In a kind of offshoot from my previous post, I find myself checking in at my 2006 journals, to see whether my memory of the awe, even euphoria, I felt when the Mennonite Brethren conference I was part of passed a resolution freeing women for ministry leadership (this after a long process of debate and study over many years) is accurate or if it has been imagined into stronger color over time.
I find it’s accurate enough. I was trembling through the final discussions of that particular convention, I noted, because it mattered that much, and then came the surprise, even shock, of the resolution passing, solidly enough (the news report here), a sense of “wow” as it began to sink in. “I feel that something has been loosed on earth, as we prayed…” my private pages said, bursting with gratitude.
Nearly six years later, I confess I’m disappointed in the “since then.” My impression — anecdotal, I realize, since I’m no longer involved in the conference — is that while women’s participation goes on a-pace in some congregations, the ethos of the Mennonite Brethren denomination as such has not changed to reflect that decision — or “the spirit, the direction” it represented, as one of the men who worked hard on that process put it to me recently. Perhaps it’s even regressed. Continue reading
One evening last week I attended a poetry reading. Four local poets read, but it was Joanne Epp’s evening in particular, as she launched her chapbook, “Crossings,” a lovely collection of 17 poems in two sets: reflections on a train trip and on places in Saskatchewan.
We stay close to the ground
so the wind will not blow us away. (from “Wild Strawberries”) Continue reading
I belong to a Mennonite-Catholic dialogue group which meets several times a year. Our assignment for this week’s meeting was a personal reflection on the Beatitudes, broadly, and then more specifically, in choosing one beatitude we were particularly “attracted” to at this point — in not more than seven minutes each! The contributions were varied, and all interesting. This was mine:
I memorized many parts of the Sermon on the Mount as a child, to get a reduction on Bible camp fees. So it seems the Beatitudes have been with me forever, like old markers, like a fence around my life. They’ve been markers for my (Mennonite) understanding of discipleship.
“Selig sind die Barmherzigen” (Blessed are the merciful), inscription over doorway in Berlin
In this reflection, however, I was struck by something else. The opening beatitudes [blessed are the poor, mourning, meek, hungry], at least, seem an expression of holes in the soul. I see need, grief, poverty of whatever kind, hunger. Yes, there’s a happiness expressed, but next to gaping wounds. Continue reading