“When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid”.
~ Audre Lorde, 1934-1992
This wonderful and inspiring quote from the celebrated Black Author and Poet, Audre Lorde, never fails to provide me with a deeper courage to face challenges that sometimes get me down. This gave me pause to really think about courage and what it means for women. As I was researching the word courage, I fell in love with another word that is rich with meaning; Agathology.
My Grandmother, who demonstrated enormous courage, in her day and time was named Agatha. I used to feel that her name was so old fashioned. She was also given the right to choose my name at birth and it was just as old-fashioned. I never used my given name until I was 19 and forced to change it from the family nick-name. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I suppose we sometimes have to grow into a name.
Agatha, like the name Judith, has strength, but there is a softness to Agatha that speaks of woman at her best, nurturing, providing for her family, out there protecting, doing what it takes to survive. This was very much my Grandmother’s way and how she had to live her life. So, I fell in love with Agathology, which means ‘an inquiry into the nature of good’.
There are so few references to this lovely word and its practice, Agathism and its adherents, Agathists. In adopting a philosophy (love of knowledge), related to the nature of good, I was inspired to learn about and appreciate the women and the stories of their life and their survival. I wanted to know how good can overcome evil and how we strive towards good in the absence of negativity. Further, I was inspired to write about them from their own words, out of the depths of their own pain and hope that other women will read the sometimes harrowing struggles and be inspired too.
I started writing a series of stories and interviews about surviving to help give voice to women who didn’t have one.
The dictionary defines survive as ‘live on’ endure subsist. None of these words can really describe what it means to overcome the despair of tremendous loss or breach insurmountable obstacles. Does one really live on after losing a life long partner, suddenly and cruelly? How does one endure the normalcy of everyday life after suffering the most inhumane physical and sexual abuse. Millions of women subsist in wealthy countries as well as poorer nations every day as they struggle to make a life for themselves and their children. The definition does not come close to describing the true meaning of a survivor. Hestia’s Hearth, our Sanctuary of healing, thinks survivor is synonymous with courage!
Quite often the newspapers or TV tabloids will carry ‘human interest’ stories that provide the rest of us with the occasional reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Reading or hearing about the intimate and extraordinary things that ordinary people can do in the face of adversity is inspiring. When women find themselves surpassing even their own expectations and serving as role models for others, their story has a profound energy and quality.
Hestia’s Hearth is a quiet sanctuary in Southern Ontario which serves as the setting for intriguing interviews with ordinary women who have shown tremendous courage and fortitude. The subjects of these fireside conversations are the true heroes of Hestia’s Hearth. They are women from all walks of life and all parts of the world who, for the first time in some cases, will be sharing painful memories, courageous acts and hearts filled with spiritual presence.
I hope you will have a look at their stories.