Our Sacred Stories

“We act in power because it is God who acts in history.” – Cecilia González-Andrieu

During our Monday meditation on the Gospel story of the woman anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume and her tears (Luke 7:36-50), I suddenly imagined myself to be the servant girl peering at what is happening in the dining room from the kitchen door. I am about 13 and I am enthralled. Who is this woman with the courage and the audacity to walk into the home of this Pharisee, claim her space, and do the work her soul must have? Although I could be reprimanded for peering from the kitchen, it is something I must risk. I have to see this. I feel myself breathing in her courage, her resolve, her great love for what she has seen and experienced through Jesus. Then I muster my own courage to grab a bowl of fruit in the kitchen and take it into the dining room and place it on a side table. All the while I am quietly breathing in all that is happening – the alabaster jar, the smell of the perfume, the woman’s tears, using her hair to anoint his feet. I am connecting to the vital undercurrent of Sisterhood in which I am cheering her on to do the work her soul must have for herself and for all of us. Jesus is looking at this woman with tenderness and I can feel the infinite love in his heart leaking out. Then I catch him glimpsing me out of the corner of his eye, and his love pours out over me too. He sees me, the servant girl, the one in the kitchen quietly doing what is commanded and expected of her. But he sees all of me, what is seen and what is unseen. He sees my heart, my hunger, my soul, my voice, my eyes, my mind, my working hands. He sees the words and the stories that are always swirling inside of me.

In that moment I understand that this scene between Jesus and this woman will be written down someday. It will be written down in a sacred text for all to remember, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” It will be written down so that girls and women throughout the ages can glimpse the no matter whatness of the love of Jesus. It will be written down so that they can glimpse the courage and audacity in the woman that is inside of them too. It will be written down so that they know that their stories and their lived experiences matter. No matter how humble, no matter how small, no matter how quietly done, no matter the color of her skin, no matter her poverty, a woman’s life matters.

I walk back into the kitchen standing taller. I feel grace flowing through my female body. Whatever reprimand might be hurled at me for having left the kitchen, I can stand fully in my dignity. Not only that, I witnessed the woman anointing Jesus’ feet. I tapped into my inner poder to risk leaving the kitchen to see what unfolded between them. I have the story and I will share it with the other servant girls, with my mother and my aunts, with my sisters, cousins, friends and neighbors. I will be one of the ones who proclaims this story to ensure it is known throughout the community until the day arrives that this sacred story is written in a sacred text.

8 thoughts on “Our Sacred Stories

  1. Ellie, This reflection is beautiful and deeply moved me this morning. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words. And i’m thankful to have found myself in the midst of women like you who are showing me this path of redemption of the sacred feminine within the biblical text.

    1. Ellie, today I was scrolling for Mary Magdalene images for our parish celebration on July 22. I ran across a very interesting image. Not Mary, but the woman at Simon’s house. Alas, folks are still conflating all these women. In the corner was a servant girl. I’ll send this by email tomorrow afternoon as this venue won’t let me add an image. Blessings,

  2. Ellie, I loved reading this. You so eloquently described some of my same feelings during our Monday meeting. I am not a gifted writer and it was so affirming and beautiful for me to read your thoughts. I hope you will continue to be the one who will proclaim these stories that are needed today so deeply. Do you have thoughts on how you might do that?

    1. Thank you Pat for your affirmation and your hope that I continue to proclaim these stories about women of faith that are needed so deeply. It’s so helpful to be reminded that these stories are deeply needed. Internalized sexism would have me forget that this is important work to share these stories. Thank you for being a Word from the outside that helps me to value what is already in my heart.

  3. I love how simple the details are in this sacred story and yet, they change everything.

    Ellie, I would like to have a chance to talk with you about your experience at Dolores Mission. I’m moving into a similar role at St. Francis Xavier College Church in St. Louis, MO. I’m both excited and overwhelmed at the idea. I wonder if you would share some of your wisdom with me.

  4. Ellie, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful meditation! I especially loved the description of you as the young girl going back to the kitchen a little taller and prouder of who you are. We all need to hear such affirmations! We all need to support each other to become aware of the great dignity and value with which I believe God sees us. Like it says in The Shack, spoken by Sarayu (the Spirit), “You people, you have such a low opinion of yourselves and do not realize the great value and worth that you are!” (paraphrased) We ALL need to hear this message so that we can work toward creating the world that God intended it to be. How will you continue to do this? How will you bring this message to those around you? How will you keep remembering yourself so that you don’t forget? Blessings.

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