To my Sisters

Tonight, I close up International Women’s Day thinking about my sisters of this world.  There are ways and issues around which we are so proximal, and other ways in which we are so very different from each other.  I love our resonance, and our diversity.  It makes the world a richer place to know the experiences of the other, both where they are shared and where each of us experiences personal and/or social challenges to being the fullness of ourselves.  For women, the fullness of who we are hits up against social expectations (and yes, limitations) of who we are supposed to be, by society’s standards.  Today, listening and taking in the conversations among my sisters all around me has made me reflect on the ways we are (or are not) in proximity.

Intersectionality is a phrase originated by my womanist and black feminist sisters to remind us that all women are uniquely situated in their identities: to be a black woman is very different than a white, queer-defining woman, for example.  We may share a common trait, but we cannot fully appreciate the humanness of our sisters without seeing complexity in all her varied forms and fabulousness.  But with that fabulousness comes identities which are less socially valued, or more easily overlooked.  The notion of identity is varied , shifting, multi-faceted.  I can dig deeply into my own identity, but I do my sister a disservice if I think I can lay claim to defining her own identity.

Knowing the other requires a commitment to relationship.  Relationship emerges from proximity, and proximity stems from trust.  Being proximal means we listen, even if we don’t like what we hear.  Being proximal doesn’t mean we agree with everything that we hear, but that we take time to understand it and challenge it if needed.  We can do so with grace and openness, or with bitterness and judgment.  The two approaches have very different outcomes.

Today, some women boycotted work; some wore red and served the public; some didn’t find the message of the Women’s March appealing to them.  Some showed up to necessary work but found their minds elsewhere; some showed up and lived it as any other day.  Each one of my sisters lived into the depth of the intersections of identity in her life, some harmonizing and some dissonant.  We are made in the image and likeness of God, each phenomenal one of us.  So to all my sisters, proximity  with each one of you as I close this day with the words of Maya Angelou:

Phenomenal Woman 

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Holy One, you made us all phenomenally.  May we look to each other, and see You.



About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
This entry was posted in Lent 2017, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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