Awkward

Mar. 30th, 2010 12:38 pm
krikketgirl: (Default)
There are some things in life that you just can't do gracefully.
  • Putting a heavy pan in the oven.

  • Eating a pear.

  • Recovering from a public face-plant.

  • Confessing that you like-like someone.

  • Washing someone's feet.


Every year, as part of our Passover service, that latter happens during the service. And it's a blend of beautiful (beautiful attitudes, beautiful women, beautiful unity) and, well, awkward. There's no graceful way to arrange all the splashing and water and washtubs and towels and feet.

And that is part of the beauty. When we take a moment, there in the quiet, and realize that we are all performing this awkward task, it takes the heat off of us to show off. There's no need to prove how "together" we are, because everyone is at the same level, everyone is doing the same thing with the same clumsiness. And for a blessed moment, we don't have to think about ourselves.

In Edward Brooks' Freddy and the Popinjay, Freddy the pig is trying to get all of his fellow animals to abandon a certain project by using a little reverse psychology. First, he announces that he needs volunteers for a special mission. Having gotten their attention, he gives a speech about how dangerous the mission will be, that those who volunteer will be putting their lives at stake; they will almost certainly be badly injured, and they may even be killed.

This doesn't dampen the animals' enthusiasm, however, so Freddy moves to his second tack: he tells them that those who volunteer for the mission will not be called heroes. In fact, he says, to undertake this mission will mean that they will be derided as fools. They will look stupid, and other animals will make fun of them.

In a matter of moments, the barn is completely empty.

It's only a kids' novel, after all, but I think that Brooks hit upon a valid principle: many of us would rather do anything, have anything befall us, than look stupid or be called foolish. We sometimes hang back from trying new things or acting on our beliefs because we'd rather look cool and calm and not risk looking awkward.

And I'd be willing to bet that most of us are being constantly consumed by this worry. Which means that most of us aren't even noticing whether other people are awkward, because we're so embarassed by ourselves. So here we all are, wandering around worrying about what other people are thinking, and they're not thinking of us at all.

I think that it is wise to remember that we are all awkward, pretty much all the time. And the really great thing is when someone sees us in all our awkwardness, all of our clumsiness, and loves us.

Here's to mercy, and grace...and awkwardness.

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