She felt as though her life was some kind of hellish test; as though the universe was conspiring against her; like the powers of heaven and hell were battling it out as she was carelessly tossed to and fro in the middle.

Hardly a martyr or victim, she was not someone determined to “make sense” of her circumstances by blaming anyone else. She simply looked around at the endless and inexplicable realities of her life and realized that every single one of them was out of her control; that no platitudes or promises of a God who had bigger or better plans would begin to suffice.

Her husband, however, had a different viewpoint. He held fast to his belief that anything that happened to him (and by association to her) was just, fair, not to be questioned, and to be borne with immovable dedication and commitment. He dug in his heels, stood by his beliefs, and declared his faith in the goodness of God.

Some would say he was a saint. She wasn’t one of them. She didn’t buy one bit of it. And finally, one day, she had enough. She said,

“Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

*
These are the words of the wife of Job.

Two sentences that have lived in infamy. And not surprisingly, she’s been shamed for them for centuries. Her husband did the same. He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

*********************

This story is not a favorite of most who are familiar with scripture. 42 chapters that tell of a duel between God and Satan with Job as unwitting pawn. It conjures up every existential and theological question in existence (which might actually be why the story exists in the first place). We struggle to understand how/why God would ever agree to such a thing, not to mention encourage it and allow the incredible torment, disaster, and grief that Job (and his wife) then endlessly endure.

It is not my intent or my desire to argue such questions. First, because they are impossible to answer, but second and more importantly, because when we even attempt such, our focus shifts and we lose sight of her (not to mention the generations of women who both preceded and followed). It is my intent (and deep, ongoing desire), however, to name and honor her: her thoughts, her stance, her voice, and yes, even her beliefs (or lack thereof). She spoke her mind. She articulated her heart. She expressed what she actually felt. She told the truth as she saw and experienced it. Boldly and unswervingly she revealed her humanity in the face of inhumanity. She called forth justice in bold and impossible-to-ignore ways. And she had no intention of sitting back, playing small, or staying silent.

(Think about it, about her: we heartily affirm and encourage every bit of this in one another; on our own behalf, as well.)

We would do well to follow her lead.

*
Free for use via Google ImagesJob’s wife proclaims out loud what all of us, at least in part, want to say when we find ourselves in circumstances that cannot possibly be understood. Yes, we want to believe in a benevolent, generous, gracious, and kind God; but there are times, to be sure, when every possibility of such feels tested, if not foolish. And, simultaneously, just like her, we still have the capacity to stay and survive in places of extreme ambivalence when answers elude. We somehow make room for mystery. We know that there have been, are, and will be times in which we cannot make sense of our own reality, let alone that of the larger world that spins uncontrollably around us.

In truth, Job’s wife mirrors back our capacity and courage in the most sacred of ways, not shameful ones.
*

Her story graciously offers us a glimpse of the Divine; a celestial honoring of a woman’s truth-telling and strength.

*
Did you catch it? As Job’s story continues, he loses everything - his their children, his their land, his their livestock, his their livelihood. But he does not lose his wife. She is the one and only entity spared throughout the entire travesty, and this, after she speaks her truth. This is not the God we normally see in this story – or our own. This is a God who despite everything, and above all else, saves her. This dare not be underestimated. Nor dare she…

******************

And as for her, so too, for you.

Your voice, your truth, your courage is stamped with the approval of the Divine. More, you are deemed worthy by Job’s wife herself. She looks at you unflinchingly and says, “Yes, you are my daughter, my lineage, my kin.”*

Think of it: who and how might you be if befriended, companioned, and mentored by Job’s wife? What truth-telling might you voice?  What injustice might you name? What courage might you display? What strength might you reveal?

Job’s wife is your matriline. Her blood flows through your veins. Her voice rings when you speak your mind. And in honoring her, you are the one transformed.

*
May it be so.

******************

It’s understandable why we struggle with scripture when faced with stories like this one, which is exactly why I am so determined to tell of the women within in ways that free them from the chains by which they’ve been bound. They are so amazing, so incredible, so persevering, so determined. They deserve to be known.  

