One of the images which has stuck with me after my visit to New York was the bronze sculpture we saw in the Cathedral of St John the Divine. It was created by Meredith Bergmann, a sculptor, feminist and poet and invited contemplation which held me when I was there and I’ve gone back to time and time again. It shows a woman with her eyes closed, holding up both hands, palms towards her face, stopping two planes. It made me think of stigmata. You can read what she says about it here.
Let me let you in on a secret. I have a passion. Yes, it is true. I have a passion, and not just any old passion. My passion is for church magazines. It is a passion borne out of fascination, and a love of communication, and a desire for good design with plenty white space, and probably a desire for mission too. Good church magazines are a joy to find and get me terribly excited. Bad magazines make me very, very sad.
My congregation know of my love for church magazines so whenever they are on holiday they bring me some back. I have noticed over the years that our American sisters and brothers go for things in a big, big way. Blimey! Even their pew sheets run to several colour A4 sheets with music.
My eye was caught by an insert in one such recent magazine from the USA. It was an A4 page advertising ‘American Girl Camp’ and there was a pretty colour picture of two dolls dressed in Victorian dresses. The theme of the camp this year is ‘Building Character Through History’. So far, so good-ish. It continues ‘for girls from 1st grade through 5th grade’. And then …. *shudders*… ‘Daily sessions include history, reading, writing, crafts and sewing, music, cooking, and games. All of these activities reflect periods of American History. The class will participate in a Mother-Daughter tea party on the last day…’
By now my feminist un-shaved hairs are bristling. Bristling, dear sisters and brothers, with the thought of the horror which is American Girl Camp. Sewing and cooking? Presumably they’ve to take their own apron. Aagghh. And what about poor old Dad? Let’s hope there are no single dads out there being excluded from the old tea party. What is it about America that this happens? I mean, it would never ever happen here, right?
Bookmark last night and we all agreed that we LOVED this book by Sue Monk Kidd. (Even our token man loved it.) The author, born in a small town in Georgia, started off life as a nurse but went on to study spirituality, philosophy, mythology and woman stuff. She is a big fan of Thomas Merton and C G Jung, and I think you could find glimpses of all within this book.
Set in the American South in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest, the book is a powerful story of coming-of-age, of the ability of love to transform our lives, and the often unacknowledged longing for the universal faminine divine. Addressing the wounds of loss, betrayal, and the scarcity of love, the author demonstrates the power of women coming together to heal those wounds, to mother each other and themselves, and to create a sanctuary of true family and home.
The book revolves around Lily, a 14 year old, who lives with her harsh father, both mourning the death of her mother when Lily was 4. Lily is led to believe that she was responsible for her death. Lily is raised by Rosaleen, her proud, outspoken African-American nanny and when Rosaleen tries to vote she is attacked and thrown into jail. Lily springs her from jail and they run away together to a small town, the name of which Lily has found in her mother’s possessions. There they are taken in by three black beekeeping sisters who worship the Black Madonna. There Lily makes her passage to wholeness and new life.
The book is funny and sad and empowering and the ending is not what you might expect. We’d love to see the film when it’s made, but weren’t sure if we wanted to read a sequel if the author ever does one.