Posted in Authentic Freedom, Freedom, Inspiration, Lessons, teachers, women

Freeing the Feminine Voice

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?”

bookburning

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.

KathyWalczykKathy 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 wals4@aol.com or (920) 609-2657. My website is www.spiritualmiddleground.com

 

 

 

 

Posted in Midlife Journey, Returning book

Returning – A Woman’s Midlife Journey to Herself

Here it is folks…..the first review and literary commentary on my upcoming book, Returning – AWoman’s Midlife Journey to Herself. Thank you Samantha Smith for your beautiful and challenging words!  Here, I offer your words uncensored and unedited!  You rock! 

Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case
Windows to the Soul by Catherine E. Case

Book Review:

Lauri Ann Lumby’s Returning: A woman’s midlife journey to herself

Lauri Ann Lumby, author of Authentic Freedom: Claiming a Life of Contentment & Joy, continues to tackle the issues of authenticity in her newest publication Returning – a woman’s midlife journey to herself. Designed as not only a creative piece, but as an interactive workbook for the reader, Returning shows how artistic creation leads to understanding. Through her poetry and proposed assignments, she equips the reader with new tools to better understand their past, present, and future. Most importantly, though, she gives middle-aged women a space to create something that is for their pleasure.

Western culture’s deeply seeded connection to patriarchy and capitalism, exploits women as unworthy sexual objects, fails to acknowledge their autonomy, and devalues their choices. Lumby’s text nurtures a woman’s worth, and through her guidance, the reader may explore her potential. Her text allows women an opportunity to reclaim their life, their power to choose, and their intersected, beautifully messy, identities.

I felt encouraged to explore my life’s present moment as a twentysomething. There is something unexplainable about the act of returning life to middle-aged women, and it is something I cannot relate to. I felt called to not only reclaim my life now, but to create spaces for middle-age women to be in my life. There is a need in Western culture, to not only identify the socialization of young and old women, but also middle-age women. Lumby’s book participates in a larger conversation about socialization, and seeks to breakdown cultural structures that perpetually victimize women.

One issue that Lumby touches on at multiple points in Returning is motherhood. From an early age, girls are socialized to fulfill cultural models of maternity. Western culture’s expressions of mothering and parenting are deeply complicated and at times hypocritical. A woman is expected to work as a mother, yet in the capitalist structure she remains unpaid, and her work not is not considered in the nation’s Gross National Product. Lumby’s exercises allow women to meditate on the idea of motherhood, what it meant to them, what it means now, what society means it to be, and what the woman herself sees it as for her. Lumby gives women a space to dissect multi-layered issues that middle-aged women face, like motherhood. In the space she gives women, she allows them to experience a full-range of emotions, and that perhaps is the best gift of all.

In addition to creating a space of reclamation, Lumby creates a space for feeling. Within emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, and spiritual awakenings come feeling. Western culture projects rationality, and does not give people a space to process their feelings at their pace. Capitalist production suggests that people need to constantly produce something to be successful. Lumby’s book gives the reader a space to feel at their pace, and reminds them that their true success is self-guided and self-proclaimed. There is a space inside each reader that Western culture did not tarnish with subliminal messages and socialization, and it is in that space that Lumby believes the reader will find creation, potential, and worth. There is nothing like standing in your own truth, and that is what Lumby encourages her readers to do.

Samantha Smith, author of “Robert Gauerke,” in Operation Legacy; the Wartime experiences of Northeast Wisconsin’s Greatest Generation, edited by Scott Delsart & Andrew MacDonald (2010)