Becoming a Hag

June 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Today I am inspired to write about the hag. This is timely in that I am staring right into my 63rd birthday, born in 1946, the year that ushered in the baby boomers for better or for worse (depending on your point of view). It is also timely because like many others in the social sector, I am a founding executive director seeking to make room for the next generation of leaders (see future blogs) and challenged to re-imagine my continued contribution to social justice.

Not to be a caricature but again like so many of my cohort who were called to service by President Kennedy and came of age in the civil rights era, my life’s work was initiated as one of the first Vista Volunteers stationed in the border town of Laredo, Texas. It was there that I learned first hand about oppression, racism and injustice as well as hope, change and activism. I knew the work I wanted to do in the world. I was young then, not yet a hag.

The idea and concept of the hag is brought to us by my sister-in-law JoAnn. While on retreat in Ireland, she discovered that the original meaning of the word hag in Gaelic referred to a saint with great powers who was responsible for the land, the waters and the people. But this concept of feminine power was oppressed and distorted by patriarchy as these powers have been historically and remain so today. JoAnn is re-vivifying the women’s groups of our generation’s feminist movement. She is calling us to step into our responsibilities for the land, the waters and the people and to redefine the hag as a strong, beautiful and ageless woman.

Recently, the Dalai Lama caused a stir when at the peace conference in Vancouver he said that “the world will be saved by western women”. I’m not entirely sure what he meant by that but I am wondering if when he travels across the globe and sees so many of our sisters impoverished and repressed he sees western women of all ages in a position to speak out for justice and to take on the responsibilities of the hag… to take loving care of the planet and its people.

The path to the continued contribution of my generation to social justice is right before us. The needs of the land, the waters and the people are so dire that we have our work cut out for us. We may simply need to keep our sleeves rolled up, our aprons on and our hearts wide open.

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