Daily Reading for September 6
Although I had just finished writing a lengthy doctoral dissertation on the history of the Episcopal Church, my truest self was silent. I do not know how or where I learned it, but I had learned not to say what I really thought or truly believed or most desired. I internalized Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: women who express their deepest passions get run over by trains. The way of safety is to say what others want you to say, to repeat the words of those who hold power. And if you do that well enough you might gain a modicum of control over your own life.
Christianity is a faith of words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God speaks creation into being, the Spirit whispers life into the world. Wisdom is God’s name and holy words impart the way of holiness and the mystery of being. Through scripture, theology, prayers, and hymns, the church proclaims God’s presence in the world.
Throughout church history, however, the words of women and children, of the poor, the sick, and enslaved, have often been silenced by words of the wealthy, learned, and powerful. And if no one listens, you learn not to speak. When such voices are lost, the Word is diminished. I could express few genuine words. I needed to find my voice. Poet Marge Piercy writes in “Unlearning Not to Speak”:
She must learn again to speak
starting with I
starting with We
starting as an infant does
with her own true hunger
From Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community by Diana Butler Bass (Jossey-Bass, 2002).