“I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears.
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.”
Sunday morning our road was too waterlogged to allow us to get to church safely, and we had to turn back. We spent a busy day at home that seemed to last forever. I made bread and ironed and put up our laundered curtains, which now look fresh and new.
Saturday night’s sleep was savory and deep. When I woke, my mind was rested, my heart at peace.
Over breakfast I read the words of Christina Rossetti, the poem of which I quoted the first stanza above. I realized that I have not been the first person alive to suffer spiritually, to say the least, to suffer doubts because of what I experience in the world. Even the voice of logic in my mind for weeks has been too weak to master my resentment with the world.
My resentment with the world, my qualms with the Bible – oh, they are so real. Feminism is dead. It needs a second wave. I have been remiss in taking a stand lately. As I have gotten older I have dreaded more and more standing out and being ridiculed. When I was in high school I didn’t mind, and when I was in Aggie-land, I took a lot of pleasure from others’ scorn, feeling defiant as I did about the obvious sexism. But in the working world I have grown very quiet. It’s a different situation—oh, how it is. In high school and college I felt protected by some administrative or adult guidance and at liberty to flaunt social customs all I liked. Now – I’m on my own, let me tell you, as are we all once we enter the work force.
I believe I have allowed my lack of initiative toward others’ sexism to build and harm me inwardly. I have focused my resentment instead of my spirituality, blaming Christianity on the patriarchal structure that objectifies and disengages women. I can see that younger women are not at all concerned with checking the momentum, and my failure to meet any woman that holds a similar belief to mine about a woman’s right to power has disappointed me deeply.
Because of this, I began to believe that Christianity was a farce men of the ages have wielded as a tool to control classes of people, women, races and other countries they conquered, crudely stamping a Christian symbol over a pagan one, and so on. Actually, I still believe this. Christianity’s history has an overpowering stench.
But this weekend I came to recognize the heart of my personal struggle, which is my anger at the world. Throughout my turmoil about the falseness of my religion I have never been able to say that Jesus is sexist. I have never been able to feel that Jesus would treat me as second-class or feeble-minded. God I’m not so sure about, but Jesus—I can’t feel that Jesus would.
I have not been able to forget about the Song of Solomon, the coming together of man and woman, the appreciation of nature’s beauty, and the Rose of Sharon. I haven’t been able to forget the “lilies of the field,” or that for every thing there is a Season.
And I decided – there’s nothing in the Bible to back me up or help me take a stand against the sexism rampant in my society. But I’m going to do the best I can anyway.
These past several days have been painful and searching. I realized at the heart of my struggles is my fear of letting go. I’m afraid to let go of some things, and this fear causes problem after problem to build up. Even now I have a tight ball of stress in the pit of my stomach because of some of the problems my fear has caused.
Today something opened my eyes to the immensity of my error, something finally broke through. I had to face my other self, this whole other person who has come into being formed of this pile of errors. I realized the immensity of this person’s faults, and then I forgave myself so I can re-direct my life immediately and have no more of this.
There is nothing in the Bible to help me prove women and men are equals. Women were second-class citizens in Biblical times. There is nothing to help me prove the importance of our Earth and our caretaking of it.
But in the words of the United Church of Christ, which is where I attended church in college, when I first discovered that wonderful place, Friends UCC --
God is still speaking.