Tonight at dinner, when I mentioned the Divine Mother during a prayer, my son said, wryly, “So, it’s all about female gods for you now, is it?”
We then proceeded to have a very interesting conversation about Greek mythology — which he loves — and the origins of the female goddesses, then the shift to patriarchal models. He thought that perhaps this evolution was due to men’s superior physical strength.
I explained that the first figures worshipped and represented in cave drawings were women, because of their mysterious capacity to create new life. We then traced the evolution of that worship (for various reasons) from woman as Goddess to woman as property, given the right to vote in the United States just a short time ago.
“Did you know,” he said, rather seriously, “that in some countries today it’s forbidden for women to even speak in the presence of men?”
As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.
A few years back, I started a blog called “One Brave Voice.” I wanted to express my feelings about politics at that time. The blog was short-lived; it quickly devolved into an argument with one particular person.
Maybe, my sister said to me afterward (a bit thoughtfully), maybe the blog was just your own still, small voice, trying to get your attention.
After my marriage dissolved, I found my voice in the pages of my journal. I wrote, constantly, and the clean white pages were a container for my grief as well as my growth. Over time, the pages changed from dark lines of dense black ink to colorful, looping letters inside journals covered with birds, flowers, and butterflies. Each page was an opening into my own soul, my interior acre, my spiritual garden.
My journal listened to my inner voice, cultivated it, and nurtured it.
Last spring, I went on a field trip with my daughter. She’s an intelligent, lovely person and a budding biologist. As we ate lunch, I overheard the woman next to me, a biology teacher, talking about how, on another school field trip, she had directed two young girls to read some scripture out loud. She went on to say that her son had gotten up and walked away, and, when she had asked him where he was going, he reminded her that their church teaches that women cannot be spiritual leaders.
“What? I asked, incredulously.
“Oh, yes,” she said, blithely. “It’s true. It says that in the Bible. In Timothy.”
I could not believe my ears. Here was this woman, a teacher herself, actually defending this position, in today’s day and age. The message for me was, my daughter was not the equal of her son. That her voice was not as valuable as his.
I was outraged.
This summer, I studied Conscious Feminine leadership at the Women Writing for (a) Change school, founded in Cincinnati 20 years ago. After three weeks, I knew that opening an affiliate site in Jacksonville was my next step.
I don’t want to argue about politics.
I don’t want to argue about religion.
What I do want to do is create a space in Jacksonville for any woman, young or old, to feel welcome, honored and listened to, through the medium of writing and creative self-expression. It will be women writing for (a) change. And someone will be listening.
I live my life by several quotes these days. One is:
“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, then what am I?
And if not now, when?” (Hillel)
The other is,
“I will do what I can,
where I am,
with what I have.”
Women Writing for (a) Change, Jacksonville, is simply the place where I am called. It’s where my “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet,” as Frederick Buechner said.
Please join me in the WWf(a)C mission: To nurture and celebrate the individual voice by facilitating supportive writing circles and by encouraging people to craft more conscious lives through the art of writing and the practices of community.
You can support this community in several ways: 1) SIGN UP for a class; 2) SPONSOR A SEAT if you can’t attend but would like to sponsor another woman to attend in your place; or 3) FORWARD this page to someone you know who would value this experience.
Thank you for your support. Even if all you do is simply hold the space for this dream to come to fruition, I would be most grateful.
In the garden called, Women Writing for (a) Change.