Lise Weil (L) and me on the right. Photo credit : Iren Schio
For the Visionaries of the Women’s Movement and Beyond.
“I glimpse lines crazing my face in the windowglass,
crone’s bones emerging. My eyes are growing larger;
soon they will perch on stalks and swivel, crustacean.
The better to see how others do it:
this last chance at living…
The message is we’re too fatigued to change the myths
of ourselves at this stage, preferring to die, unmake
the world, in the familiar. Understandable. Yet I persist
in lusting to be seamless with the universe while still aware
of it—so I suspect a future darkly bright, kaleidoscopic
as symmetries glittering beneath eyelids rubbed dry of tears.”
Italics are my own.
Robin Morgan “Reading the Bones”
Yesterday I attended a reading for the memoir In Search of Pure Lust written by my friend and former professor Lise Weil, a woman who has dedicated her life to visionary thinking and teaching by inviting anyone to enter who has ears to listen and an open heart.
When I first encountered Lise’s radical feminist ideas my hair caught fire; and the flames between us continued to rise higher and higher. Our friendship remains as tempestuous as the fire that binds us still – fire and air are the two mediums of communication that flow between us – one a lover of women, a lesbian, internationally known translator, editor, writer, lifetime visionary activist and teacher, the other, a dedicated Earth centered heterosexual woman, a naturalist and mystic whose lifetime of writing had been confined to her journals up until that point, a woman who returned to school only after her children were grown.
We couldn’t have been more different.
When Lise introduced me to feminism and the women’s movement through Visionary Lesbian thinking I was hooked, recognizing that until this point any woman’s way of thinking and being in the world had been totally absent from my life, and that I was starving to death as a result.
After being told to read Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature; The Roaring Inside Her I was able to create a bridge between who I was and women who loved, and that was only the beginning – Mary Daly, and oh, so many others, followed. My years as a student were some of the happiest of my life; not only were ideas flowing but I began the process of discernment; I was wed to the Earth’s body, albeit unconsciously; her rhythms were my own. As I began to bring this bodily relationship with self/Earth into my conscious awareness, I was able to begin to name who I was. In short, my life began to make sense to me because of the influence of this remarkable visionary, teacher, writer.
Although she once lived through the world of ideas and I initially came out of the Earth somewhere, gradually, our perspectives began to merge. After graduation I began to teach Women’s Studies, continued my work as an abused woman’s advocate and began to take myself as a writer seriously. Lise initiated her program of Embodiment Studies at Goddard College, and began to have unusual experiences in Nature eventually coming to create and edit a courageously honest journal that focuses on the plight of Nature and the frightening loss of species. (Dark Matter; Women Witnessing).
Yesterday after only a few minutes of conversation I learned that the whales are dying of starvation before Lise’s voice cracked. “Not now” she said, or something to that effect when my hunger propelled me to ask for details.
We are now standing at the same crossroad together.
All during the reading I was remembering the many years we visited, the times we didn’t, our mutual excitement, visionary overlap, fury, disappointment – how our lives were intertwined and how proud I was to witness for this woman who had evolved into the whole person she was meant to be.
In closing, Lise remarked that her poignant memoir chronicling one Lesbian woman’s story in the visionary context of the Women’s Movement was also a requiem for these times, and I believe she is right.
Someone disagreed, apparently unable to handle such a stark reflection, using as an example young women who protested Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. From where I am standing it appears that even the most fervent protesting doesn’t make much difference.
Authentic visionaries and mystics are absent for the most part, and I believe that this is the core of the problem. In their place stand millions of women and men who live their lives through a form of cheerful, even forceful denial. It isn’t realistic to continue to believe that without woman’s solidarity there is hope for authentic change, just as it is not realistic to believe that the Earth can continue to lose more species without dire consequences for all.
We don’t know what lies ahead, but both Lise and I have learned how important it is to bear witness for women (and some men) and this precious planet even at the edge of non – human species’ extinction.
Thank you Lise.
I am profoundly grateful not to be standing here alone.