Today's journeys began with a visit to Meteora, a sedimentary rock formation that rises up like several towers out of a plain in central Greece. Meteora has been continuously settled for tens of thousands of years, and is home to six functioning monastaries, which sit atop these formations. While the monasteries weren't constructed until the 14th century, ascetic monks arrived there as early as the 9th century and scaled as high as 1800 ft., where they occupied hollows in the formations.
We visited the Rosanou Monastery, which was occupied by monks for most of its history, but was turned into a women's monastery in 1988. It is one of two women's monateries. There, our tour guide Aliki, gave us an exquisite tour of the small church dedicated to Saint Barbara.
We were all in awe of these cliff-top monasteries – as anyone would be – and found it absolutely astounding that anyone would think to build them atop these pillars of rock. The climb was surely physically, emotionally, and spiritually challenging; exhausting; and, of course, frightening . There is no question that these earliest ascetics and the monks and nuns who occupy them today must have been seeking something significantly more – a closer to connection to God, an inner peace, a certain freedom, perhaps – to make such a journey. That these monasteries have survived for five centuries – and their predecessors even longer – is a testament to the strong faith of so many who have made the journey.
After this breath-taking visit, we made our way to Delphi for the night. At the hotel there, we offered a prayer in celebration of International Women’s Day. As I sat quietly, reflecting on the day, I couldn’t help but call to mind all of us in the Church reform movement. We too face a difficult climb, which can admittedly be emotionally and spiritually challenging at times. And for some of us, it can be frightening – frightening to speak of our vocations, frightening to tell of our love. And yet, we do it because we are seeking more. We are seeking to be liberated from confining images and language for God, to be free to respond faithfully to God’s call in our lives, to authentically live as God has wonderfully made us.
Our climb as reformers continues and looking ahead can surely be daunting. As far as those who have done this work before us have taken the movement, there is still so far to go. But inch by inch, step by step we move onward.
Thankfully, unlike some of the earliest hermits at Meteora, we don’t make this climb alone. We have amazingly gifted companions and friends on this journey. At our prayer for International Women’s Day, we reflected on Jesus’ saying in Matthew 15: 14-16, “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good words and give glory to God.” Recognizing that the hierarchy has hidden light of women under a bushel basket for too long, we were invited to name a gift we offer to the Church. The incredible breadth and strength of the Spirit was on full display as each participant lifted up her or his gift: research and study, teaching, persistence, teaching, faithful critique, rootedness, a listening ear and open heart, the witness of an interfaith marriage…and so many more. As a sign of the diversity of our gifts and the light they represent – and in the absence of candles – we activated glow sticks of various colors after sharing before blessing each other’s senses and validating our power.
Looking around at the rainbow of color in the room on this International Women’s Day, I was thankful that these amazingly gifted women, so filled with light, have found ways to stick with this Church that too often forgets them, undermines them, hurts them, and neglects them. I also grieved the tremendous loss women who have left – and the generations they take with them – looking for that something more elsewhere, while acknowledging that they can and will continue to make incredible contribution to this Body of Christ, which is surely bigger than the Roman Catholic Church.