by Karen Longenecker, Diocese of San Diego
Coming back to UNCSW this year has already proved to be a profound and moving experience, and its only Monday. I was here last year and while I keep trying not to compare, it is rather inevitable and I find myself being so delighted with different opportunities this year that make things very rich and heavy and I also miss having the new eyes to find events fascinating and moving, instead of slightly tedious and tiring at times.
Still the same, this year brings with it a weight that I don't recall feeling last year. I spent this afternoon in an event around organizing the North American Network of Religions for Peace, a movement of women of faith that advocate to eliminate violence against women across the world. The panel was amazing, fabulous, incredible, all of the above, and while I won't go into detail, I will mention a quote that really made me think.
It was: "One day equality will be an erotic experience."
All the women in the room chuckled a naughty, almost bedroom-ish chuckle, perfect.
It is my style to push the edge a bit, and I like this quote mainly because it makes you (and me) a little uncomfortable. Also though, our sexuality, as women AND men, is so intrinsically tied to all that we are learning here. The Beijing Platform covers a myriad of problems in all of our societies, most of which we can't even get our minds around. Being so overwhelmed makes me want to come back to what I do know, and what I do know, as Anne Lamott has said, is that the issue of being issued a body is just very strange. While I am here and while my mind is insanely busy with a million things, I miss the conversation that teaches me about my body as a woman, what it means to exist in a body and how our bodies can no longer be silent and passive.
Now I return to the quote. Equality, as much as it is thrown around, just might be much more powerful than we have given it credit for. This week, I am thinking of equality as something new, refreshing, something passionate, something sexual, something in our body that we urge towards. I am trying to fit equality into this business of living in a body and for right now, it feels like a good fit. Perhaps that makes you uncomfortable, and it should, but it is also how it should be.
Quickly I want to mention another thought I have to give credit to here. This delegation really amazes me. Having the privilege of being here a second time makes me constantly try to figure out what they are thinking, how they are processing, what they like, what they don't and on and on. And then when I get myself to be quiet, I realize how brave they are, how strong they are. I am thankful for them. They make me remember to be hurt, disappointed, angry, tearful, joyous, full of hope and openness and somehow that feels like going back to a person in me that I enjoy more, I certainly enjoy more fully. I give thanks for their faithfulness.