I began my research today to educate myself on the "theology of women". The first book I perused stated you cannot look at the history of women without seeing oppression, victimization, isolation, abuses, and powerlessness. This was hard for me to read. Intellectually I certainly know that this is a true representation of the history of women within humanity but, I suppose, I began to realize just how deep sin can distort God's creations and I felt very sad; sad for all women who have been treated in their lifetimes in ways that were unjust, lacking in mercy and respect, and especially for those who have experienced the force of demonic madness. I knew in my heart that this was not the direction I should begin in for it would stop me as surely as I had begun.
It isn't that I am cowardly and unwilling to face these realities, it is because I know in my feminine being that it isn't a portrayal of the fullness of the story. Women have been persistently trying to survive and survive well while feeding, in some way, their created
dignity. Some were good, some bad, some holy, some lazy, some carefree,
some delightful, some vicious, some leaders, some radical, etc. Within
our human history we will certainly find individual lives lived.
Choices will have determined one's movement towards or away from God
even within the oppressions of time, state, and church. I know that it is this picture of the whole woman, complete with her choices of holiness or sin, that I needed to begin with. It is "she" with her authentic being created and known by God before her birth. Through God's grace and mercy within her sinful humanness she is also full of goodness, possibilities, and spiritual gifts and God places her upon the earth to desire Him, do His will, and bring His presence of compassion and care to all "others". Through God's sacrament of baptism her original sin is washed away but her tendency towards sin remains. She will have to make her way, as we all do, through the experiences and choices of her life working within the framework of what she is given as a child and what she accepts as an adult.
Some would say that I should begin my journey with the awareness that there should be no differentiating between men and women. A theology of humankind should be sufficient citing "neither male nor female ...". I understand the desire for a "sex free" theology where differences cannot be used to separate and diminish but there is a difficulty with that and I think it begins with the awareness that to get to that spiritual point of understanding "all" within the goodness of God, we, as human beings, need to first start at the bottom and work our way up the spiritual ladder of enlightenment. That means that we need to start with the creation of men and women, accepting the truth of differences established within Genesis, the Holy Scripture of God, and with interest, desire, and prayer seek to uncover God's Truth as we move upward into His mysterious infinity. We need to ask Him if it be His will to bring us greater awareness of His creation "woman" and if so, reveal this to us through His Word, His Tradition, and His relationship to women through His Spirit and her spirit. This honors God and with trust in His perfect justice we are then able to move forward in our discovery.
The second book I looked at began with the soul of a woman, her
mystical creation by God carrying within it God's image of His
goodness. The author talked about how men and women, being co-stewards
of the earth, cannot attain a full understanding of themselves without
attaining understanding of the "other". Within the first part of the
Introduction I knew that this is where my journey must begin...the
woman's soul and the mysterious within every woman's being. Questions begin to erupt within me. I have such a strong desire to sit with groups of women and ask them to tell me about their personal relationship with the Holy Trinity. How does the Spirit move within you? Have you had experiences where you knew in your heart that there was "more" to the story? As you were giving birth did you sense the presence of generations of women who have come before you? Question upon question, an eternal invitation to speak up and out about life in God and while doing so, grow in personal and communal faith in the One who saves us from the possibility of a dark and bleak life of sin where oppression and deception distort and destroy all hope and joy.
As a teacher and student of theology and as a director of spiritual discernment I have discovered for my self that God has sent me forth to seek out the soul's voice in whom ever I encounter for it is here that I can be of greatest service. Within that it means that I will have to address all of those people, states, and institutions, including churches, that may stand in the way of the soul's voice being heard, affirmed, and celebrated as the gift that it is. The parallel journey is that this speaks to my authentic created self. I have come to know her and to know her well. Having given myself over to the will of God and the awareness of human life and salvation through Jesus Christ I have come to know the importance of pursuing the fullness of life I have been given that has from its earliest beginning been drawn into the light of the Holy Spirit and with this awareness look outward onto the landscape of humanity and do what I can to bring to life the soul's voice of each and every human being that I meet. Within this will be the soul's voice of the woman.
So, upon this foundation of creation in God's goodness and continued life in relationship with God, I can look back upon the weaknesses of humanity written within the realities of its history and allow myself to look truthfully upon the landscape of today. May I be energized by the Spirit of God for this mission and strengthened in faith and love to encounter the continued oppressions within the world's cultures, especially the culture of the Church, and be the hands and feet of Christ through Spirit-led words of wisdom. May all women feel the love of God today given from His Spirit to theirs for in His Truth He has lifted the creation of womanhood up and said "It is good".