posted about finding a word of intention for 2008, I thought, maybe "warm."
Also, in the beginning of November (I told you I was ruminating on this post for a long time), R. and I went out to dinner with a group of people, most of whom we didn't know all that well. When we were saying our good-nights one of the men leaned down to kiss me and said, "You are so sweet!" I was puzzled, because by my lights I had not been being sweet. I thought I was being talkative, probably a little too loud, and I allowed myself to hope I had been witty. Witty, I am sorry to relate, being my highest goal when my superego isn't paying enough attention.
So I asked around: what do we think he really meant by "sweet?" L. suggested "sexy." L. proceeds on the assumption that all men find her irresistibly sexy. It was, forgive the expression, sweet of her to let me into the club after 18 years of friendship; but I proceed on the assumption that exactly one man finds me irresistibly sexy, and I am fortunate enough to be married to him. So, no.
I consulted my mother, and she said, "But you are sweet"...blah, blah, blah, embarrassing maternal gushing. So then I thought maybe my word of intention should be "sweet," but I didn't want to let go of "warm" and it started to sound like a molten chocolate cake, or faintly suggestive...I discarded the whole word of intention concept. I thought maybe my resolution should be "Be as sweet as my mother thinks I am."
So then L. was telling me that how much she likes John Mayer's new single, and that her New Year's Resolution was "Say what you need to say." I was inspired, and I blurted out without thinking, "Mine is 'show the love that you feel.'" So I was getting closer.
And then I had another talk with L., my unpaid therapist, about what we want for our children. I told her I had just come across this Henry James quotation, which I love:
"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind." We agreed that we wanted our children to believe this, to know it. But the problem is I have tried to be kind for the New Year and for Lent and for Shavuoth my whole life and I fail, fail, fail. I am especially unkind to the people I love the most.
So I was very glad that I went to Mass on January 9th and heard this:
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.And because I'm very dim and slow in these matters, I also needed to go to mass on January 16th and hear the story of the Lord calling Samuel in the night. My grandmother loved to tell this story. I can hear her voice saying, "Samuel! Samuel!" and "Here I am!" Eli told Samuel to say, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
In this is love brought to perfection among us,
that we have confidence on the day of judgment
because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love,
but perfect love drives out fear
because fear has to do with punishment,
and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
1 John 4:8-18
I still do not have a word of intention, a real New Year's resolution (other than Don't Look At The Ramp), or even a list of action items. But I am trying to listen, and to love without being afraid.