POETRY: There Has To Be A Jail For Ladies by Thomas Merton

September 1, 2017

There has to be a jail where ladies go When they are poor, without nice things, and with their hair down. When their beauty is taken from them, when their hearts are broken There is a jail where they must go. There has to be a jail for ladies, says the Government, When they are ugly because they are wrong. It is good for them to stay there a long time Until the wrong is forgotten. When no one wants to kiss them any more, Or only wants to kiss them for money And take their beauty away It is right for the wrong to be unheard of for a long time Until the ladies are not remembered. But I remember one favorite song, And you ladies may not have forgotten: “Poor broken blossom, poor faded flower,” says my song. Poor ladies, you are [...]

POETRY: The Centaur by May Swenson

February 28, 2017

The summer that I was ten— Can it be there was only one summer that I was ten? It must have been a long one then— each day I’d go out to choose a fresh horse from my stable which was a willow grove down by the old canal. I’d go on my two bare feet. But when, with my brother’s jackknife, I had cut me a long limber horse with a good thick knob for a head, and peeled him slick and clean except a few leaves for the tail, and cinched my brother’s belt around his head for a rein, I’d straddle and canter him fast up the grass bank to the path trot along in the lovely dust that talcumed over his hoofs, hiding my toes, and turning his feet to swift half-moons. The willow knob with the strap jouncing between my [...]

POETRY: On Woman, by William Butler Yeats

July 15, 2015

May God be praised for woman That gives up all her mind, A man may find in no man A friendship of her kind That covers all he has brought As with her flesh and bone, Nor quarrels with a thought Because it is not her own. Though pedantry denies, It’s plain the Bible means That Solomon grew wise While talking with his queens, Yet never could, although They say he counted grass, Count all the praises due When Sheba was his lass, When she the iron wrought, or When from the smithy fire It shuddered in the water: Harshness of their desire That made them stretch and yawn, Pleasure that comes with sleep, Shudder that made them one. What else He give or keep God grant me—no, not here, For I am not so bold To hope a thing so dear Now I am [...]

POETRY: God Girl by Erica Dawson

January 28, 2015

I was born (again?!) two times: Christened, then second dipped in a luke- Warm pool with Satan, I rebuke Thee, saved with pantomimes (Hand down, across) and breath Held with the Holy Ghost before The family and the flock. Once more, Bear me again. In death, I’m good. At church, the hat Appeared as a centerpiece of lace- Wrapped buds. I watched the angel face Stained in the ziggurat— Like tiers of storied glass Go flush in the sun, turn corpse-opaque With clouds. And I, for heaven’s sake, Took heaven’s biomass, Washing feet first in the church— White basement, hosed and pedicured. I held the shot-glassed blood and stirred Beside the Eden birch Weeping to baked-in grass, Green as a crayon. My fingertip Went plum. [...]

POETRY: Mary Magdalene, by Catherine Tufariello

January 28, 2015

The squabbling soldiers gone, the women got What fell to them. Beneath the drooping eyes Of Pilate’s guard (the afternoon was hot) They laid him out and shooed the stinging flies, Rubbed linen strips with myrrh and aloes, rinsed The dust from limbs whose wounds no longer bled. As if the crown still pressed there, Mary winced When, with a separate cloth, they wrapped his head; And she recalled the pressure of his palm, The scent of spikenard, Simon’s baleful stare, And how, the whole house filling with the balm, She wiped his wet feet with her loosened hair. Days later, at the empty tomb alone, She thought first of his pierced and broken feet And wept, incredulous. But he was gone, The wrappings, neatly rolled, still faintly [...]

MARY MAGDALENE: A Jewish Woman From Magdala, by Bart D. Ehrman

January 27, 2015

From Peter, Paul, & Mary Magdalene To begin with, what do we know about what it meant to be a Jewish woman in first-century Palestine?  This is one of the many topics that scholars have long been interested in and have devoted entire books to.  One of the interesting features of the study of first-century Jewish women is that it has largely been carried out by twentieth-century Christian men.  And why would such people be interested in knowing about women in first-century Judaism?  For many of these modern scholars, as authority Ross Kraemer has noted, there is a personal agenda involved: they have wanted to show the vast superiority of Christianity over Judaism in the treatment of women. According to the standard stereotype, [...]

