for the women

for the women
by Lindsay L. O’Connor

A social media post that went viral
asked women what they would do
if there were no men on the planet
for 24 hours.
The answers would make you weep…

“Go on walks at night.”
“Dance around town at 3am without fearing for my life.”
“Wear whatever I want.”
“Leave my drink unattended at a bar.”
“Get a moped and drive around a big city by myself.”
“Not look behind me when I walk alone at night.”
“Be more trusting.” “Not cry as much.”
“Explore the world.” “Live how I wanna live.”

We dream of a world
where our bodies are safe
so our minds are free
to wander and frolic and sing,
where we can follow the call
of God on our lives
without having to justify-
as the most discussed part of our teaching,
writing, presentation, or sermon-
the length of our hem
the depth of our neckline
or the tone of our voices.

Too soft,
and we aren’t taken seriously.
Too harsh,
and we’re seen as threatening.
We are threatening-
threatening the old order of things,
ushering in the new.

I see it in my daughters,
who refuse to accept
that this is just the way
it has always been
and so shall be.
I see it in my elders,
who pull up a chair
and tell how we got here,
ask how we can do better,
and cheer us on as we dream together.

I see it in my sisters,
who, bending to bridge two generations,
are doing the impossibly hard
but holy work of healing collectively
from broken systems,
outward objectification,
and internalized self-hatred.

We are learning to stop waging war,
even on our inner critics.
We will not criticize,
or shame them,
oh no.
We will not use
the tools of oppression
to oppress these
tender parts of ourselves
that are just trying to help us
survive in a broken system.

We are learning that
even our inner critics,
and the parts of ourselves
that they criticize,
cry out to be met
with compassion, curiosity,
and kindness.
We are waging peace through
compassion, rest,
and healthy boundaries.

We are threatening the old order of things
because mothers or not,
we know Mother God makes all things new.
She hovers over the deep,
imagining with us a new way
bringing order out of chaos
hoisting the whole world
up onto her wide hips,
smiling as she dances,
humming a song of deliverance
for every being
that has been held captive.

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