Friday, June 27, 2014


We've been experiencing quite a bit of seismic activity in our faith community the past few weeks--the kind we have experienced about every 20 years during my lifetime, but which has been amplified this time around through social media as events have unfolded.

Shortly after I heard the news of pending disciplinary action against several members who have been vocal advocates of change in the church, including a woman who leads a group seeking female ordination, I visited one of Diego Rivera's famous murals which depicts figures in Mexican history. The image of Catholic nun Juana Inés de la Cruz happened to catch my eye.

According to the key at the museum, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was "the most famous poet in New Spain" in the 1600s. "In a sense she was the forerunner in the struggle for equality of women. In her exquisite poetry she defended women's rights to education and culture and to freely express their innermost feelings, a standard unheard and unacceptable at that time (emphasis mine)."

Reading that was a poignant and painful and hopeful reminder both of how far we have come and how far we have to go. I know I struggle daily with how and when and where to use my voice in many areas.

Today this is what I want to say.

For as long as I can remember, I have known women who have felt diminished, for one reason or another, in the patriarchal church. Sometimes it has been me. The challenges that this imbalance between masculine and feminine energy present and the sincere desire some women feel to engage more fully and deeply in the spiritual life of the community are not new and not so mysterious.

What I yearn for on behalf of so many is a genuine attempt to understand their experiences instead of a reflexive dismissal, even when they don't express them in orthodox ways or if the ideas they put forward for change aren't going to fly. I yearn for the respect of real dialogue and unambiguous answers.

It can be pretty tough expressing innermost feelings. A "we hear you" helps.

No comments: