I truly believe women are rising up to save the world, to heal our nations, to unite the Body. But if we are to mend this fractious, sundered Church of ours, we must resist the temptation to use the tools that oppressed us. The tools of competition, might-makes-right, aggression and conquest must be laid aside.
Instead, we must lead the change by embracing our uniquely female way, the way of women. We do not need to imitate the power that has gone before for we have our own power. We must simply own it.
The way of women has been lost in our society. We are increasingly isolated, cut off from the ancient ways of communal living, which emphasized relationship, interdependency and mutual aid. We used to live this female way intuitively, knowing what we knew and trusting it.
We were content with our wildness. We embraced mystery.
I sometimes wonder if the way of women has been lost in some of our churches because we have lost Mother Mary. My generation—especially those who grew up Protestant like I did—seem to have forgotten her. Sure, we paid passing deference to her at Christmas. But even then, she was “just Mary,” a secondary character in our Nativity Plays. God could have chosen anyone to be Jesus’ Mother, we said. There was nothing particularly special about Mary.
God spoke through men, worked through men and accomplished His will through men. Like many other young girls growing up in American, evangelical faith, I simply accepted this male-dominated narrative. Like them, I shied away from the “idolatry” of honoring a woman.
But if women are to reclaim their rightful place as healers and leaders in the Church then we need only remember what we have forgotten; for the imitation of Mary’s way is the path that leads to healing, unity and restoration.
Remember Mary: that when she was gifted with the highest honor—bearing God in her womb—she turned to another woman, Elizabeth, for comfort and aid. We sisters can find strength in bearing each other’s burdens.
Remember Mary: that this holy meeting of women evoked Mary’s prophetic song of praise; “from this day all generations will call me blessed.” We women need not shush ourselves for God is the one who gave us voices.
Remember Mary: that when her Son attended a wedding in Cana, it was she who gave him the prompting, the urging that it was time to begin his ministry and perform a miracle. We women must take risks and be courageous catalysts for change.
Remember Mary: who simply said “yes” to God and didn’t need the religious leaders of her day to ordain or anoint her before she believed it was true and followed her calling. We women must exemplify loving trust in God–regardless of what others say about us.
Remember Mary: who knew what she knew and treasured this knowledge up in her heart, pondering it daily. We women can imitate the way of Mary by cultivating a beautiful, interior life through prayer and meditation.
Remember Mary: whose little way of lowliness exalted her high above the spiritual giants of her day. We women understand that humility allows us to experience true spiritual equality with others.
Remember Mary: who embraced the way of love, which is the way of suffering, insuring nothing less than the piercing of her Mother’s heart as she watched her Son suffer. We women embrace relationships over things, knowing that although we pay dearly for the sacrifice of love, nothing is more priceless or eternal.
Remember Mary: and most of all, imitate her.