Who Was She? 08/03/09
Meditation for International Women’s Day, 8th March 2009 by Ellen Alexander from Interserve International.
2000 years ago? Just yesterday?
She was tall and beautiful, wore her hair loose, there was a spiritedness in her gait. The sun was just over its mid-point. She carried a pot on her shoulder. It was the time of the day when she could come, without being stared at, whispered about or harassed.
While yet a long distance from her destination she saw a man sitting at the well, with the semblance of a Jewish Rabbi. What was he doing here?
Quickly, her thoughts raced back to the time she had gone with her parents to see the Temple in Jerusalem. She saw the pompous rabbi standing there, looking severe and authoritative, with his hands lifted high, and saying in a great loud voice, “Lord I thank you that I am not like other men: extortionists, unjust, adulterers or even this tax collector.
And, “thank you that I am not a gentile, dog or a woman!”
Her little heart was crushed in unbelief, and confusion about God. She wondered, are some people actually more acceptable to God than others? Was she rejected or lesser because she was not a Pharisee (right socio-religious status), a Jew (right race/ community), a man (right gender)?
She tucked away the thought muttering, “may be one day the Messiah would explain it all”.
The journey back home sent her on a different journey altogether. As a child she grew to realize that she would never ever be treated like her brother. He was special; he had more privileges and joys. She turned nine maybe ten; her body was changing, as was her psyche and emotions. She was confused and no one explained anything to her. Her gloom grew to depression, and she despised herself. “Perhaps God does love men more. I am not as good as them! May be men are better? I don’t even like myself!”
She turned into a young lady, dark eyes and attractive; ‘it was time to get married’, but she wasn’t ready. She did not want to marry just yet, but it was not for her to decide. It was her father’s prerogative.
She asked for love and respect, her husband demanded sex and babies. He used her and discarded her. She would have given anything to be loved and treated with dignity and worth, instead men used and abused all she had to offer and returned shame and guilt in its stead.
Suddenly she was back in the present, at the well at mid-day and her eyes met the gentle eyes of the Rabbi as she looked at his compassionate face.
He was different. No, unique!
Was this 2000 years ago or just yesterday?
Women are still used and abused not just sexually
They are denied opportunities,
Deprived of making decisions
Dispossessed of their gifts and abilities
And treated as lesser beings.
Jesus restored the Samaritan woman to God and her people
He broke barriers, He built bridges
He affirmed her and empowered her
No longer ashamed or deemed inferior
She was able to go back to the village,
Her head held high and a song in her heart.
She was sent with authority and authenticity:
The people listened and responded.
To restore to women their God-given image and worth
Break ancient social, religious, cultural barriers
For, they are made by men, not by God.
Loosen the age old chain of oppression and ‘second class’ status
Unfasten the shackles of violence and abuse
Step aside to make room for women to take their place
Treat women with respect and dignity
Empower them to use their God given gifts and abilities
To lead, to do or just be Women.