catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 21 :: 2008.11.21 — 2008.12.05


An essay unwritten

I cannot write this essay.

I cannot write this essay because I am a typically busy woman.  A mother, a wife, a daughter, a hostess, a friend.  Today belongs to my children; tomorrow is a date with my husband; the next day, lunch with Mom; then old friends as houseguests until Tuesday.  And in there somewhere, the time for me to think my private thoughts, to jot some down, to read and to quietly consider my own way of being a woman in this world.  Contrarily (as some might say is typical for a woman), I cannot write this essay because of my world.

I cannot write this essay though I want to.  Because I am a woman, I see the needs of others.  I see the need of this thoughtful little online magazine that calls itself, fittingly, catapult.  This call for submissions is very close to the deadline-they need someone, someone like me, to fill the gap.  As a woman, I want desperately to meet those needs-sometimes too desperately.  My ego gets caught up in being good at doing so.  I cannot write this essay because, as a woman struggling to grow to a fuller self, I must question and sometimes resist this desperation to meet the needs of others.

I cannot write this essay because this is a public, Christian forum.  What really makes a woman is not discussed in polite company, not at coffee time after the church service.  A woman’s soft parts rip and bleed in order to bring new, screaming life into the world.  And that’s as far as we can go with that.

I cannot write this essay because writing uses linear, logical words.  The essence of the feminine is connected to watery emotion, to chthonic earth, to the part of life that defies and confounds tidy lines and logic.

I cannot write this essay because it will be read by men.  I love men.  But men fear the feminine, confuse it with overwhelming emotionality.  I cannot write this essay because I do not have the resources to carefully take that into account, to talk about images of the feminine growing into something more in both men and women-something deeper and not so shrill, something valued. 

I cannot write this essay because it will be read by women.  I love women.  But women have a hard time understanding our own kind.  Something in our own shadows waits to pounce with conventional, harsh judgments upon the individual, the unique.  I cannot write this essay because frankly, I am frightened of what is in that shadow, which is really my shadow.

I cannot write this essay because I am not sure I could arrive at real love, and love is the essence of the woman’s world.  Not a silly sentimental love, but a love that acknowledges the negative undercurrents in relationship.  A love that is open-eyed about the desire to possess.  A love that, through the darkness, still looks to the whole-the whole of a person, the whole of the relationship, the whole of the situation, the whole of oneself.*  It takes time and wondering and pondering to begin to arrive at that love.  It may be that I am not enough of a woman to write this essay-not yet.

Because I am a woman whose children are knocking on my office door, dressed in hats and backpacks and full of ideas for the imaginative game of adventure I’ve promised; because those children have first claim to my love and attention; because I must simply attend to the task in front of me and not try to do it all in one greedy swoop, I cannot, will not, must not write this essay. 

Not today, at least …

* This insight about love comes not from me, but from Helen Luke, who was enough of a woman to author Kaleidoscope: The Way of Woman and Other Essays.

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