Messy Women in a Crazy week

"The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men Gang aft agley..."
So wrote Rabbie Burns in his poem "To a mouse", and among the best laid plans that have gone agley for this man this week has been any attempt to celebrate Rabbie's "immortal memory" with a some haggis, neeps and tatties... A combination of pastoral issues, health problems, computer glitches and other things have derailed a number of things that I had planned and put me under more pressure than usual... And that is without taking into account the hectic whirlwind of events associated with the 4 Corners Festival that are about to start tonight with the opening of Bronagh Lawson's "20 artists: Religion and Spirituality" at the Duncairn Arts Centre. Do check out the festival programme, as there is plenty there to interest people from all sorts of perspectives...
Tomorrow night I am helping to re-stage Wendy Johnston's wonderful "Night with Messy Women" which premiered in the Agape centre back in November. In it Wendy tells the sometimes shocking stories of the women five women named by Matthew in the genealogy of Jesus – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. I've blogged about it previously here, but don't take my word for it come along and see it for yourself... And remember it, and most of the other events in the festival are FREE.
Yesterday I was talking to a Catholic colleague about it and he confided that some of his parishioners were a bit wary of the terms "Messy Woman" being applied to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to which I reassured him that the event merely tells all the stories EXACTLY as they are in scripture, with no added commentary or interpretation... but that in doing so we reveal all the stories in their messiness... there is no hiding the inequality and misogyny, the sex and violence that we often do when we explore these stories in sermons and Bible studies (where we are even brave enough to do so). None of the women in these stories expected their lives to be as messy as they were... or that despite or even because of that messiness they would be used by God and that their stories would continue to challenge and inspire generations of women and men down the millennia. Their plans, like those of mice and men went "agley", but God's didn't... He wasn't put off by the messiness and neither should we.
Tomorrow night's performance takes place in the Canada Room right in the heart of Queens University Belfast, under the stirring mural “Women Emerging from the Shadows”, by award winning Newry artist Michelle Rogers, illustrating all the women who play vital roles throughout the university, and by inference, across society. It will be followed by a discussion panel with Michelle Marken (former principal of St. Joseph's College and broadcaster), Linda Ervine (Director of EBM's Turas Irish Language Programme) and Karen Mbayo (Presbyterian Chaplain to QUB), exploring the importance of these stories and women’s stories in general in a world that often overlooks them, particularly in the male dominated world of faith.
Come along and see how these stories might shape yours in a messy, crazy world...


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