As this is my first writing for the Young Women Clergy Project, I have finally decided to put nerves aside and set fingers to buttons and begin typing. There were many different subjects I wanted to cover, but of course those would have been too serious and challenging, and really, when beginning a relationship – be it friendship, romantic or reading, have found it best to just ease my way into these relationships. I don’t anticipate that this will be a revelatory writing. Instead, I just wanted to share my reflection from last weekend when I was thinking about this writing project.
I was visiting with a dear friend. Our relationship was begun deliberately last January. We both agreed that there was a need to have a sounding board for women who work in the Catholic Church. This was not a support group per say, but more of a listening ear that could attend to the realities of what it means to work in our church with our ministerial background. I think there are probably challenges a plenty for women in any church ministry. I have found it helpful to have a voice from a trusted ally whispering kindness and strength in the embodiment and tradition of Wisdom Sophia. I have found that Wisdom Sophia in Amy.
I was struck on Saturday as we were at a local coffee shop working on our second cups that this was Holy friendship. I knew that when we sat down, but I came to know it ontologically on Saturday. It came to me because Amy’s son called and he – being 11 – wanted to know where she was, what was taking so long and why she wasn’t home. Amy told him, “I am out with a friend and we are talking. I don’t know when I will be home.” I was taken back 25 years to when I had the same conversation with my own mother who was going to be having tea with her friend embodiment of Wisdom Sophia, Rosemary. They would be having tea at our house, during the afternoon, us kids were told that we were going to be in our rooms all afternoon reading or playing quietly. All four of us kids liked Rosemary, but there was a difference when she would come to the house for these conversations with our mom. Both of these women had multiple children and husbands. There was intentionality, a rigor in their talk, that wasn’t as obvious to us with other friends Mom had.
I was struck when I was sitting with Amy sipping my coffee, listening to her interaction with her son on the phone that this was that dynamic – this is a relationship that is outside of her life as mother – that is outside my life as a single. This is a relationship founded around the idea that two professional women ministers are looking to one another for strength and camaraderie. As she said, when we ended our conversation on Saturday, “We just never seem to talk about the Super Bowl or those sisters that are really famous (the Kardashians).” We just laughed out loud, because while we do laugh and find time to be silly, there always seems to be a deeper and more meaningful purpose to our sharing. We both treasure these times.
I have several relationships with other professional women who are ministers so I am not entirely sure what it was about this one conversation that struck me and stopped me in our conversation to utter aloud, “Amy, this is a Holy conversation, and this is a Holy relationship!” For whatever reason, I was astounded. This is not to diminish my other close relationships, but I remember being envious of my mother and her deep, abiding friendship with Rosemary.
As I look to a lasting relationship with the women of The Young Clergy Women’s Project I came up with some questions for my own theological reflections. I wish to sign off with these questions for conversations with your Holy Relationships:
- Why is the relationship so life giving?
- What are the moments when you feel most connected in your conversation?
- Are there any ongoing habits (sipping tea, picking nail polish, twiddling earrings) that signify a conversation of Holy?
- Is there a set number of women in our lives in which we can have these Holy conversations?
Photo by Roey Ahram, http://www.flickr.com/photos/roeyahram/6919350931/, February 9, 2013. Used by Creative Common License.