Nurture Verses Comfort

I was binge-watching the romantic series When Calls The Heart over the long weekend. I never really read romance novels growing up, so this is good for me. I am more aware of what the conversation should sound like in the pioneer days. I watch movies to prove to myself that the alpha-dominant female, the heroine, gets the guy when it comes to romance, but you seldom see the wallflower being so bold. Wallflowers are more behind the scenes type of people, like playwrights or songwriters. When I was in Junior High School and went to school dances I could have held the wall up. I was in ballet–but not one to dance in public unless it was choreographed.

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The Little Match Girl is poverty incarnate, with a product that is supposed to support her, but does not. This is only too much like writing books of poetry. I do it mostly for altruistic reasons, and not for the pennies I make.

In Women Who Run With the Wolves, we see:

“the Match girl making some kind of trade-off, some kind of ill-conceived commerce in the story when the child sells her matches, the only thing she has that might keep her warm. When women are disconnected from the nurturing love of the wild mother, they are on the equivalent of a subsistence diet in the outer world. The ego is just eking out a life, just taking the barest of nourishment from without and returning each night from where she began, over and over. There she sleeps, exhausted. …

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“The difference between comfort and nurture is this: if you have a plant that is sick because you keep it in a dark closet, and you say soothing words to it, that is comfort. If you take the plant out of the closet and put it in the sun, give it something to drink, and then talk to it, that is nurture.

“A frozen woman without nurture is inclined to turn to incessant “what if” daydreams. But even if she is in this frozen condition, especially if she is in such a frozen condition, she must refuse the comforting fantasy. The comforting fantasy will kill us dead for certain. …

“…in the most negative sense, winter brings the kiss of death–that is, a coldness–to anything it touches. Coldness spells the end of a relationship. If you want to kill something, just be cold to it. As soon as one becomes frozen in feeling, thinking or action, relationship is not possible. When humans want to abandon something in themselves or leave someone else out in the cold, they ignore them, disinvite them, leave them out, go out of their way to have to even hear their voice or even lay eyes upon them. This is the situation in the psyche of the Little Match Girl.

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“The Match Girl wanders the streets and she begs strangers to buy matches from her. This scene shows one of the most disconcerting things about injured instinct in women, the giving of light for little price. … Here we have the Match Girl in great need, begging to be given to, offering in fact a thing of far greater value–a light–than value received in return–a penny.”

Well this fairy tale, and its touching archetype is a picture of something all consuming, fire. Yet in its minuscule, regulated way, there is only a match worth of warmth. The opposite would be a roaring inferno, or Dante’s Inferno, in literature. There is the light of illumination opposing an all-consuming fire of love (or hell).

I think I will write a play on this story. I will be using the archetypal theories of the book, and it will be for the end of my next collection of verse, From the Ashes of Plague. Stay tuned . . .

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