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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Nasty women

This morning finds me in a strange but oddly familiar place - the intersection of exhaustion and exhilaration - which often comes after doing a mighty work for what is understood to be the justice of God's Realm. 
I've spent the past two days with some of the smartest people on the planet who also have become some of my dearest friends. We have been slogging through cultural and organizational and yes, personal transformation, pushing through the fog of the illusion of safety of what was, even as we slide, headlong, into the rapidly shifting landscape of what is the growing movement for reproductive health, choice, rights and justice. 
For a little more than a year we've been planning this creative, hard work of 'renovation' - improving an outdated organizational structure, leaving behind the things that no longer work, repairing the damaged or broken places that still have some years of service left, removing the toxic asbestos and lead paint, and mucking out the build up of  - well, there's no other way to say it - flat-out shit that has built up over the years. 
It's been a hard year or so that has been coming for the past decade.  
The thing about sitting in your own shit pile is that it's comfortable. Soft. Easily adjustable to your body. After a while, you can even get used to the smell. Doesn't change the fact that you've been sitting in your own pile of shit and only you can grab the shovel and begin to dig yourself out.

We met in retreat last August to spend some time examining our past and then some more time looking reality squarely in the face. We explored organizational models of functioning and leadership verses movement models. 
We studied different ways of being an organization which is part of a movement. We examined various ways of power and authority. Hierarchy vs. Collaborative. Intersectionality vs. Binary and Linear Thinking. We looked at the necessary ingredients to - and the successful components of - coalition building. 
This was the meeting where we were to make decisions to become more of a reflection of the movement we're in. To our amazement, we discovered that our process of decision making, in some ways, mirrors the lives of the women we serve. 
We ought not to have been surprised, then, to discover that the push-back from some was pretty fierce. 
And yet, we prevailed.

We had to do battle with ghosts. We had to bind old scars we thought were healed but were now suddenly open and painful. We had to move through foreign and sometimes hostile territory. 

As we traveled deeper and deeper into imagination and creativity, change and transformation, we shared with each other bits and pieces of hope and creativity from the wise women who have come before us. 
We discovered that some of us are what Mr. Trump would call "nasty women".  We are strong. We are clear. We know what must be done and we won't be popular or even liked for doing it. 

And yet, we persevere. 
So much depends on what happens November 8th. We heard that clearly in last night's debate. 
Mr. Trump does not trust women's decisions about our own bodies. In turn, many women do not trust Mr. Trump with our country - our nation - the world. 
And yet, inexplicably, others do. 
As a bone fide 'nasty woman', here's the deal: I. Don't. Care. Vote your conscience. But, for God's sake vote. The lives of so many are on the line. So many women who are being denied reproductive health, rights, choice and justice will be at even greater risk depending on the November 8th vote. 

No matter what happens, we nasty women will continue to prevail. 

We are at the intersection of exhaustion and exhilaration.  It is at this crossroad where the Spirit moves and lives and has her being. It is the place where creativity and new life are born out of pain and chaos and the inexplicable joy that comes with freedom to choose your own way forward. 

Nasty women know shit and we are not afraid to take the risk of digging out ourselves and our sisters.

One of my dear friends closed out our meeting yesterday with this poem as a meditation. 
I remember it well but had forgotten just how inspiring it can be to those of us moving forward forward together into the future, holding onto hope even as our anxieties threaten to hold us back. 
I share it with you now in hopes that it will inspire you and encourage you to make it through these next two weeks: 

Si Se Puede! A luta continua. We can do it.

American Herstory
By celeste doaks

Tell them it's always under attack. Tell them there's no cure for the disease, or answer to the riddle. Tell them you asked many before you, some who won, some who lost.

You consulted Assata, Roe vs. Wade, Harriet and Jocelyn Elders
to no avail. Her words on contraception twisted into a bitter pretzel.
The bits broken off, used to destroy her.

Tell them its always under attack, its predators everywhere. They lurk behind Mississippi clinics or around Georgetown blocks dressed in blue uniform. Tell them you have the cure, somewhere at home,

deep in your cabinets, mixed in a mason jar, Don't tell them it consists of breast milk, dreams, butterflies, civil rights marches,
burned bras, a piece of Madame CJ Walker's hair, prayers,
Ameila Earhart's drive, hot-water cornbread, and Sally Ride's fearlessness.

Lie to them, tell them it's rosemary oil, then bottle it. Sell it to every woman in America who will drink it. Then watch all the piranhas disappear.


Unknown said...

Well said. Thank you.

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Bex said...

Hillary's campaign got dibs on this one right away: #nastywomengetshitdone.

Colette said...

Good to know you are on the job, doing the hard work for the greater good. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Unknown said...

Wow! In the middle of reading 2nd volume of Eleanor Roosevelt's biography. It fits here so well--the years of nasty women making change! Thyank you. And thank you for the refeence to madame C. J. Walker. czarina