She was afraid of these things that made her suddenly wonder who she was, and what she was going to be in the world, and why she was standing at that minute, seeing a light, or listening, or staring up into the sky: alone. She was afraid, and there was a queer tightness in her chest.
At a friend’s recommendation (because I have a child the age of the protagonist), I recently read Carson McCullers’ book The Member of the Wedding, a classic Southern coming-of-age novel that captures a brief but intense few days in the life of 12-year-old Frankie.
Like any good coming-of-age story, I was reminded of my own adolescence and young adulthood, but also was drawn to reflect on the ways that I’m still, always, growing into myself.
When I got to the passage that I’ve excerpted above, I sat with it for a while, re-reading it, absorbing it. (The paragraph opens with, “Sad and terrible happenings had never made Frankie cry, but this season many things made Frankie suddenly wish to cry.” Oh, the life of full-heartedness, and hormones, and intense stimuli, and feelings and experiences that demand to be expressed, one way or another…)
And it’s not only twelve-year-olds who wonder who they are, what they need to be in the world, and why in this minute they are so alone. It’s not only twelve-year-olds who feel afraid, or whose bodies communicate with tightness in the chest.
Who am I? What am I called to be in the world? Am I standing, at this minute, alone?
Who, UUCC, are we? What are we called to be in the world? Are we alone?
These reflections are relevant to me and to us as we begin this new program year. I re-enter our space of shared ministry with a commitment to being observational and reflective, as well as bold and active, such that every action and decision is well-informed and thoughtful – neither based on whim, nor confined to how it’s always been done before.
Let us ask questions and wonder together… and though we might sometimes be afraid, let us not be driven by that fear. And let us remember that we are not entirely alone.