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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bound...

Remember The Hungry Caterpillar? He ate and ate until he was chubby. He spun the cocoon. Then, after a time he became the butterfly. Do you ever feel that way when you are reading a book? As I ingest each morsel of Snow Flower And The Secret Fan I'm getting plump with images of Chinese culture from so long ago. I now find myself tucked in the cocoon and needing to digest what I've experienced in each delicious chapter to find out how it applies to my life. Every book I read changes me a little. That's all a part of the wonderful metamorphosis.

So, today I'm looking at the most disturbing aspect of the book which was the foot binding done to each little girl between the ages of four and six. I'm trying to imagine the reality and pain of life lived on 3" feet. This was considered beautiful, erotic, a symbol of obedience. It showed the family you married into that you could endure hardship with grace. Binding was tradition, sometimes a way out of poverty for you and your family. Mothers put their daughters at risk of infection and sometimes death while whispering to them that this was meant to be, and one day they would be grateful.


It's hard to imagine isn't it? Watching your child suffer at your own hand knowing that they would be a servant for life if they chose not to do it. Having once endured the pain yourself, you know exactly what you are inflicting. I spent time online looking at these bound feet...trying to make sense out of a lifetime of physical suffering. I'm attaching a link that gives a tasteful description of the history. Worth a look if you have a strong stomach. (Article/photographs)

http://7uncle.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/footbinding.jpg

My initial reaction is to judge the culture for making these choices. I sit with that thought awhile and see a huge red flag signaling me to find the bigger question to ask myself. Where in my life am I bound? Like it or not we all wear bindings. It may not be on our feet, but we tie them on in some area of our lives and it cripples us. Is it striving for perfection? Is it beauty? Is it success? Is it the idea that our children or our spouse need to be a certain way? Could it be your thought life...constantly criticizing yourself? Maybe it is intimacy or fear of failure or a childhood experience that has shaped your thinking in a negative way?


In my life I seem to go through cycles of bondage. A couple of months a year it is about my appearance. I'll work out more, eat less, and strive for that lower size. Eventually that feels shallow, and I'll turn that energy to something else like blogging, parenting, volunteering or homemaking. No matter what it is...it always starts innocently enough and then gets exaggerated into something bigger than it ever should have been. Before I know it the ropes are tight, I'm struggling, and it's time to get perspective again and break free.

I wonder where you go when you have a bondage to be broken and healed? For me I run desperately to my faith. When I'm there reading scripture, praying honestly from my heart, listening to music that builds me up in the knowledge of who God is and how much He loves me...I'm able to finally let go. I feel the bindings loosening, falling away, and God speaking to me in whispers that quiet my mind.

Important stuff to think about. This is a remarkable book about Chinese culture, family, love, friendship, duty and obedience. It will make you cringe, cry, laugh, think, and feel so very thankful for the freedom and opportunities we now enjoy as women!


I'd love to hear the thoughts you had while reading this post. Or,
if you have already read this book what you loved about it.

You can purchase the book in the right column of our blog in our Amazon store.

Have a wonderful day!

26 comments:

Daffy said...

I don't know that this is a book I would pick up. I don't gravitate towards such literature as there is so much struggle and pain and bondage that I see in my everyday life.

I do however love the symbolism of the caterpiller and butterfly journey. For me it is such a symbol of what we have waiting for us in the fold of the Lord.

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

What an eye-opener. It is so easy to judge other cultures, not that they are right but we all have our "bondage" don't we? I'm thinking now of all the things that I let rule me...ugh. It's something we all need to look at.

Tater Tot Mom said...

Wow...this is a great post and it speaks volumes to me as I've been trying to loosen my chains so to speak lately.

As for the book, it sounds fascinating and I'm definitely going to check it out.

hurstburst said...

Such a wonderful, well thought-out post.

I'll admit I got through only about half this book last year; it was a little too much for me. Reading about the foot binding process and the culture around it was fascinating though.

Patrice said...

This definitely stirred up some emotion. I definitely cringed at the thought and sight of the feet bindings...
Seems like it would be an interesting and informative book. I'll try to pick up a copy one of these days.

Thanks for this perspective

Midday Escapades said...

You've really got me thinking from this post. So right about always being bound by something.

p.s. Was this posted by Holly or Charisse? I always find myself trying to figure it out. ;0)

LMJ said...

Wow! I don't know if it's a book I would pick, only because sad books affect me really bad.

Mother tried to leave my a year after they were married. He beat her for the first time. She left him and ran to her grandma's (her mom died when she was 10) house. Her grandma made her go back to her husband. It's the culture that a woman should be by her husband no matter what. If he cheats, she must look the other way. It was worse to be divorced, than to be in an abusive relationship.

Mother endured a lot from my dad because of this stupid custom/tradition.

Kristin said...

I hadn't heard of this book. Not sure I'll read it, but thanks for sharing it so I now have the option!

Holly said...

I have read about foot binding before...I cannot remember the name of the book, but I will. I was intrigued, appalled, and dumbfounded.