You, me, all of us are in such good company. A cloud of witnesses that surrounds. A storyline and bloodline from which we descend. A transcendent and transfiguring chorus that endlessly uplifts. What can’t we do or say, really, with this much support, this much beauty, this much wisdom in our midst? 

******************

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All you have to do is ask...I’d be negligent if I didn’t make a story like this one available to you; uniquely and profoundly for youSacredReadings are at least one of the ways in which I do so. One woman who chooses you, who comes alongside to encourage and guide with particular wisdom,  perspective, kindness and hope. Learn more or just go ahead and book yours today. It is my favorite thing to do for you.

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    This week we moved from our house of the past 13 years to a condo. Well, to say “this past week” wouldn’t really be true. Months of preparing. Months of work. Days of hard labor that have felt more like years. Hardly a simple process. It pushed all three of us to our limits and still required more. Various states of disarray. Boxes. Everywhere. At first,  flat and hidden, then tripping hazards, then assembled. Next – painfully and endlessly – filled, taped shut, and stacked to the ceiling. And into them, so many memories, so much of the past, and every bit of the future – yet unspoken, but imagined, anticipated, and hoped-for.

    Questions swirl. What memories will yet be created in this new space? With whom will I have conversation? Over what will I laugh and cry, celebrate and grieve? What relationships will form? Which ones will end? What will I know and experience? What will I write?

    Writing. Oh, that.

    Every day – for days on end – has been so packed, so full, so exhausting that writing has felt like a distant memory; something I used to know and do, but can’t quite place. It’s been overcome by details, by movers, by conversations with my daughters about leaving the only home they really remember, by more trips to Target than I care to count, by “yes, let’s just order pizza…again,” by a wonky internet connection, by cables and cords, by muscles so sore that all I can do is fall into bed and barely get back out of it the next morning. There’s been no writing.

    It strikes me that it hardly takes a move for this to be my reality. I’ve struggled with it lately – not feeling at home. And because, frankly, it’s way easier, to not write, I haven’t. The similarities to moving abound: hardly a simple process, pushing me to my limits, still requiring more…

    Writing calls forth my willingness to allow various states of disarray. Writing requires that I box up what no longer works and take it to the dump. Writing challenges me to make space, to start fresh, to invite beauty. Writing compels me to sort through stories, ideas, and words that ask to be unpacked, honored, and given their proper place. Writing is, in and of itself, hospitality: providing food, shelter, and rest for all that longs to be let in, welcomed, and hosted. Writing is home. And creating home takes work.

    It’s no wonder that I’ve felt displaced. I’ve not wanted to do that work. To unpack the boxes that are piled ceiling-high in the attics and basements of my own mind and heart. To do the work of unwrapping everything protected. To not know if once unpacked, unwrapped, and exposed anything of value will be worth staying in and with.

    In order to write, to create, to be “at home” I have to be willing to move.

    The view from my back patio...This is what I’m musing about even this morning as I finally sit down at a new desk and look through a new window. Moving. Freeing all that’s been boxed to decorate and dance and inspire at will. Pulling up deeply entrenched roots and putting down others. Letting old stories be reimagined in new spaces and new ways; making room for those that are yet to be told (and lived). Welcoming my truest self, my very soul with hospitality. Coming home.

    May it be so.

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      Creative Commons via stock.xchng photo: http://www.freeimages.com/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1438370One of the most powerful ways in which we infuse and strengthen our own spirituality is to expand it beyond ourselves.

      *
      It’s soooo easy to become isolated, fixated, even stuck. We study. We focus. We practice. And though all of this is critical and meaningful, the temptation is rife to veer mostly toward ourselves: My study. My focus. My practice.

      What we believe and how we embody/experience our spirituality must be inclusive of the world in which we live and the people with whom we relate – even, and maybe especially, those with whom we do not.

