Thursday, August 30, 2012

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

I woke up sure that it must be after six. I know this because the birds are starting to  twitter and take up the song the frogs have been singing all night. I find myself laying in bed with the lyric "the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs" caressing my mind.

Walter has come in and laid on top of me purring and trying to nudge me to get up and let her out.

But the clock says it is 3:33. I walk out onto the back porch and it seems like late afternoon - with long shadows coming from the rocking chairs and hanging plants. The moon! The moon has fooled us all - it is brilliant, pretending to be the sun while no one is looking.

In Alberta where the elements of nature are in sharper relief this kind of moon was common. Often the night would be transformed into pseudo-day like a seduction by a master con artist, drawing the sleeper out onto the porch or lawn just to stand there. I would find myself out on the grass at two in the morning, waving a hello at a neighbor three houses down who just happened to be standing on their front lawn, both of us gazing around in amazement.

Life is full of wonder if we take the time to look. I am getting older, and it is easy to think there is nothing new to discover. What a mistake that is!

I've opened all the windows because the humidity is low. I have an email in my head I need to send to my kid in Canada. The water pot is boiling. I am going to be tired when six o'clock rolls around.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Women Learners

I am in Florida at the Asbury campus surrounded by great people who have decided to study.  I had a lovely conversation with a woman named Michelle. She is from Barbados, and recently cared for her mom during her walk toward the end of her life. Michelle is daring to start seminary and is dreaming about Episcopal priesthood. Another woman, single mom, is starting her program part time but hoping to be full time next year.

I love to support women Learners. I also love to see how many men are here supporting their wives and daughters as they take this daring leap. We have to do the big work of life together. My husband is my strongest support. Some of us have a dad who is awesome, or a brother or friend.

I am going to strongly support women who choose to study, especially those in their second career season. Some of the old ways of thinking have to go. But we can do that work together.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coming out of the closet

It was a long time ago, granted, but this story merits telling. One day I was in the closet of a church office quietly working. This church had only male pastors, and four of the five of them were in the outer room. They did not know I was in the closet.

The men started joking about women in the church. Actually, everything they said was basically true, but it was un-nuanced and unloving. They began to joke about problem women and then women in general - I sat still like a rabbit with my heart beating. The conversation wasn't really long but got quite sad.

I just crouched there among the litter and pencils. I didn't make myself known. I was not able to speak back then. I regret that. These were "my" pastors. There are a lot of comments I can make about this... But let me just say, "I am out of the closet!"

For women to learn to speak up, to trust their voice and believe their thoughts have merit is sometimes a huge step. If we have been 'shushed' and mocked and made to listen to predominantly male voices our own voice becomes quite small and timid. Learning to speak up with gentleness and firmness is the task.

One of my life tasks is to listen to women and the marginalized and draw out the hidden unspoken wisdom and even ordinary thinking. The closet is for shoes, not for people. Just saying.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am fragile

I walked into the library today and saw that a new door has been constructed swinging on a hinge behind the desk. The builders have cut and embedded a window into it (all our doors have windows) and it is not yet painted. A little pink sticky note sits crooked about eye level.

"This door is fragile." It says. "Handle gently."

I look at it and experience a strong impulse to take the sticky note and put it on my shirt. Wouldn't it be awesome if we could put a sign on ourselves that said, "This woman is fragile. Handle gently."

Some days we are more fragile than others. Today I am fragile. I am flimsy. I had a fight yesterday, an unexpected fight. I am not a fighter, but an issue rose that triggered a whole bunch of unfinished brokenness in me. And then some assumptions and comments were made that ricocheted (sp?) through my brain like a pin ball machine on steroids and many offensive, dark and demeaning comments made by men about women - and about me - flared up. I can only image what my brain image would have been if I had been hooked up to a scanner. It would have flashed like a fireworks display.

How do we handle our anger. I am not talking about 'be angry and do not sin.' I am talking about 'you do  not have permission to be angry.' Then what do we do after years and tears and stories and lament that is crammed into our overfull souls. What happens when we can not stay quiet anymore. What happens when woman's anger finally erupts.

My new friend Jo who worked for CNN did a story on Honor Killings in an African country. Fathers and brothers murdered their daughters and sisters when they had, for instance, been raped by the army. When Jo asked one of the men why he murdered his little sister who had been raped he said, "When you have a basket of apples and one of them is rotten, you must get rid of it or the others will become rotten too." Jo told me that story on Sunday night. I can't get the thought of those cold words out of my head. If you are alert to life, this is just one tiny bit of woman's story of pain and terror even.

And so then we come upon issues in our days that are not as raw as that, but can we get angry? Can we be very very angry and still be like Jesus. Can our words be raw and ripped from our guts and still be holy? I don't know. After I get angry I have a lot of shame. I feel the burning shame of accusing eyes like shards of glass in my soul. I feel like now, finally, I will be utterly rejected. I have not been a good girl. And of all women I know what it is like to not be a good girl.

All these bits of life and thought rumble around in my spirit today like pieces of broken china. Cutting my soul and then tinkling against each other. It is so often like that in my woman spirit. Beauty and pain. All a tumbling mess.

I will be fine. I have the grace of a good husband who treats me gently all the time, and especially if I need it. I might wear a sign tonight when he comes home. :) But I am sad about a couple things. I am sad that my anger has caused rifts with a friend. And I am sad that I can't feel safe to be angry - that I am conditioned to feel shame when I have let my anger show.