The Fire This Time

I’m doing this really interesting thing with a Catholic lady writer friend, where we are consecrating our creativity to Mary over a period of 30 days. We offer our “fiat” to God, to use us and our writing to speak His word into the world.

So naturally today is day 1 and I wake up with anger. Sitting heavy like a stone in my stomach while drinking my coffee and reading the Gospel (my mostly daily morning routine) — and I am angry. Not the petty, sinful anger of my temper flaring at my children’s misdeeds or my husband leaving his clothes on the floor (again). No, not that anger which has no place in a holy life and which I am constantly, constantly trying to root out of my soul.

Rather, the fire in my belly this morning as I sit with my God is the fire of women burned. The anger I feel fills me with a desire to reach back through time and space and tell that serpent to go back to the hell he came from, to grab Adam and scream “wake the hell up”, and to hug Eve and tell her everything will be alright. To go back to the gates of Eden and stop those fools before they fuck the whole thing up. Only I can’t do that, so I pick up the book instead.

I reflect on the words of the new Eve — our Great Mother Mary.

And Mary[a] said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

I sit with this and imagine myself in the scene, witnessing this exchange between Mary and Elizabeth. The veil flying, the fire in Mary’s eyes as she proclaims God’s word, her fist upraised proclaiming — “He has scattered the proud, He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly;”

I think about what happens when women get angry – really angry. You see, we’re not really allowed to be mad about the things that matter, about the things that God is angry over. Yet unless one is sleep-walking through life, it’s hard to not feel anger in the face of the injustices girls and women experience worldwide.

When I come to my God in prayer, sit with the proclamation of his blessed Mother, and what fills me is fire – I know that some anger is holy and I best not ignore it when it comes. Anger at injustice is no sin — in fact it’s our calling. The only good response to injustice and the suffering in its wake is anger that pushes one to act. To end the injustice, to ease the suffering of exploitation, to speak for the voiceless. This is the anger of a God flipping tables and of His Mother singing in praise of a God who casts down the powerful.

Yet, when speaking from this place of righteous anger, women are often met with dismissal, ridicule, or defensiveness.

Don’t get your panties in a twist.

Lighten up. Get a sense of humor. It was just a joke.

What, are you part of the angry vagina squad?

Why can’t you just tone it down a bit?

It’s so depressing when you talk about all that suffering.

Not all men do those things — just focus on the good ones.

Well, I’m a woman and none of that has ever happened to me. 

To be a woman, a Catholic and to want to speak freely about not fitting into tiny boxes is dangerous. To be a woman and speak authentically about having female flesh is dangerous. To be a woman and want to not speak or write about your body, to write in more traditionally male spaces is dangerous. To be a woman is often dangerous. Lifting up the voices of voiceless women and invisible people within our communities, our church and the world is dangerous. Calling out the powerful from a place of unequal power is dangerous.

Yet that is exactly what God did when he put skin on, and he invites us all to do the same. It’s not safe, it may open me to ridicule, but it’s the only thing that will satisfy the fire in my belly.

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