I feel as though I should open with the words, “it’s a quiet night in Lake Woebegon”, but I just heard that Lake Woebegon is no more. Garrison Keillor has retired and Prairie Home Companion is under younger management. But Lake Woebegon is a real place to those of us who live in the Mid-west. It is where we all grew up in one form or another. It is a place somewhat isolated from the mainstream, but a place where life goes on in subtle ways.
I arrived in Baker this afternoon, a beautiful sunny fall day. The church secretary gave me the garage door opener and the keys to the parsonage and I was ready to go. I brought all the makings for a tuna fish hot dish, but forgot a can opener and the milk. I got the can open (do not ask how) and mixed cottage cheese with the soup instead of milk. Tomorrow!! There is no television in the parsonage which makes sense for now when I am only part-time. No sense in wasting money. However, the wi-fi at the church doesn’t reach to the house across the street so I will have to do my checking on things from the church like e.mail, internet, etc.
I am without the news but that is not all bad. I will catch up on the days I get home or I can go online when I am at the church. Chuckling to myself I am amazed at how much we take for granted in our daily lives. The minute the game plan is changed just a little and we have to improvise it takes some thinking a’la McIver to make things work. My tuna fish casserole was just fine -- tasted good and I have a little left for tomorrow to warm up when I am on the run between churches.
When I am traveling in a car I find myself doing a lot of composing in my head. I write some pretty good pieces which never make the printed page as the prairies slide by. Occasionally I have to pull my thoughts back so I realize where I am and what I am doing.
Today I was thinking about the role of women in society. This week I watched the movie “Suffragette” with some friends and of course this election has had me thinking about women as well. I recently read where Saudi Arabia is allowing women to run for office but they still cannot drive. Of course in many of the Muslim countries there are still age-old prejudices against the education of women. In 1984, when I was in India I remember one college professor saying if they can educate a woman they can educate her family and that is a principle key to economic development.
As a young woman in the 1960s and 1970s I can remember the excitement as doors began to open in various segments of society. In college we really did begin to dream of new possibilities. Women in our church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, were first ordained in 1970. That was the year I graduated from college. Most of us were becoming teachers, secretaries or nurses, but there was the occasional young woman who was going into law or medicine. We envied their drive and their courage to enter those worlds which had been without women in any number. Little by little we saw the barriers dropping but it seemed for each step forward there were often two steps back.
Looking at my niece in her early 30s and my great-niece who is 16, I wonder what the future holds for them. They are both smart, my niece is well-educated, and they can handle anything that comes their way, but there still is a sense of hesitancy to my way of thinking. To every, “Yes, you can!” There seems to be a “but”, if not now perhaps several years down the road. Just as Barack Obama had a difficult eight years, if Hillary Clinton is elected president, it won’t be easy for her to get things done. We still suffer in this country from racism, sexism, ageism and other barriers which hold us back from the accomplishments we have every right to attempt.
As a woman, I am so glad I live in the United States of America. No place is perfect, but I have not had a difficult life nor have I ever felt as though I had been prevented from what I wanted to achieve. In many ways I may be one of the fortunate ones, but I still have to say it has been good. And along the way I have met many men who gave me every opportunity to prove and improve myself. They encouraged me and stood up for me when I needed that extra help. I have to admit I have not met an overtly sexist male until Donald Trump came along. So I know I am one of the fortunate ones.
As I watched the movie “Suffragette” there was that sense of the women of the 21st century being able to climb higher because of what these mothers and grandmothers did for us. It has never been easy, but every inch of ground we have advanced makes it easier for those who come after.