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Even though the liturgical paraments are purple in Lent, I experience the season as the Great Grayness, to borrow from a book my children used to read. It is exacerbated for me and the people with whom I have conversations this year because of the dis-ease in the world, more acutely in our nation and the Church. Almost every exchange I have, real or virtual, alludes to the Great Grayness. So as I wend my way on the Lenten journey, looking for and seeking to be sanctuary, I find I need to look for signs of hope, reminders that there are other seasons, and even joy along the way.

Today, International Women’s Day, is one of those reminders. All over the world women are speaking and acting their truth in a quest for justice and mercy for all women everywhere. With ease I recall how much of the hope and the energy I have been given on my journey of Spirit has been ignited and exemplified by the women in my life.

  • women of faith in my family, beginning with my mother and grandmother, neither one of whom would have called themselves feminists, but each one seeking to be all she could be as someone who was faithful to the One who called her and to the ones to whom she was called.
  • women of wisdom all my journey through, those who could see a wider world than I knew, those who not only saw me for what I might be, but opened out the multi-faceted world in which there was truth to be told, beauty to be seen, and power to be accessed on behalf of those without those things.
  • women of letters who articulated sensibilities and perspectives on my behalf, many of which were inside me, for which i had no vocabulary or vision.
  • women who became soul friends, sometimes despite unmatched backgrounds and experiences, but with whom I could plumb the heart of the matter quickly and often.
  • women who dared to step us and get out in front for the call of justice and kindness, with humility, women who were not afraid to say what needs to be said, to be nothing but themselves, and risk upsetting more than one apple cart on the way.
  • women whom I met only in passing maybe, for one brief shining moment, but with whom the joy and light shared were etched indelibly on my heart.
  • women who invited and needed my presence or my words or my experience, from whom I learned about worlds and dreams outside of the scope of my one, those from whom I received as much or more than I was able to give.

Thus Women’s Day is the birthday of my only granddaughter; she dances her way through “Mary Poppins” in the picture above (second row back on the right!), and as we have celebrated these past days, I see that she is another light-filled teacher of my days. Decades apart, dramatically different upbringing, she was born nine years ago into a world decidedly different than the one into which I entered. She is already social media capable, aware of many kinds of diversity in her neighborhood, school and city. She lives is a family that is diverse, one that blends identity and practice from different traditions into their unique way of being family. She has a sense of freedom and self that is unfettered by the Great Grayness. And I learn from her, even as I delight in her.

These women have been Light Bearers for me, no matter the circling gloom! I take hope, I am sheltered by them, and I am grateful!

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