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In a new story I’m writing, one of the characters is an older Chinese woman. I searched “older women in Chinese culture 2018,” but couldn’t find anything relevant.

Ten pages of results yielded articles about a teenager’s prom dress causing controversy and the fact that educated, professional women in China aren’t marrying these days, but nothing about what life is like today for a women of 65. On page 13 of the search results, I did find an interesting article about how a three-digit “social score” can change the course of a person’s life in China, but still, nothing about the experience of older women.

It shouldn’t take miles of search pages to find out the most basic facts about older women in China. Should it? It’s disheartening that the algorithm we all rely on to bring us the world is leaving out large chunks of humanity. At least older people and women as a group can exist online. Can’t they?

But then again, do we ever really see each other?

Last year during a MOOC about poetry, I watched a terrific video lecture from poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi. Despite viewing it many times, I didn’t realize that she had on a bow tie, even though it’s obviously a bow tie. My mind assumed it was a scarf. Why? Because I like scarves. I wear scarves. I knit scarves. I was wearing a scarf as I was watching the video. Later, I realized that this poet identifies as gender non-conforming. All I saw was my own worldview.

No matter how open-minded we may think we are, we always see the picture through our own frame. Like a reverse selfie of sorts. Maybe we all need to be double-exposed to new ideas to view the world as a group-photo waiting to happen.

If you are spending any time on social media lately, you have a pretty good idea what people think about each other.  Fool.  Idiot.  Moron.  The litany of names is endless.  Is it really any surprise that people cannot come together to find a solution while the hate-filled names are flying?  Who wants to work with someone who just called them an ass?  Instead of cooperating it makes you want to pick their argument apart.

Before you let your fingers fly, take a moment.  Take ten.  Moments are, after all, small things.

Look outward.  Look inward.  Look wherever it is that you regularly sight all that is Holy.  Draw his love into your heart.  That means drawing in his love not only for you but for all of his flawed, squabbling children.  And maybe, just maybe, when you look back at the rest of us you will see things a little differently.




When I was small, I spent many summers with my grandparents.  I’d be in rural Missouri and the suburbs of St. Louis with one set and small town West Texas with the other.  In West Texas, I was part of a very mixed community.  At the park, we’d play marvelously complex games on the train or covered wagon.  Sometimes we all spoke English but that wasn’t always the case.

I later discovered that my grandmother worried about my meager Spanish.  “How could you know what they were saying?”

She assumed it could be something bad.  I was even more certain that we were simply cheering each other on.  I couldn’t hear their words and understand, but in my heart?  I was certain and I am still am.

See with your heart.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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