Tag Archives: Women of Courage

“Pain and oppression do not have the last word.”

“For me. . . spirituality and the work for justice are entirely inseparable. If either one is authentic, it leads to the other.”

I’m not Catholic, but I stand in awe of those who serve as Sister Pat Farrell has through her life. Her grace and courage have placed her at the head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Read about the crossroads this organization is approaching with the Vatican. 

Are the 57,000 sisters in the United States insufficiently or incorrectly spiritual? Is their primary mission to run hospitals, work with the poor and keep their mouths shut? Actually, listening to the interviews that Terry Gross of NPR’s Fresh Air has conducted with Sister Farrell and with Bishop Leonard Blair (the Vatican-appointed guy charged with bringing the sisters into line), the main complaint is that the sisters have been silent on issues relating to birth control, abortion and same sex marriage.  Seems most of them have been doing their jobs and keeping their mouths shut, but if Sister Pat is any example, they’ve been praying hard and letting Love lead the way in each situation.

I’ve written a lot, though not lately, in this blog about “virgin qualities.” The genius of Guadalupe, the relevance of virgin qualities however they appear on the human scene, is that there is no preaching, doctrine or diatribe involved. It is the virgin presence that speaks for itself, and no words are able to express it. But, oh, how powerful it is. Sister Pat knows. That’s why she can stand at this crossroads and speak of her “deep knowing that pain and oppression do not have the last word.” Many of us will be standing with her in spirit.

 

Majora Carter — Being Present in the Ghetto, Making a Difference

Maria Hinojosa interviews Majora Carter on why she still lives in the South Bronx and how she’s making a difference. Parks from dump sites! Majora is a good example of Guadalupe qualities — show up and make a difference by being what you are: whole, intact, un-invaded, and powerful.

http://www.worldcompass.org/sites/all/modules/flowplayer/flowplayer/flowplayer.swf

If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?

If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?. Yes it did! Who gets to define who’s a hero? WE DO — every time we tell the story.

Paquita La Del Barrio — Got Her Inner Guadalupe Goin’

A recent post on Jaltemba Jalapeno enlightened me as to the finer points of cleaning rags. Who knew? I’ve always just torn up old nightgowns and t-shirts! But it also introduced me to Paquita La Del Barrio. Ya gotta love this lady! After watching the video in the post, I looked her up on Wikipedia. A brief English translation: “Married” at fifteen to a guy 42 years old with a whole other family, she had a rocky start in life. But she also had a later marriage that lasted thirty-one years, until she was widowed in 2004. Today she galvanizes the feminine troops encouraging them to stand up to machista attitudes.

This may be the most conflicted of blogposts I’ve ever witnessed. Thanks, Darlene, for the domestic wisdom, and thanks, enlightened webmaster Johan, for the feminist riff on it!

Inner Guadalupe = Outer Revolution

Tawakkol Karman looks a lot like Guadalupe.

Helen Thomas, Terrorism, and the Virgin of Guadalupe

Yesterday at the Writers Who Love Mexico meeting, we heard from three different authors who have committed themselves to preserving history. Joan Singler gave a brief description of Seattle in Black and White: The Congress of Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity, a book she collaborated on with three others, which will come out next month. Mexican history was served with a healthy dash of British insight by Gordon Preston, author of The Chacala Story and descendant of the pirate Thomas Cavendish who plied these local waters. And Carla Stellweg departed from her accustomed field of expertise, Latin American Contemporary Art, to share the first chapter in a personal memoir which wove strands drawn from her childhood in Indonesia during the second World War, her education in Holland, and the beginnings of her art career in Mexico and Japan.  The whole program was a feast of cosmopolitan flavors that I’ve been savoring ever since.  What a variety of voices and perspectives, speaking of races and places all over the globe!

Before we adjourned, Carolyn Kingson, a writer from San Pancho, posed a question she categorized as “ethical.”  Someone had posted an anonymous comment on her recent blogpost, addressing her as “an idiot” for using the word “terrorism” in relation to living in Mexico. The terrorism she was referring to was that of a opossum that was holding her family hostage with its night-time antics. It was supposed to be funny, and anyone with any sense of humor and who has dealt with invading wildlife would sympathize and laugh. Her question went to what extent should we watch our words and cater to what search engines might pick up or what readers might take out of context. I’ll take the liberty of saying the consensus of the group was, “write honestly with a good heart, and then step back and let people make of it what they will. There will always be someone who will take issue with what you have to say — or how you’ve chosen to say it. Don’t try to cater to dodos.”

In this spirit, I’d like to share a link about someone who has always been a hero of mine. Hers was a presence I followed since girlhood when I wanted to grow up and work for a newspaper. I think I was in junior high school when my journalism teacher explained how press conferences at The White House worked — how the key figure was Helen Thomas, sitting there on the front row. She was the one who set the tone and the timing. And she was the one who asked the really hard questions. As I watched her through the years, I admired how she didn’t back down, how she seemed to grow stronger and more trenchant with age. But her presence is no longer there. She disappeared last June, because she spoke honestly, if perhaps unwisely, from her heart. Here’s an account of what happened. While many have characterized her departure as ignominious and tried to paint her as racist and bigoted, she was none of these. I think her experience is another example of the Guadalupe Presence that gets covered in pelican poop from time to time. Like the concrete statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe out on the jetty I see from my office window, flocks of mindless squawking feather-brains cannot knock her off the rock of her conviction. Helen Thomas is an inspiration for me — as are all writers who speak their truth and preserve the many-voiced chorus of our common history.

Practical advice on dealing with bullies

Seems I’m on a campaign these days against bullying. The major part of my recent posts deal with the subject. I didn’t set out to do that, but it just seems pertinent these days, and I don’t think I’ve lost focus from what Virgin Territory and “my Inner Guadalupe” are all about.

“What has standing up to bullies got to do with Guadalupe?” you ask.  Well, remember it was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe that Father Hidalgo raised when Mexico was going up against the bully named Spain. In fact revolutionary movements have often raised the image of the Virgin. Virgin qualities — being whole, complete, un-captured, un-invaded, un-broken and intact — are what sustain us against bullies. And some sound practical advice comes in handy as well. Check out this article