MARY MAGDALENE: Wings Of Madness, by Liz Curtis Higgs

January 26, 2015

From Mad Mary Today I felt pass over me A breath of wind from the wings of madness. Charles Baudelaire Jake didn’t see her until it was too late. A woman disguised as a bundle of rags bolted out of the Park View Pet Shop and directly into his path, nearly knocking him to the icy sidewalk.  Instead, she was the one who landed there in an awkward heap, her face crimson, her eyes averted. He bent toward her, shielding her from the bitter January wind.  “Ma’am, are you okay?  I’m sorry I –” She looked up at him, and the words froze on his lips. Lord, help me.  He was face-to-face with a madwoman. Wide, unfocused eyes lit by an unseen fire stared blankly back at him.  Dark smudges down her cheeks – [...]

PRAYER: Chaplet Prayer For Mary Magdalene

January 26, 2015

(The chaplet consists of a medal of Mary of Magdalene, and ten beads plus three for a total of 13 beads.) How to pray the chaplet On the medal say: Mary Magdalene, friend, and follower of Jesus, help me to recognize my sins so that I may seek forgiveness and that I too may be exorcised by him. Pray for me so that I too may be closer to Jesus and love him as my Divine Savior. Pray for (mention your petition here) so that they too may see our Lord Jesus Christ and seek forgiveness for their sins so that they too may always seek the Lord and follow him. Help us to persevere to the end so that we will be saved. First three beads: Act of Contrition: O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of [...]

REFLECTION: An English Major Goes To Seminary

January 22, 2015

At the time, I hadn’t realized that studying English at a major university would mold me.  I thought, as one would, that studying English would do just the opposite: unmold me.  Loosen the screws in my brain.  Make me see the world with a wider scope. I studied Shakespeare, for Heaven’s sake.  And poetry. Shouldn’t I be like one of those blankets used on picnics, spread out, sat on, accommodating? But no. I decided at one point in my life, the point where I had two small children and a serious, life-threatening disease that I needed something to do.  I found, in truth, that discussing small children (and just where does the snot end?) and ill health were overwhelmingly boring.  I really needed something [...]

BIBLICAL WOMEN: The Story Of Judah And Tamar, by Leonard Michaels

January 22, 2015

From Genesis as It Is Written Tamar is among the most complex, practical, and effective characters in the Bible.  The story is about her relation to Judah and his sons.  First, she marries Er and then Onan, and both sons die.  Judah promises Shelah, the third son, to Tamar, but she doesn’t marry him.  Instead, she seduces Judah.  The consequence is strange and Tamar begins to seem more like an agent of history than a character. We are told very little about her, rather as if the woman is taboo and the reader is deliberately discouraged from wondering, or becoming involved imaginatively with Tamar.  Where does she come from?  Did she have sex with Er, her first husband, the oldest son of Judah?  What about Judah’s next [...]

POETRY: Sarah, by Delmore Schwartz

January 21, 2015

The angel said to me: “Why are you laughing?” “Laughing! Not me! Who was laughing? I did not laugh. It was A cough. I was coughing. Only hyenas laugh. It was the cold I caught nine minutes after Abraham married me: when I saw How I was slender and beautiful, more and more Slender and beautiful. I was also Clearing my throat; something inside of me Is continually telling me something I do not wish to hear: A joke: A big joke: But the joke is always just on me. He said: you will have more children than the sky’s stars And the seashore’s sands, if you just wait patiently. Wait: patiently: ninety years? You see The joke’s on [...]

