Sometimes when I write, the ideas come quick and demand to be written immediately. Sometimes ideas need to simmer like a good soup. I’ve already written quite a bit about Claire and I wondered if there was anything more I could say. The question, “Why is Claire important to me?” kept simmering in my mind. Soon, as it often happens, the answer to my writer’s question began to form through the colliding of seemingly insignificant events and knowledge.
The world very recently celebrated International Woman’s Day. Busy with my grandchildren, I sort of missed it. Two days later, I was given a picture of myself hugging my oldest granddaughter and it kick-started my thinking about women and my role in womanhood. Of course, I blogged about it.
My granddaughter laughingly said,” I feel like I’m reading a history lesson about civil rights!” In a way she was. I wrote about how each generation of women has helped to create the wonder that is my granddaughter.
Writing that article helped me answer part of my question. Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a wonderful example of the women who have gone before and paved the way. She is a wonderful example of women who had the courage to break out of gender-based roles and show the world women could be strong. She shows us that women can be all things; strong, kind, tough, gentle, smart, and intuitive.
The second half of my question was answered while writing an article about laughing at life. I was thinking of events both good and bad that have happened in my life and wondered if there was anything I would change if I could. I always come to the same conclusion…No… because I don’t know how those events shaped the woman I became. I wonder if Claire would come to the same conclusion?
We all bring our experiences with us when we read and I brought the story of Corrie Ten Boom with me when I read Claire’s story. Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian spinster, who saved many Jews from the concentration camps and then was interned for her actions. She lost many family members to the camps including her beloved father and sister. She survived and then spent the rest of her life traveling the world telling her story of how there was no pit so deep that God was not deeper still. Corrie carried with her a bit of needlework to use as a visual representation of how life works. She would first show people the underside of the needlework. They would see nothing, but a mess of different colored thread crossed and knotted. If they looked very closely they might be able to see a pattern, but it wouldn’t be clear. Corrie would then say that is because we can only see the underside of life and we don’t know why certain threads are used or how. The dark threads she points out might be as important as the light. She would then turn the cloth over to reveal a beautiful crown. So, when I read Claire’s story I thought of Corrie’s crown. No one could accuse Claire of having lived a soft life. She lost her parents at a tender age and spent her formative years traveling in third world environs. I believe these seemingly “dark threads” helped to form Claire’s coping skills, attitudes, and values.
Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a good example of how to learn from all of the experiences of your life. Her experiences served her well. She learned how to handle whatever life threw her. She learned what is worth spending your energy on and what isn’t. She learned valuable lessons about what is truly important in this life and her exposure to different people and cultures helped her know herself which in turn helped her gain a heart for people.
Why is Claire important to me? Because she shows us a woman can persevere and adapt. Over and over again we are able to read of Claire adapting to change and unexpected situations. She may express concern, dismay or even grief, but she always picks herself up, dusts herself off and finds a way. She always finds a way to make the best life for herself with dignity and often with humor. I have always admired her ability to laugh at the ironies of life.
I can’t think of an example when Claire was a willing participant in any kind of malicious gossip or intentional hurtful behavior toward another woman or anyone for that matter. Oh, there were people she didn’t care to spend time with, but even that choice was never spiteful. Claire has just learned it is best to avoid poison people and situations if you can. She doesn’t dwell on people whose values and views don’t match hers. If she doesn’t want to cover her head, she doesn’t. If she wants to spend her time healing the sick, she will. Why is Claire important to me? Because she shows us that it is possible to live without the approval of other women or men. She doesn’t need others to validate her or her choices.
Why is Claire important to me? Because she stands up for what she believes is right. How many times throughout the story do we see Claire ride or walk or crawl for that matter to right an injustice, many times at her own peril and to Jamie’s frustration? We see her leave her husband to care for a ship full of plague, fight to stop the slaughter at Culloden and even offer her daughter the option of an abortion. However, on the other hand, she does not easily take offense, is tolerant of other’s beliefs and does not need to always be right. She picks her battles and doesn’t sweat the small stuff.
Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a wonderful example of a woman who knows what is really important in life. Claire knows that in the end, it is all about relationships and people. I credit her experiences of traveling the world and having few possessions for teaching her this lesson that so many folks come to realize late, if ever. I never read of Claire being worried about possessions, or fashions, or money, or position. She is not motivated by greed or political gain. If they have enough food, clothing, and shelter, Claire is happy. It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy nice things; she does, but, she doesn’t need them. It is very telling of her worth that the “things” she does treasure are never her own purchases, but rather gifts like the Indian amulet and her medicine chest.
And finally, why is Claire important to me? Because she is a woman who knows her own worth and mind. Claire doesn’t bother with false modesty. She knows what she is good at and uses those gifts and abilities to help others. Conversely, she knows what she isn’t good at and circumvents her weaknesses. One of the things I most admire about Claire is her lack of guile and her unwillingness to lie to herself. Time and time again, we see her take ownership of her thoughts and feelings even when she doesn’t like what she is thinking or feeling. There is real power there. It is difficult to be manipulated when you own your “stuff”.
For all these reasons and more, Claire is a woman to be admired and emulated. Truly, I could point to her as a proud example of womanhood. I believe Claire’s example of what it means to be a good and proud woman will stand the test of time, a representation of what it means to be a woman of worth and substance. Claire makes me proud I’m a woman.