July 20 is the day of celebration in the Episcopal Church for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman.
This was released in the U.S. on July, 4th. In the U.S., it is the day of celebration of the Independence of the country. However, for the Saints this month, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Ross Tubman, they felt that independence excluded people. This is not a political post, but to look at how four women stood up for those deemed outcasts. Much like Saint Damien of Molokai (the Saint in May), these women were themselves outcasts. As outcasts, there were also speaking the truth of equality of all, through lifting up the underserved.
The date chosen to honor the lives of these four women comes from the Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. This convention ran on July 19 & 20, in Seneca Falls. These four women were pioneers for black emancipation and for equal rights for women. They are not canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, but are recognized as holy people by The Episcopal Church , that does not have the same criteria to recognize people improving the lives of their neighbors.
Each had their focus of raising awareness, but each made a difference. For Elizabeth Cady Stanton it was for women’s rights, Amelia Bloomer was also women’s rights as well as an advocate for the temperance movement. Then Sojourner Truth was an abolitionist and women’s rights activist and Harriett Tubman Ross was an abolitionist and political activist. (See the blogs Facebook page for more on each of the women throughout the month)
These women, each had their own focus to speak out against the oppression they lived through. They understood, that each person has a voice and a value. While also knowing that oppression is like putting a light under a bushel basket. (Matthew 5:14-16) That as Episcopalians and many other Christian denominations, we are asked to be disciples of Jesus, in Baptism. As spiritual people, it is to demonstrate to others how to experience light. The actions we are asked to take are ones to bring others to know “the way”. This most readily is done, by showing our own light, while helping others to find theirs. All while we walk together.
These women, in their actions although civic minded, were moving in faith to lift people who were living in oppression. They helped find ways to bring the awareness of the injustice some were experiencing, even after establishing the country. They brought forth the awareness, that if anyone is suffering, then we are all suffering. If anyone is experiencing injustice, everyone is experiencing injustice. Having polar opposites of anything, does not create balance, it creates a vacuum where the worth of life is lost on one side.
In lifting someone out of oppression, it is light. There is not a value of light. The value of light is established by the need of light. Furthermore, light is dispersed throughout automatically, it is only stopped by actions to stop light. Although, it is not possible to stock pile light, it is possible to hold the energy of the light to help disbursing the light. That light and energy sustaining us in challenges is grace. That grace arrives with our faith in God and in our fellow spiritually active disciples. This is action is more than in a spiritual life, but in the lives of helping others.
There is action in light and being of light, because light projects upward and outward. In darkness, it narrow and brings down. These four women, as Saint Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:28-29, did not see a difference in people other than the mistreatment. They are holy people, reminding how struggles and oppression do not define who we are as children of God. God has already stated that we are good. Those moments when we are most open to the grace of God, allow the light shine.