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What's with the gorse?


I 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'...


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.’


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