August 18th, 2014 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Gather the Women


By Barbara Belknap

During our last Regional Coordinator call, I was asked to write a blog about how I get inspired. My subconscious has been working on it, and one unexpected thought was that the word “spire” is in the middle of inspiration. Technically, the word spire is from the Old English word “spir” meaning a sprout, shoot, or stalk of grass. I’ve walked through great cathedrals in awe at the soaring spires, but more often than not I am inspired by what human beings, particularly women, do.

I think a lot about what I will say in the blog, and that keeps me on my toes for ideas and for inspiration. As a feminist, I’m very aware of women in the news, in history, and in books. I just bought three books by Isabel Allende at our Friends of the Bookstore, which is run by retired women. Those 3 books cost me $2.50. The women at the Bookstore donated $1 million to our new library building fund earlier this year. All of Juneau was inspired and amazed.

Today (August 17), I read a great article by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times titled “Sister Acts”, about a soon to be released book by Jo Piazza called “If Nuns Ruled the World.” It includes the story of 83 year old Sister Megan Rice, who broke into the Oak Ridge nuclear complex just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, and defaced a bunker holding bomb-grade uranium. I know about Oak Ridge because my sister Kathy, herself a former Catholic nun, and her wife Gail, a retired Professor at the University of Tennessee and author, live about 20 miles from the complex. Throughout history there have been courageous women who risked their lives and their freedom. They inspire me to reach higher.

When I sit in circle in Terra Sancta (Holy Land) next month, I know from experience that inspiration will flow through the women to me, and from me to the women around me. It always does. The GTW women of Rapid City, South Dakota are attached to their land in a deep way. Their voices become reverent when they talk about the Black Hills, where the hills and mountains are nature’s spires. The South Dakota women convey that reverence and sense of spirituality to us, the women who will gather there, before we are even packed.

There are countless inspirational men, but our political priorities, history books, movies, television shows, and culture have focused primarily on the male population. But, all the while, women “hold up half the sky” as beautiful human spires.

P.S. I was amazed when I Googled for an image of spires and up popped the spectacular Needles Mountains in South Dakota!

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