In the United States, March is dedicated to preserving and raising awareness of women's history—or "herstory." This celebration dates back to the early 20th century, when socialists declared March 8 to be International Women's Day. Connected to labor rights activity throughout the world in its early decades, IWD has become much like Mother's Day in some places and stays closely linked to its activist roots in other contexts.
But what does this have to do with Lent? Lent is the season in which we are invited to follow Jesus into the wilderness. Taking that path helps us see with clarity what we need to survive and thrive. The weeks of Lenten wandering "are a time for probing consideration of our human condition," Laurence Stookey observes in Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church. The life stories of women have the power to teach us important lessons about the human condition.
In Sacred Journeys: A Woman's Book of Daily Prayer, Jan Richardson brings into focus the stories of biblical and contemporary women. "In this season of reflection and repentance, we remember women whose dreams, hopes, and in many cases, lives were offered by others as unholy sacrifices toward their own ends." She continues, "In these stories we encounter women whom history has dis-membered more often than re-membered." This month gives us the opportunity to "heal our memories" by honoring women's prophetic voices through re-membering. It's like Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones; by retelling our herstory we are giving new life to wise ones who help us understand what it means to follow Jesus in this time and place.
Malinda Elizabeth Berry is a dissertation fellow at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.
Shelter for All
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35