Monday, July 25, 2016

This is my song

It's become a bit too routine, my tossing and turning and waking up at 3:30am on the night that follows a particular meeting. Why I toss and turn is more about me and my reaction to the dynamic in the meeting, than it is about anything that is actually said or done. Still, my reaction speaks to a reality of being a woman in leadership. It acknowledges a general sense that resides within me, one I don't appreciate and wish would go away or resolve itself, or at the very least, I wish I weren't so aware of the dynamic and the ongoing slights that happen in the meeting, the way a woman is treated, me and others.

No, it's never my intention to wake up fretful, but still I do. This morning I gave in to the insomnia and headache, and got up at 4:30. I fed the dogs, and made coffee. Thunder and lightning ignited the tropical-like air outside and finally released the rain, a gentle soaking to quench the dry and dusty earth of my backyard. I opened the sliding glass door and closed the screen, so I could hear the rain fall. This is wasteful, the air conditioner is running. Yet, this hot dry summer and my fretful night of sleep were soothed by the sound of rain, and now, afterward, the chirp of crickets. I've always loved the song of crickets, they remind me of open windows, summer nights, and the rare moments of peace in my childhood.

My fretful, insomniac state is the result of a longing that goes unfulfilled. I long to live a life transformed, to be the best version of myself that I can be. I long to be an agent of transformation for others as well. Isn't that part of the calling of a parish priest, to be transformational?

Yet, I find that rather then be transformational, I feel confined, limited, minimized, and devalued. Is this not how many women feel? The subtle words and behavior that diminish the work a woman does. It becomes a daily, an hourly, struggle to believe in my worth and keep going.

Perhaps that is one reason why I respect Hillary Clinton so much. God knows she is devalued and diminished and maligned in ways I have never been nor could imagine. She's a woman in leadership and how she is treated exemplifies how all women are treated. I wonder if she has sleepless nights? I wonder how she manages to keep going? Clearly she has a call to be transformational, and the stamina to live into that call. She gives me hope.

On this hot summer morning, the dawn of the Democratic National Convention, I am restless, headachy, and fretful. I am also just a little excited and hopeful. I plan to watch this convention, although I did my best to ignore all the news about the Republican one last week. Usually I try to watch some of both, but this year I wanted nothing to do with the RNC. There is no hope in the GOP, just more angst. I don't need anymore of that.

I'm almost sixty years old, and like this summer I am getting dry and dusty. My opportunities to make a difference are waning. Part of me would love to just retire and live in the background, and perhaps I will one day. For now, I have another decade of work. I have to work, I am still paying off student loans, loans that afforded me the education to do the very job that sometimes leaves me fretful and sleepless. How ironic. Considering I have another ten years to work, it leaves me wondering how I will get along? Will I just hang in there and do what needs to be done, but nothing more? (That's tempting!). Will I find some kind of inspiration? Or, rather, will inspiration find me? Will I finally retire with a sense of satisfaction, well done good and faithful servant?

I have no idea.

All I know is that on this steamy morning I am taking some small pleasure in the sound of the rain and the song of crickets.


altar ego said...

I'm glad you're finding pleasures, even small ones, amidst the fretting and the angst of the world that ensnares us. I think you capture here a truth that many women face--not just the conscious and unconscious dismissal of a woman's full dignity, but the brutal reality of how exhausting it is to stay in the mix, to press on, for our own sake and for the sake of the world.

I know you know that you are not alone in this effort (I don't want to call it a fight, for obvious reasons), but I comment here in part to be another voice to affirm that you have company. You are not alone.

In my first "real" job after college, I worked as a program director for a YWCA, working with teen girls. A speaker at a conference taught the girls this song, and it still inspires me. The words: "One woman's hands won't break the barriers down; Two women's hands won't break the barriers down; But if two and two and fifty make a million, we'll see that day come 'round, we'll see that day come 'round."

There is a chorus standing with you, and singing with you.

Lisa :-] said...

To all the smirking cynics who tell us women not to vote for Hillary Clinton "just because she's a woman," I have this to say: Why not? The fact that she is a woman might just be her most attractive and qualifying trait. We need a woman in the White House. It's time.

Muddled Muse said...

I'm just in my 30s, but I share your concern about being dry and dusty and limited in the amount of difference I can make. Past choices (and student loans!) seem to hem me in - I'm no longer a 20s-something comet - but a planet in orbit - a set sphere.

I'm glad you had some time for coffee, a deep breath and the peace of rain. I hope you can find some more springs for your soul in the days ahead.

Elaine said...

Yes...the dry and dusty...last year my StarWord was desert. I blogged a bit about each of those letters in relationship to make a leap of trust in moving.

I wrote these words the other day: Life in the Sonoran Desert has taught be that grace and beauty are right there amidst the dryness, the cactus needles, and the sound of a rattlesnake ready to strike.

This call is a mysterious creature. It shifts. It turns. It morphs. It evolves. It is elusive. It is clear (at times). And somehow through it all...the Spirit continues and our call is to be aware. Your heart is very much aware. Thanks for sharing your heart.


Homily for the Festive Eucharist at the closing of the Episcopal Women's Caucus

The readings that we chose for the service tonight were all picked specifically for this service because they lift up the role of women ...