Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Crone Report

In recent months I've been grappling with the fact that I am about to turn 60. I handled 50 just fine. 60, however, feels like all those phrases: "long in the tooth," "wizened," "as old as dirt." And there are certainly days when I feel like the phrases, and then some.

But there are other days when it ain't so bad to be experienced, you know? When I was up at VTS, several of the young women clergy there shared their experiences of being demeaned, of being considered "less than" by virtue of their youth and gender, even by other clergywomen. it broke my heart. Some of them have been my teachers in some very powerful ways and have given me gifts that I have taken into my own ministry here and in the larger church. They deserve better.

It also reaffirmed for me the gift of age:
  • I am no longer viewed as a sexual object as I was when I was younger. It often got in the way of good work. I can hold my own when someone says something inappropriate. 
  • I can sort out what is worth fighting and what is not. 
  • I have been dissed by powerful people and have survived and triumphed - thinking here of a time I was yelled at by a Senator on C-SPAN when I was testifying at a hearing, and the fact that he has faded into blessed obscurity and I am happily doing good work. 
  • I don't think dumb stuff is about me when it usually is not.
  • I no longer fear saying I'm sorry when I have messed up, which is a frequent occurrence.
Some people call old(er) women crones. Joseph Campbell in his discussion of the Hero's Journey says that the hero often meets with a characters who offers the hero protection of one sort or another, and one of the most common of these characters is the crone. I rather like the image of someone who has lived a full life and now offers the wisdom and protection learned throughout that life to others coming along the path.

 I'm not so sure how much wisdom and protection I offer, but I'm glad to be reaching a point in my life when I can test it out!

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