GUEST BLOGGER: Mary Gear.
Bill asked me to write the blog this week to address the change in our service for December 10. There is much on my mind and in my heart these days; I’m sure this is true for many of us.
As we enter the holiday season, I love to recall the times as a child in my Granny’s kitchen. It was where good things happened—food and otherwise. As the women of my family gathered to prepare the feast—it was always a feast at holiday time—they would talk, tell stories, and remember. It is one of the places where I learned what it meant to be a woman in our culture, or in that culture, anyway.
As a child, I remember that some conversations took place in whispers; women lowered their voices as they noticed the presence of young ears. They told tales of women wronged by men, sometimes neighbors or friends, sometimes family members, always told in hushed tones. It is where I learned that these things are not to be said out loud, if they are to be said at all.
As we enter this holiday season, many women are no longer sharing their stories in whispered tones, they are telling their truth to family and friends, sharing their stories on social media, reaching out to other women, and reaching out for help. Many are telling their story for the first time. Women who have suffered sexual harassment and sexual violence are speaking out, being heard, and being believed.
Calls to crisis lines have skyrocketed as more women reach out to ask that their story be heard, and others re-live the trauma from previous disclosures. There is a collective shouting of the truth of women’s lives–a truth that includes sexual harassment and sexual violence; a truth that includes being shamed and blamed; a truth that includes feelings of sadness and rage, fear and relief, vulnerability and hope.
We know that there are many more stories out there, some that may never be told. We know that the stories of women of color are not equally represented, either in the telling, the hearing, or the believing. While this might feel like a watershed moment, there is much work yet to be done.
We gather in worship on Sunday mornings to hold up that which we value. On Sunday, December 10, we will intentionally center women’s voices. We, the women working together to create this service, have named this service “I Believe You.” Our hope is to hold space for women to speak their truth and be heard, for all feelings to be acknowledged, and to explore what Unitarian Universalists are called to be and do at this time.
After each service, we will offer space for anyone who wishes to reflect on the service. Each space will be held by a minister as we offer support to each other.
Parents, please know that we will be speaking directly and openly of things that may not be appropriate for young children. Of course, you decide what is best for your family. If you’d like help in how to talk to your children about sexual violence, please reach out to Cathy Cartwright-Chow or Nicole Bowmer.
For all who have experienced sexual violence in any form, we do not intend to traumatize you further. It is for you to decide if this service is right for you to attend at this time. If you need support, we hope that you will reach out to one of us or elsewhere in your support system. Here are a couple of resources: Call To Safety or National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
A Music & Worship service was originally scheduled for December 10. Many thanks to members of the Unitarian Choir and Music Director, DeReau Farrar for their flexibility as we re-scheduled this service for January 14.
You might ask why we would choose to address an issue like this during the holiday season. Just like in my Granny’s kitchen, stories of patriarchy and misogyny are present during the holidays, in our sanctuary, and in our lives. Women will bring these stories and feelings to the holiday table, just as they do to every meal, every day. When we sing, “Come, come whoever you are,” we invite the fullness and wholeness of every person, including the stories that are painful and deep. It is how we welcome: with open arms, open hearts, and voices that say clearly, “I believe you.”
Acting Assistant Minister