I found my calling in a dream. Wouldn’t you expect as much from a starry-eyed mystic in the wilderness? It was a dream of war. Old, Biblical war, with tents and spears. At the end of each bloody day, the armies filed back into their camps to drink goat’s milk and mead and lick their wounds.
Sadly, Russell Crowe was nowhere to be seen. Nor Iain Glen, neither. Not a single oiled Hollywood extra in sight. No. My dream was a dream of a war between the people that I love. It was a dream of shared violence in which the perpetrators were all my people.
On one side, the urban progressives who had taken me in and gifted me my voice. My atheist husband. My Marxist brother. The women creatives who lifted me up and taught me to take up space. The gay men who fed me and dressed me and taught me to use my middle finger to protect myself from being colonized by shame.
On the other side, the Christian conservatives of my religious heritage. The sister who changed my diapers and taught me not to pick my nose. The rural towns where I learned to play “Hey, Cow!” The women who gave me chocolate chip cookies and fresh cow’s milk, who despised feminism for undermining their value as full-time homemakers. The pastors and pastor’s wives and LDS visiting teachers who taught me to follow the deepest yearnings of my heart, and seek for God.
One side. And the other side. Each waving their colors. Between them, bloodshed. In my dream I went and laid down in the middle of the field, and found Christ there waiting for me.
I have told this story many times. This is my Christian theology. This is my #faithfeminism. It is not a theology of atonement or righteousness. Nor is it a theology that entrenches my position in one camp or another. It is a theology of peace.
Christ in the space between. Christ as the bridge across the canyon. Christ as the third way.
[fast forward several years]
Of all the maps and visions of a faithful life, the one that fits me best is the image of a spiral. I see myself walking this circle path: both infinite and terrifying in the sheer precision of its repetition. I meet myself, here, again and again. I think, haven’t I been here before? Haven’t I answered this question already?
But I am still myself. And I have not escaped myself. I have not lifted off this earth — no, not even to rest in the lap of Christ. I am still walking.
I am still walking the path of the peacemaker. And today, on this day — on this turn of the circle — the middle of the field is not so clear. Today I am on the turn of the circle that brings me out of rest and into unrest, out of security and into conflict, out of stability and into disruption. This is not the whole path, but is a part of the path. And although I writhe in the discomfort, I also struggle to accept it.
As a peacemaker, I do not strive for a peace that is only peace for some.
I am a white woman. I am a married, heterosexual White woman. This year, as I have come around the corner, the path has required me to witness oppressions I do not experience.
I made what seemed to be a pretty easy vow, last winter, to open my ears and eyes to the experiences of women of color. I took what you might think to be a pretty easy dose to start, actually. Basically I just read and supported the writing of some friends. But it was like jumping into a bath of cold water. It moved my eyes. And I felt then that it was time to reconsider the terms of my own peacemaking. I realized that I had passed through a point of synchronicity, that I had come to accept comfort and even a sense of achievement in a peace that was still only a peace for some.
Christ leads me forward, simultaneously out of my privilege and out of my oppression. It is the same outward movement, into Kingdom life, into a faith that conquers fear, into thin air.
This is my faith feminism. This is the spiritual path as I understand it. It is the path, for me, of faith informed by a yearning for justice for all, and the path of justice work informed by faith.
I come around the corner again, and again. I walk through one camp and then the other. I fall. Sometimes someone is there to pick me up. Other times I have to do the picking up all by myself. I make mistakes, and I have to apologize for them. I overstep and I understep. I shout too loud and whisper too quietly. But I still walk.
I am called out to walk.
I’m participating in the huge link-up and week-long blitz at #faithfeminisms, responding to the theme “a calling out.” It is organized by Christians, but has an intention to be inclusive. I hope you’ll go see the rest of the posts here. Or follow the hashtag here. Maybe you’ll want to post your own!