Listen to my voice – the audio version of this post:

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Though we would sometimes like to think that we have original thoughts – that we are the only one who could possibly hold such brilliant, astounding wisdom and perspective – it is far more encouraging (and far more humbling) to know that exactly the opposite is true: we are not alone in what we think, what we believe, what we fight for.

I am no exception.

Elizabeth Cady StantonMy heart to redeem the ancient, sacred stories of women from the ties that silence, bind, and irrelevant-ize is hardly mine alone. It is mirrored in the brave work of many women throughout time who have been committed to and compelled by the same. Chief among them, Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

A suffragist and political activist, Stanton was determined to bring a woman’s voice to a man’s text. In 1886 she attempted to form a revising committee of female biblical scholars, but was disappointed when even they found her claims suspect, namely that she did not believe the Bible to be divinely inspired. Undaunted, she tried again in 1894, this time with women who were Theosophists, New Thought Leaders, and Freethinkers. The result was The Woman’s Bible – a revolutionary work for that time; for all time.

Maureen Fitzgerald, in her foreword to the 1993 edition says, “…Stanton chose to produce the work precisely because so many would see such a document as a scandalous, radical act…”

I love this! Oh, what a legacy upon which I build, work, and live…a scandalous, radical act. (May it be so!)

On August 1, 1895, Elizabeth Cady Stanton signed the forward to The Woman’s Bible with these words penned in its introduction:

…there are some who write us that our work is a useless expenditure of force over a book that has lost its hold on the human mind. Most intelligent women, they say, regard it as the history of a rude people in a barbarous age, and have no more reverence for the Scriptures than any other work. So long as tens of thousands of Bibles are printed every year, and circulated over the whole habitable globe, and the masses in all English-speaking nations revere it as the word of God, it is vain to belittle its influence. The sentimental feelings we all have for those things we were educated to believe sacred, do not readily yield to pure reason. I distinctly remember the shudder that passed over me on seeing a mother take our family Bible to make a high seat for her child at table. It seemed such a desecration. I was tempted to protest against its use for such a purpose, and this, too, long after my reason had repudiated its divine authority.

“The sentimental feelings we all have for those things we were educated to believe sacred, do not readily yield to pure reason.”

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Indeed. I have applied reason to my beliefs, believe me. I have been well-schooled in how to do so, why it matters, and why anything less is unthinkable. Church. Sunday School. Bible studies. Christian college. Missionary work. A pastor’s wife. And a Master of Divinity degree. Hebrew. Greek. Textual Criticism. The History of Theology. The History of the Church. Old Testament. New Testament. You Name It. With little “success.”

For all my wrestling, fighting, giving in, giving up, holding on, and hoping that somehow, someday God would make sense to me, this, so far, is not the case.

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And this is the point. As long as I keep looking to make sense of God, I miss the point entirely. My pure reason defeats me because what is called for is a God beyond reason: a God in whom I place my faith.

No, not even this.

What is called for – and what I long for – is an understanding of the Divine that invites me to faith, period. Faith in miracles, yes. Faith in mystery, to be sure. And above all else, the means through which I hold on to faith in me.

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And truth-be-told, I do not know how to hold on to faith in myself without holding on to other womens’ stories. 

So many have said, “Why not just let the lot of them go? Why spend so much time in patriarchal texts that are not relevant? Why look at stories that tell of a God who is outdated, limiting, and no longer relatable?” Elizabeth Cady Stanton heard the same critique – 121 years ago. And that’s (at least one of the reasons) why: I’m not alone. I’m standing on her shoulders and those of the countless women of whom I tell, in whom I believe, all of whom I love.

I am coming to see that this is the way of faith for me: letting go of the mental/rational/academic wrestling in the dark and instead, finding evidence and hope in the light of day – in the stories of women. Women who, when they fought, were seen. Women who, when they held on, were heard. Women who, when they could barely take another breath, were revived and restored. Women who, even though silenced and barely noticed, turn my eye and my deepest, truest, most compassionate heart, who call me back, again and again, to faith.

Come, come, my conservative [or perhaps, liberal] friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving. Whatever your views may be as to the…proposed work, your political and social degradation are but an outgrowth of your status in the Bible…How can woman’s position be changed from that of a subordinate to an equal, without opposition, without the broadest discussion of all the questions involved in her present degradation? For so far-reaching and momentous a reform as her complete independence, an entire revolution in all existing institutions is inevitable. (Elizabeth Cady Stanton)

An entire revolution…is inevitable. To have faith is one thing. To hold on to it, at least in my experience, is revolutionary. Thank God (and Elizabeth Cady Stanton), I’m not alone in this.


