Monday, January 19, 2009
She Said It In A Letter
You may remember my earlier post about this series of sixteen collages created from a stash of 1920s love letters found hidden away in an attic alcove. Each of the letters allow the reader to follow the love story of sweethearts Mary and Gerald, as Gerald moves about the state in search of work and leaves Mary yearning for him back at home.
As the series begins you feel the excitement, the passion and even the lust, as Mary writes excitedly of the next time she will see Gerald, but the passion and naivety give way to a longing and yearning for his return, begging him to let her come and be with him.
Originally I titled the series "He Stopped Loving Me Today" because I believed that the lovers had parted ways as Jerry lost interest in Mary traveling about the country in search of work, but I recently discovered a letter in which Mary writes to Jerry and tells him that she feels she can never be the kind of girl he wants her to be. She tells him she can't be good enough no matter how much she tries and she insists that her love isn't the right kind of love for him no matter how much she wants it to be. It seems that it was Jerry who wanted the relationship to be more, but Mary tells him that she feels he deserves better then what she has to offer and encourages him to carry happy memories of her but to let her go.
"I've cussed and prayed and did everything and I can't seem to see the right way yet. Oh hell honey what's gonna become of me. I couldn't let you go on thinking all those nice things and planning on something I know can't ever be. Cause sometimes my lover - I want a home most terribly bad and other times I don't. Honey mine, what was I put here for anyway? I guess to cause everyone a lot of hell and pain and worrying. For that's all I've ever done so far and I can't make up my mind to do different yet. You're better off to forget me honey. I'm just no good at all....I don't know how I'm writing this Dearest for I feel so queer inside of me. You must of thot some thing was going to happen Dear at some time cause you've saved so many things of mine and so many memories. Honey make all your thots of me happy ones, cause I've loved you truly the only way I know how to love. But it can't be like you want it."
In many of the earlier letters Mary is obviously very much in love with Gerald. Many times she writes longingly for his return and at others she writes suggestively of things they have done together or will do when they see each other again, often playfully referring to herself as bad and asking what he must think of her.
As I read Mary's farewell to Jerry and think back over some of these earlier letters it makes me think of my relationship with God. I know this may be a stretch to understand, but before I was able to return to my relationship with Him as an adult, having left it when I was a teenager, I struggled with feelings that I was too dirty, had done too many things to possibly be forgiven and could never be good enough for Him to love me. I got a chip on my shoulder about it and convinced myself that I didn't want it anyway. Just as Mary tells Jerry that "sometimes my lover - I want a home most terribly bad and other times I don't" I flipped back and forth between desiring to accept the love and forgiveness that others kept telling me he had for me and convincing myself that I didn't want it anyway. A broken sort of self defense that kept me from feeling too much.
But unlike the lover we see here in this series, God did not give up on me when I said no to him. He listened to my questions, my rants, my anger and my silence as I turned my back on him. Like a gentle persistent lover he sent word to me over and over that he loved me and that nothing I did or could ever do would make him stop or be too horrible for His forgiveness.
I'm so grateful for this love he has for me. When I was finally ready to come before him and asked him to forgive me and take me back, I knew he already had.
I've been enjoying this series of collages in my own living room, but I am ready to let them go. I will be listing each one in my Etsy Studio over the next week so be sure to keep checking. They look great all together, in groups of two or more, or have an equally strong impact all alone.
And don't forget today is the last day to get in on a drawing for my "Where Does My Strength Come From" Pendant. Read this post for details.