The Women, the Paschal-tide // Las Mujeres, la Pascua

Vicky’s voice breaks the silence:

” . . . Y seguimos.” // “. . . And next.”

I move away from Vicky, and pause now in front of Tara. We continue the exercise, and look into one another’s eyes.

To lock eyes with another person is intimate, likely discomforting, even with people we know well. It’s strange, how those two small lenses can give such insight into the mind behind them. Over the next few moments, as I look into Tara’s, I am struck by the depth of the young woman before me. Her eyes are very deeply blue, and full of energy. This spark of alegria bursts often outward as she works, gives, pours her love into this ministry we share. Life at El Arca follows such a rapid rhythm that I rarely have a moment to pause and reflect on what it’s like to share a site placement, a home, a family with another person from our program.

There’s a flicker in her eye. In it, a common shared-thought over the last seven months: “Here we are, doing something else bizarre and somewhat uncomfortable. Yay, YAGM, am I right?” Whether or not I imagined the look, I suppress the urge to grin; I’m not sure if it works.

The silence expands, and as it does, so does a new awareness of Tara’s presence, here, in this place, in this ministry we share. As brother and sister, as asistentes, as YAGM.

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, [Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James] took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”‘ Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was [these women], and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.” ~ Luke 24 :: 1 – 12

Having lived and worked alongside Tara, and many other powerful women here in Argentina this year, I find myself humbled in new ways by our Easter story. I understand the spiritual significance of Christ’s Paschal appearance to woman before man, continuing to defy the patriarchal machine after his resurrection as he had before it, and the male disciples’ refusal to believe their testimony. However, looking back across my YAGM experience, I find myself pondering, like Peter, what the women have seen.

The misogyny present in our world is not an uncommon experience for the many women in YAGM and outside of it. However, I am realizing that I, like the apostles, have been quick to deny or ignore the inequality of our patriarchal world. Many women’s grace, Tara’s especially, have helped me see now, what I would not before.

I am asked if I’d like to play futbol, whereas Tara is left uninvited. I am asked to help move heavier things, whereas Tara’s physical strength (a strength greater than mine I might add), is left unasked (though she quickly joins in). Tara is asked to teach the children, whereas I am left relaxing at the table to share mate and talk. I wish I could say that these were things I noticed, but each and every one of these times it has been Tara, not my contentedly-sexist subconsciousness, which kindly shows me the misogyny in our world. Similarly, on this Easter Sunday the women, first to feel the joy and wonder of the resurrection, share their discovery with the apostles. The men, much like myself, are quick to distrust and question. While I have, with practice, learned to bite my tongue at Tara’s accusations of our sexist reality, I would be dishonest if I did not admit my mind’s continual tendency to deny her experiences. I long to offer the benefit of the doubt: perhaps you weren’t within earshot when they invited me to help, you are the person with the degree in teaching, or maybe you looked busy when they invited me to play all jump to the tip of my tongue. And even now, when I have begun to see the differences in treatment, between my sisters-in-service and myself, I still so often like Peter, run to the tomb for proof.

But I continue to find it empty, and so am confronted with the reality of the resurrection, or in this case, the misogyny rampant among us. And as it must have for Peter, it fills me with fear. For death is easy, but to confront a new reality, one with brokenness and beauty to ascribe to, is both fearsome and wonderful. On this Paschal-tide I find myself full of grace and thankfulness for the women this year who have given me, and all of us arrogant men in the world, patience as we blunder about in our privilege, too fearful (or more often too stubborn) to trust in the emptiness of the tomb. However, witnessing the brokenness of Christ’s body on Easter is also to see its resurrection. To see the way suffering can transform into new life.

My journey towards womanism has just begun. I stare blindly far more often than I see. However, on this Pascua I find incredible thankfulness and joy for the powerful women who share the gospel with those who deny it. The resurrection is equity, life, and light, and colored women were the first to see it.

 

The women declare, “Christ is risen!”

And the men reply, “He is risen indeed, hallelujah!”

 

Thank you especially to Tara, Jenna, Gracia, Gabby, Liz, my mother, my sister, my aunts and grandmothers, Paula and Flor, Annika and Tori, Krystle and Deja, Ale and Ceecii and Anahi, Kristin and Mari and Kaylie, and all the other incredible women who offer the bounty of this table to all.

 

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Peace, joy, and hosannas lifted high,

Eric