There is an ancient story told of a widow whose only son died. With him went her last semblance of family, belonging, and even physical security – not to mention every last shred of hope and joy. On the day of his funeral, she moved in slow motion as the procession paraded through the streets of her village. Her head was down. Her heart was broken. Her sorrow was bottomless. Her tears were unstoppable.
Until she heard a man’s voice speak directly to her: “Do not weep.” Grief was replaced by white-hot rage. Her red-rimmed eyes rose to meet his only in time to hear him speak again, this time directly to her dead son: “Young man, I say to you, rise!” And her fury was just as miraculously replaced by joy-beyond-belief as her son rose and began to speak for himself. The prophet/healer disappeared into the crowd, leaving everyone speaking of what they had just heard, seen, and experienced.
I have struggled with this story – with my writing of it. Still, she is in the “canon” of stories with which I work because she deserves to be heard and I trust-trust-trust that she has wisdom and meaning to offer.
- Her story puts me face-to-face with patriarchal power/authority and a woman’s lack thereof.
- Her story puts me face-to-face with words spoken that are painful but ignored, because of who he is; because the rest of the story somehow redeems the earlier harshness.
- Her story puts me face-to-face with my own resistance to speaking out in response to these very stories and the god within them (not in critique, but with allowed honesty, perspective, and hope).
- Her story puts me face-to-face with the paradox of the divine – things understood and far more not.
- Her story puts me face-to-face with me; with the heartache I know on behalf of the woman in this text and all those within the larger Text; the silence that too-often envelops them and the voice I long to give.
- Her story puts me face-to-face with my fear: my visceral awareness that to speak – to weep – to express my perspective, my opinion, even my rage, carries with it the nearly certain risk of profound loss.
- Her story puts me face-to-face with my own known grief and hope, silence and voice, heartache and endless-longing for miracles.
When it comes right down to it, her story is about me.