      *
      How do we do this? There are so many ways, of course, but here are 3 ideas you can start implementing right away:

      1. Venture into realms that are outside your boundaries, your comfort zone, your predictable-ness. If you grew up in the church like me, maybe those realms have to do with Tarot, Goddesses, Pagan ritual, or even metaphysics. Take a class. Book a reading. Join a FB group. Build an altar. If your experience is just the opposite, it might mean that you listen to someone talk of their relationship with the god you don’t believe in (or have left), why they believe, why it matters to them, what they love, worship, and revere. Attend a worship service. Listen to liturgy. Download the haunting beauty of Taize on iTunes. Get a Blessing. Step outside your lines.
      2. Let go of your dogmatism. No matter your perspective or stance, when push-comes-to-shove you still believe you are right. And this, by its very nature, assumes that others are wrong. Though I’m sure you are incredibly open minded, this is dangerous territory – the impact of which you’ve felt before, witnessed many times, and still have the scars by which to prove it. But that door swings both ways. What would it look like for you, me, all of us, to acknowledge that we’re pretty damn opinionated and that maybe, just maybe there are some other pretty incredible positions/perspectives that are worth creating space for? This isn’t about changing your mind (though that’s always a possibility); it’s about becoming more clear, more grounded in your own beliefs through the challenge of appreciating and respecting others’. It’s about allowing for what’s complicated. It’s about stretching your wings and maybe even doing some heavy lifting.
      3. Apply new templates to the old (or, if you prefer another metaphor, put the old wine in new wineskins). This is my love, of course: (re)telling the ancient, sacred stories of women in Scripture in ways that honor and value them as much as we do myths, fairytales, and epic film. ‘My example. What’s yours? Maybe you listen to hymns that are acoustic re-mixes. Maybe you think about the way in which the Archetype Card you drew this morning might talk to Mary Magdalene or Jesus or Eve. Maybe you repeat a Rosary while Tibetan chants play in the background. Maybe you take that yoga class held in the basement of your neighborhood church. Maybe you fill out tonight’s page in your Gratitude Journal as though you were talking directly to God. Mix it up. Shake it up. Try something new!

      I hardly say any of this by way of prescription. I speak every single word on my own behalf; always preaching to the choir. I feel incredibly grateful to be surrounded (and confronted) by things, concepts, and people way outside my purview every day. Each and every one, when I allow such, cause me mysteriously, graciously, powerfully to take deeper breaths, to go further down, to open up my arms, mind, and heart. Each and every one, when I allow such, invite me to a whole world of beauty and wisdom I would have otherwise missed. And each and every one remind me, again and again, that there is so much I don’t know. Thank goodness!

      There is no limit to the ways in which our spirituality can expand, grow, broaden, deepen, and ultimately impact. Which of course, is exactly what we endlessly and passionately long for, yes? Let’s do that, then. 

      *
      May it be so.

      ***************

      Listen to the audio version of this post. Click here.

       

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        When you grow up steeped in religion, attending church every Sunday, knowing Bible stories better than fairytales and hymns better than pop songs, it is difficult to extract yourself from such. I find it nearly impossible to hear words like Sacred, Spiritual, even God (let alone the concept, recognition, and experience of such) in any ways other than how they’ve been taught. I find it nearly impossible to not feel twisted, pulled, and confused; so deep the current of doctrine and dogma that flows within my mind and heart.

        More times than not I want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

        *
        Though this example is probably too strong, it’s like having been a member of Jim Jones’ congregation, drinking the Kool-Aid, and surviving. From that point forward your radar is off the charts around beverages. You have a hard time trusting that any liquid poured is safe, not a trick, and holds no ulterior motive whatsoever. You know that was a particular period of time, a particular set of circumstances, a particular world from which you walked away; but still, it haunts you – so inherent the lessons learned, the beliefs swallowed.

        It’s made even more complicated by the fact that there is such goodness within. (I’m not talking about Jim Jones anymore.) Relationships. Community. Tenets and beliefs that actually do make a difference. And stories. So many stories. A sea of them in which to float, be supported and strengthened by, to trust. I dare not throw it all out.

        But what is the baby and what is the bathwater? How do I sift through years and years of belief that feel as though they’re part of my genetic coding, keep what I love and let go of the rest?  

