“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Song of Solomon 2:15
They come in all shapes and forms and their purpose is to damage and destroy.
Today marks the 8th anniversary of the end of a relationship that had been damaged and eventually destroyed by an issue that entered a life as a little fox. The little fox who may have entered as a little animal but grew and waged a war – lives were inextricably changed and scars remain.
The fox that visited today came in the form of a department store catalogue that arrived in the mail – addressed to the man of the house – he didn’t notice it. He, lovely man, noticed the Koorong catalogue and not what was beneath it. I noticed it when I saw it being waved around in the hands of an 11 year old boy. The boy hadn’t been aware of the content either – all I saw was a scantily clad female gazing out provocatively from behind the plastic covering, surveying the yard of our new home of peace and serenity. She was in the hands of a boy – a boy who I fear will one day fall prey to this little fox.
The catalogue title – “A Book of Secrets”… (or similar) I don’t know – is a product a secret if it goes to all the holders of a department store rewards card? I feel a title like this is insidious in its nature – it tells a lie that upholds secrets as desirable and not at all destructive. And I’m culturally aware enough to realise that it’s an attempt to make a grab at the very popular lingerie brand that promotes the idea that secrets are somehow attractive and sexy and to be desired – and today I object to it all. I object to this every day – I think I always have though, more often than not, it has been in a defeated way because I chose to believe the lie that tells me I’m dull and boring and that this woman or this multitude of women here are more ….. well, more everything than I am. On days like that I hang my head and I slink away.
But today is not one of those days.
Today I’m not going down to it.
Today I am defiant in my objection. Maybe it’s because it was in the hands of my boy?
Today I don’t want to just throw it in the bin, today I want to wipe it out. Maybe it’s because of what this day means to me, to my psyche, today is a day that to me signals a resounding loss to this lie. I take the offending object in my hands I rip it in half and then walk inside and announce “I think I need to burn this”. He, wonderful man, looks at me and says “go ahead, that might be good”.
I read this blog (here) this week and what it said about demons struck a chord; it is true for us, I’ve lived through my demons, he has lived through his demons. We have shared them. Mine are now his and his, mine … they bind us together, and some days they bind me up. But not today, not this one, not today. We both know how much this demon needs to be put behind me – behind us.
So I take a box of matches and march out to the fire pit in the front yard.
It’s quite possible that I looked a little mad as I sat in the fire pit trying match after match, trying to burn this out of my place of peace. I wrestled with match after match after match that refused to light the shiny, tantalising images, that for me indulge and propagate the lie that truth and dignity are undesirable and to be despised. I know of too many men who have fought this battle with this issue that began here in the catalogues that arrived in the mail, and let’s be honest the catalogues of 15-25 years ago were nothing compared to this one-a-page feast for the eyes – poses mirroring the ones that fuel, and were created by, the industry that objectifies and often dehumanises women. Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with the product advertised in the catalogue – I object to the promotional style and the ideas that go with it.
The shiny paper taunts me – it won’t light – I’m halfway through the second box of matches – I am now literally sitting in the fire pit, in the ashes. And I’m pleading with God to let me get this stuff behind me – I can’t have it revisiting. I can’t have this moment over and over again.
Today with the significance it holds would be a fantastic day to get this over with. I pray that I will be able to remove the power images like this hold over me and my self-worth. Surprisingly, I’m not tearful, I’m uncomfortable – I’m sitting in the fire pit on a bit of a cardboard box. The dogs are getting frustrated with me, one is barking at me intermittently because I won’t play fetch. I’m frustrated yes – but while I sit and persevere, I’m writing this in my head.. because today I’m not going to be defeated. I know I need to write this – I know that in doing this and in writing this I’m removing this old path, this old way in for the enemy of my peace and my mind. I think it’s time to stop letting him play this string.
Eventually the stuff lights – it is windy and oh so quickly I see another reason why the little foxes are so damaging – there’s another mention of foxes that I remember, in this story foxes were placed in vineyards by the owner’s enemy.
Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in the middle between two tails. When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves.
The fire finally takes all of the images in it’s embrace and I no longer feel defeated or defiant, now I am triumphant.
One bit of fire follows me, I feel its hot touch on me – maybe there’s now a mark on me but I’d rather it was on me than either of them. I have definitely inhaled too much smoke – but now it is behind me and I’m glad.
I remain uninterested in watching tv shows or movies that include explicit sex scenes, I have an aversion to nudity on the screen – yes, this means that the number of tv shows we watch is minimal – and yes, I’m sure some of the ones we chose not to watch are interesting and great, people have told me this. Some people have suggested that I’m prudish for not watching them – maybe I am or maybe the non-prudish haven’t lived through the damage that can be done. But I’ve seen the damage that this particular little fox can do – the obvious damage, the deep scars and the life long consequences.
I don’t want to feed it, I don’t even really want to set fire to it – I want it gone. And in my life, in our life I want …
whatever things are true,
whatever things are noble,
whatever things are just,
whatever things are pure,
whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—
meditate on these things
When the fire has been quenched and I come back into the house I am victorious; ashes on my feet, smoke in my lungs and in my hair. He pulls me close and tells me I smell like … beauty.
Beauty from ashes – this is what we are, me and him.