Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Powerlessness and grieving for the future ...

Reading again about Henning Luther's theology of fragments and his idea that we all have some fragment of the future, a hope for future development, a longing (I bet the German word he used would have been the glorious "Sehnsucht") to go beyond what we are in the present, made me realise that part of my problem in recent months has been grieving for a future that will never take place.
Grief doesn't always make for clear sightedness - blinded by tears it is not easy to see either within or without. But just because one version of the future is no longer possible does not mean that there is no future. Anyway what right do I have to grieve for a future which never "belonged" to me anyway?
As I have been thinking about grieving and fragments, tears and trying to see both myself and the future more clearly I've also been thinking about power and powerlessness. People who know and experience me would probably be surprised to hear me talk about feeling powerless. Sometimes I wonder whether claiming to feel powerless isn't a bit of a cop out, a way of trying to be a victim or perhaps another way of avoiding taking responsibibilty for "things". Perhaps deep within I also recognise that claiming to be powerless can often be a way of denying the power I do have.
From the perspective of feminist theology where the image both of a God who weeps and of celebrating a God who is vulnerable and powerless has been important to my theological formation, I fin it then challenging to be the weeping person experiencing some powerlessness. Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that despite wanting to celebrate these more vulnerable, less almighty images of God I still have problems integrating them into my deeper spiritual understanding. Deep within me resides the judging God of my childhood; the weeping, vulnerable, alongside God I preach of and beleive in, and seem able to convince others of, is often absent for me. The integration of what I believe and what is going on within me is certainly still fragmentary at the best, and I realise that I am even here only partially able to name it.
Then as I was writing this, a gift from a friend came to mind. She sent me this quote:
"When I dare to be powerful--to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." It's by Audre Lorde.
So perhaps as I wipe away my tears and remember my sense of powerlessness I must also dare to name and own that power I do have and simply move forwards. It may be painful, but I am sure it will also be joyful, for I have always known laughter and humour and that is a profound blessing.