Women of Power and Strength
When you hear of societies that are largely run by women, they are referred to as matriarchal societies. In the animal kingdom, this is commonplace in groups of monkeys, large cats, herds of elephants and insects like bees or ants. The dynamics of such groups are studied extensively in the fields of anthropology, ecology and animal behavior. It often leads me to wonder about the dynamics of our own species and cultures. Where do we see women leading humans within our contexts of culture, politics and religion? What key roles and changes are shaping who we are now?
As a child, I saw a couple of strong women play massive roles in my family and faith community. My grandmother was a devoted woman of faith who, through her love and prayers, became the cornerstone of our family. At the time of her death she had 8 children, their spouses, 24 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren. She always remembered our birthdays and gave personalized gifts that were often hand made. As I got older I learned that she was a faithful women of prayer and would pray for everyone in her family, each day, by name. As the list got bigger, so did her commitment to praying for her family.
She also stood up for the rights of those she loved and was in community with. If there was ever a notion of someone being wronged, or someone going without, she would step in and right the situation. This could all be discussed and remedied over a cup of tea and her seemingly limitless supply of cookies. My own mother taught me qualities and dynamics of strength too. She taught us children an enduring love of food justice by modeling how a family could grow a garden, save seeds, preserve food for the winter and harness natures power of growth, energy and regeneration. She also was a strong woman of prayer and actively showed that by being involved in church prayer groups, the telephone prayer chain and praying with us children as we grew.
As our family grew over the years with many cousins and babies, that I often have a hard time remembering names for, we came up with the idea of a family calendar with pictures and birthdays so we could keep track. I was involved in helping create it for a couple of years and it is a lot of work but the end product is a helpful reminder of our connections. At one point a few people wondered if it was worth the effort and considered stopping the tradition. That question brought out something beautiful that comes back to one of those dynamics I talked about earlier from my grandma. Someone quickly piped up in reply to the question about stopping and said, “but I use it to help me know when to pray for people on their birthdays!” That’s all it took to convince the people doing to work to keep on doing it.
I recently started reading a book about global justice and the author started by talking about the subtly of language and how it can incite different emotions depending on the context and definitions used. The words I used for the title can be a good example of that because there are many different ways of defining what power and strength are, so I think we need to be careful and considerate of what words we use, as well as vigilant in defining and talking about them with those we are in relationship with. The traits and examples I gave of my mom and grandmother are ways I would define strength and power and the source of that lies in faith in God, the leading of Christ’s example and a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. I also used the word Kingdom for describing a grouping of animal species, but the author of that recent book introduced me to a beautiful new way to nuance that word. She suggests that we consider replacing it with the word “kindom” within our Christian contexts. Instead of being a society that is lead by a domineering, controlling, all-powerful King who rules in autonomy, we can be lead by those who we see as family, those who we love and are loved by. That would be a society where we could see the power and strength to lead others by serving others, caring for friends and neighbors and by loving all.
God Bless you as we anticipate spring and see the attached file for my spring Classis meeting report - Jesse Edgington - NADC Consultant