Watching you sing out that blessing over the beautiful people gathered in the garden and the meal they had prepared and the plants and animals and water and soil – that was communion. We were all taken up in the song, in belonging to each other, sharing in each other’s brokenness and blessedness, in la misma lucha, poured out for each other and for the healing of the whole world. I could feel the power in your blessing, the power in you, and I felt it wash over the whole circle, the whole garden – power with, not power over, power that empowers.
I remember when Christine told me “you’re very powerful,” and it wasn’t a compliment. I had been so hurt by our conversation about women priests – she said she figured if the Church didn’t ordain women they probably had a good reason for it. She didn’t know what the reason was, though, and when I told her all the half-baked outrageous justifications the Church uses to defend its stance on a male-only priesthood, she didn’t believe me. She could give the Vatican the benefit of the doubt, but not her own sister. I cried hard and didn’t talk to her for days. That’s when she told me I was powerful, that maybe I didn’t realize the power I had over other people, that my silence hurt her. That was years ago – we made up and moved on and haven’t touched the subject since.
I remember when my mom told me how she makes peace with the Church in all its imperfection. Something at Mass that Sunday had me raging and crying about the injustice of it all – probably it was Vocations Sunday. She spoke to me of her own vocation as a mother, and how mothering shaped her relationship to the church – “I love the Church with a mother’s love,” she told me, “a love that isn’t limited by the Church’s mistakes and shortcomings.” She looked at me and I could tell she saw my grief, “maybe you’re called to be a prophet, Claire.”
Cura, how did you get free enough to trust your power? Free from all the internalized misogyny, imposed expectations, self-doubt, fear of uncertainty, scarcity thinking? When did you start trusting your seeds and sowing them? There is an assuredness in your presence that puts people at ease.
When I start trusting my power, will Christine too? Or will my power always be threatening to people who are comfortable within the dominant power structure?
Does being a prophet have to be lonely? You make it look so joyful! Maybe community is the key – yours is a church full of leaders, a church full of prophets. The dominant power structure has failed each one of those beautiful people who gathers for the meal in the garden. And in gathering together, in making a space for each other, you are listening each other’s stories into life, deep calling to deep, echoing each other’s call until it’s a mighty chorus. Maybe that’s how there is such ease in your power. Circle power, not pyramid power. Fractal power, flock power, round dance power.
So what are you all doing with that power? Are you directing any of it back at the institutional Church? Or did you give up on that? Did you have to choose at some point between co-cultivating an alternative church and challenging the institutional Church? Is that a false dichotomy?
Maybe circle power begets more power – renewable energy, not extractive energy that exhausts its own source and releases toxins along the way. Maybe the institutional Church is scraping the bottom of the barrel of dominating power. Maybe your alternative church community is powered by a different Source – one that isn’t scarce but abundant and regenerative! I remember when Laura at the Catholic Worker talked about God’s economy being one of abundance, not scarcity. She spoke of the regenerative quality of love – when we share it it isn’t depleted but instead increases! The more you give it, the more it grows. I’m pondering all this in my heart.
Trust your seeds, and sow them.
With Diosita’s grace, I will.
Con mucho cariño y esperanza,