 

This post is in honor of today’s New Moon; Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her brave, bold colleagues; the Sacred Circle of women and their stories who accompany, guide, and support me; the women in my writing group who love me beyond measure; the words that are mine to write/speak/share; my daughters and the words they will yet write/speak/share; and faith. Yes, always faith. Inevitable.


 

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    My desk sits in front of two windows that look out on stark trees. For now, there are no leaves in sight. And the rain continues to fall and fall and fall. I suppose I could look at the bright side: the ever-green grass, the vast foliage, the lack of dry skin for the plethora of moisture. All of these things would be true. But those silver linings are quickly forgotten in the endless gray and endless wet.

    I cannot tell you how many seasons, exactly like this one, I have said, “I have to get out of here!” And yet one day follows after the next, Spring arrives, then Summer, and I remember, once again, at least one of the reasons why I stay: days that are so clear, so gorgeous, so glorious that I can barely take them in.

    Weather, yes; so too, in life.

    Seasons that are dark and bleak. Tears that fall and fall and fall like rain. Endless gray and endless wet. The disbelief that warmth will ever return.

    It will. I promise.

    Your willingness to allow dark and bleak and tear-stained seasons is directly proportionate to the clear and gorgeous and glorious you that will yet shine forth. I promise.

    *
    And though it’s not the advice you usually hear, take mine: Weep, wail, and scream. Let it all out. A cloudburst. A downpour. Get drenched. Your grief is what makes you more tender, more vulnerable, more real. Your heartbreak is what enables you to tell your truth in ways heretofore unheard. Your tears are what water the soil of the life you are yet to birth, yet to bring forth, yet to offer this world.

    Take your finger out of the dyke and flood the world with the oceans you’ve been keeping at bay.

    Why? Because as surely as the sun will return to my neck of the woods – you will survive, you will heal, you will rise. I promise.

    Those who have the courage and capacity to grieve are those who have the courage and capacity to yet stand, to still hope, to live and live and live.

    *
    I promise.


     

    If you haven’t yet heard, I’m now sending daily SacredText messages – from my heart to your phone. Just the right words at just the right time. Because sometimes you need to be reminded that you’re that amazing, that able, and not alone. Subscribe.

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      Last week one of my clients asked me if I would send her a few text messages throughout the day to remind her of the voice and heart of the ancient, sacred woman who companions, supports, and guides her. I did. 

      I loved seeing the words that went whooshing their way to her:

      • You are unique and distinct.
      • Be unexpected.
      • Don’t doubt your beauty.
      • You are more than enough.

      How fabulous to be reminded of what is most true, what is most real, what we most long to remember and believe about ourselves! Like getting a direct message from the Divine, the SacredFeminine, our matrilineage; the perfect words at the perfect time. 

      That got me to thinking…

      Why couldn’t I do this all the time? Not just for her, but for anyone who asked?

      Guess what?!? I can! So…

      Drum roll please…

      SacredTexts ~ SubscribeTodaySacredTexts

      Once a day.
      Quick.
      To the point.
      Perfect.
      Daily inspiration you desire and deserve.
      Pretty great, right?!?
      *
      *

      *
      *

      The introductory price is only $5/month. Less than a latte. And worth way more than such: your heart – encouraged, strengthened, inspired.

      May it be so. 

      Subscribe today. And start receiving text messages that make a difference! 

      so hope you’ll subscribe. I’d love knowing you were hearing/receiving powerful, true, and SacredTexts every single day. And…even if now’s not the time, hear/receive these: 

      • You are unique and distinct.
      • Be unexpected.
      • Don’t doubt your beauty.
      • You are more than enough.

      Yes. May it be so, indeed!

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        Chances are pretty high that if your desire is strong enough, acute enough, and impossible to dissuade, others will think you a bit crazy and probably way too much. That’s the strongest indication that you’re on the right track.

        Chances are pretty high that even if you get what you most desire, that more loss will yet come, that heartbreak will still occur, and that you will somehow yet endure. That’s the strongest indication that you are amazing, strong, and more than enough.

        Chances are pretty high that holding on to hope and letting go of control seem like complete contradictions and that you have the capacity to allow them both. That’s the strongest indication that you are other-worldly and powerful beyond-compare.

        Chances are pretty high that you will be called to stand your ground and defend that which you know-that-you-know-that-you-know is right and true and worthy. That’s the strongest indication that you are oh-so-wise and most-definitely not to be trifled with.

        Chances are pretty high that you need not listen to one voice / person / god / demon / cultural message / internal hiss that tells you anything other.

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          “Please understand me!”
          she cried.
          An impossible premise
          an impossible promise
          impossible, period.

