The following is from one of Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation daily meditations: “The soul does not need answers, it just wants meaning, and then it can live. Surprisingly, suffering itself often brings deep meaning to the surface...”
A desire to share the deep meaning brought to the surface as I struggled with my aging parents’ care needs is why I wrote “God Never Hurries,” in addition to wanting always to remember the many unique gifts I experienced during that painful time. Soulful treks to the beach, with my buddy Bear (dog is god spelled backwards), showed me that in my churches mystical body, I really had no voice. Then one night at choir practice, while listening to the men’s voices contrast with us women, and seeing each of us as unique, totally loved by God, and sharing our voices, let me know the importance of everyone having a voice. And all this was helping me understand my complicity through silence in my father’s abuse. I became keenly aware of my struggle with assertiveness and my need for voice. I had no answers, but my soul was coming alive with meaning.
As my soul found meaning I saw how I needed to change. Slowly, painfully, I learned to find my voice, refuse the victim role, and saw that I could no longer be “the good girl” who does what everyone else expects. It was tough, scary work but so worth the eventual growth, freedom and understanding of what it means to be true to one’s self. Encountering the word obdurate (hardhearted, unyielding, stubborn, obstinate) while reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes book, “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” was my first hint that I could change no one but myself. Estes wrote: “In ‘being good,’ a woman closes her eyes to everything obdurate, distorted, or damaging around her, and just tries to ‘live with it.’ Her attempts to accept this abnormal state further injured her wild instincts to react, point out, change, make impact on what is not right, what is not just.”
Fast forward to today. Death eventually ended my struggle with my aging parents’ care needs. I left the church of my birth, now over ten years ago, because the struggle with my father paralleled my struggle with my church. My hand would no longer let me write another check to an organization so discriminatory. (I now gratefully pursue an ecumenical path.) And although I know it is true I can change no one but myself, there is a part of me that wonders, is that enough? I caught a few words from a speaker on public radio last week who said anyone has the right to believe anything they want to believe, but no one has the right to act upon those beliefs if they hurt others. Oppression of women (or anyone) in the name of religion is so systemic that I think many are unaware of it. It leaves half of God out of the blending of male and female voices and that hurts everyone.