I’ve been trying to find my voice since “the day” a few days ago. I’ve cycled through most of the feelings one person can have – incredulity, anger, fear, sadness, – wash, rinse, repeat. As ideas, feelings, reflections, lists, plans, and poems swirl in my head almost manically, I’ve struggled to put to words the thing all of us are wondering most in this post-election world — what comes next?
However, I’ve also been taking care of myself, and that involves sitting very still and very quiet, spending a luxurious amount of time snuggling with my babies and telling them stories about people preaching from the book of their lives. When I do those things, when I sit very still and very quiet, God never fails to speak peace in the space I’ve created for Him.
What’s done is done and all these terrible ideas, and all these bullying words, and all that has been unleashed is here to stay. I pray it will not be half as bad as I fear, but I work like it will be worse. I sit very still and quiet, and know that what I need is fire. What my sisters and I need is to be consumed by flame and reborn from ash – a Phoenix of the Spirit, a Warrior of the Word.
Who is the phoenix, the warrior, this one who has been reborn and formed to wage the peace that will save the world?
The warrior is above all, integrated. She’s embraced the incarnational reality of her mind, body, and soul and does not denigrate any one in service of the other. She feeds all 3 sides of herself and she knows that her mind, body, and soul must be nourished and cherished so she can change the world.
To those of you who woke up afraid, angry, scared, or paralyzed by uncertainty on Wednesday morning — to be a Warrior of the Word is to listen to and honor those feelings. Don’t suppress or ignore that instinct. Sit with those feelings, wide awake. Do not go back to sleep.
What we need is people who can sit with their fear, anger, and indignation and then say, “What’s next?” We need women awake enough to know that its better to sit with their own pain than it is to throw it at someone else. You’re going to need that pain to fuel your work for justice — don’t get rid of it just yet.
We need women who have stoked the inner flame of radical self-love and who are ready to harness it’s fire power for others. For justice. For the peace of Christ — which can never co-exist with injustice. Rather than the false prophets of peace, peddling the world’s understanding of peace which is merely the absence of conflict, she knows that true peace only exists where its root – justice – is found.
This false prophet tells us to doubt our very instincts and experiences, to hide our truest selves behind smiles and platitudes. To avoid conflict to preserve a false sense of peace not worthy of the word.
We need women formed in the image of God, awakened by the Gospel, and compelled by an internal fire to burn until we set the whole world ablaze. This requires tending to all three sides of ourselves with radical self-care. If the world hates you (and it will), it’s because they hated Him first.
Radical self-care – listening to and treating like a loved one – the mind, body, and soul as the precious Imago Dei that it is, gives us the fuel for the fight. The warrior goes to her God for healing, sustenance, and rest. She rests in her own skin, knowing her own worth, no matter the message of those in power.
She feeds her mind to feed her faith – she reads and she reaches out to hear the stories of those not like her. She believes them, and when it makes her sad, angry, or scared, she sits with her pain rather than throw it at someone else. She lets the voices of the voiceless transform her.
The warrior models self-care and balance to her family and community. She extends grace to others, starting with herself.
The warrior works for justice – that is, she seeks to be in right relationship with her family, her community, and the world. She listens to the voiceless and gives preference to those who are poor in power, poor in dignity, and poor in love. She trusts the testimony of those ignored, and stands for those shoved down.
She comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable in her midst.
She burns with the fire of God’s love, and once consumed and reborn, she acts. How does she act?
She starts her morning with the news in one hand and the Gospel in the other.
She does the hard work of rooting out the seeds of violence, racism, and injustice in her own heart, and helps others do the same. She does not run away when the work gets hard or scary. She lets it be hard and scary, knowing that growth never comes without pain.
Her primary concern is for those without power or voice, those who have been excluded from the community. She goes to them and she listens to them with the tenderness and humility of Christ. She knows she does not have all the answers, but she goes and she listens anyway. She knows, because her God has told her, that her primary concern is with how the voiceless will be heard and the unloved will be remembered. The bulk of her compassion rests always, always with those suffering and oppressed, not with those responsible for suffering and oppression.
She takes what she has learned and speaks the truth to power with the force of Jesus flipping temple tables.
She lives in harmony with Creation, and stewards it knowing that Earth is our only home and if we ruin it, we will not be gifted with another. She knows that our planet is part of the voiceless for whom she must speak.
She creates within her family a space for true community, human flourishing, and participation. She builds up children that she influences with the knowledge that God never throws anyone away and neither should we.
She does justice, she loves goodness, and she walks humbly with God.
What the world and especially the Church needs are women who have come alive to themselves, their God, and others, who have allowed themselves to be consumed by the Spirit’s flame and reborn a warrior for the word. The world needs warrior women – women who know that if they build a wall, you build a people who tear walls down.
The world needs you.
If you’re Catholic and feeling compelled to action, but you don’t know where to begin, begin here: The Social Doctrine of the Church