Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: self-consciousness

About my book of poems

Dear Friends,

The last few weeks have been hectic. Not with busy work, but with my book of poetry! It’s not yet out there, but forthcoming. Title: Without a Flight Plan.

What I’ve learned:

  1. Writing poetry is easy, compared with preparing it for publication.
  2. Though self-publishing through Lulu is a blessing, it’s also a hassle. Not with them, but with back and forth electronic clarification or correction of anything at all. After proof-reading and fiddling with four trial copies, I’m ready to let it go. But see #3!
  3. Before I sign off on the book, I must supply (for outlets that offer the book) a brief description of what the reader can expect to find in my poetry. Expletive deleted.

Several years ago I decided I would not try to publish a book of my poetry. It felt like a huge interruption and a hassle I didn’t want to invite into my life.

That was then; this is now; and yes, I’ve changed my mind.

Why? Partly due to choices made and not made by our former POTUS. His lack-luster response to Covid-19 will haunt us for years. As will his unprofessional behavior in front of cameras eager to catch every glimmer of the Trump circus.

Still, the bottom line isn’t Trump, it’s how I experienced life during 2020. A great mish-mash of ups and downs, disappointments and unexpected gifts.

When I was teaching seminarians in the 1990s, I had two books published. One (coauthored) was called Making Friends with the Bible. The other, Confessions of a Beginning Theologian, was about how I became and was still becoming a theologian. Both books drew on personal experience and observations. In addition, each was judiciously worded. I didn’t want to upset my father or anyone in authority over me.

In this collection of poems, I don’t hold back or try to dress up what I wish I could say out loud. Even better, I no longer wonder what my father would say if he ever read these poems. Nor do I worry about what family, friends or strangers might think of me. So yes, it’s time to get one more book out there!

Thanks again for visiting, and listening not just to me but to your own heart.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 March 2021
Photo taken by DAFraser at Longwood Gardens, March 2016

Teach me to pray

children-praying-church

This sonnet by George MacDonald took me back to childhood struggles with public prayer. Especially public prayer in front of my father when we had daily Bible reading and prayer after breakfast. My child’s prayer follows MacDonald’s adult prayer. Read the rest of this entry »

Going to Seminary | Part 2

FTS Women, Color, T-Women-Collage-min

~~~Women students, staff and faculty at Fuller Seminary through the years

I thought it would be easy to move into my new Going to Seminary series. But it isn’t. Why? I think because this wasn’t an easy or seamless transition in my life.

Compared with getting married, this felt like an earthquake. A seismic shift. I didn’t understand this back then. Today I understand at least the following.

Being a Faculty Wife was a fairly low-profile role. Even though people were suspicious about women with minds and lives of their own, they were still courteous and polite to women who ‘knew their place.’

As long as I kept my head down, took care of our children and showed up at the Bible College to contribute my musical skills and presence, things went smoothly enough.

Nonetheless, sometimes I felt lost and misunderstood. Especially when I described to friends how I felt about not-so-public parts of my life. It seems I didn’t fit the pattern.

But then again, I never did fit the pattern. My father knew this and did his best to change me.

My family upbringing prepared me to survive and even flourish in the Deep South 1960s culture of the Bible College. It was all about being a proper lady, whether as a student or later as a Faculty Wife. I knew how to play the game and succeed, at least on the outside.

Now it’s 1973 and I’m on my way to seminary in California. I don’t have the home team advantage, and the seminary doesn’t have second-class expectations for women. When it comes to academic work, I have to pull my own weight.

When I take a course, D won’t take it for me. He won’t write or edit my papers. He won’t think for me.

This is a seismic shift, though I didn’t appreciate that back then. Gone is the world that groomed me to marry a good Christian man and follow him to the ends of the earth, bearing all the children he might want to beget.

Now I must stand on my own two feet and do my full share of caring for the children, cooking, and housecleaning. I must earn my own grades, write my own papers, make my own oral presentations and take my own exams.

At the Bible College, theology and Biblical studies were supposedly the domain of men like my father. Though women weren’t unwelcome intruders, they were foreigners from another planet.

Women belonged in clearly defined domestic roles, supporting their men who were doing the really important thinking and doing. If married women absolutely had to work outside the home, fine. Just don’t let it interfere with domestic duties.

At the Bible College, most men had no problem with women studying the Bible. Nonetheless, if women had questions about the Bible or theology, they should ask their husbands or their male pastors or professors. Why should they need to bother their pretty little heads with anything difficult or contentious?

As one of my theology professors at Bible College announced: “The next topic is for men; you women can ‘go pick daisies’ if you’d like.”

That didn’t mean we could leave the room; it meant we didn’t have to understand the next topic or take extensive notes about it. We could think about whatever we wished during the next half hour or so. It shouldn’t be of concern to us. The topic? The end of the world (Eschatology)!

When I was accepted into the MA in Bible and Theology, I was elated and terrified. Nine years had passed since I graduated from the Bible College. I was about 10 years older than many if not most other students in my courses. I was also the mother of two young children.

The stakes were high, no matter what I did or didn’t do with this degree. No wonder I was anxious and self-conscious. My life was about to change.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 November 2015
Collage image thanks to http://www.fullermag.fuller.edu

Early Marriage | Part 6

Side of Bed 2

My side of the bed, 1965

I’ve taken a deep breath and a break. It’s time to say more about early marriage and my anguish about sex. Here it is in a nutshell: Read the rest of this entry »

The Dean and I | Part 8

no-visitors-abandoned-hospital-presidio-san-francisco-phsh

It’s December 1967. I’ve worked for Mr. Griswold for just over two years. Right now I’m in the hospital on the university campus. Miserable and getting worse. Read the rest of this entry »

The Dean and I | Part 1

Langdell_Hall,_Harvard_Law_School,_Cambridge_MA

Langdell Hall, Harvard Law School 

In late September 1965 I get a call from the university. I’d filled out a job inquiry at the employment office. This was the first and only call I got. Would I please come in for an interview? The Dean of the law school Read the rest of this entry »

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