Archive for May 26th, 2006

Shannon G.

Ages 5-8. She lived a few houses away, and she had long black curly hair and a birthmark by her eye. We walked to kindergarten together, down the block and through a stand of pine trees, but somehow we could never make it on time. Once we showed up an hour late, having been distracted by the aliens and princes and flowers and spies and butterflies in those pines. My mom called us her “little space cadets.”

Amy I.

Ages 10-14. Amy and I only lived in the same town for a few years, but after sixth grade we relied on weekend visits to get us through the long middle school years. She remained faithful even after I punched and kicked her in the field trip line one time. Lucky for me she was too surprised to fight back, tall blond athelete that she was. I found her on the playground and apologized. Once we ate all the meat off of a plate of chicken wings and put the gnawed bones back in the refrigerator.

Gloria W.

Ages 15-16. I moved to a new town in 9th grade and Gloria found me. She could secure all of her shiny dark hair in a bun with just a pencil. At lunch we would walk nonchalantly around the basketball court where the cute boys played. We wrote each other elaborate notes in school, using various colors of pen, but she would never tell me her grades. When she got her driver’s license, she’d drive me places, and I’d have to crouch down below eye-level in case her mom should happen to go by.

Lydia A.

Ages 18-19. Lydia lived across the hall from me in the dorm my freshman year of college. We combined our funds to get giant packages of licorice and cereal at Costco and wandered in and out of each other’s rooms at will. We went to the dining hall together, discovered email together (1993!), and joined campus clubs together. Once when we were playing truth or dare Lydia put on coveralls and rapped on the R.A.’s door. “Maintenance!” she said. She climbed up on a chair in his room and unscrewed the cover of the central air vent, said thanks, and left, carrying it under her arm. A champion moment!

“I believe in the holiness of the human person and of humanity as a phenomenon. I believe our failings, which are very great and very grave– after all, we have brought ourselves to the point of possible self-annihilation– are a cosmic mystery, a Luciferian disaster, the fall of the brightest angel. That is to say, at best and at worst we are within the field of sacred meaning, holy. I believe holiness is a given of our being that, essentially, we cannot add to or diminish, whose character and reality are fully known only to God and are fully valued only by him.”

–Marilynne Robinson, in “Onward, Christian Liberals,” The American Scholar, v 75 n 2.