Walking Our Faith: The sisterhood of women (column)
I finished this week’s column, as I usually do on Wednesday evening, and read the first draft to my mother. I went to Adoration at St. Mary’s on Thursday and gave a copy to Barb to read. Both women had a similar comment, “you mention me too much.” For good measure, I’ll now add, Pat, and Maggie, who are also frequent mentions.
The thing is, I have never been a mother, so unless I’m writing from the perspective of a daughter, I don’t count myself qualified to remark on Mother’s Day.
However, when I spoke to Mom later that evening, I suggested an alternate idea, writing about a sisterhood of women. When I think of what has made my first three years in Breckenridge so meaningful it is these women and others who I meet throughout my day: Leslie at the post office, Kyla the farmer of the CSA, Pat at the South Branch library. Mom enthusiastically agreed, “Yes, write about that.”
Which makes perfect sense. For Mom, Barb, Pat, Maggie, and other women of their generation, hearing another Mother’s Day sermon about the age-old debate of mothers working in the home versus outside of the home is at this point in their lives, tiresome. They made their choices for a variety of reasons. And now they’d rather not discuss it further, thank you very much.
But they are interested in the decisions young women are making today. My mother is pleased that women are taking a stand against harassment, a topic she not only experienced in her career but shares that it wasn’t something that could be discussed. It was a big enough deal that they were climbing to positions of leadership for the first time.
Because I write through the lens of faith, I was going to recall women throughout the Bible who played instrumental roles in God’s plan for humanity. But I realized I could look within Summit County, to find inspiration.
Another sisterhood of women have inspired my spiritual growth over the past three years. To the women I mentioned earlier, I add: Lydia Wittman the Chaplain at St. Anthony’s hospital, Joyce Mueller my volunteer chaplain mentor, Pastor Claire McNulty of Father Dyer’s United Methodist Church, Pastor Liliana Stahlberg of Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church, and Rabbi Ruth Gelfarb of Synagogue of the Summit, all whom I admire and have created a path I hope to follow as a lay religious within my Catholic Church.
The growing role of women in religious life is both a reflection of the role they have played since Biblical times, as well as an outgrowth of their natural maternal and empathetic instincts, whether they’ve had children or not.
The other day, I was scrolling through Instagram, usually my treasure trove for knitting inspiration, and I saw a short video of Pope Francis describing God’s love. He spoke of fleeting romantic love and then suggested that real lasting love was work, the way a mother loves her child.
And a light went off in my mind. The reason I believe Pope Francis used the example of a mother’s love is in part because a mother’s love endures throughout the life of the child. Not based on the child’s merit, or anything the child does or doesn’t do to earn the mother’s love, but simply because the mother loves her child.
We see this in the example of Mary, who followed her Son, Jesus, literally to the foot of the cross and stayed as he suffered and died. This is the enduring love that I believe Pope Francis spoke of. I believe it is also the model he chose as an example of God’s love for us. A love that endures not because we have done anything to earn it or could ever deserve it. God loves us because we are his children.
And just as our mothers will never stop loving us, even more so, will God never stop loving us.
As we celebrate the women in our lives this Sunday, let’s not set up artificial comparisons that have more to do with politics, culture, or marketing. Let’s celebrate the sisterhood of women who reach across generations to support one another. These women who offer wisdom and encouragement to create growth in our culture as much as they nurture the growth of their own children.
Let’s celebrate our mothers and sisters as they provide love that is deep and lasting, yes even when it’s imperfect. If we take our mother’s love for granted, as we often take God’s love for granted, let’s endeavor to do better. We all need grace and forgiveness.
Let’s remember that Jesus, the Son of God, chose to enter this world through the body of a humble young woman. He nursed at the breast of his mother, a woman who was perfectly human, who felt the same joy and pain as any mother as she watched her child grow, leave home, and eventually die much too young.
Let us pray that every woman will experience God’s grace daily, God’s love surrounding her always, and on more than this one Sunday in May, our respect and admiration.
Suzanne Anderson lives in Breckenridge.
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