        Here’s just one tiny example. God. It is difficult to hear that word, no matter how much intellectual and academic work I’ve done, in any ways other than my earliest understandings. You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? The white bearded man in the sky who is able to create the world, destroy the world, plague a nation, part the seas, walk on water, bring the dead back to life, and an infinite host of other things. You don’t want to mess with him. You want to keep him happy. You want to make sure that you are following all of his rules, keeping all of his commands, and staying ever in his favor because when you do you can be assured goodness in the here and now and the sweet by-and-by. When you don’t? Well, that isn’t what you want to talk about, is it?

        Though this paragraph sounds caustic, I don’t mean it that way. These are centuries-old understandings that have served generations. This God – believed in, known, and completely committed to – has offered and provided profound respite, perseverance, and strength. Miracles have occurred. People have changed. Worlds have changed. Truth-be-told, have known miracles. have been changed. My world has changed. You see? Baby and bathwater…

        This is why I wrestle – endlessly and always. This is the tension. This is not merely my writing, my passion, my work; but my life’s journey. And there is no easy way out. Because even if I could let go of the God, I cannot let go of the women…

        *
        Or maybe it’s that they will not let go of me.

        • Eve. I become enraged, yet again, by shame’s hold. And I become profoundly determined, yet again, to pursue my desire no matter the risk or consequence.
        • Hagar. I become aware, yet again, of just want it costs to be a woman in a patriarchal world. And I am reminded, yet again, of what courage looks like, how the divine shows up, and that I will yet find water in my deserts.
        • The Woman at the Well. I become conscious, yet again, of how powerful shame’s hold can be. (Have  I mentioned this?) And I am given carte blanche permission, even mandate, yet again, to honor my intellect, my wit, and the man (even god) who loves and honors this about me above all else.
        • The Woman in Revelation 12. I acknowledge, yet again, just how scary it is to create, to birth something/anything precious into this world, and to face the dragons (within and without) that threaten to consume and destroy. And I am reminded, yet again, of who I most truly am – even in the midst of my fear: powerful, regal, and magnificent – crowned with the sun, the moon at my feet.
        • And so many, many more…

        These women, part of a text that is umbilically tied to (and tangled up with) religion, are the baby. I dare not throw them out. If it means I have to survive a little bathwater, I will.

        More, the idea that these women and their stories do get thrown out (disregarded, ignored, misunderstood, misaligned), breaks my heart. I cannot bear it. I’ll drink the damn bathwater (and the Kool-Aid) if I must in order to help them remain alive, known, heard, valued.

        *
        It’s possible you’ve already thrown out the bathwater and the baby. You’ve deliberately, even defiantly walked away from the religion of your youth – or even adulthood. Or you’ve always sensed that the Kool-Aid was a ruse and have avoided it at all costs. I get this, believe me. And I respect you, deeply. So, it’s with great awareness of the dissonance created that I still and always invite you, even ask you to get wet. To trust that in even the most brackish of stuff there are stories worth saving. To believe that through the most unlikely of ways and the most unlikely of women that your story might be saved. And if nothing else, to believe me when I tell you that you are not alone. Understand and experience it as you will, the fact remains that you are intimately companioned by the most amazing of women. Their blood flows in yours, their heart beats in yours, their voice is the one you hear within – that know-that-you-know-that-you-know wisdom you dare not doubt, that sometimes whispers and often shouts. They are that real, that alive, and yes, that Sacred, that Spiritual, that Holy.

        When you grow up steeped in religion, attending church every Sunday, knowing Bible stories better than fairytales and hymns better than pop songs, it is difficult to extract yourself from such. I find it nearly impossible to hear words like Sacred, Spiritual, even God (let alone the concept, recognition, and experience of such) in any ways other than how they’ve been taught. I find it nearly impossible to not feel twisted, pulled, and confused; so deep the current of doctrine and dogma that flows within my mind and heart. 

        Exactly. This is hardly easy, simple, or clear. It sometimes feels more like you’ve been thrown a brick than a life-preserver; like you’re drowning instead of being buoyed up. It’s hard work. Which is why it’s worth it.

        It is only when we reimagine and redeem the stories of women that we can reimagine and redeem our own. More, it’s the only way in which we can reimagine and redeem our world.

