On a warm Thursday night during a recent heat wave, I craved a good old fashion hamburger. I have been eating so much turkey these last few years, I am starting to fear Thanksgiving.
My eating a hamburger had to be experienced in a Pub. So I decided to wander the paths of our business community in Clayton that caters to a younger clientele, more businessmen and sports aficionados. After just a humid half block walk I found what I was looking for.
It had a long bar, lined with beer drinkers. The bar was flanked with a bevy of high-seated tables that were filled. But in the recesses of the oddly shaped room, I found a line of empty booths. Perfect for one of my special reveries.
My server came over to me. I always hope that they will be young, female and attractive. Women to me have always been God’s greatest gift to his lesser members of the species, us! Well this young woman was the personification of my highest hopes. Young, fresh and so very wholesome, she had a special shine to her that brightened my little corner of the Pub. Her name was Rebecca and she had just turned 21. My response to that was God bless you…. The unheard words of my prayer were as he has just me.
Well the burger, and my girlie man beer were great. She would occasionally stop and talk to me and even sat on her haunches so I would not have to strain my tender neck to look up at her. When I had finished the sports pages of my New York Times, about the only section in that beautifully written newspaper that I ever read, I asked for my swoosh (Nike check).
Then I was hit with a spark of the Divine. I had to share with her my emotional reaction to her loveliness. When she returned I said to her, since my wife died last year, I have had a much greater respect for all women.. and I can tell that you are are not only a woman that deserves to be loved some day but deserves to be cherished. I was kind of hoping she would smile or maybe even blush at my truly personal comment.
Well her response was beyond my highest of hopes. Her arms flew open as if a young beau had proposed marriage and she bent down to embrace me before I could stand up. It was one of those moments where an old soul was able to connect with a new, young fresh soul just crossing the threshold of her adult life. I will treasure that brief moment forever. And I pray that Rebecca receives what I wished for her.
My hidden advice to her was that she should beware of fast talkers and con artists who will deceive her with sweet talk with only one purpose in mind. Before falling in love, I prayed she would demand that respect and real love dominate the equation.
Women make up more than half the world’s population. Most times they are hard to fathom. I spent more than 50 years trying to understand just one woman. Since her death, I have met a lot of different women and found them as equally mysterious. There are those who will say that Catholics, especially our religion, looks down on them as equals. Nothing could be further than the truth.
In a 2017 Our Sunday Visitor edition, the lead story was about how the Church loved women as the pinnacle of God’s creation. The beautiful piece, crafted by Deacon Gerard-Marie was entitled, Finding God in beauty and the feminine genius.
The criticism often revolves around the Church’s traditional refusal to allow them in the priesthood, as do most all other Christian churches. The truth is that women were meant to play a different role in the church that better reflects their essential nature and special gifts. It is not a question of inequality but one of respecting the differences.
The Deacon also reflected on the hierarchy of creation. Each day laid the foundation for the next day. The first was for the second and the third for the fourth and so on. The high point was when he made man. But after a while God realized that his most important creature so far was sad and unhappy because he was painfully alone.
This was not as God intended. He then said, what for me, are the most important words in Genesis: It is not good for a man to be alone. No man alive today, who has lost his wife, can fail to fathom the power and depth of this feeling. In that situation all living men and those before them are brothers in the spirit and flesh with Adam.
God then fashioned Eve from what the traditional Biblical scholars say was Adam’s rib. Modern scholars think it really was his side, which implies more an equality with man.
Now Adam’s life was complete. From time immemorial, Eve’s essence, her radiant femininity was the missing element in Adam’s life. Eve was the perfect complement to Adam’s body and soul, as he was to hers. She also was to be his partner, so as to satisfy his innate hunger for sharing his life.
Many who have read Genesis later skewered its true meaning. Adam was not Eve’s master as many unchristian or pre-christian societies have taught but a perfect partner to their life in paradise.
God gave his most important gift to His first couple on the 7th and final day. It was the Holy Spirit to bestow grace on them. The word for this in Greek is charis, which means beauty. It appeared in the inner beauty of a soul that makes people come together, especially as man and wife. Too often, man has reduced beauty to something flowing from just the body. This was again what Saint John Paul II had warned against.
With Eve, Adam now had everything he needed to make God’s creation the paradise that filled him with lasting joy. As Eve and Adam stood, side by side, naked and unafraid, as the first couple before God their creator, God blessed them both as the likeness and image of his Triune nature and all was good until their defiant fall. Incidentally the romance of Adam and Eve is brilliantly imagined and portrayed in Bruce Filler’s 2017 book, The First Love Story Adam, Eve and Us.
I believe that the grace that God planted was directly embedded in Eve’s heart and soul. Today I believe it goes by the popular name of femininity. It is that special quality that makes the strongest man turn into a bowl of guava jelly when he encounters a woman with a grace-filled spirit. It has many faces. Men experience it in the mannerisms and even the funny quirks that make women so incredibly different from men. Some find it in the sway of her hips, the gentle way she touches our cheek, or how she slowly strokes her hair .
For me a woman’s smile or even a deep laugh exposes the femininity that animates her personality. Some smiles are cheeky. They draw up their cheeks so that you can hardly see their eyes. I know one woman who even sticks her tongue partly out of her mouth when I tickle her funny bone.
Then there is the more subtle laughter, whose smile is more of a glow than a bright light. One lady friend’s smile seems to appear like the moon in that it reflects the light, making it possible to get an ever so brief glimpse of her eyes, the portal to a woman’s soul.
These are just some of the special qualities that differentiate women from men. If women were just like us, love would be reduced to mere biology and the relations between the sexes would have lost so much of its magic. Pox on the house that would change and obliterate such a magical, God-given joy as a woman’s femininity.
So as long as I am breathing I will always relish the difference between men and women because it is the bright hint of what heaven must be like.