Week 5 reflection

            I started this workshop in exhaustion. I’m still tired. I know it’s not an iron deficiency (I’ve been tested), but it feels like the tiredness has been in my blood for years and years. But I also felt energy moving here, and it’s much-needed energy.

            I’m inspired to keep writing through my correspondence with my friend Bushra (week 5 letter) and chip away at the other projects that are bubbling up in me. I will try to practice healthy habits – and I’ll forgive myself when I don’t. It’s a process.

            My small group has been such a wonderful space, and I’m so grateful to Stephanie, Arline, Leah, and Pat for accompanying me! I wish we could get to know each other over tall glasses of lemonade around a table in a grassy backyard.  Wouldn’t that be nice? I also wish I could’ve met so many of the other participants! I’ve loved reading your posts. Maybe someday we will meet.

            I close this post with a picture of two icons that I showed my small group on Wednesday. While we were talking, I was suddenly struck by the accidental juxtaposition of the two depictions of the woman who washes Jesus’s feet (associated with Mary Magdalene). In the left icon, the woman is contorted, bent over, on the ground. She has no halo. She radically humbles herself before Jesus. On the right, Mary Magdalene looks priestly, regal, authoritative, and confident. She addresses the viewer directly. Where do I lie within this dichotomy?, I asked. What is the “right way” to follow Christ? Should I be humble and self-effacing? (Perhaps even humbler than the woman who washes Jesus’s feet in the midst of the crowd – I asked my conversation partner on Monday if that could be an act of performative wokeness! Did she want praise for her public act?) Or should I be like the proud icon: publicly claim my priesthood and decry the harms of female socialization? Where should I rest on the continuum between those two points?

            It’s a constant negotiation. I don’t have an answer, but I wanted to share. It’s one of the dichotomies that I am trying to live within. Thank you for giving me this space to think about where fit, how I move, and where I’m going!   

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