In Praise of Normal

In Praise of Normal September 25, 2010

Paganism is the the most accepting group of religions today. If you are GLBT, polyamorous, vegan, goth, or what-have-you, we welcome you with open arms. We will set a place for you at our tables and accommodate you as best we can. We are the spiritual embodiment of Emma Lazarus’ poem:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We are so politically correct we even make room for the irreverent and sacrilegious. We are the land of customized religions, niche groups and diversity celebration. I love this about us. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

However, sometimes we forget how normal we are, and even at times treat normal as a bad thing. So I wanted to spend just a moment today to celebrate the normal, ordinary  and familiar aspects of Paganism.

Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive) via Wikimedia CC 3.0

I grew up with a father who was a blue collar worker, a stay-at-home mother and three siblings. We never ate tofu. We ate white bread. A lot of it. We spent our vacations camping or going to Six Flags Over Georgia. My oldest sister got married right out of high school and had a beautiful baby girl. She liked football and had a sort of Princess Di hairdo. My other sister twirled flags in polyester on the football field, had the biggest 80’s hair ever and liked boys with pickup trucks.

I watched cartoons and ate sugary cereal for breakfast and thought of ways to torture my younger brother. I played with Barbie dolls and Jem dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids. My knees were solid scabs the summer I was determined to learn to ride a bike. I played in the dirt. I read comic books. I took soccer, ballet, piano, basketball and any other class that would get me out of my mother’s hair. I spent summer’s fishing with my grandparents. They also ate a lot of white bread.

Today my life is very different but it’s still fairly normal. You won’t find any tie-dye or batik in my wardrobe. A vegan diet leaves me feeling anemic so there’s always meat in my fridge. I still like sugary cereal every now and then. I gender-identify as a woman and I’m told I’m girly even if I don’t see myself that way. I once got married and once desperately wanted babies and white picket fences. I drink cow’s milk, put styling products full of chemicals in my hair and sometimes take a drive just to clear my head. I’m straight, shop at Wal-Mart and say “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” to my elders.

Sometimes I get mistaken for a church lady, a soccer mom or some other normal stereotype. I could tell a stranger that I have three kids, a husband who’s a plumber, I vote Republican and I sing in a Baptist choir and by the look of me they’d never bat an eye. That’s ok. Although I occasionally get the urge to dye my hair something dramatic, like pink, I’m ok with looking normal. There’s nothing wrong with it.

Some people have the idea that to be Pagan you need to be outrageous and they find our faiths and immediately try on all sorts of outrageous personalities. That’s ok, I certainly did my fair share of exploring. In the end though, if who you are is a straight accountant who eats PB&J on white bread while wearing a polo, jeans and Keds in the football bleachers, well then, that’s ok too. We are a people with open minds and open hearts. It’s ok with us if you’re different. Just remember, it’s ok with us if you’re normal too.

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