Last evening the “Women in Waiting” workshop series began with a friendly but rough start. People were stressed from difficult lives of juggling children, jobs, court cases and memories. A couple arrived late and some were no shows – or so we thought.
The contemplation part got off to a belated start with a rushed quiet time. We listened to some soft Taize music and breathed or not breathed, as was our need. I gave them the heads up that the instrumental piece was 5 minutes long. It was a good way to re-orient us from our busy lives and the long commute to get there. Amidst sisterly annoyance, hugs and ‘no you’re not late’, joie de vivre begins.
Much of the contemplation time was taken up by telling the stories of women. We imagined ourselves into the life story of Mary the mother of Jesus. She was a devout Jew. Her life was difficult too. We recognized her courage in telling the angel that she would willingly bear God’s Son. She found comfort in her visit with Elizabeth who was pregnant miraculously in her old age (as prophesied). We talked of her feelings atop that donkey at almost 9 months pregnant and finding no place to give birth right away. We see her mystified when Jesus at 12 years old teaches in the synagogue. Her grief was discussed when she was present at the cross and the strangeness and joy she must have experienced at the resurrection. We recalled that Jesus had asked John to look after her.
The conversation progressed to a recognizing of more modern heroes: Malala, Queen Elizabeth II, Gabby Giffords. The name of Anne Frank was raised and a World War II personal family story was told. I thought of Corrie Ten Boom, Teresa of Calcutta, and Teresa of Avila, Julianna of Norwich, Kim Campbell, Adrienne Clark, Alison Redford… All were women with feet of clay – some celebrated, some not so much. Our desire as women of seemingly ordinary lives is to live well, to flourish, and to be heroes if only of our own stories.
The evening continued with more people arriving and being let in on stories and instructions. The ideas of saints and collagists and the era of Dadaism filled the excited air. Our times too are filled with uncertainty and turmoil. Some have life decisions in the hands of judges, of doctors and of counselors – and some of God (if not all).
We collaged women and shadows, text and flowers, colour, paper, images all a seamless mash-up of art mixed with life. Once there, no one wanted to leave. As I drove home tired and happy they chatted in the halls and dark driveway of the church. A Dieu dear ones – until next week.