“May I continue to find favor in your eyes, sir…” Ruth 2:13
Calling all women! Behold, beginning Wednesday January 31 at 7:30p.m. we’ll gather for some story telling as we romp through the Book of Ruth. The book, often read and understood as a sweet folktale; a story of triumphant victory that stems from tragedy and deep devotion, is also a story of subversive struggle; a story of patriarchal privilege and the role of marginalized women. Ruth’s story in the Old Testament relates to the abused and rejected slave girl, Hagar; the raped and deserted Tamar; the temptress Bathsheba and the boldly courageous Queen Esther as they pose for us the role of women in ancient times and today.
On January 31, through the sacred texts of scripture, we’ll explore the subliminal and not so hidden implications of sexual harassment then and especially now, as women are coming forth to tell their story of misconduct and harassment. We all have a story. As Phyllis Trible reminds us well, “…without stories we live not, stories live not without us…In the speaking and the hearing new things appear in the land…The word goes forth from the mouth;…The ears of those who hear hearken;…Thus the word does not return empty but accomplishes that which it purposes.” All too often, however, we do not all have a place to tell our story. There are options other than silence. May our gathering as: Women With a Story be a place for women to come without judgement, free of guilt, safe in the company of other women, no longer powerless in their sexuality, released of shame and embarrassment, to a place where God’s love, compassion, grace and mercy prevail.
According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity, more than half of all American women have experienced some kind of inappropriate sexual behavior. The legal definition of sexual harassment is sexually charged language, jokes and gestures; any unwanted sexual misconduct; and/or unwelcome advances as a condition of employment or that create a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment in the work place has been termed as a “full blown epidemic”. Too often, especially in the work place, the unexpected exposé initially is confusing, and we somehow may feel we’re responsible, asking ourselves, what wrong have we done to deserve this humiliation? Our ancient biblical sister Ruth finds herself in the work place desperate to honor her family name. Is she so subverted to such a position she’s compelled to offer sexual favors? What sacrifices does Ruth make to become a hero in her circumstances as she establishes herself as the great-grandmother of King David, the ancestor of Jesus himself? How does any part of Ruth’s story ring true to our story today?
You may not wish to share a story. But, you may just wish to take a dive into the Book of Ruth with other magnificent women searching to go deeper into our relationship with God through scripture. Read the Book of Ruth, if you have time. It’s only four chapters, eighty-one short verses. And/or, come along and be ready to gather with Women With a Story next Wednesday January 31 at 7:30 in room 146. Bring a sister, a neighbor, a friend. As with Ruth, perhaps it is that your story brings hope and promise to another’s story as we all witness God’s saving grace, especially in our stories. I look forward to sharing this precious, intimate time with you.