I’m wrapped in a blanket eating blueberry yogurt.
I can’t sleep.
My professor used to fixate on various students in Latin class, peer intently from under his bushy eyebrows, and declare: “Alexander the Great had conquered much of the known world at age 19. What are you doing with YOUR life, Miss?”
The curser blinks as I ponder.
This past year has been a year of listening. Taking in, digesting. It’s as if I finally got the go-ahead from God: “Ok, you’re finally ready. You can open that drawer and sort out the junk.”
I’ve been rummaging in the jumbled-up mess of racism, power imbalances, and most cuttingly, gender discrimination. Only discrimination sounds so clinical, when I want to say oppression, stripping, grinding down, despair. It’s a car crash I can’t look away from, this cultural female wine-press. It’s like staring at the sun too long. I keep telling myself to look away – it hurts. It’s not good for you. It will damage you. I force my stare away and still see the sun everywhere.
And then I look back again. Because my whole life I’ve been pulled toward the sun. And I just got approved to forfeit my eyes – to feel it burn for a while – in an attempt to really see.
What are you doing with your life, Miss Henry?
I’ve been fumbling around to explain what I see. Wondering how you can possibly explain a sensation at once half-universal and yet so taken for granted it’s mostly invisible. One I’m so used to it took me most of my life to name.
All the reading and listening and taking in has made me mostly mute. It has taken my voice. I feel and I listen and mourn, but I cannot write. And I definitely cannot summarize. And I most certainly cannot explain to a concerned, friendly question that my bowed shoulders are from staring too long at the sun.
If you stare too long your eyes will stay like that, you know.
Some of the things I’ve said aloud this year – and there have been very few, on this topic – have overwhelmed me in their simple truth. Why does it make my stomach churn to say “Women are at the bottom of a world-wide power slope, and men are at the top”? It feels revolutionary to say “We are not equal. And we are often not equal in the Church.”
And then I hate myself for feeling that it’s revolutionary to say something so obvious. So glaringly true. With half the world’s weight on my shoulders, I declare that the sun exists, and it changes our environment. What kind of revolution begins with words so blatantly obvious?
This all feels very deep. That means I will probably hate it when I wake up tomorrow. I’m sitting in the dark rambling about the sun. But this I know – and I close my eyes and smile as I know it:
God loves women.
His face is ever toward us. The disinherited. The mass-aborted. The owned-as-property. The cat-called. The raped. The overlooked. The seen-as-less. The loving Father’s eyes are watching as we are pressed down, sometimes crushed.
That has twisted me into theological knots of grief and anger before, and it probably will again. But in the sun’s heat I know with deep certainty the Father’s unrelenting love toward me. Toward half the world (and far more) that lives down-slope. And his promise pounds in my ears over and over and over and over:
“It will not always be so.”