n a journalism class I attended thirty years ago, students were asked to write their aspirations. I typed, "I would like to write for the United Church Observer.
" The magazine had been a part of my life since I was a baby. Growing to adulthood, I believed that it best represented those living a faithful life in a heartbreaking world. Its writers unswervingly wrestled with personal, national and global ethical questions. And I wanted to contribute to that.
Two years after that class, I read, Don't: A Woman's Word,
by Elly Danica. The late Canadian broadcaster Peter Gzowski famously interviewed Danica about this groundbreaking memoir of child sexual abuse. I was so moved that I immediately wrote a review and sent it on spec to The Observer
editor Muriel Duncan. When she bought my piece, I learned two things: I could write for a great Canadian church magazine and that it is best to write from your heart.
This magazine has been a place for me to write from my heart for a generation. There were other book reviews, children's stories, profiles and feature articles about prayer, life in Inuvik, the church in Whitehorse, peacemakers in Jerusalem, women and interfaith in India — and much more. Seventeen years ago, I was invited to write a column called "The Back Page." When David Wilson became editor in 2006, he lifted me out of print and into cyberspace to write "The Pogue Blog," which was later renamed "Sightings." It's been a privilege. But with a new editor at the helm — and a new year — changes are inevitable. As a result, "Sightings" moves from view after this final blog entry.
I was preparing to write about the #MeToo and #BeenRapedNeverReported movements, and e-mailed several wise people about this phenomenon. The issues they raised were far-ranging: do we keep the focus on women and girls, or include others? Does the movement shed light on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, too? Has it all gone too far? What are the next steps? When will women's shelters no longer be needed? How are men invited into the conversation, or are they at all? Are there ways to avoid "us" versus "them?"
It seems to me that women can move forward by moving in solidarity, and leading the work with strength and common sense. And we must never trivialize grave and life-threatening situations by equating ignorant comments or stupidity with real danger.
Reflecting on my writing for The Observer
, it is curious to me that my first and last words here are about the same thing: women speaking out. What does it say about how far we have moved to ensure the safety and integrity of women and girls over these 30 years? Perhaps we can first thank God for courageous women like Danica, who paved the way for this current conversation, and give thanks for our allies — men like Gzowski, who gave wings to Danica's words.
She is not only a writer, she is also a fibre artist. That fact recalled for me Marcienne Rientra's poem, "To Weavers Everywhere.
" "God sits weeping/The beautiful creation tapestry/She wove with such joy/is mutilated, torn to shreds/Reduced to rags . . ." It's a heartbreaking image.
But Rientra doesn't leave us there. She describes God gathering up the shreds and rags "of our suffering and work" and invites us to "take our place beside Her/At the Jubilee Loom/And weave with her/The tapestry of the New Creation." The Observer
has invited me to continue to write from time to time. Their new strategy is to open their blogosphere to multiple voices, instead of a regular few. Although you may not see me in The Observer
for a while, I hope that we will see each other at the Loom, helping to weave a new world, where all beings are safe from harm.
Thank you for inspiring me to write. Fare thee well.