Last year, about the same time as Covid 19 became the backdrop to my days, I began reading The Silent Cry by Dorothee Solle, an exploration of mysticism. It’s not an easy read, which partly explains why I sometimes only mange a paragraph or two before setting it aside for a while. One such paragraph has recently set me musing, even dreaming a little. The Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, are mystics whose mysticism is firmly placed in the here and now. Back in 1668 there were so many of them that they formed into a loose kind of Christian religion, but one without dogma, without church buildings and without clergy. I took a deep breath!
For months at a time Covid 19 has kept us outside church buildings, inviting us to notice the wondrous presence of God in familiar landscapes and in one another. It’s been like a gap year. The structures that prop up our religious practices have been absent and we’ve had time to experience God in our lives in new ways. As a nation we have hailed an Aboriginal woman as our Senior of the Year, a woman whose message is not couched in theological jargon but in the mysticism of dadirri, finding the deep God-spring within each and every one us.
Did you start 2021 with a good resolution or two? If so, how is it travelling?
It’s not too late to dig a little deeper and instead of setting yourself a target or two that will probably be difficult to meet, why not choose your own personal Word of the Year. It doesn’t have to be a single word. It can be a pithy kind of phrase, something relevant to who you are. It will be a word that over a whole year has the power to nourish as well as challenge you, an invitation to step over an unfamiliar threshold and open the door to a kinder, better, more courageous or reflective you. Think of it as a one word prayer to your support person – God.
Every time I write Words from the Edge I am aware of a reluctance in myself to speak out from a feminine viewpoint, even though my life as a Catholic woman has involved me in many different facets of Church life. Restrictions, rules or just long tradition, mean there is a long list of ‘no-go’ areas if you are a Catholic woman involved in ministry. We need to talk calmly, and sometimes passionately, about the things in Church that disturb and challenge us. Over the centuries the voices of women such as the Canaanite woman, the woman at the well and the woman who was bent over, have been muffled by layers of male interpretation. Inspiration and strength can come from scriptural no-name women. Their stories can be a source of inspiration as today’s women discover or identify their own peculiarly feminine experience of God. We are invited to leave the zone that has us walking in the shadow of an authoritarian male leadership structure, and model a more ‘round table’, collaborative way of being Church.