In preparation for our United Women in Faith Sunday in February, I have written 8 scripts for our members to portray to the congregation. It strikes me how incredibly difficult it has been for us to achieve and to give our spiritual gifts in most times in history.
Jeanne-Marie Guyon, for example, was an advisor to King Louis XIV, wrote to the Pope, and had disciples, including Fenelon. But she was jailed for about 8 years for teaching "Quietism" after she wrote a book, A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer. She was basically teaching what many of us practice and teach nowadays, Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading.
It seems wild to think of a woman imprisoned for teaching prayer, but women have been held in various stages of vulnerability for eons. I know in some places this very day, people are jailed or exiled for religious beliefs, and that is despicable of course. But that does not negate that across eons, women have been thought of as possessions, or less human than men, a subspecies, or unfit and unable to think, and who dare not teach men. And this very day there are women living under such conditions in some parts of our world.
In Western cultures, that is pretty much overcome. But, we have sisters still suffering humiliating restrictions and barbaric treatment, mostly in the eastern part of the world. Clearly, there is much work to do to bring freedom and equality globally to everyone.
I want to get back to history for a moment. Since women have been generally devalued, we have only a few great spiritual women whose words and thoughts have been written and preserved so that we can read and consider them today. I think we should celebrate them and relish their precious words. Let's listen to a few:
- Christ dwells in every creature
- We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others.
- Even in a world that's being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.
- Dare to declare who you are.
- Humanity, take a good look at yourself.
Mechthild of Magdeburg
- If you love the justice of Jesus Christ more than you fear human judgment then you will seek to do compassion.
- The soul is made of love and must ever strive to return to love.