          She cried
          “Please understand me!”
          until she didn’t
          until she realized
          that it was her promise
          to herself, period.

          ~ ~ ~

          “Please. Understand me!”
          I have cried and cried
          and cried some more.
          An impossible, overwhelming request.
          Held silent under its thumb
          I’ve screamed:

          The premises must be explained!
          The promises must be decried!
          Do you see (me)?
          Do you hear (me)?
          Do you understand (me)?

          No, you don’t.
          No, you won’t.
          Period.
          I see.

          So, no more explaining.
          No more premises defended.
          No more promises (to self) broken.
          No more, period.

          ~ ~ ~

          “Understand me, or don’t!” she sings.
          So pleased,
          as she writhes and writes and rises.
          Overcome, but not overwhelmed
          by all she has to say,
          by how she stays…standing.

          And under-standing’s over-ture comes to an end…


          *
          I have spent a lifetime trying to understand. My parents, my siblings, my family dynamics. What it meant to go to church, what it meant to be a Christian, what it meant to believe in God. How to be a good girl, how to get ahead in school, how to please my parents. The rules for girls. The rules for boys. How pretty rules. How to be seen, or not; heard, or not; perfect always. All of these un-understandable. All of these futile. And every one required, demanded, and understandably critical for survival.

          There was a season in which I did not understand much of anything, least of all myself, my choices, my behaviors, my actions. I didn’t care. And I couldn’t understand why. I did not stand up at all, least of all for myself. I crouched. I skulked. I compromised. I hid. I underwhelmed (myself). Under the radar. Under-achieving. And misunderstood.

          Later, I thought I had finally found it, everything. It was all I’d ever wanted – until it wasn’t. I tried to understand my marriage and the man. Why he was always depressed. Why it was my job to keep him happy, sane, coping, functional. Why I couldn’t get pregnant. Why I should even bother believing in a God who wouldn’t answer my prayers. Why I was so horrible as to doubt, to rage, to be faith-less. I tried to understand my anger. I tried to understand my confusion. I tried to understand my loneliness. I tried to understand my tears. All to no avail.

          My tears. They defied all understanding, any explanation, all and any attempts to be thwarted, slowed, stopped. They continued. Inexplicable. They made no sense. “This is nonsense!” I thought. Endless. And always in the dark, in private, in secret. Why?

          What I didn’t understand (until I did) was that my tears made more sense than anything or anyone else. That they were the font, the truth, the gift at the altar, the only part of me that knelt and knew, that stood – defiant, unstopped, unsilenced, undaunted.

          Maybe it was never about my understanding. Maybe, really, it was about being understood. Needing, longing, demanding to be understood. By my parents, by my family, by my culture, by my God. Later by my husband, by my friends, by my employer, by my therapist. Now by my love, by my readers, by my girls. Then and now, not having to do, feel, be, all by myself.

          These days, I feel understanding’s incessant, relentless demand in a more subtle but no-less visceral way: through what I write. “Please understand x, y, and z.” “Do you, will you see?” “Do you, will you hear?” But what I really mean, what I really want, still, is this: “Please understand me!” “See me!” “Hear me!”

          And it strikes me that all of this is a helpless prospect; always has been. It is neither about understanding, nor about being understood – at least not anymore. It’s about trust, intuition, and writing-speaking-feeling-saying-being whatever I want, all that I want, what my tears have always known. It’s about weeping and roaring and blazing and shining and preaching and provoking and yes, standing.

          It’s about not under-standing.

          Someone once said, “seek first to understand.” I’ve done enough of that – under duress, under demand, under false pretenses, premises, and promises.

          And under-standing’s over-ture comes to an end.


          *
          “Please understand me!”
          she cried.
          An impossible premise
          an impossible promise
          impossible, period.

          She cried
          “Please understand me!”
          until she didn’t
          until she realized
          that it was her promise
          to herself, period.

          ~ ~ ~

          “Please. Understand me!”
          I have cried and cried
          and cried some more.
          An impossible, overwhelming request.
          Held silent under its thumb
          I’ve screamed:

          The premises must be explained!
          The promises must be decried!
          Do you see (me)?
          Do you hear (me)?
          Do you understand (me)?

          No, you don’t.
          No, you won’t.
          Period.
          I see.

          So, no more explaining.
          No more premises defended.
          No more promises (to self) broken.
          No more, period.

          ~ ~ ~

          “Understand me, or don’t!” she sings.
          So pleased,
          as she writhes and writes and rises.
          Overcome, but not overwhelmed
          by all she has to say,
          by how she stays…standing.

          And under-standing’s over-ture comes to an end, period.

          Click any and all of these buttons to share! Thank you!

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