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

Young woman sheriff in Mexico = Guadalupe Presence…gone

Marisol Valles Garcia said, “Yes.” She is twenty years old and she’s become the sheriff of Praxedis G. Guerrero, a town practically on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, the most dangerous city in Mexico.  Here’s a link to the story.

Her name, a combination of Mary and Sun, is appropriate. THIS is how the Guadalupe presence functions. That woman-image from Revelation 21, “clothed with the sun,” offers a new paradigm for conquering evil.  New? After all, those words have been there for a long, long time. But maybe we’re moving into a time, when we’re finally ready to leave the old model behind. That’s the one we’ve been playing over and over again: perpetrator, victim and rescuer.  The innocent victim is tied to the railroad tracks by an evil villain and waits for a hero to show up and save the day.

In the new model, it is Guadalupe (Woman, the spiritual ideal, the image of God, enlightened consciousness — SO many names) who shows up. Her presence is the day, and like dawn destroys the night, the mere fact of her existence sends darkness packing. The Guadalupe presence doesn’t retaliate, use force or bravado. It simply is what it is — virgin.

Virginity is powerful.  In its original concept, it had NOTHING to do with physiology. Being a virgin meant having authority, because a virgin was “author” of her own experience. She carried no labels from any faction. She was defined by no relationship other than the one she maintained with her Creator. She was no one’s daughter, servant, wife, lover, or mother. She was “one-in-herself.” She was whole, complete, un-captured, unbroken, un-invaded, intact. Can’t touch that! Not without going down in flames.

Am I saying Marisol Valles Garcia is an incarnation of Guadalupe, another appearance of The Virgin there on the Texas and Mexico border? No, no more than I would say she was the sun itself. But I do recognize a sunbeam when I see one.  Perhaps the dawn is breaking.

March 9, 2011 Update:  Sad to report there are clouds over that dawn. I’ve been wondering what was going on with Marisol, and found this from two days ago. And this article in Spanish from yesterday. Evidently Marisol has fled to the U.S. in the face of death and kidnapping threats. The mayor of Praxedis G. Guerrero, called after her, “You’re fired.” Sounds like he’s about as supportive of public employees as Wisconsin Republicans.

Guadalupe presence Linda Norgrove killed in Afghanistan

I didn’t know Linda Norgrove. I only recognize her spirit — that of a young woman, one-in-herself, saying Yes, to the purpose to which life has called her. It was the same spirit I saw in Jill Carroll, the foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor who was kidnapped in Iraq in February, 2006. I felt so strongly about Jill, who was doing what I had always longed to do, that I started blogging — my first ever. A week later, Larry and I went on vacation to Mexico and bought the house we’re living in now.  I’m just now making the connection: Did I say Yes, because of Jill? I think I probably did.

The title of that short-lived blog — which is still alive and present — was Now, Voyager, inspired by a verse from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. The last paragraph I wrote about Jill, I could revise for Linda. My prayers DO go out for her — that her example continue inspiring young women and old.

Jill/Linda, I think of you everyday. My prayers for you go out constantly. You stayed on your course and sailed forth to do and be what I lost sight of for a while. So my prayers for you are prayers for me, as well. God, give me courage to keep sailing forth, to keep seeking and finding, no matter the reefs, waves or wrecks. We each DO make a difference when we leave the dock.

Guadalupe as Head Cheerleader

Gin Turner was head cheerleader at Lubbock High School when I was a lowly, very uncool sophomore, fall semester, 1964. My locker was next to that of another uncool kid. Neal wore a bow tie, a pocket protector and carried a brief case. I tried to ignore him. So did practically everyone else. Except when they were making his life miserable.

I saw that happen up close and personal one day when, after slamming his locker door shut, Neal dropped his briefcase and it sprang open. Papers flew everywhere, all over the dark brown linoleum hallway floor where two corridors intersected. Neal dropped to his knees to pick them up. About that time a group of “cool” guys came around the corner and began kicking the papers out of his reach, laughing, shoving, and taunting him. I stood by and did nothing. So did everyone else.

Around the other corner came a group of cheerleaders. It was a game day, and they were in uniform. Gin was front and center and her eyes immediately took in what was going on. She didn’t say a word. She dropped to her knees and began helping Neal. She kept at it until everything was in order. She smiled at him and wished him well, and went on her way. And I stood there — changed. From that moment on, I knew one thing:  I wanted to be like HER.

Look her up in the yearbook, and you’ll see that year she was not only head cheerleader, she was prom queen, homecoming queen, most popular, most EVERYTHING. We all adored her. She was love personified, and she walked among us.  She led simply by being who she was. Bullying disappeared because it simply couldn’t exist when Gin was there. And she was present, everywhere.

And then, in a few short years, she was gone.

If ever there was a Guadalupe presence, Gin Turner was it.  She set a standard of love and respect at Lubbock High School that year, and her influence, I feel sure, continues in the lives of those who knew her. I raise her image in this time of bullying. Perhaps her story can continue to change lives. It changed life for Neal. And it certainly changed mine.