On February 7, 2017 while the US Senate was debating the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the Senate tried to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren while she was reading a letter by Coretta Scott King. Senator Warren continued to read the letter in the face of repeated censures, but ultimately the Senate took a vote silencing her for the duration of the hearing. In his comments following the incident, Senator Mitch McConnell inadvertently gave women a rallying cry for all who stand up in the face of injustice and oppression: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Nevertheless, she persisted. This phrase was swirling in my mind as I reflected on the gospel story of the persistent widow who repeatedly took her case to an unjust judge in an oppressive legal system. We know so little about this person who had no rights given her status as a woman and a widow. How had she been wronged? Who was her opponent? Where did she get the courage and strength to persistent in fighting for justice against this (likely male) opponent who had wronged her?
For years, I have worked hard to hush the shi$$y committee in my mind who loves to tell me that I feel wronged because I’m too sensitive. Or that takes my opponent’s side because he has more social standing and power. Or that questions why I think the system will ever change. Or that warns me about being “bossy” or “bitchy.” Or my favorite, “who do you think you are…”
The persistent widow didn’t care what people thought of her, or how it would look to keep arguing her case. She kept her eyes on God and had faith that her pleas were heard and would be answered. The lectionary gives us the gift of pairing the persistent widow with the story of Jacob wrestling with God until he received a blessing – a blessing that marks Jacob with a limp. In our dark nights, whether in our personal lives or as we work for justice in a system that oppresses so many people, these stories inspires me to not only persist, but demand a blessing no matter the struggle. In my podcast this week, I reflect on what I learned from Geraldine Brooks’ new novel Horse, and theology student Francisco Garcia’s comments on how Dr. King found peace during the terrifying time during the Montgomery bus boycotts.
You are beloved. You are worthy of justice. Persist in the struggle! Demand a blessing! and when it comes, know that your life will be transformed by the touch of the divine.
Love and blessings, Libby