Today was the last day of classes at Guilford; tomorrow is "Reading Day" and next week is Finals Week, though my courses have papers and projects, no final exams, so I already have most of the students' work -- or will as of later tonight.
In my Feminist Theology class, we had the required evaluations (when I leave the room and students fill out forms) and then a lovely ritual to end the semester, led by four of the women in the class (yes, we had a few men in the class too). Then I asked one of the students to read to us a short text I'd put up on the course web-space for folks to read ahead of time as well. It occurred to me upon hearing it out loud how suitable it is for us in Advent, although I didn't plan it that way. It's by Brazilian ecofeminist Catholic theologian Ivone Gebara, from an essay she wrote a few years ago.
....perhaps we have to keep quieter, perhaps we have to look for fewer “spiritualities,” so that values that are truly vital can emerge in our lives. *I fear that our anxiety to appropriate a feminist spirituality may be vitiated by so many events that destroy us physically and our cultures that we shall not be capable of actually touching the human roots that sustain our existence. *Without realizing it, we are beginning to seek to appropriate in a feminist form the elements that mattered most in the masculine spiritual tradition: witness, martyrdom, holiness, imitation. *All these still come very mixed in with the masculine models of a patriarchal Christianity of domination and conquest which, although it has helped thousands of people, has also been an instrument of oppression and destruction of as many others. *I believe life is inviting us, for a time, to a certain “suspension” of new spiritualities, to a patient wait for what will come, to a voluntary silence or greater care with our words and our theories. *We should not be in a hurry, or we shall find ourselves simply using the same discourse “feminized.”
...It is a sort of collective begetting, a hazardous pregnancy with no definite birth date. *We are in a time of waiting, experiencing anxiety and even dread at what might arrive, intervening with care just so that life may be respected. *All we can do is to protest, through organizations and outside them, at the massive destructiveness that continues to threaten our hopes of life. *All we can do is be grateful for the chance to caress our daughters, sons and grandchildren, hoping that our longing for love and solidarity can be the food they receive from us today. *But we still cannot even stammer the name of the new forms of hope waiting.
... People need to feel in the first place that there are hands guiding ours, that there are hearts beating with ours and moving beyond the old divisions. *We need to know that there are others dreaming with us of a better world. *History has shown that this time of waiting in solidarity has in fact existed before and is still in existence. *In the near future it will be capable of proclaiming that some fragile “green shoots” can now be glimpsed. *And life, all forms of life, will be able to flourish in the farthest corners of the earth.