The Power of Invisibility

Recently, the website featured a story called “Ten Rabbis Explain God.” It should have been called Ten Male Rabbis Explain God. There are so many women rabbis–and a few transgender rabbis too–whose intelligent, insightful perspectives on God could have, and should have, been included.

To be rendered invisible is not only heartbreaking; it is an unconscionable tool of oppression. Anyone who has felt dismissed, ignored, denied or unseen knows the sickening feeling of being rendered irrelevant or disposable.

Ask the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the largest North American organization for Catholic nuns, about the current siege that the Vatican is wielding against them, and you will understand about the power of visibility and the grace on the margins.

In her most recent presidential address, LCWR Pat Farrell said the following:

We cannot live prophetically without proximity to those who are vulnerable and marginalized. First of all, that is where we belong. Our mission is to give ourselves away in love, particularly to those in greatest need. This is who we are as women religious. But also, the vantage point of marginal people is a privileged place of encounter with God, whose preference is always for the outcast. There is important wisdom to be gleaned from those on the margins. Vulnerable human beings put us more in touch with the truth of our limited and messy human condition, marked as it is by fragility, incompleteness, and inevitable struggle. The experience of God from that place is one of absolutely gratuitous mercy and empowering love. People on the margins who are less able to and less invested in keeping up appearances, often have an uncanny ability to name things as they are. Standing with them can help situate us in the truth and helps keep us honest.”

When we are willing to risk and speak truth to power, we begin to understand what Pat Farrell means when she lifts up gratuitous mercy and empowering love. Sometimes the most transformative acts of social justice go unseen, but they are no less powerful than those that are known.