|One Clergy, One me... IWD 2017|
Woman of Heart, Light of My Soul
Light is my Grace, My Gift and my Joy
Listen to me, beyond the far seas
Joy is my heart, it’s gift sets you free.
In this month we’ve moved into Spring,
that time of renewal, new shoots and of clearing out the last of winter. I’m
struck yet again by the lives of the many women whose conversations and stories
are the foundation of my current writing (Women of Wit, Wisdom & Wonder:
Women Who Inspire).
The theme of constant renewal,
‘re-membering’, and re-imagining the sense of identity that goes deeper and
more far reaching than name; family; community; role (personal or
professional); religion; nationality is powerful for me right now - personally
This was further fired by a talk and
Poetry Salon with David Whyte (@PoetDavidWhyte), which deeply stirred these
explorations. And given an additional edge as, whilst I wrote this, the UK
triggered Article 50 signalling the negotiations for our exit from the European
These reflections connect me to sitting
by the Raj Ghat, the site of Gandhi’s cremation in India and on another
occasion sitting in Johannesburg, South Africa, in conversation with Ela, his
granddaughter. Those experiences had me question much that we call ‘identity’.
Gandhi gave up so much; Ela lost so much (eg her son shot and killed in her
home in front of her eyes – after the transition away from Apartheid had been
And Janet, a white activist (aka
Terrorist), now one of South Africa’s Human Rights Commissioners lived in exile
– a price on her head, her picture in papers headlined ‘armed and dangerous’
which was a metaphor ‘shoot to kill’ if seen.
I have met women branded terrorist, or
labelled so many other things. I recently sat in conversation about motherhood
and mothering. Knowing I am not a mother, will never be a grandmother, was not
mothered by my mother I reflect, in our identity-led conversations, how do we
navigate; how do others navigate when they do not own or experience the labels
How and what do we ‘bring to the table…’
A memory surfaced – In 2011, in Brussels to run a workshop my room was burgled in the night, with me in it, asleep - Computer, video recorder, iPad, Passport, money all taken. My phone, charging in an unseen corner escaped! Turning up at the Office servicing British people (no Consulate there) I had to hand over even that before I could go in. I stood, giving my details to the person behind the screen who, typing them in said ‘No record’. I didn’t exist.
In that moment I did not know my identity. I didn’t exist, yet there I was, flesh and blood… two minutes of shock. It was a typing error!!!
Yet numerous women I’ve met lived without what we name as identity as a way of finding their (literal) survival. What they all managed to sustain was what I’ve met as a sheer joy and exuberance in and of womanhood. indeed i come think it’s those (very) difficulties that lead time and again to defiance and collaboration; that inspire us to work together to change the world and shape it in our image for a change from ‘how things are’ to something more - equal, just, creative, connected.....
Such collaboration (and at times denial of identity) was found in The Suffragettes – who sang ‘Laugh in defiance…’ (Ethel Smyth 1911); is found the energy that we’ve seen in the Women’s Marches and songs (‘I won’t be Quiet) around the world this year – forging new identities with and through an essence being that is joy, determination, collaboration.
So, for me March has proven quite a month. What have been your highlights?
As it ends I’m finding myself reflecting on:
- Household disruption (carpets lifted; floors painted; tiles removed and new ones laid). A very local ‘digging into the foundations of me’. Building my nest, discovering the nest in me.
- A visit from ‘hop along friend’ Martha with crutches and boot because of a torn Achilles Tendon.
- International Women’s Day. My last organising the Emily Inspires! Service in Morpeth. Celebration, challenge; extraordinary contributions from young people, led by no fewer than FOUR women Clergy - and me! Including #BishopChristine (Second Woman Bishop in the House of Lords) http://www.morpethherald.co.uk/news/video-emily-remembered-on-international-women-s-day-1-8428689 . Huge satisfaction and gratitude.
- Being stunned and delighted at inclusion on an ‘Inspiring Woman Speakers’ list by Stephen Waddington https://twitter.com/wadds (Partner/ Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum PR; Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University)
- Reconnection, reflection and much laughter with friends old and new in the SW of the UK (my home for 16 years)
|+Bishop Christine 'Yes, YOU can..|