I visited my therapist the other day, as I always do, twice a month - as we always joke - whether I need it or not.
This had been a particularly intense visit. Lots of truths told. Things I had been afraid to say out loud to another person. There's something happening in my soul. Something moving and shifting 'round. A 'disturbance in The Force', as it were.
But, it's not just me. It's happening to lots of folk I know.
When my appointment was done, I came out the side walkway to the parking lot to fetch my car. It was a drizzly, overcast day, and I was entertaining myself with the sound of my shoes 'crunch-crunching' on the gravel driveway, musing about how it sounded like boots on snow and thanking God for the cold Spring rain instead of snow.
That's when I heard it. A ruffle of feathers and clacking of branches overhead. I looked up and there s/he was - a magnificent hawk.
I heard myself gasp as s/he stopped on a branch just above my car and peered at me intently. We were both sort of frozen in place - both startled at the sight of each other. Both intensely curious about the other.
Once my composure returned, I remembered that I had my camera in my purse. I carefully rummaged around for it, taking it out to get the snap above.
When I got home later that day, I looked up the Native American folklore about the hawk. This is what it said, in part:
"Hawk is akin to Mercury, the messenger of the gods. Hawk teaches you to be observant, to look at your surroundings. Observe the obvious in everything that you do. Life is sending you signals."
"If a hawk appears to you, then right now a clue about the magic of life is being brought to you. This magic can imbue you with the power to overcome a currently stressful or difficult situation. This test is your ability to observe the nuances of power lurking nearby."
"You are only as powerful as your ability to perceive, receive and use your abilities. . .What is called for here is an intuitive ability to discern the message carried within the cry of the Hawk. The shrillness of Hawk's call pierces the state of unawareness, and asks you to seek the truth."
Or, it could simply be coincidence. The Hawk was simply flying from one area to another, looking for lunch. I just happened to be coming out of my therapist's office at that time. The Native American Folklore is not science. It's simply folklore.
Except, I don't believe in coincidence.
I don't think it's a coincidence that there is a media frenzy over Michele Obama's arms and, at the same time, an increase in mico-sexism that I and many of my sisters are feeling. I experienced it just this week on two separate occasions of blatant sexism from people in my church - people who should know better.
Just this week, one of my dear friends and colleagues came into my office, closed the door, slumped in my chair, raised her hands over her head in a distress signal and said, "Help! I'm drowning in patriarchy."
I don't think that this is not connected to the fact that there is a Black man in the White House and suddenly, there is a Black Man on TV, assuring us that in times of trouble or disaster, "You're in good hands with Allstate."
Or, that in a commercial for FIOS there is a Black man who comes to the door of his modern home to get the best deal from two White white men who are Cable Guys.
That those 'good hands' are Black hands would be nothing short of astonishing to my parent's generation. Neither is it insignificant that one White Cable Guy is clearly scamming and one is not and the Black man is able to tell the difference between them and get the best deal.
And, none of this is at all pleasing so some folk who silently steam about the shifting racial and gender paradigms of power and authority. People who subconsciously or unconsciously allow words or acts of sexism to invade reality.
I'm thinking there's a connection between all this shifting paradigm of male power and the increase in sexism I'm noticing. Over and over and over again, women are reporting being passed over for appointments to positions or promotions, or even praise.
There is something in the air. "WILD air, world-mothering air /Nestling me everywhere," as Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote of The Blessed Virgin.
It falls to the wise - the Hawk - to pay attention. To beware so that we might be aware.
These days require a keen eye and a bold heart.
Hopkins ends his poem about Mary with these words:
Be thou then, O thou dear
Mother, my atmosphere;
My happier world, wherein
To wend and meet no sin;
Above me, round me lie
Fronting my froward eye
With sweet and scarless sky;
Stir in my ears, speak there
Of God’s love, O live air,
Of patience, penance, prayer:
World-mothering air, air wild,
Wound with thee, in thee isled,
Fold home, fast fold thy child.
My mantra for the rest of Lent and Holy Week, which fast approaches, is this:
"You are only as powerful as your ability to perceive, receive and use your abilities."
"And Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart."
UPDATE: I just got notice that the Committee on Church Structure has submitted a resolution to eliminate the Committee on the Status of Women, saying that it is a committee with “a particular purpose for a particular time” and that the “policy issues relating to women in the world will fit more clearly” within other commissions.
You can read the latest report from the CSW here.
Kim Robey, Program Officer for Women's Ministries and Leadership at the National Church Center ("815") writes:
"At a time in the world under our new administration when we are finally waking up to the disparity between women and men, in all areas of social justice and pure numbers on decision making bodies as shown by the President creating several new bodies solely devoted to women’s issues, this is NOT the time to be eliminating this important committee. Also, at a time within the church where we see women Bishops retiring and not being replaced, this is NOT the time to be eliminating this committee. When the rest of the provinces within the Anglican Communion are desperately trying to establish women’s desks and women’s work in their church structures, this is NOT the time to be eliminating ours."
Wild air is everywhere.