Molly in Africa

Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Women Can't Be Disciples"

At Holy Thursday Mass yesterday, I was curious what I would see.

For the past (I don't know how many) years, I've only know the way we celebrate it at St. Nick's. We sang songs with lyrics like, "Do you know what I have done for you?...If I have washed your feet, so you must do as I have done for you." We all removed our shoes and stood in lines around the church to wash someone's feet and then have our feet washed by a different person. While I've always enjoyed participating in this experience, I think I've liked watching everyone else more- watching the young mother and her daughter gently washing an old man's feet and then carefully drying it in a towel; watching women and men- young or old, able bodied or disabled, sound of mind or mentally unwell, related or strangers- bending to serve one another.

Yesterday I sat in a church 50 feet from my house here in Karonga and watched as 12 men were chosen from the men's side of the church to get their feet washed by one person (one of the Brothers). I wondered (aloud to Kat) if the women would have their feet washed next or if they just wouldn't be washed. After the 12th man's feet were washed, boys jumped up and grabbed the 12 chairs from the front of the church and carried them away.

After Mass, I walked home with my friend Frank, who had been one of the 12 whose feet were washed, and he said, "I got to be a disciple today." I congratulated him and then asked why there were only men up there- no women- and he said, "Women can't be disciples." I told him we had to chat about that. The two of us sat on the veranda with Matt, Kat and Kat's mom (who is currently visiting us) and discussed his statement and why all of us (eventually including Frank) thought that statement was false.

What continues to surprise me here- specifically about gender roles but it could apply to other things too- is how often the questioning of inequality just doesn't exist. Why not include women? Why not include the ones who can't afford it (the poor)? the disabled? the students? the non-Catholics?

I think the way Kat's mom sarcastically wrapped up our conversation on Thursday fits for all of it- "Women can be disciples, we just can't get our feet washed." How many times do we include people, but not for everything? It happens here all the time, but it happens at home too.

7 Comments:

At 1:02 PM, April 11, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly-

You point out the importance of someone starting a change by asking the question that nobody asks. Have a very Happy Easter!

-Rich Gayes

 
At 9:21 PM, April 11, 2009, Blogger b said...

Molly, I love that you are kickin ass and takin names for women all over the globe. Happy Easter, we love you!

-Beth

 
At 5:34 PM, April 12, 2009, Anonymous Shannon Green said...

Hi Molly - Thanks for your painful but honest reflection. You have been truly missed this week!! Especially in the alto section ;) Little Patrick Beale-DelVecchio was baptized last night! What a night. Happy Easter! love, Shannon

 
At 11:22 PM, April 13, 2009, Blogger Scott said...

``We have to have a little chat about that'' love that line. That was a very interesting blog post Molly. I've encountered some of the same thing here. Not to the same degree but often the question of inequality isn't raised. Things just the way the are and that's that.

 
At 1:44 PM, April 14, 2009, Blogger Greg Calhoun said...

That is an experience you'll remember - let it empower your advocacy!

 
At 11:47 AM, April 17, 2009, Anonymous Adrienne said...

hey molly,
i just presented at stander yesterday about my time in the orphanage in uganda and i couldn't help but thinking about you. i remember when i came and listened to your presentation and how it got me so excited to go. it's so cool to hear how you're defending women and getting to experience the easter season there. you are continually in my prayers. love, adrienne

 
At 3:40 PM, May 08, 2009, Blogger Eric said...

I like you a lot.

Don't forget, after rising from the dead, the first people Jesus appeared to were women disciples!

You rock, Molly. Hope to see you soon.
-Eric Grimm

 

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