As for the rest of the post, it is beautifully written and make same think about a lot of things. I have had people point out that I am constantly doing myself the disservice of self criticism...I apparently have this idea that if I point it out you will know that I know that I have faults. Not sure that made sense...having a hard time articulating myself at this moment.

Holly said...

I was too intrigued...I just had to go look at the website...speechless. Like I said, I had read about it, not seen it.

ScoMan said...

Sometimes I feel bound everywhere. I feel suffocated. This week has been one of those weeks.

But they come, and they go, and you get better. It's all a cycle.

Corrie Howe said...

Thank you, this is a lovely and thought provoking post. I also find that I go to my faith because there I've been promised to be set free from bondage and to be give an abundant life. And there are times I actually live like this is true.

ShellSpann said...

Definitely an eye opener. I am going to get that book this week!

Hillbilly Duhn said...

I had did a little poking about a few years ago learning about the binding of their culture. And at first I judged too, and then realized the same thing in my own life. We all have bindings.

This touched me today, because I've been having a few struggles of my own. I envision myself in a place in which I'm not yet, but someday hope to be, but it takes courage. And though I know I am a strong person, your inner you is the toughest to get passed. We are all our worse enemies, our harshest judges.

I often wonder if we can truly find peace within ourselves or if it's just an illusion we've created...

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I am like you...I feel bound and restricted after a while and need to break out and do something else. In fact, that is what I am working on right now!

Faith Imagined said...

What a moving post! And it is so true that we are all in bondage. Our bodies are bound to mortality, and eventually the ropes of age/illness/disease will squeeze our breaths to nothingness.

However, our souls have the desire to live forever. They are designed to last for eternity. That is why my faith in Jesus is so precious. He loosens my fears and promises me life with Him in heaven.

Though our bodies are tied to this earth, our souls are protected by a mighty God who loves every inch of us -- His creation.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

Hi Holly..thanks so much for stopping by Farmhouse today....

glad you enjoyed the garden....

enjoyed your post also...lots to think about there...i've heard about binding the feet..but have never seen it...

have been watching CNN today..and with a heavy heart....my thoughts are with the people of Haiti.....

I'll be back to visit very soon.

Fondly,
Kary

Tiz said...

I am not familiar with this book. I will share my thoughts based on what I read in your thought provoking post!!!
First of all the caterpillar...my thoughts are - I am glad I am a butterfly...alive with the life of Jesus and not a caterpillar wallowing on the ground..A New Creation..old things have passed away and behold all things are become new!!!
What has me bound?...anything that takes my focus off Jesus. He set me free!!! Free from myself, the world and the enemy!!
Thanks for making me think!!!
Tiz

kys said...

It seems like when I untie one set of bonds another snakes it's way around me.

I haven't read this book. I'm not sure it would be my thing.

elvira pajarola said...

...most beautiful thoughts....!

As I travelled for many years around the world; I was so lucky to learn so much about different cultures and I know(!) that we; women in these parts of the world where we can express and realize our wishes; dreams ...we are completely free.....because we do decide by ourselves..!

.. most interesting theme; one could spend talking for hours...!

have a wonderful day, girls..!
(...Holly, loved your " wish for a pony "...)...
abbracci elvira

My name is PJ. said...

The post was interesting, that's for sure. When I came to the 'after shot' of bound feet, I got queasy, for real. When the reality of inhumane practices hits you in the face, it smarts....and I find myself wanting to bitch slap the 'grown women' who did this to young girls!

Kristin said...

I felt bound by my career before I became a SAHM following her passions. I was in a field that did nothing but bring me down. I feel liberated to have left it. Woop woop for my little man. He set me free! Are you surrrrrrrrre you don't want to be entered in our giveaways? : )

Liz in Virginia said...

What a great, scary, thought-provoking question: what binds me? And if I careen from one experience that ties bonds on me to another, could it be that the thing I am bound to is the feeling of being bound itself? Do I seek out those experiences that take away my sense of perspective or control: being the best room mother, the best wife, the best Sunday School teacher, the most active Girl Scout leader . . . ? Bondage comes in so many forms -- what will free me??

And when we talk about being "free in Christ," non-Christians scoff and say, "That's just another form of bondage." How are they right? How are they wrong?

Dude! You are so deep!

jennifer said...

I read your post the other night and clicked the link about bound feet. I wound up staying up LATE reading the information. I had never heard of this before.

It made me think - what do we inflict upon our daughters that is "for their own good" the way the mothers in China bound their daughters feet? Body image comes to mind.

Great post.

Diane said...

OMG....I've was horrified when I read Lisa See's Snowflower and the Secret Fan (part about foot binding) but I never actually saw a photo. How Horrible.

Kilauea Poetry said...

Hi..good to meet youse!
I've already had enough trouble with my feet so I couldn't imagine what this would do to me?? Bondage..oh ya..many forms..
this is still screwy! ha, glad we have laws over here (lol)
Aloha, Regina-