Today’s blog is a guest-post from Kathy Walczyk from Spiritual Middle Ground, about book burnings and freeing the feminine voice. Throughout history it has been men who have spoken for women, and Kathy and I had a great rant over the way two women (in particular) were spoken for by men who (in my opinion) may have missed the point. Kathy poses the question, “Isn’t it time we let the women speak for themselves?”
Hi, my name is Kathy Walczyk. In September I completed the Authentic Freedom facilitator’s course with Lauri. During our time together we sometimes talked about saints of old. Hildegard of Bingen and Rabi’a Al-‘Adawiyya (of Basra) were two spiritual leaders we discussed. On the evening following our last class together I had an impromptu ceremonial book burning.
If we go back in history, hundreds of years ago, we find a limited number of people who could read or write. The majority of them were men. The stories of historic women mystics and saints are often written from a male perspective, penned by a man or have been translated through the years by men. It was often men scribes, theologians, historians and storytellers who have interpreted the lives, thoughts and feelings of these women prophets. That is just the way it was. And if it weren’t for these gutsy male writers going against societal norms, many of the stories would have been lost. Thank you men! Still, I long to hear the voices of women and the interpretation of these matriarchs from a woman’s perspective!
In my late thirties, about 15 years ago, I picked up a bible and began reading. I began with the Hebrew Scriptures and then skipped around making my way through it all. It was the first time I really let the words sink in. And when they did, I was shocked and disturbed by many of the stories. But it was more than just the stories themselves; something else was disturbing. What was it? It wasn’t until one day when I found myself sobbing uncontrollably after reading Judges 19: 22-28 did I realize what was missing. The scripture stories lacked a view from the hearts of the women. Story after story, told from the perspective of men left me longing to hear the story from the woman’s mouth. It was during that time I wrote the following on the inside cover of my bible:
If women had written the bible, would they have written a book of: pain ~ suffering ~ sorrow? Would it have been of the small wonders and beauties they saw around them? Would it have been of birth and creativity? Would it have been about resentment…. resentment of how they were treated? How would they have written about the wars and suffering around them? How would they have written about God? In love? Anger? Pleading? They must have had so much to say. I long to hear their words ~ thoughts ~ prayers. Do I carry their voices with me in my heart? Do I let those voices and mine be heard?
The poems, words and wisdom of Rabi’a, Hildegard and other women have found their way through history and into our hands today. Beyond that, I believe that these women live on in the divine spirit that is within us and surrounds us all.
In the quiet of the evening and after my husband went to bed, I tossed the two books into the fire ~one Lauri’s and one mine. As I watched the books burn I could feel a gentle release. It was a sense of freedom permeating the atmosphere. In my arrogance I felt maybe I was helping to free Rabi’a and Hildegard. I have a sneaking suspicion that these women, already free, were helping to free me.
Kathy Walczyk in her own words: My specialty is challenging you to see your beauty and potential. I facilitate this discovery by supporting your spiritual growth through one-on-one mentoring and group classes. The tools I utilize include Authentic Freedom and creative expression, including photography. I am also an advocate for spiritual responses to trauma – specifically clergy sexual abuse. My undergraduate is in Art and Photography and I hold a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies and Pastoral Ministry. I have completed extensive study in the areas of spirituality, sexuality, trauma, and healing. I live and work in Green Bay, Wisconsin. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (920) 609-2657. My website is www.spiritualmiddleground.com