“I come to you with strange fire, I make an offering of love, the incense of my soil is burned by the fire in my blood. I come with a softer answer to the questions that lie in your path. I want to harbor you from the anger, find a refuge from the wrath.
This is a message of love. Love that moves from the inside out, love that never grows tired. I come to you with strange fire.” ~Indigo Girls
Easter brings out the Catholic in me – but it also brings out the pagan in me. There’s a love of ritual that is awakened with the birth of spring, and the Easter vigil.
Someone asked me to make plans for the night of the Easter vigil, and out of nowhere, my soul said no. I have to go to church. This is something that I don’t say to people very often, because, well, I don’t really go to church.
But the Easter vigil, where the greens of last year are burned and the new fire is blessed, where the paschal candle is blessed with fire and water, where we begin in the dark and welcome back the light – this is ritual at its best.
Ritual is why I loved being a Catholic for so many years. Ritual is why I am drawn to ancient rites and historical holy places and times. Ritual makes me feel whole again, cleansed, and complete and part of something much bigger than myself.
And once a year, no matter where I am, no matter what my journey has brought in the interim, I need to spend two hours immersed in this familiar and powerful ritual. I can’t wait for next Saturday.
This is powerful…and resonates for me a lot
“Who are the women in your story, the ancestors, who have walked the path of their own true stories?
How do you find your beautiful reflection in the world?
How do you tend and nurture your core story, as you would tend a tree in the forest?” ~Sara Blackthorn
I think a lot about the unsung women. Some of my favorite stories are of the women who history glosses over: Japheth’s wife in both Many Waters and Children of Eden, Eve (not glossed over, but much bedraggled) in Children of Eden, Mary Magdalene, the wives of the famous names in history – the presidents’ wives, the generals’ wives, the arranged marriage royalty and nobles, the mistresses of the Popes and Bishops, the cloistered nuns, the mystics…there are a lot of stories that haven’t been told.
But I never really thought about the women in my story…not in this way. My mother, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers…they all have stories too…stories that may or may not ever be told to the world.
My story has had its ups and downs…I’ve told parts of it in allegory, in poetry, in personal sharing with friends and family. But will it ever make its way out into the world in its entirety? Would anyone read it if it did?
I focus a lot on the stories of history’s women…especially those tied into religion and spirituality in some way…but the women of the present, and the recent past…their stories are just as valuable in their own way. If I value their stories, I should also value my own. But that’s harder.
How do you feel about telling your story? Do you think anyone would listen? Do you want them to?
This week I received a long message from a young Mormon man in Canada. In several thick paragraphs, he poured out his story—a story of an orthodox Mormon family wrecked by illness and addiction, of divorce, poverty, and growing up on the streets, of an overworked single mother and an oldest son looking out for disabled younger siblings, while taking abuse from his addict dad, who after much struggle is trying to get his life together.
“Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it – what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.” ~Carlos Castaneda
I have spent a lot of my life feeling wronged. Feeling like I was being judged. I have spent so much time thinking about what other people might be judging about my words or actions, that I’ve lost sleep, I’ve lost my temper, I’ve lost precious time…and what have I gained?
When you think about it, it’s pretty vain to think that other people spend as much time thinking about what we do or say as we think they do. If anyone else spent as much time thinking about my words and actions as I spend thinking about what they think of them, I’d think they were crazy. But self-importance, self-absorption…somehow that’s come to be normal, not crazy. Somehow it’s become a way of life to think about yourself so much. But for me, at least, I’ve found that it’s incredibly unhealthy.
When I spend my time ruminating about what people think of me, I’m not spending that time reading books, meditating, enjoying my family and friends, or doing anything else that I love. I’m not building positive relationships with people, if anything I’m undermining them. And this has been a hard lesson to learn. When I’ve felt judged, I have said things I didn’t mean, or things I meant in the moment that should never have been said out loud. I’ve hurt others, and myself.
It’s an uphill battle. But I’m climbing…slowly…
“If you mean libel, I’d say so, and not talk about labels, as if Papa was a pickle bottle,” advised Jo, laughing.Posted: 9 March 2012
“The words ‘I am…’ are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.” ~A.L. Kitselman
The title quote is from Little Women, and was what I thought of as I started to ponder the power of labels. It really is a powerful thing to put a word to who you are. The words “I am…” can lock you in or set you free.
Self-identifiers are the things that tell us most and least about a person. They tell us what they want the picture of themselves to be, or what they think it is, but they over-simplify. My identifiers, like Christian, feminist, writer, they don’t really tell you who I am. They give you snippets of the picture, like that game where you can only see a small piece of a photo and have to guess which celebrity it is. But when we place those labels on others, we’re also putting them in a box that might be true, but can’t possibly be all of who they are.
What are your labels? If someone asks you to describe yourself, what do you say? And what do you leave out by doing so?
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
~ Wendell Berry
I’ve mentioned that I like to know the answers. And I do. I like to know where I’m going, what comes next, and what will get me an A+ on it. But there are a lot of things that I value that don’t work that way.
I am a feminist. Unapologetic, vocal, in your face, feminist. This is not a question. But I think I’m at that place where I don’t know what direction that takes me in anymore. Because being angry alongside other angry people can only go so far. And the people who don’t agree may not change their minds. But somehow, in the midst of that stalemate, change has to happen. And I don’t know what the steps are to make that change.
Today is International Women’s Day. And a lot of people who are feminists feel like a “day” is a silly way to address what needs to happen. And I don’t disagree, because I don’t think a “day” really does anything in itself. Except that it makes the struggle visible to people who might not want to look at it. And the invisibility of privilege is what makes it dangerous. So while I agree that International Women’s Day is not the answer, I don’t feel like it’s without value. Because if even one person thinks a little bit more about suffering and inequality, isn’t that a step in the right direction?
So, on this day that I wish we didn’t need, I’m thinking that for right now, I don’t know what the next step in my feminist journey is. Just like I don’t know what the next step in my spiritual journey is. But I know that if something that I say or post or advocate for today makes someone else see through the fog to the oppression underneath, that’s something. And maybe that’s all I need to know right now. Because my real journey is just getting started.