Wednesday, July 1, 2009

And Aint I a Woman?

Over the week I had deep conversations with several friends. All of us were experiencing inadequacies that women of a certain age feel more than ever, even though we look all grown up, even old on the outside.  We retain the tenderness of girls, though we are stronger in spirit with age, the tests just get harder.  We are old, we are becoming crones, and to the world this means we are subtly lessening in importance.

Loving long and loyally is taxing work, and we are all but invisible as we trod through a days tasks, tears so close to the surface when our hearts ache.  There are no weddings, no baby showers, no celebrations for most women in mid-life. Yet we are strong enough to laugh, strong enough to carry on, hosting the showers, caring for the family, and comforting the young -- while our own lives go largely uncelebrated.  We are taken for granted, except by each other.

One friend especially touched my heart.  She is such a private person; I believe she regrets it later when she shares a grief or a weakness. She doesn't want to burden anyone; she always puts others' stories and suffering first. She asks us about ourselves, holding back until she can bear it no longer. 

And yet each sorrow, each tear shared with a friend strengthens both the speaker and the listener. When she sheds a tear telling me an uneasy truth of her life I love her all the more. I will tell her that, that hearing her confusion and agony to be what God ordained her to be gives me courage and clarity.  While revealing her weakness she reminded me how tough, how very strong we are. 

We are strong because we bear each other up; we are strong because we have to be. We, the unsung old ones bear so much. We are very, very courageous -- but we don't always feel that way.  Some days we need to be reminded of just how strong we are, even in our weakness.

I think of Sojourner Truth saying this:

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)

Delivered 1851

Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or Negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, I love you it when you comment! Thanks!