This past week was full.
Finals have come and gone, and thankfully I survived, even though my brain still feels drained of its finer strengths in writing. After having written and completed a 10 page paper or presentation for the past three weekends in a row, tired does not even begin to describe it.
So with that please know that this Townhall will be short and sweet.
Since completing my final paper this past weekend, I have been enjoying some fiction I checked out from the library a month ago but hadn’t got a chance to read yet. In the past three evenings I have managed to travel to the middle ages and further, learning again stories from the Bible I have known since I was a little girl — however this time they were very different, as it was told by the voice and from the perspective of a woman.
Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman was a book I found through Goodreads that looked promising for someone who grew up on reading the tales of the knights of old. Penman did not disappoint me. Her characters were believable, and she managed to make characters in the middle ages more recognizable in their shared humanity and experience than I had ever considered before. Neither did she shy away from the brutality of the chrusades, the toll it took, the horrors it wrought, and the questions it left in everyone’s souls on all sides.
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant, I was inspired to read with the premier of its screen adaption on Lifetime this past weekend. I had heard of the book before, but had yet to have actually read it. While the movie adaptation was a bit cheesy at times, it was still a powerful portrayal of a story whose narrative for so long has limited women to one dimensional characters with lives described in the footnotes with very little story or ownership to their name. Dinah captures you from her first words to her last with her dignity, strength, mercy, and forgiveness.
The lesson that I was reminded of in particular from Diamant in her telling the tales of the women of “The Red Tent” is that they did not shy away from telling and retelling their stories, even if the stories brought with it unrequited grief and shame that tore them apart and even if those stories gave witness to the darkness of humanity. They told them, they carried them, they remembered all the good and the bad and passed them on, teaching the young anew how to honor through remembrance. — as Diament writes so eloquently,
They held my face between their hands and made me swear to remember.
I too have mine and my families stories to remember. Stories that are often the birthing ground for why I started and continue to write here in this space. They are a tapestry, much like those women in the Red Tent, full of a family that is rooted deep in love, but touched by humanity not unlike any other whether it be tragedy, betrayal, love lost, love found, darkness, light, hope lost, redemption, healing, birth, death, joy, or sorrow. This season I have previously mentioned, how this semester I have been living near and with older members from my mom’s side of the family. I have heard and learned stories I had heard before again, as well as many new ones. These stories, the good and the bad, make up my history, my roots, and have weaved their loss, wisdom, and strength into my life for me to live to pass on to my children some day.
I too will take their faces in my hands and teach them to remember.
As far as other words, this week I found:
Throughout the process, I’ve learned that silence doesn’t make things better, but knowing that silence isn’t the answer wasn’t enough to get me to speak out. Rather, it was you. ~ Pippa Biddle
This open letter was both courageous and beautiful. Sharing our stories, whether of joy and triumph or sorrow, shame, and loss are what make us human. This piece was just one more, even as the fictional stories of old did this week, to remind me of the power and life that can come from the sharing of a story. As women especially, society and a common narrative of shame will tell us to hide, to try to forget, to forgo telling for someone else’s sake, or to busy ourselves when it becomes too painful to listen to these stories because it strikes too close to a deeper chord of our own pain and fear. But we must tell them and we must learn to listen, because if we don’t the silence and the shame will only continue to win the last word.
For those of you who don’t already know, this is what Untold Stories and this blog space were created for, the sharing and the healing process.
Is it just me, or are all these stories starting to all show similar threads?
This post over at She Loves Magazine, spoke to me this week before I read any of the other books or posts already listed, and yet how perfectly it fits with all of it.
Beauty is delighting in the light after spending so much time in the darkness. It is learning to appreciate the good more fully and wholeheartedly when we’ve dwelled for so long in the bad. It’s even about learning to appreciate the darkness, too. Because it’s the strength discovered under pressure, the character honed by adverse conditions, and the triumphs emerging from the trials that help us to thrive. ~ Katie Bergman
This lesson is one I have and need to continue to learn over and over. It speaks to my faith now and my faith of old, it speaks to remembering and finding the courage to speak the fears and the truth, it speaks to all that has yet to come. I hope you are able to seek and find some of that beauty this coming week and the coming holidays — whether in giving, receiving, or in sharing time and memories with your loved ones.
Until next week,
I would love to hear any thoughts you have on any of the parts above.
I would also love to hear what you are writing about this week, or who wrote something that captured you?