POETRY: The Recognition Of Eve, by Karl Shapiro

January 21, 2015

Whatever it was she had so fiercely fought Had fled back to the sky, but still she lay With arms outspread, awaiting its assault, Staring up through the branches of the tree, The fig tree. Then she drew a shuddering breath And turned her head instinctively his way. She had fought birth as dying men fight death. Her sigh awakened him. He turned and saw A body swollen, as though formed of fruits, White as the flesh of fishes, soft and raw. He hoped she was another of the brutes So he crawled over and looked into her eyes, The human wells that pool all absolutes. It was like looking into double skies. And when she spoke the first word (it was thou) He was terror-stricken, but she raised her hand And touched his wound where it was fading now, [...]

BIBLICAL WOMEN: Sarah, by Anne Roiphe

January 20, 2015

From Water from the Well Under the great trees of Mamre the Lord appeared to Abraham three days later as Abraham was sitting in his tent watching the road.  Genesis 18 tells us that Abraham looked out and saw three men, and he begged them to stop by so he could bring them sustenance.   He offered them the shade of the largest tree, and he hurried to Sarah and asked her to bake the bread from their best flour and he went to the herdsman and selected a perfect calf.  And the three men, who the sages say were actually the three angels, Gabriel and Michael and Raphael, spoke to Abraham.  They asked him, “Where is Sarah, your wife?”  And Abraham told them she was there in the tent.  The angel Raphael said, “I will [...]

BIBLICAL WOMEN: Eve — The First Rebel, by Naomi Harris Rosenblatt

January 19, 2015

From After the Apple God created humans with the power of free will – in contrast to animals, all of whom are driven by instinct.  He knows that woman will be the first to take advantage of his gift and be drawn to the forbidden tree.  In accord with his grand scheme, Eve is biologically, genetically, and mentally designed to perpetrate the species.  Like every woman after her, she is born with all the eggs she will need for every child she will ever bear. Embedded in this charming allegory of sexual awakening is the gap between the female and male sexual response.  Woman’s arousal is gradual and internal, enlisting all her senses, emotions, and imagination, as described in Eve’s deliberations before tasting the [...]

SATURDAY READING: A Worn Path, by Eudora Welty

January 17, 2015

It was December – a bright frozen day in the early morning.  Far out in the country there was an old Negro woman with her head tied in a red rag, coming along a path through the pinewoods.  Her name was Phoenix Jackson.  She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side-to-side in her steps, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock.  She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her.  This made a grave and persistent noise in the still air, that seemed meditative like the chirping of a solitary little bird. She wore a dark stripped dress reaching down to her shoe tops, and an [...]

WOMEN: My True Name, by Miriam Chaya

January 15, 2015

From Sisters Singing When I was growing up, I believed that my parents had given me the wrong name.  I didn’t know what my real name was; I only knew that the name my parents called me did not fit the free spirit inside.  Harriet Muriel was much too old-fashioned a name for me.  I wanted to sing and dance and laugh and do wild and crazy things.  Instead, I was an obedient little girl who spent her days quietly sitting in the corner with her hands in her lap or reading a book.  A still small voice kept urging me to shed my given name and free the wild person inside of me, but it took more than fifty years before I listened to that calling. In Judaism it is traditional to give a newborn baby a Hebrew name at birth.  Usually the [...]

POETRY: Suicide Note, by Janice Mirikitani

January 14, 2015

. . . An Asian American college student was reported to have jumped to her death from her dormitory window.  Her body was found two days later under a deep cover of snow.  Her suicide note contained an apology to her parents for having received less than a perfect four point grade average. . . How many notes written. . . ink smeared like birdprints in snow. not good enoughnot pretty enoughnot smart enough dear mother and father. I apologize for disappointing you. I’ve worked very hard, not good enough harder, perhaps to please you. If only I were a son, shoulders broad as the sunset threading through pine, I would see the light in my mother’s eyes, or the golden pride reflected in my father’s dream of my wide, male [...]

