(Based on a post from my soloblog)
This weekend I scraped off the tattered bumper stickers from our car (Another Family for Peace, Live Simply so Others May Simply Live, and Just Say YES to Equal Marriage Rights) and put on three new ones. One of them, “Question Authority,” was John’s (my spouse’s) first choice. The others: a large peace symbol and “Consume Less, Share More” were more of my choosing.
However I had a musing this morning that affirms the significance of the “Question Authority” slogan for me as I had a strong flashback of something that happened many years ago but almost made me cry as I recalled it today.
I’m not someone who has a strong tie to talismans, but I do find that certain items bring back a lot of memories. For example, I can tell you when and where I’ve acquired every item of furniture or book or the plants in my garden…I love the stories of “things.”
Many years ago John gave me a simple pair of earrings that had small white flowers dangling from them. I will emphasize the small part (I’d say there were about 4-5mm in diameter). Now those of you who’ve read my New Era story know that part of my affinity for flowers and gardens comes from a particular moment with my Dad when he gave me encouragement after my amputation surgery. So these small earrings that John gave me I wore to my Dad’s funeral and then every time after that it was in some small way linking me to my Dad and to that special moment that we shared. I took to wearing these earrings to the temple, given that they matched my white clothing nicely and because they reminded me of how special my Dad was to me and they represented my carrying his memory with me in a symbolic way. It seems silly now as I write this, but it was important to me at that time–I’d grieved so deeply when he died.
So one day when I was stepping out of the dressing room at the temple and going to the area to wait for the next endowment session a female temple worker stopped me and told me that my earrings were inappropriate and I would have to remove them before I could pass into the ordinance areas of the temple. I questioned her lightly about why and explained that I’d worn them frequently in the temple before. “No dangly earrings are allowed,” she said firmly.
I went back to my locker and curled up and cried as I took off the earrings (I don’t know what has happened to them since then and I don’t remember ever wearing them again).
As I look back on that incident, I remember attempting to explain to this temple worker why the earrings were so important to me, but I realized that she wasn’t in a frame of mind to listen to me. She was in the frame of mind to tell me the rules. I could have put the earrings in my pocket and then put them back on once I was past the locker room (though I would’ve felt terrible and sneaky doing that, so I didn’t). I could have asked for a second opinion from another temple worker. I could have gotten angry or picked a fight with her about it. Instead I simply went to someplace where I could be alone and grieved by myself.
Though you may never have had an experience like mine, I would like to know what you’ve done when you’ve bumped against authority. Do you fight? Do you retreat? Do you cry? Do you try to ‘sneak’ around the rules to do what you want to anyways? Even though, at the time, it didn’t occur to me to challenge the authority of that temple worker, I wonder if I should have to avoid further hurt–the hurt of feeling powerless and alienated in the very place where I should feel the greatest connection to the divine, to my family, to my sisters.
And this morning I put on these earrings before I even knew I’d be writing this post. They are reminding me of flowers, family, and how much some things change and how much some things stay the same.