        *
        May it be so.

        And come on in, the (bath)water’s fine. I promise.

        *
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        *

        Click here to listen to my voice, these words, my heart. The audio version.

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        Blessings - A gift from me to youI tell of these women every week – and totally free – through Blessings. A quick email each Sunday that speaks of one of them; that offers her “voice” to you. And opportunity to join a private Facebook group where even more of their story is revealed and discussed. And all because you deserve to hear and know the most beautiful truth(s) about yourself. Sign up now.

        For a deeper dive, consider a SacredReading. Tell me your story, your concern, your hope, your heart and I’ll draw a card from the deck I’ve created (yes, lots like Tarot) and then tell you the story of the woman who has chosen you! Learn more.

        Or take the plunge. I’m testing the water, even now, with a new client and ooooh is it good! Twice a month I draw a card on her behalf. Twice a month we talk for an hour via phone – exploring the ancient sacred story and hers – gleaning all the wisdom there is to offer, acknowledging the powerful relevance their shared-story brings, and witnessing the Sacred that can’t help but show up.  Email me for details: (ronna@ronnadetrick.com)

         

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          I’ll admit that I have been known to doubt the efficacy and relevance of my own words and work. The endless call to somehow birth and bring forth all that stirs within me often torments. And I sometimes wonder if the ideas that illuminate my mind and the emotions that tug at my deepest soul are more like synapses misfiring or the last leg of a nerve that twinges in pain right before it gives up the ghost; demons that tempt me to just give up.

          But on better days, I consider that maybe my thoughts are like stars long since extinguished, having traveled for millions of light years, and just now coming into view – shining, burning, sparkling, breathtaking. Concepts, sentences, paragraphs, and pages that are not mine alone, but part of a long and streaming trail of women’s voices that are making their way into visible focus and recognizable form.

          *
          *

          “When looking at stars, you’re actually looking into the past.” (Source)

          As I read this, the torment ceases and the demons flee. This speaks. This resonates. This gleams. This is true. All that I see and all that I know – the thoughts, the ideas, the emotions – are generated from the past. All that I see and all that I know is a wisdom that has been traveling toward me for generation upon generation. Yes, sometimes covered by clouds or blocked by sun, but ever and endlessly on its way and in my midst. And never, ever extinguished.

          What I see and what I know is what you see and what you know, as well: the impossible-to-hide radiance of women’s wisdom. It’s star-shine.

          *
          Held, carried, protected, and nurtured within the minds, hearts, and DNA of every woman who has walked on this planet (and a few who have soared above it on planes we only dream to traverse). It accumulates, accelerates, and races toward us – waiting to be seen, waiting to be captured, waiting to be beheld. All the wisdom of all the women who have ever lived – seen, felt, known, and experienced within the universe of us.

          Were we to recognize, acknowledge, and honor this – individually and collectively – oh, what a galaxy would burst forth. Together, gaining ever-more strength, speed, and power, we would stream through both heavens and hells, trailing fire and light behind us. Unbridled in our beauty. Unstoppable. Impossible to hold back. Nothing but space and time within which to glisten and gleam, shine and speak, sing and dance and glow.

          Star-shine: the cumulative wisdom of all women throughout all time. It surrounds us. It’s within us. It is us.

          *
          No torment can withstand or demon dwell in the midst of such white, hot beauty and strength. So then, our birthright is to speak, write, muse, love, and live in the most brilliant way we can, the most bold way we can, being the most radiant selves we can. We are to race through the skies of our universe flinging grace, hope, and endless capacity and courage wherever we go, shimmering with the diamond-like reflection of every woman who has gone before, and making visible the legacy we carry within.

          “When looking at stars, you’re actually looking into the past.” Yes. And because this is true, it means that our wisdom will shine endlessly through millions of light years ahead. Our present will create the past that will yet brighten the galaxy that other women – our daughters, our granddaughters, and generations to come – will yet see, yet capture, and ever behold within themselves.

          Women’s wisdom. It cannot be extinguished. It’s star-shine.

          *
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          *
          Click here to listen to the audio version of this post. My voice sans torment and demons…

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