INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2019
I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a few thoughts about the International Women’s Day. Over the years, this has become an important day celebrated by people of good will all over the World. Thousands of women, men, and children have gathered for seminars, workshops, study days, and panel discussions probing and celebrating the dignity and gifts of women throughout history. Since the recognition of women’s contribution has been compromised by sexism, misogyny, neglect, and patriarchy, the names of the real women and their particular contribution have been lost. The contemporary efforts to discover their personal reality, their actual existence, and their unique contributions are acts of justice we can ill afford to ignore.
Furthermore, March 8, The International Women’s Day, has become a time for celebrating not only the accomplishments of women throughout history but to recognize the significant advances we have achieved in securing the rights and dignity of all women. It is more than appropriate that people all over the World observe this important day by gathering for concerts, discussions, marches, and cultural events of all types. Nonetheless, a word of caution is appropriate.
International Women’s Day must not become an event in itself. The Day is not meant to be a one-day event by which we raise our awareness once a year. Nor must this day simply be a day of seminars and celebrations. The Day is a marker in our year reminding us to work for the full, complete, and uncompromising rights of women on each and every day of the year. The International Day is a pulse in our consciousness inviting us to integrate the wisdom of women into our lives.
The Interfaith Peace Project renews its commitment to advocate for women. We support all those efforts recognizing the rights of women to pursue an education in their field of choice, to travel freely, to fully participate in the political system by enjoying the right to vote and the privilege to hold political office. We recognize the right of women to access health care and earn a living without fear of harassment of any kind. We recognize that the issues concerning women reflect the real-life situations of diverse women in diverse circumstances. We, above all, realize that the oppression of women injures the entire human family. We rededicate ourselves to working on behalf of women, as we work with women, on behalf of all peoples.
Finally, we invite you to observe the virtues implied in the observance of International Women’s Day in all the affairs of your life. March if you are so inclined, vote according to your conscience, live with honor, serve with generosity, and hear the voices of the great women in your life who blessed you so deeply. Thank you for honoring all women in the way you live your life day by day.
Women’s Quiet Voices
A New Series Celebrating International Women’s Day
by Carrie Knowles
Mary Oliver wrote:
Who made the world?
Who made the swan and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
[The Summer Day]
Mary Oliver died early this year at 83, leaving us more than twenty volumes of her poetry. Most prominent poetry critics did not take her seriously, yet Oliver won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and one of her collections won the National Book Award in 1992. She was often called the most beloved poet in America as her accessible, conversational words reached our minds and hearts with her question: how are we to live?
Mary Oliver was a fiercely private person—she gave many readings but few interviews because she wanted her work to speak for itself. Her poems pulse with a mystical spirituality as she binds primal joy with the primal melancholy of being alive when all that lives is mortal. She tells us: Pay attention to the world of nature—the goldfinches, the swans, the wild geese—they will tell you what you need to know.
to the leaves after
they turn red and golden and fall
away? What happens
to the singing birds
when they can’t sing
any longer? What happens
to their quick wings?
Do you think there is any
for any of us?
Do you think anyone,
the other side of that darkness,
will call to us, meaning us?
Beyond the trees
the foxes keep teaching their children
to live in the valley.
So they never seem to vanish, they are always there
in the blossom of light
that stands up every morning
in the dark sky.
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness
and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it all on some
I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn’t mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.
Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet thought of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.
[Roses, Late Summer]