This week I’m taking a page from Lady Calen’s journal (so to speak) and responding to a writing prompt she shared: Whom do you look down upon?
The very first thing you’d notice about me is my height. I’m six feet tall in bare feet, and have been (within an inch or two) since I was 14. While I was away at college, my brother brought home his new girlfriend (now wife of 25 years) to meet the rest of the family. “She’s so tall!” Jennifer exclaimed of my five foot-five inch sister. My brother just rolled his eyes. “Wait till you meet my other sister,” he said.
This has caused me no shortage of mixed feelings. On the one hand, I can see over people’s heads in a crowded space. On the other, every counter in every kitchen and bathroom in every house I’ve ever lived in is too low for me. I’ve always believed — especially as I proceed into my “sturdy” middle-aged years (“sturdy” being a euphemism my father used for me in my toddler days, before I grew into my protracted “lanky” stage) that my height serves as a deterrent to male wrongdoers. On the other hand — again — I knew at 14 that I would never be cradled like a delicate, cherished object in the arms of a man…unless he was a basketball player or circus freak, that is.
I had an Epley maneuver done yesterday (for the vertigo that periodically plagues me — insert tall joke here) and had to keep my head steady — no looking down — for 24 hours. It made me achingly aware that practically everything is beneath me, physically speaking. All those vendors who temptingly place their items in the grocery store at “eye level,” surprise — my eyes are on the top shelf, thank you. It makes it all too easy for me to miss what’s going on “down there” where everyone else lives.
I realize that this is not what this writing prompt is all about, but I use my height as a metaphor for my interior life: I sometimes don’t see or value the things that a majority of folks find important or valuable. I’m a TV snob, preferring British programming since junior high. I don’t watch sports often. I haven’t listened to “popular” music since high school. I’m a proto-alterna-gal, marching to my own, non-syncopated beat.
It’s a situation ripe for loneliness. Though I look down physically on others, I’ve always felt looked down upon as the “weird girl.” The up-side of this condition is that I try mightily never to look down (metaphorically) on anyone. Of course, I don’t always succeed. Of course, I sometimes judge people on their politics, their seeming ignorance, their small-minded exclusion of others they deem “less” than themselves. On the other hand (there it is again!), I’ve never been socially savvy (“You’re book-smart,” my sister used to tell me, “I’m people-smart.”), and the drubbing I took from that (especially back in high school) has made me, I hope, a better person.
All of this up and down, above and beneath, is really beside the question. The fact of the matter is that God is above us all, and chooses never to look down (in its negative connotation) on anyone. God calls us instead to look toward others — neither up nor down — especially those on the fringes. We need to see people squarely, without judgment, before we can love them. And loving people, tall or short, sturdy or lanky, is what life is all about.
Let’s all vow to meet people where they are. Even if we have to stand on a stepladder to do it.