Some things are sacred and holy, whether others see them in the light of truth or not.
One of the most divine acts God blessed women with is the ability to sustain a life within her own body by her blood–a special nod to the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus Christ that no one born a man can claim. Yes, men contribute the seed (though in a couple instances God made that irrelevant, too), but the bearing, the carrying, and the sustaining comes from a woman’s direct connection to the baby through an umbilical chord… And her blood.
We take the blood we shed monthly for granted, a nuisance in our busy lives. We have no idea what the cycle looks like, show zero concern for what it means in the grand scheme of things. We do not respect the power that we have been given in turns of 28 days, calling it secret, negative names and hiding all traces of it with tampons and pads and doubled up undies because to us it is inconvenient. It embarrasses us. It makes us different from the men we spend all our time competing with. We literally cannot stand it–until our bodies betray us, not giving us the kids we thought we would have so easily or the hot flashes replace the shedding of blood. Then we want to know. Then, it is too late.
I have always seen my own menstruation as an affront to my ideas of cleanliness. I come from a family of borderline obsessive-compulsives (I mean that not as a joke) who clean and clean and clean and clean–not just the home but the body into sterile conditions. We trade in perfumes and body sprays and extra strength deodorants, lotions and creams and specialty soaps and powders. With that type of mindset, my actual menstruation became my enemy. I am talking super-plus tampons changed every hour.For a while, I even got depo provera shots because it stopped the flow up altogether. I even attempted talking ob-gyns into getting a semi-hysterectomy before and after I had kids. That is how much I disliked the “mess”.
It has only been this year, as I watch my daughters get closer and closer to their time to experience the next step into womanhood, that I have reconsidered my beliefs about my own body and the bodies of women. I do not want them to go into theprocess afraid (as I was), embarrassed (as most modern little girls are), and annoyed (as most modern women tend to be). I want them to honor their bodies. And that means honoring the special designation given to women on this earth to sustain life.
There is nothing mystical about menstruation to me, though I know that ancient cultures and even some peoples today see the cycle as magical, its own creation myth come to life. But there is something powerful about it, and that is the message I need to impart. Because that power, when not respected, leads to foolish decisions that alter how women move in this world. I am not sure who said it first, but the statement is true: with power comes great responsibility. And knowing the power a woman has access to during the phases of her menstrual cycle can be a difference maker.
How can we teach the world to honor the feminine body when we ourselves do not understand it or honor it? How can we expect young women and girls to make good decisions about their bodies when they do not even understand why they feel how they feel at a given time? We cannot preach a message of holiness when we do not ourselves collectively embrace our own divine nature.
I do not expect in this day and time to live the honored life of old, where women whose cycles naturally synced up met in a special place away from men for 7 days of rest and restoration. But how great could this life be if we could at least have enough knowledge of ourselves to use the moods and emotions we experience to a greater good? To harness the sensitivity we experience during that 28 day cycle to uplift rather than lash out or withdraw? To experience the passing of the old and welcoming of the new each month with joy instead of indifferent disgust? To be able to embrace the changes and new kind of power that comes with the end of menstruation and the beginning of the elder stage as a promotion instead of a destruction?
I am seeking the restoration of the Red Tent–not the place but the mindset. Not the structure but the spirit. There is power in this woman’s body that we must reclaim before it is too late. We have allowed superstitious men and misdirected women to define the terms long enough. It is time for those of us who know better to restore the blessing in womanhood.