The Enduring Strength of Women
“I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”
—Malala Yousafzai (activist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate)
“Let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.”
I’ve been watching a British television show, Call the Midwife, about a group of midwives working in the impoverished East End of London during the 1950s. Birthing babies is such noble profession: it’s also a vivid reminder of the physical hardships women undergo as they bring forth new life. Incredible endurance is needed to carry and birth a child. Without access to reliable birth control, those difficulties that accompany motherhood were not always freely chosen. Harsh labels such as “spinster” further reproached the rare women who opted not to marry or bear children (whether by choice or by circumstance). And for women whose babies did not survive, the anguish is beyond any words I can convey here.
Years ago, my miscarriage sent me to seek the healing comfort of trees. In the absence of community support for such loss, the trees provided me with a deep connection to Mother Earth. Tall pines reaching toward the sky helped soothe my soul.
When we sit quietly in nature’s loving embrace, we remember: Our life here is a gift.
In one episode of Call the Midwife, the community holds a Christmas celebration in the church—with nuns and midwives singing Silent Night. At the end of the song, a newborn baby is placed in the wooden cradle (used as a manger). That miracle baby is a little girl.
As in nature, human life continues its on-going cycles, with seasons of births as well as seasons of death. All the while, the creative, life-giving force of our great-great grandmothers flows powerfully within each of us—bestowing upon us strength, confidence, and courage. American poet May Sarton reminds us, “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” It is never our weight, height, hair color, age, breast size, buttock size, skin tone, clothing, marital status, and children (or lack of children) that make us worthy. We came into this world worthy. We came into this world whole. Do not heed the voices that say otherwise.
We came into this world through women’s bodies.
In joy and gratitude,
Diana J. Ensign