Before concerned readers send heart-felt offers of therapy, a caveat: as addictions go, this is fairly minor. It’s the slightest binge on two t.v. shows, savored on laptop because at the moment, I don’t own a t.v.
Two favorite scenes have offered volumes for reflection, the first from “Downton Abbey.” See—isn’t everyone addicted to Maggie Smith as Lady Violet? This absolutely silent moment occurs after Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes have returned from their honeymoon to a reception in the servants’ quarters. He excuses himself from the party, explaining to her that he must check if his room has been cleared out completely. When he glances around the small space, it must kindle fifty years of memories. Walking through the door, he removes his name plate, “Mr. Carson,” and slips it into his pocket.
Why did that quiet moment resonate so deeply? Having recently moved from Colorado to California, I know how difficult it is to part with the past. Leaving friends, familiarity, work, home and beautiful Rocky Mountains was heart-breaking. From a spacious deck, I could see snow on the high peaks. Friends offered their mountain cabins for several days of skiing or hiking, and cozy evening fires. I’d gone there for graduate school 45 years before and traveled widely since, but always perked up when the plane flew over the Rockies and landed at Denver airport.
However, children and grandchildren lived in the Bay area, and California had always been a favorite vacation spot. Six grandchildren under the age of four on the west coast beckoned with powerful allure. I wanted to be part of their lives, not a quarterly visitor. I wanted to help their parents when they needed it most, in those vulnerable early years. My life in Colorado seemed increasingly self-centered, when I could be a big help in California.
And so I moved. As Carson removes his name tag from the door, a bright new future lies before him. Despite his age, he’ll make a home with a wonderful woman whom he loves dearly. It doesn’t discount one bit of that potential to pause, perhaps for gratitude or goodbye.
Colorado will always hold a place in my heart and I’ll visit as often as I can. But the future lies on the west coast now, with little ones hugging my knees and calling, “Grammy!” Flowers bloom in January outside my kitchen window, and a crimson-throated hummingbird hovers as I write.
The other scene occurs in “Madam Secretary” where Tia Leone plays Elizabeth McCord, a bright and powerful woman, an amalgam of three actual female secretaries of state. Her marriage to handsome Dr. Henry McCord seems impossibly happy, but her three children provide welcome notes of imperfect reality. Consistently she works for peaceful solutions of world problems, even though she’s surrounded by military leaders urging war. In an episode titled “The Show Must Go On,” a series of kerfuffles leads to her being sworn in temporarily as president of the United States.
She has no time to prepare, but she steps forward and places her hand on the Bible with confidence and grace. Although the private ceremony has been hastily arranged, her reverence acknowledges the dignity of the office she’ll assume.
It reminds me of the many times we’ve all assumed tasks that seem huge; we wonder fleetingly if we’re up to the challenge. But then we plunge ahead for whatever reason, because someone has to do the job. Gradually, God’s power becomes ours. And when God empowers, there’s no time wasted on futile discussion of gender. We do what the moment requires, and perhaps only in retrospect, recognize one of our finest hours.