Thursday, 11 March 2010

Her-story, woman story on a Thursday night

Around the large dining table seven women shared their stories, when you talk about your life, about what has brought you to the point where you are now, eating this meal with people you know and don't know, you are never quite sure where it will go ...
And so we experienced some moments of the pure grace of sharing, of laying down our stories next to one another, not in any kind of competitive way just in a way full of simplicity and laughter - full of pain and joy and wonder at where we have come from and where we are going.
There were frightening stories from the 1988 Lambeth conference, before the ordination of women to the Church of England. Anger amongst women was high at the fact that no woman celebrated a eucharist. This story made me wonder again about the institutional violence of the church, the anger that breeds exclusion and hierarchy and sexism.
Sitting around the table were women of the church, from three continents and five countries.
As I listened to our stories I wondered about what it is like to be a woman, believing, belonging and yet also feeling some kind of continual dissonance in the church: this is a place I belong, this is a place where I also deeply don't belong, where I am also excluded from power.
What proportion of male ministers are working for the church on a non-stipendiary basis I wonder?
Yet what also came through in our stories and lives, the hilarity and raunchiness with which we told our tales, is that we are not victims but actors, authors of our stories. Somehow tonight in the telling and retelling we also became co-authors in each others life stories. It was a powerful and life-giving time. A time of grace.


janetlees said...

I really like this post.
You write about women of the borders - not quite insider, yet redefining outsiders with our own voices - helping us relate to other outsiders I hope.
I speak of living on the edge. I think it gives us integrity but it is not easy. I wonder how many men in the church think of where it is they inhabit - I know some that do.
Let us celebrate edge-wise women (and men).

J. K. Gayle said...

Your posting has power!

"What proportion of male ministers are working for the church on a non-stipendiary basis I wonder?" and we must wonder with you! Thanks for the effectively rhetorical question and for sharing how things can, must change.