WOMEN: Diary, by Lousa May Alcott

January 13, 2015

(1832 – 1888) 1843 September 1st.—I rose at five and had my bath.  I love cold water!  Then we had our singing-lesson with Mr. Lane.  After breakfast I washed dishes, and ran on the hill till nine, and had some thoughts, – it was so beautiful up there.  Did my lessons, – wrote and spelt and did sums; and Mr. Lane read a story, “The Judicious Father”: How a rich girl told a poor girl not to look over the fence at the flowers, and was cross to her because she was unhappy.  The father heard her do it, and made the girls change clothes.  The poor one was glad to do it, and he told her to keep them.  But the rich one was very sad; for she had to wear the old ones a week, and after that she was good to shabby girls. [...]

WOMEN: The Mystery Of Femininity, by Alice von Hildebrand

January 12, 2015

From The Privilege of Being a Woman The woman is more mysterious than her male companion.  On the artistic level, this is strikingly expressed in one of the greatest of all paintings, the Mona Lisa of Leonardo da Vinci.  One can look at this masterpiece for hours; the more one looks at it, the more one feels the mystery that this female presence radiates.  It is inconceivable that a male portrait could visibly express such an unfathomable depth.  For this reason men often complain “that they cannot understand the female psyche.”  Being more “linear,” more guided by rational considerations, less subtle, men must learn to “transcend” themselves in order to enter into a deep communion with their [...]

DIVINITY: Natural Woman

January 8, 2015

I think that perhaps what I have experienced recently in visions may be considered the sharpest turn in focus that I have ever experienced.  Yes, there have been an infinite number of times when, having come to the “end” of a vision quest, the ultimate revelation is so far from what I expected that it sometimes takes years – decades, even – to mull over, absorb, and understand. But, for the most part, the path has seemed a logical progression.  From this step to the next, perhaps a curve here and there, a moment to remember the rules of the road so as not to get too discouraged, and then the light at the end.  The finger of God pointing.  Here it is, Julia.  This is what you have been looking for. And then, of [...]

POETRY: Update On Mary, by Mary Szybist

December 31, 2014

Mary always thinks that as soon as she gets a few more things done and finishes the dishes, she will open herself to God. At the gym Mary watches shows about how she should dress herself, so each morning she tries on several combinations of skirts and heels before retreating to her waterproof boots.  This takes a long time, so Mary is busy. Mary can often be observed folding the laundry or watering the plants.  It is only when she has a simple, repetitive task that her life feels orderly, and she feels that she is not going to die before she is supposed to die. Mary wonders if she would be a better person if she did not buy so many almond cookies and pink [...]

SATURDAY READING: A Masque Of Reason, by Robert Frost

June 21, 2014

A FAIR oasis in the purest desert. A man sits leaning back against a palm. His wife lies by him looking at the sky. MANYou’re not asleep? WIFENo, I can hear you. Why? MANI said the incense tree’s on fire again. WIFEYou mean the Burning Bush? MANThe Christmas Tree. WIFEI shouldn’t be surprised. MANThe strangest light! WIFEThere’s a strange light on everything [...]

HERMENEUTICS: Can We Go On Together With Suspicious Minds? by F. Scott Spencer

February 22, 2014

From Salty Wives, Spirited Mothers, and Savvy Widows  Doubt and Trust as Both Side of the Hermeneutical “Coin” Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’  Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:8-10) Elvis didn’t think so.  “We can’t go on together with suspicious minds,” he crooned.  “And we can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds.”  Loving relationships and communities do not thrive in the throes [...]

THE CHURCH: Going To Church — A Sartorial Odyssey, by Marshall Chapman

February 13, 2014

From Circling Faith I am not a churchgoer.  At least not on any regular basis.  The last time I went to church was Easter Sunday 1998.  I’d been out in the yard digging in the garden when, at about a quarter ‘til eleven, I jumped up and decided I had to go to church right then and there.  My husband, Chris, agreed to go with me, so off we went, not bothering to change clothes or anything because we didn’t want to be late.  I just grabbed one of his clean, white oxford cloth Brooks Brothers shirts and threw it on over my Spice Girls T-shirt, gray sweatpants with garden dirt still on the knees, and flip-flops – beautifully showcasing a recent pedicure, I might add.  Chris was somewhat more presentable in dress shirt, ironed [...]

