We’re giving a tea party for my niece. As I gather boughs with great, white clusters called snowballs from my sister’s shrubs to put into vases, my thoughts are far away, on bits and pieces of movies I’ve watched as I bid my time here, movies about warriors, movies about sports and young men, movies about God in unexpected guise and the demons in one’s self. In case you hadn’t noticed, says the coach in one of them, life ain’t fair and sometimes you get the short end of the stick. But how long you carry it is up to you. Movie samurai practice their swordplay in my thoughts, their solemn, intense, yet zen focus, the clean, hard discipline and code of honor bulwarking all, death no enemy, but an accepted piece of the life of a warrior, with an honorable way to die underpinning all. Texas high school seniors repeat their lines as I set out silver trays, football heros, who must deal with the last clear, clean drama most of them will have in life, winning state or not. Again, rules are there, even if not followed by all. Their play on the football field is a kind of war to them, requires them to grow in ways they don’t expect. Or I think about the real war-traumatized movie hero with God striding beside him; the moment when I realized his companion was God made me blink my eyes at the TV screen and weep from the sweet simplicity of it. What do you want from me, screams a soul-maimed warrior. What do you want from yourself is the reply.

As I arrange tea cups for the party to come, there’s a longing in me for clean purpose, for a code of conduct so precise that I have no questions, for an honorable way to die as clear as goal posts on a football field. Dialog from one of the movies echoes in my head: it’s a game you can’t win. It’s the playing of it. The dialog is about golf.  Life, I think, watching snowball petals drop lightly on a polished table top…

Have you a code of conduct, a code of honor? What is it? And how is a woman a warrior, for I know we are. Yet, what are our battles? What are our swords?

4 responses to “samurai

  1. These are the rules for all. Be in concert with nature and defend it with your life. The life of all living things should be considered. So busy are we playing God. What lives, what dies…. People do not even think about taking the life of a tree if it is in an incovenient spot. we take what we want and what is not ours to take. the skin of a bear, lives of animals not even for substanance but for sport.. we throw their dead bodies around for amusement.. I cringe every time I see a skit with a dead chicken or an octopus being thrown on the ice at a Detroit Red Wings hockey game. Their deaths hould be honored and we should be grateful for the food they give us not laughing. People lack compassion and do not respect what the earth gives us. Every life wants to keep living and when we take that life, we all should understand the loss. Not many seem to get that.

  2. Great post, Karleen! You always write inspired and introspective pieces. Refreshing! MY swords.. (never thought of them that way!) would be the recognition that life’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, and he’s not perfect, but perhaps that’s why life is such an adventure? I think I will have a mini-tea party with my nine year old when I go home for lunch. Just because I can.

  3. I love the clarity of ritual, especially in these tumultuous and dishonorable times. It brings comfort. I love how you have put tea and swords together here.

  4. marlene mesilla (brandt)

    a woman warrior is one who has survived- i did i closed in upon myself the year i went to live with my birth mother–she hated me so surviving was difficult i wanted to be smart si i became smart but i was always honourable you, karleen are the finest writer of historical alive your through a glass darkly helped me through a really bad time iun my life, thank you

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