Everyday Theology: Women are making the desert bloom

From the macro to the micro level, women are creating streams in the desert places of human society.

In recognition of this year’s International Women’s Day, I attended two events. Though the character of the two events differed, they shared a common element: women around the globe are a force for change in their communities and in the world. From the macro to the micro level, women are creating streams in the desert places of human society.

The first event I attended was the 2014 World Day of Prayer.  This year, the women of Egypt prepared the ecumenical service, and not surprisingly, given the importance of the Nile River for life in the Sahara Desert, water featured prominently in the readings and prayers. The spiritually evocative theme, “Streams in the Desert”, pointed to God’s love and mercy in the parched places of human life.

As the women reflected on Egypt’s history and anticipated the future, the life-giving character of water was a metaphor for individual and community transformation.  Through faith in action, the women of Egypt aspire to “become channels of living water to the world”.

From the time of Pharaoh’s daughter, who in the biblical story of salvation defied her father to rescue the Hebrew baby who would lead an enslaved people to freedom, to the women of today who stood in Tahrir Square protesting a repressive regime, Egyptian women have been a force for transformation. Their vision extends into the future as they look for ways to preserve the waters of the Nile for future generations, and to enhance opportunities for women and girls.

The World Day of Prayer service prompted me to look inward for the parched places of my life that could use a little sprinkling of living water, and it prepared me for the second event, the screening of the film Unbreakable: One Girl Changing the World. This event took me out of my self, leading me to reevaluate my commitment to social justice at home and in places oceans away.

“Women Creating Change”, a project in our area, screened the film that tells the story of Malala Yousafzai who is internationally renowned for her courageous efforts to promote education for girls. Malala survived and recovered from a Taliban attempt to assassinate her, and remains committed to her mission.  Her inspiring example to empower girls through education is a stream in the desert of ignorance.

The Malala film was a natural fit with the project goals of “Women Creating Change”. Tara Howse, project co-coordinator, explains, “Our project is based around identifying what prevents women in our local region from having a secure and stable future. We know that education is directly linked to the empowerment of women, which has been demonstrated to a better quality of life for their families and the rest of society.”

The women of Egypt, Malala and “Women Creating Change” share a common goal.  They aspire to be streams in the desert, helping individuals and communities to bloom.

Trail resident Louise McEwan is a catechist and former teacher, with degrees in English and Theology. She writes every other week. She blogs at www.faithcolouredglasses.blogspot.com. Reach her at mcewan.lou@gmail.com