By Nora O. Lozano
I am delighted to introduce the new blog of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute (CLLI), entitled: “Tú, yo, nosotras” (You, I, Us). The purpose of this blog is twofold. First, it is designed to stimulate creative academic thinking and conversations regarding topics that are relevant to women in leadership, Latinas and Latinas-at-heart. These thematic essays will be published once a month. Second, additional pieces will be published as needed in order to highlight significant events in the Institute’s life.
The blog will be centered on a yearly general theme, and will be published in both, English and Spanish.
As the CLLI board and staff discussed this new project, the topic of sisterhood became a favorite one for this year. The reason is that since the beginning the CLLI trainings have been a space where significant relationships among women leaders have been created, nurtured, and developed, as women have engaged in deep, transformative conversations. These relationships have crossed boundaries of race, age, language, stages of life, educational levels, and ministerial callings.
At times, these conversations have been painful and difficult as we have discussed as a group or individually significant topics that were deemed, at the moment, as matters of life and death.
But in all of these conversations, we have found a sense of new life and renewal because God is in our midst. The God of hope, who sees the complete horizon of our lives, is the one leading us. And, even though we may not see clearly at the moment, God offers a light, even a small one, to help us to move forward.
My hope is that this blog will be an additional space where these deep, transformative conversations and sisterly relationships continue to flourish in order to enrich our relationship with God and with each other.
As I write this, I am reminded of two biblical women who held important conversations as both shared a special kind of sisterhood due to a common circumstance and faith: Elizabeth and Mary.
The beginning of Luke’s Gospel narrates the stories of these two women. Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were righteous people, who followed all of God’s commandments and regulations. However, in spite of their faithfulness, they were childless because Elizabeth was barren. This situation was hard for both of them, but especially for Elizabeth. At that time, one of the primary roles of women was to have children, and it was considered a disgrace to be unable to do so. Since they were up in age, they had lost hope of overcoming this situation.
To their surprise, they experienced a miracle from God as Elizabeth finally conceived a baby. This woman who had experienced pain, shame and criticism due to her condition as a barren woman, now was experiencing God’s grace and mercy.
In contrast, Mary was a young woman, virgin, unmarried, and completely unprepared to have a child. She is surprised, too, with a miracle as God finds her suitable to carry in her womb the world’s Savior. Her life changed forever, as she responded to the angel’s annunciation: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord: let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Suddenly, this single woman finds herself pregnant, and with a husband-to-be who would not believe her story about her conception from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-19). Even though the narrative does not mention this, I imagine that her family and community did not believe her story either. Thus, most likely, she experienced much suffering, shame, and criticism due to this unexpected pregnancy.
The Gospel continues by telling us that some days after the angel’s announcement, Mary went hurriedly to see Elizabeth. It is at this moment, when Elizabeth and Mary meet to have vital conversations. Both of them had experienced suffering, shame, and criticism due to pregnancy issues. One because under all normal circumstances she could not conceived a child, and the other one, because under the most incongruous circumstances she was expecting a child. Different circumstances, similar pain and shame, and a common God who was overseeing their stories, and offering them a sense of hope as they spend three months together, supporting and nurturing each other.
I am sure that during this time, Elizabeth and Mary had an opportunity to share their miraculous stories over and over again. Perhaps, as they shared with each other, they found a sense of purpose and hope as they understood better how both of them and their sons were so special for God.
These two biblical women are examples for Christians today as they model deep conversations that encourage a more robust relationship with God and with each other.
My hope is that as we launch this blog, it will become a space where women, following Mary’s and Elizabeth’s example, can have deep conversations that will allow them to grow in their relationship with God and each other. Furthermore, I hope that it will be a space where women will find support and inspiration for their journeys as Christian leaders. Finally, I hope that here women will be encouraged to believe, like Mary, that there would be a fulfillment of God’s words/plans for their lives (Luke 1:44-45).
I want to invite you to join us every month, as we engage with women from the past and the present in deep and transformative conversations that will strengthen us in our journeys as leaders.
Dr. Nora O. Lozano is Executive Director of the Christian Latina Leadership Institute, and Professor of Theological Studies at Baptist University of the Américas in San Antonio, TX.