Baring It

By: Janie Savage

June 2nd, 2010—the day after I had the epiphany that I am to write my spiritual memoir—and that is that.  No other passion pulling me or sending me out on a wild goose chase any longer.  I woke all juiced up. I was excited to be going to Salisbury to see my group of women friends who started out over ten years ago in an Artist’s Way workshop. We formed a group that affectionately called ourselves the Barn Women for too long.
The friendships have remained but we no longer call our group anything but soul friends.
One of us, Tree, had the creative audacity to write a ten-minute play and enter it into a contest for the Black Box. And, lo and behold, she won!  So I was up cooking and preparing for an evening of fun and then spending the night at the Lake House, Jane’s retreat getaway house.  That day I woke up singing and I didn’t stop.  The creative juices were flowing and I felt a deep connection in celebrating Tree’s accomplishment! 
I pulled out my memoir notes early and made the dutiful effort and then commenced to baking cookies and kneading bread. While my hands were deep in soft pliable dough, inspiration hit me.  It was no wonder Tree was nervous—seeing her play performed on stage would be like being naked up there in front of God and everybody!  My husband walked into the kitchen just a few minutes after inspiration hit, he was getting ready to leave for work.
“Can I take a picture of your butt?”  I asked nonchalantly, as I kneaded the white, dimply dough.
“No, you cannot!”  He answered without hesitation as he backed quickly away from me.  “I have to leave, I love you,” he said, shaking his head, confused but not wanting to ask any questions.
“Love you, too; have a nice day!”  I called after him, laughing.
I punched, rolled, and squeezed the mass of soft, swelling mixture until it was smooth and elastic, then I poured olive oil over it and set on the stovetop to rise.  By the time I put the cookies in the oven, loaded with white and dark chocolate plus toffee chips, I had decided to follow through with my idea of Tree’s card.
Blackberry in hand, I dropped my pants.  I’d never taken a picture of my hindquarters before, and, in the moment, I was dead set on having a naked butt background for Tree’s card.  My first attempt was aimed too low.  I cringed and erased it quickly, but not too quick to sneak a peek.  It was a blatant crotch shot. That would never do. I re-aimed, again and again.  In the end, I had taken five full-on naked rump shots.  Aside from the strangeness of taking pictures of my own derriere, I was amazed it looked kinda perky.  At the risk of sounding conceited, I muttered, “Now that’s a nice ass!”
I spent far too much time with the butt card than I care to admit, but fun and laughter rolled around the floor as I glued phrases onto the page.  While I was taking hot cookies off the cookie sheet, a text came through on my Blackberry.  The message was from a text junkie friend of mine from work.  I laughed out loud when I saw the cartoon butt on the forwarded joke.  A booty call song was playing in the background!  Little did she know I had just taken those five photos. Now what are the chances of that?  I needed more phrases to go on Tree’s card, so I ran into the dining room where my computer was and wrote down more.  “Shakin’ the Booty,” and “Booty Call,” as well as several others that flowed right to me. 
Synchronicity?  I wondered, as I continued to paste. A little twinge of guilt nibbled at me.  Was I sabotaging my memoir-writing with this distraction?  The energy inside me kept me moving to complete the card of congratulations.  Finally, I finished with a flourish of satisfaction, and then I obediently sat down to printing out a story to take with me also, just in case I got the urge to share it with my friends. 
As I was getting ready to leave, I spent the last few minutes obediently writing in one of my spiritual memoir chapters. 
While I half-heartedly gave some empty minutes to duty, I started second-guessing myself around the card I’d created.  I decided to call my husband and run it by him.  Jeff was always joking and would surely think it funny.   I just needed a boost of encouragement before I presented it to my friend.
“That’s just inappropriate,” my husband finally replied in a tight, pinched voice, after I told him about the card I had created for my friend.
“But don’t you get it?  It’s my naked butt to symbolize Tree being naked with her writing?  Get it?”
“No, I don’t get it.  I don’t want your naked butt out there,” he stated flatly with no hint of his usual humor.
“You wouldn’t let me use a picture of yours, so what was I supposed to do?”  I couldn’t believe my husband was not getting the joke.
“You could have found one on the internet,” he suggested weakly.
“The internet?”  I squawked.  “You want me to google “asses”?  Do you know what kind of crap I’d get?  No way; that’s your department,” I muttered snidely.  I could not resist throwing a button of mine in the stew.  “Besides, I couldn’t have a generic butt, I had to use mine.”
My husband did not see the light, but I had already decided I would follow through with it.  “Well, maybe I shouldn’t give it to her if it’s that bad,” I offered weakly.  My husband didn’t counter with any altruistic gesture, so I moved ahead.
I gave the card to Tree along with the story of how my husband had deemed it inappropriate.  Somehow his disdain for my butt being on the card, and my having to give it anyway, made the card funnier.  Tree laughed, as did our other friends. We all agreed it was a pretty fine derriere, even though it was quite blurred by the time I rather ineptly took a picture from my Blackberry with my digital camera and printed it out on my printer.   
The best part truly was that Tree’s mood was lightened for a little while.  Her play was awesome, and our group of friends all shared in her moment on stage!  Sometimes it is just awesome to show your butt!
The next morning as I journaled, it struck me how I had so much energy around the “inappropriate” card.  I’d pulled an animal tarot card the previous night; it was the blue heron. The message I received for the blue heron card was to be courageous enough to be who I really am, to connect with my feelings to show me who that is.
I thought about the deep joy, the laughter, the energy that stirred around creating the card; the story that wove itself around the circumstances of the “doing.”  How I had appeased the guilt by sandwiching the creative “meatiness” between thin slices of white, holy bread, my very clean stories of faith.
So I asked myself:  What was real?  How could God not be in the joy-filled making-of-the- card story?  As I write this, I am enveloped in love, in complete and unconditional love.  I just want to testify, yes I do, and it’s much bolder, must be more courageous than the fear; the love, the joy, the barren desert as well as the mountaintop—God is in it all.  I cannot tell my story without the laughter, the absurdity of my experience, as well as the light of the blazing miracles .

Janie Savage is a city letter-carrier for the US postal service in Canton, North Carolina.  She has also operated a Bed-&-Breakfast in Waynesville, North Carolina with her husband.  Recently, she has begun transitioning the Bed-&-Breakfast into a retreat center.  This is a chapter from her spiritual memoir, I Just Want to Testify.  Contact her at JANIE28125@msn.com

 

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker