Updated: Sep 13
Published in The Furrow Journal, March 2018
like gorse a lot. This piece below explains why. It was published on International Women's Day in 2018 in The Furrow, and seems appropriate to post it here on a day when I launch my new Facebook page, and move towards a space that I hope will allow me, and others to be seen as 'Women of God'...
Woman of God
Where do I go to be seen as a Woman of God?
To find a role that allows expression of that
And prompts others to look to me at times when they want
A person of God around?
I envy my husband and his fellow former religious
Their status of ‘former (practicing) priests’
It gives them a shorthand for ‘being into that God’ stuff
And they got – albeit not from all quarters- sympathy and understanding for the huge loss involved
In leaving their priestly role behind.
‘The stone the builders rejected has become a cornerstone’
I heard that line recently and wondered does that apply here? To me – and others like me?
Then realised ‘Well, no…
To be rejected, you’d first have to be considered’.
So, where do I go to be seen, recognised as a Woman of God?
I asked this question once
While within the walled garden of a retreat house
I marched around, fuming at the latest instance of non-consideration
During a small eucharist
The celebrant had handed me the Lectionary
At the point at which the Gospel was to be read.
I knew him – and knew him to be quite conservative-
So, for the briefest of moments I was shocked, taken aback
Unprepared to step out of my long-held sense of grievance.
I only had the book in my hand when the celebrant nodded at me
Indicating that I should pass it on to the very elderly priest seated beside me.
Oh foolish, foolish me.
The Gospel was that of the Prodigal Son
I listened, enraged
Ranting internally that we didn’t hear too much about the mother or daughters in that story
The only women to rate a mention were prostitutes.
Expecting there to be a shared homily
I waited to spit some of this out
But my seething must have been noted
As, Lectionary safely returned, the celebrant moved swiftly on
And I stomped outside afterwards for some air
And a chance to rant and rail at You, God
Asking how am I to live within these walls that so constrain?
Distracted by an old door along one wall,
I went over and - through a crack in it-
Saw the hillside beyond
With patches of gloriously yellow gorse
Returning to my pacing and my indignant fuming
I was again distracted, this time by a tree,
Its branches all reaching for the sky
Many of them clearing the top of the wall
Giving them a full view of the hillside and all that glorious gorse
And with that, came an answer of sorts
‘Move towards the light,
and you will see over the walls.’