I met Elizabeth via FranIAm a year ago, maybe? I have no sense of time; I’m very canine in that respect. Moving the story along… Our elationship began when I started reading her blog, Telling Secrets. I was sucked in by her yarns; Elizabeth’s writing is raw and gritty, buffed with warmth and nourishment for the soul. I had never read anyone like her. Our paths intersected at the perfect time. She is a Priest. I am a Jew. Religion aside, she is the goddess of faith restoration, healing and love, free of conditions and judgment. She understands each person and has this uncanny ability of seeing inside them. I adore this dame, everything about her and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share her with you.
Please welcome Dame Elizabeth!
Tell me about you: Your name, pseudonym, where you’re from and what your read is about?
My name is Elizabeth. Everyone always tries to shorten it. I’m sure women named “Betty”, “Libby” and “Liz” are wonderful people. They just ain’t me. I’m Elizabeth. It’s always fascinated me that, when I correct the folk who take it upon themselves to shorten my name for me – like a term of endearment when we’ve only just met – they almost always act deeply offended. It used to make me feel bad for making people feel bad about something I shouldn’t have felt bad about in the first place. It doesn’t any more. My name is Elizabeth. Yeah, it’s long. Deal with it.
But, I’m jumping ahead to question # two before really answering this question. I come from good peasant, immigrant stock, the granddaughter of a domestic and daughter of a Mill Girl in a Northern New England Textile Town. The men in my family were, for the most part, irresponsible, alcoholic and abusive. The women were Big Enablers. I’m quite sure my abused mother and aunts co-wrote the song “Oh My Man,” for Fanny Brice (“All my life is just despair / but I don’t care”) and my grandmother wrote, “My Man” for Billy Holiday (“He isn’t true / he beats me too/ What can I do?”).
My blog is “Telling Secrets.” Somewhere, long ago, I heard the saying, “You’re only as sick as your most strongly kept secret” and came to know that as the truth. Institutions – especially religious ones – excel at this, which is why they can be so damaging to the soul. The human enterprise is comprised of intricate webs of paradox, the most compelling is that we simultaneously desire and fear to be known. My blog tries to say things out loud – about myself, my relationships to others and God – that some people would never even whisper in secret. I am especially passionate about healing the rift which is at the intersection of sexuality and spirituality. I am convinced that it is from this place that radical transformation – of the self and the world – occurs.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman means many things to me. It means being:
a transparent mystery
a pearl of great price hidden in plain view.
a vulnerable warrior
a truth teller and persistent prophet
a tenderly fierce lover
a gossipy confidant
a virgin whore
a nurturing mother in spike heels
a logical drama queen
an hysterical scholar
a high priestess of myth and reality, who sees the Holy in everything.
To be a woman means being an active participant in the contradiction in terms because if we believed the stereotypes of what it means to be a woman, we’d never become who we really are as human beings.
Have you, are you, or will you reinvent yourself and, of course, what does reinventing yourself mean to you?
I reinvent myself every morning when I wake up and breathe in air that is polluted with the toxins of sexims, heterosexism, and other forms of prejudice and bigotry.
But I mean something about “reinventing” that is other than the way that term is usually intended. By daily reinventing myself, I mean that I must clarify for myself every morning my true identity so that I can better resist the temptation to succumb to what others either expect from me or suspect of me.
I am a woman who has been in a life-long, faithful relationship with another woman for 33 years who refuses to have that relationship limited or defined by a label. Together, we have co-parented six children who have given us (to date) five grandchildren whom we simply adore. That fact sometimes pisses off the sisters who think we’re “apeing the dominant patriarchal model.” (Sigh!)
I am an Episcopal priest, one of the first 100 to be ordained, who has a church on Main Street, in an affluent suburb affectionately known alternatively as “Mayberry USA” and “Republicanville”. My beloved and I live in the church rectory (parsonage / manse) in a suburban neighborhood that is absolutely teaming with kids and strollers and young families.
If a woman doesn’t reinvent herself daily – reaffirm her identity and commit to taking the risk of becoming more of who she truly is and is meant to become – I do believe something in her soul and in her heart dies.