The Quiet Before The Storm


Flinders (author of At The Root Of This Longing) finds feminists’ antecedents in medieval mystics, but like a pump which needs priming, that well of information needs a bucket of water to get started. Fortunately, ‘drawing from a great many places, little by little, women are putting together a portrait of the sacred feminine that is so persuasive and so beautiful that we begin to see ourselves, and our own capacities, in a dramatically different light.’ (139) The putting together of that portrait reads like compelling mystery novel. image of teresa of ávila from wikipedia.

‘Mystics as rule don’t write books,’ I learned over thirty years ago from Survival by Margaret Atwood, yet how do we know of the mystic insights of people like Hildegard of Bingen or Julian of Norwich? What did they say? Who are the mystics today? What are they saying? Is it any different? What clues from yesterday that we can use today to solve riddles for tomorrow? image from wikipedia.

‘In all kinds of ways, contemporary women are trying to secure for themselves of what the beautiful corner [in Ukrainian homes that signifies the Goddess] provided…,knitting a tree of life design,… planting an herb garden,…hanging a picture of Black Madonna,… poring over archeological texts…. As we gather our fragments, we are beginning to see wholeness–an entire orientation toward life so different from what we’ve known…. And while in the Middle Ages it was primarily the mystic who bore witness to the power of the sacred feminine (men like Francis of Assisi and Bernard of Clairvaux no less than women like Clare and Julian), [today] it is more typically the artist, particularly the literary artist…. To construct the usable past that women require, in other words, the resources of mainstream history are not nearly adequate. They reveal only the outermost look of things’. (143-144) image from wikipedia.

Why the artist, particularly the literary artist? ‘For anything like a revolution to take place, it must be imagined first…, fed by those who are good at writing songs and telling us a new kind of story’. (144) The artist excels at imagining the new. And we could use a revolution, a rebirthing, which is perhaps the ultimate expression of love. ‘Wherever the sacred feminine is honored, the central imagery is of birthing, but also of rebirthing. In cultures where individual achievement and aggrandizement are crucial to one’s experience of self, the very notion of death evokes immense anxiety.’ However, ‘where identity is experienced in terms of connection and relationship,… life is not snuffed out when one individual dies’. (149) The individual is mortal, but love is immortal. image from wikipedia.

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