Day 130: The Feminist Rosary

I started a separate blog, which is empty at the moment, that will be devoted to the rosary adventure.  I’m not sure why, it just seemed to make sense.  This blog has been about, or initially was supposed to be about, turning thirty.  It ended up being about a lot of other things, partially because, as it turns out, I didn’t have that much to say about turning thirty.

Or maybe I did, I’ll never know, because life threw us a curve ball, and instead of spending thirty days preparing for a bar exam and reflecting on my relatively sheltered life, I spent much of that time packing and organizing and panicking and planning.  And life continued on.

I cannot say I feel I am quite back to where I was when this blog started.  I don’t feel quite as settled as I thought I felt back then.  I still feel like there are a lot of unknowns, including where our permanent family home will be over the next ten years, even if I do know within a five mile radius, or whether I will go back to work, or where our children will go to school after they finish where they are now.  I do feel a sense of a slow calm spreading over things, although if I’m honest, I’m terrified to put that in writing.  Have I learned nothing these past 130 days?  Apparently.

I do feel though, that it’s time to settle in to a routine a little bit more, to start thinking about making the choices that will become habits that will become who we are.  To that end, I am excited to start my “Feminist Rosary” journey, and thrilled to be able to share it with my oldest daughter.

. . .

As much as I dread Sunday, because it means the weekend is almost over, I love Sunday mornings. I love that it means there are no crazy activities, no brunches, no obligations to people or things outside of our family.  We wake up, we go to the early Mass, we go to the local farmer’s market, we come home and have lunch, the kids take a rest, and usually we cook something together and organize backpacks to get ready for the week.  We take showers and baths and we usually have time for a dance party, and we always have time to do our full bedtime routine.  It’s glorious.

It’s also the day when, more than any other, I sometimes feel like we are caught between two worlds, or at least that I am.  I am sure there is a better, more accurate and complete way to describe it, but that’s as close as I can get at the moment.

On the one hand, we are that family, and around here we are considered to be an outrageously big family, who gets up early and gets dressed up, though not as much as some, and goes to Mass together.  We drive, in one of the largest SUVs on the market, to a parish on the other side of town, and it is what is thought to be, and may very well be, a conservative parish (more of my thoughts about that here).  We sit quietly and attempt to convince our children to do the same.  We sit, stand, kneel, and pray, and we are serious about it.

On the other, as soon as Mass ends, we pile into our car and drive down the road to the local farmer’s market, usually singing songs in Spanish and dancing in our seats, where we buy as much organic produce as we can find and improvise our way through our shopping list and meal plan.  Our kids have made friends with most of the farmers, and they race each other to try cheese from Venezuela, spices from India, Takoyaki (octopus balls) from Japan, tropical fruit from wherever that comes from, and anything else they can get their hands on.  Today we tried a turmeric drink with black pepper and lemon grass, and while the grown ups agreed it tasted like froot loops, our children had no idea what that means, but greedily drank the juice.  We try to remember to bring our reusable bags and drink water from a stainless steel water bottle.  We wander around with big smiles and peaceful hearts and listen to people speaking different languages and practice our Spanish when we can.

I don’t feel like there is, inherently, any tension between attending Mass and shopping at a farmer’s market, but I do feel society, or discrete groups of people, have created a tension, and it’s a tension that has become very real, and a tension I am very aware of.

I think about it as I’m getting dressed and dressing the children.  Something cool enough to walk around outside, something warm enough to sit in an air-conditioned church; something formal enough not to receive dirty looks during Mass, something easy to wash pesto out of.  Something with a pocket to carry my rosary for me, and something that will also conceal my lack of a bra.

I was thinking this morning, and I couldn’t even say for sure where I feel more comfortable.  Receiving the Eucharist with my fellow Catholics or drinking turmeric with my fellow produce-lovers?  Feeling the warm embrace of God’s love or enjoying a cool breeze blow through my hair?

I know it doesn’t have to be one or the other.  I know this.  I believe this.

And really, that’s why I chose “The Feminist Rosary” for the new blog.  I thought about making it “A Braless Journey With the Rosary” or “Trading in my Bra for a Rosary,” or something like that, but while many will object to what I write (or would object if they read it), I don’t want to make it more controversial than necessary.  I thought this would be a nice balance between truth and political correctness, a line I always try to walk, acknowledging I tend toward the truth side a bit too often for most people’s taste.

There is nothing inherently incompatible about loving God and loving women, and there is nothing incompatible about loving women and being Catholic.  I can pray the rosary with my daughter every night after we read a science book together.  I can carry my rosary everywhere with me and leave my bra in the dresser.

What does the rosary have to do with wearing a bra?  Nothing really.  I love one and hate the other, I suppose that’s as far as it goes.  For me, praying the rosary is something that is good for me and that makes me feel good.  Wearing a bra is not good for me, and in fact may be harmful to me, and does not make me feel good.

Praying the rosary is something people tend to associate with very conservative, right-wing Catholics, and not wearing a bra is something people tend to associate with very liberal, left-wing atheists.  I’m not sure I would be considered conservative or liberal, I guess I’m still figuring that out myself, but I am fairly certain most would agree I am a (bad) Catholic.

As I begin this project, I worry that maybe I am not feminist enough to use that label, or that I am not a good enough Catholic to write about my faith.  I worry it will seem like I am somehow making light of the rosary, which I would never do, or that I don’t appreciate the challenges feminists face, or once faced, on my behalf, which is also not correct.

I don’t claim to be the perfect feminist, or a perfect Catholic.  I am learning every day, and I am trying, and I’m going to write about it.


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