I won't rent you my time, I won't sell you my brain, I won't pray to a male god, cuz that would be insane ... and I will not rest a wink, until the women have regrouped — I am many things, made of everything, but I will not be your bank roll, I won't idle in your drive-thru, I won't watch your electric slideshow, I've got way better places to go.
— Ani DiFranco
I have to admit, I was struck dumb when I heard these lyrics at the Ani DiFranco show this weekend. I felt something in between the deep resonance of those lines, (shame?) and I recognized my complacency. I am bankrolling the Catholic Church, sending my daughters to a Catholic school, dropping my check into the basket each week. And I've done so consciously, because I've believed that I was called to be a voice on the inside — confronting the patriarchy around me. But I have to be honest — am I effecting any change at all?
For a time, I felt like my church was on my side in this battle. I found a sympathetic priest (now retired) and a prophetess against patriarchy (now deceased) to share in the struggle. I became a eucharistic minister, and remain so — now divorced (sin #1) and openly gay (sin #2). Of course I know that neither of these are sins, not in they eyes of the God/dess that I believe in — but there are days, days when I'd rather not show up at the table where so many people do hold these views.
I'm struggling. While my faith runs deep as it always has, I'm struggling once again with my place in a church that has felt less like home lately than it should. I can hear the chorus of why don't you just leave and I have a list of reasons why -- but I'm starting to see some holes there. I know that I've had a very difficult time coming out to church members, even though there are many in my community there. But how many were recently in a heterosexual marriage? And still, I believe that a big part of resisting patriarchy is simply showing up and continuing to be Catholic, resisting the assertions by the Vatican that my kind don't really belong. Church is local, I remind myself, just like politics. I just wish it were easier to envision my God/dess between those gilded walls — but the repetitive "Lord" and "He" squashes my imagination and squeezes the female Creatrix into a part of my brain that I can't access. I sit in my pew and try to conjor Her, to join "He" at the altar, but it is as if she is kryptonite and the church walls are lead — she just can't break through, save for small glimpses.
She comes through to me in the music, in the play of light through the stained glass as it bounces off the statue of St. Therese, in the voices of our lectors and cantors, in the Mother of God, and sometimes, from deep within myself. But she comes to me less when I'm in those walls then she comes to me without. She is in nature everywhere, in mothers everywhere, women everywhere, children everywhere. She is Wisdom and unconditional love, and peacefullness. She is in the smooth glass I collect at the beach, the kiss on my lover's lips, the sensousness and beauty of a burlesque dancer, the comfort for a child not my own, the sounds of our voices raised in song together and the warmth of our hands clasped tightly.
It is Fall now, officially. The shift begins within, even before we notice hues change and new a new chill in the night air. We are ready, we say, ready to shed what is dead. Ready to fight harder for what sustains us. I am ready to accept change and even the little deaths that come, knowing that new life awaits me. Confident in new growth, always. But first, the long winter....