POETRY: Nightingales In America, by Jane Flanders

February 12, 2014

The older women were Sunbeams and I guess we were Cherubs or Lambs but our mothers were Nightingales. Sunday mornings they prayed and sang in a niche of the Methodist Church. They studied the sorrows of Jesus and all who suffered in places like Abyssinia, where there was still so much to be done. There was much to be done everywhere, of course— bake sales, suppers, altars, the homely chores women were made for. Once a year, however, they paused in their good works and took us all to Cold Spring Park. After we skidded around the roller rink maybe a million times, seesawed, swang, got skinned and bitten, skittered through poison ivy, fell in the creek, rode the little train and ate our fill we lay back blissfully in the grass and watched [...]

PRAYER: The Descent of the Holy Spirit, by Christin Lore Weber

August 12, 2013

From Circle of Mysteries: The Women’s Rosary Book The mystery of the spiritualization of matter.  The one God with many names is whole in each of us.  The spirit frees God’s gifts into the world through our lives. The Woman Speaks Mother of mysteries, I await the revelation of the spirit of God.  I await it in the world.  I watch for the moment, which surely won’t be just one moment but a nearly infinite chaos of moments suddenly, miraculously coalescing into a design, when the wisdom within all creation, the wisdom containing everything will move us like a divine wind and touch our heads with fire.  Then the world’s heart will turn with compassion – this is the dream I have – our icy heart will melt, our dry heart become [...]

SERMON: Sarah And Her Daughters, by Charles S. Spurgeon

July 14, 2013

Delivered on Thursday evening, April 28, 1881, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.  No. 1633. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you.  (Isaiah 51:2)  Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, as long as you do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. (1 Peter 3:6) I desire to thank God for having had the privilege of preaching in Exeter Hall yesterday to a large congregation from the whole of the second verse of Isaiah 51 – “Look unto Abraham, your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.”  On that occasion I confined my remarks to Abraham, and tried to make prominent the facts that God called him while he was a [...]

SATURDAY READING: Three Bad Ideas For Women: And What To Do About Them by Frederica Mathewes-Green

July 13, 2013

From Touchstone Few book titles have had the sticking power of Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences.  Even people who have never read it find the blunt title instantly compelling.  Weaver’s thesis was that the ideas that we absorb about the world, about the way things are or should be, inevitably direct our actions.  Though the book was published in 1948, before many current bizarre ideas had fully emerged, the thesis is an eternal one.  It sets people to wondering which ideas were the seeds that sprouted our present mess and which new ideas might be helping us out of it – or further in. Ideas about the nature of life combine in a framework that can go by many names; the word paradigm, popular a decade ago, has through [...]

MISSION: Catherine McAuley (1778-1841) by Moira Bergin

July 9, 2013

From Treasures of Irish Christianity: People and Places, Images and Texts Catherine Elizabeth McAuley was born on 29 September 1778 in Drumcondra, Dublin, to James and Elinor McAuley.   As a young woman she would begin a mission of mercy that grew and spread over the years and is still relevant today.  Catherine had a sister, Mary, and a brother, James.  Her father died in 1783 and, as a result, life for the children changed dramatically, both economically and socially.  During her late teenage years her mother became seriously ill, necessitating Catherine to nurse her until she died in 1798.  Catherine, together wither her brother and sister, were cared for by their relatives. In 1799, Catherine met William Callaghan, a wealthy [...]

PRAYER: For Deliverance From Evil Moods by Georgia Harkness

July 8, 2013

O God, my father, who knows the thoughts and intents of my heart, deliver my life from bondage to evil moods.  Not through my own merit, but by your grace, I have put from me those outward acts that the world most quickly condemns.  Yet ever with me is the temptation to subtler sins of the spirit – to irritation, to discouragement, to self-righteousness, to self-centeredness, to forgetfulness of you. Purge my soul, O God.  When I have seen the vision of your holiness, I cannot be content with my life as it is.  Overcome evil with good, and bring me to your presence where no evil can dwell.  Help me to overcome by your patience my fretfulness, by your joy my gloom, by your loving concern for all men my absorption in myself.  Let [...]