That question was asked of us at the UU, and we were requested to turn to someone nearby but new to us. I suspect that most people were a bit flummoxed by the question. I was. I usually don’t ask that question of myself and just live my life as it comes along, and respond in a way that fits the situation.
Who are you, really? What is the purpose of your life? What was the biggest mistake of your life? Yikes! Can questions get any more personal than these?
Even though we had a snow blizzard going outside the picture windows, the approximately two hundred people indoors struggled with their problems inside, inside themselves. My partner and I had a few moments of self-revelation, and as I glanced around the whole room was filled with people quietly talking with their partners.
This was not a typical church service with a sermon being delivered to subservient parishioners, with the usual prattle of telling you that you should be good and do the right thing. Instead, it was a direct challenge to the self-worth of your inmost being. And being spontaneously challenged to face up to who you really are. Who you are to yourself behind the public persona you present for the world to see and respond to.
It became apparent as the service proceeded, that we are all a vast complex of different personalities that we each have cultivated to respond to our many different life situations. We are like the patchwork quilt that our grandmothers made out of pieces of clothing somehow handed down from their grandparents. I slept under such a quilt through much of my childhood. Because each of those patches meant something special to those people in my genetic past they, in their projected futures, were giving warmth to me along with my physical life.
When living in Homedale, Idaho, with my grandparents during much of World War II, I remember those old ladies, probably in their forties, sitting around quilting and telling stories. If I had been a more sensible child I would have listened in and taken copious notes. But that didn’t happen. I was doing more important things, like playing Monopoly with my cousin Thomas. The stories those patches could have related of the scenes they had participated in back when they were part of living clothing. Those old ladies were probably revealing personal things that would shock a modern TV audience. And laughing the roof off the house.
Who am I, but the result of all of those women’s genes, personal events, and pieces of fabric sewn together into a warm quilt for their descendants? I am one of them!