If living in the Maggie’s Place community teaches you anything, it teaches you a thing or two about women. I’ve been reflecting on this because, well, at present our house is home to eleven women. (Though the three baby gentlemen also deserve a shout out.) Here’s a few thoughts on the genius that is femininity.
First, women are relational creatures. We desire to know and be known by another. At best, this means we are self-sacrificing, compassionate, and emotionally rich. At worst, this means we are gossipy, resentful, and emotionally raw. By and large, our interests and greatest happiness revolve around the complexity of the human person.
Second, women are strong. While men possess muscular frames, women’s strength is remarkably tailored to nurturing life. Naturally, the paradigmatic example is the body’s ability to nourish and grow another human being and orchestrate a heroic exit, after which, it condenses back to normal. The body can then further withstand weeks living off next to no sleep to feed a newborn every two hours. Heck, even our hips are fashioned so we can carry around a twenty pound toddler and still type with our other hand.
But beyond physical capacity, women possess a certain strength to see those around them flourish. This often comes at the expense of their own comfort. Listening, consoling, and sacrificing for those in need are not tasks that can be checked off a to do list. At any time, we are ready to place our needs on hold and enter, as we call it at Maggie’s Place, the ‘duty of the moment’.
Third, the truth is women are beautiful (a fact quite uncontested by history, mind you). Our beauty can be scarred by the choices we make, it can be bruised in encounters with others, and we consistently fail to see it in ourselves, but it persists nonetheless.
The beautiful women I’ve gotten to know at Maggie’s Place truly exemplify radiant femininity. While I may be doing a year of service for the moms, they seek to serve me day in and day out. Yes, most transparently by cooking me a fantastic burrito, but also by noticing my needs, sharing their heart, and letting me love their child. Out of love for Christ himself, the MissionCorps have offered up a year of their lives to give whatever they can to fellow women as they welcome new life. And the Fiat staff never hesitate to advocate for this mission, and have so often encouraged me in the midst of my weakness.
Perhaps one of my favorite women, St. Edith Stein, said it best when she said this: “The woman’s soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold.”
And, if you’ll indulge me one more time for this feminine finale:
“The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.”
By Tia Westhoff, a MissionCorps