UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Women's March on Washington D.C., Jan.21. Photo by Mobilus in Mobili/Flickr/CreativeCommons

Dear Tabitha

‘We have seen the resurgence of women's strength and power'

By Carolyn Pogue


Dear Tabitha,

The stories about you that we read today end up mostly being about a man, and how he raised you from the dead. But this letter is for you, Tabitha; I hope it won't be redirected. I'm writing about how you managed to gather together women during perilous times. I wonder what you would say about how that all worked out. Last week, after all, women around the world gathered on a scale that was unimaginable during your time. Children and men, too.

Ojibway elder Arthur Solomon famously said that "it is time for women to pick up their medicine to help to heal a troubled world." That's what you did. You gave widows and other vulnerable women a safe haven in your home 2,000 years ago. What medicine did you offer one another, I wonder? Was it the medicine used to raise you up?

Of course, your story has few details. You lived in Joppa (now the port city of Jaffa in Israel). You would have had good fish recipes then, seen sailors on the street, and known danger, beauty and exotic wares in your market. What’s more, you were "always doing good and caring for the poor." It's believed that you, yourself, were widowed but had enough money. You were beloved, and you were a seamstress.

One day, though, you dropped dead, and then you were raised. There's little more to your tale. We just know that your lovely name Dorcas — or Tabitha — means "deer." Were you quick and quiet also?

Because "women's work" never really changes, it’s not hard to imagine your life. We, too, know about sewing circles women chopping, stirring and baking, as well as children running underfoot. It's not hard to imagine you listening to stories of violence or joy over cups of hot tea.

This past week, American politics and a murder in a mosque have shocked and awakened us to the need for true healing and balance. At the Women's March on Washington D.C. on Jan. 21, Jungian analyst and author of Gather the Women, Jean Shinoda Bolen, addressed tens of thousands. She is 80, and like environmental activist Joanna Macy — who is 87 — has decided that retirement must wait. They want to continue being a part of this monumental narrative of change. Is that what raised you up, too, Tabitha? Do you have more to do and more stories yet to tell?

People around the world are still talking about the joy and enthusiasm of the women's gatherings. In our family, alone, there are many stories: Ottawa's Women's March was attended by my 84-year-old cousin — his first time protesting on the streets. And our daughter, Sarah, drove all the way from Toronto to Washington to be a part of this story.

In Calgary, 6,000 of us gathered at the statues of The Famous Five — the women who worked to have women declared "persons" in 1929. It reminded me that we must know our history and that gatherings of women have always been part of our global story from the beginning. "Gather the women" is a call to action, a prayer and a healing step. You knew that, of course, and I’m grateful that you did and that men included your story in Scriptures, which we consider to be sacred today.

Bolen said at the march: “I’m not speaking of the need for women to run the world; I'm saying that women need to speak up and speak the truth in order to bring balance into the world."

I thought of you, Tabitha, when she also declared that "we have seen the resurgence of women's strength and power." So thank you for your part in our women's story.

In gratitude, 

Carolyn

This is the third in Carolyn Pogue’s “Letter to a Spiritual Ancestor” series.


Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a Calgary author and longtime Observer contributor. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image