Coming off the euphoria of Christmas, it’s kind of hard to imagine shifting one’s focus from parties and celebration to the penitential season of Lent, the time we prepare our hearts and homes for the sacrifice Jesus is about to make for humanity.
This past Advent, its own penitential season, I saw reference to the thought, “Without Christmas, there would be no Easter.” The more I contemplated that “simple” statement, the more I realized just how much weight the meaning to those words carried.
Because, it is so true.
As I pondered those thoughts, I remembered I had a book to read, provided to me for review by WINE (Women In the New Evangelization) and the publishing company, Ave Maria Press. I opened up the screen to my phone and for the first time in perhaps a very long time, put aside my mindless Facebook scrolling, and instead, worked on enhancing more of my faith life.
The book I undertook was, Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women, edited by Kelly Wahlquist.
As the days of Advent turned into celebratory days of Christmas, I found myself further drawn into this story – part Scripture study, part fictional narrative, part prayerful reading, and part study guide. Designed to support questions for group discussions, this book was a power house to generate contemplative thought and gave ideas for bringing those thoughts to the forefront of its readers’ everyday actions!
Before reading Walk in Her Sandals, I don’t think I had ever taken a moment to ponder the lives of the women followers Jesus would have met, or known. While praying the Stations of the Cross, I had contemplated Jesus meeting Veronica, a character we follow in the story; yet, until reading this, my thoughts didn’t extend to who Veronica was, from where she came, and I certainly didn’t stop to think how her encounter with Jesus may have shaped her heart going forward.
Furthermore, I can’t say I previously thought about the countless, nameless women who faithfully followed Jesus, some of whom are given names in the fictional narrative. Each woman was on her own spiritual journey upon which concepts of motherhood, specifically spiritual motherhood, and womanhood were introduced and built.
This book made me think. I began asking myself how Jesus’ women followers would have reacted to the events unfolding in His life. I questioned how the women would have responded to the call to serve Jesus, His followers, and those who were reluctant or too skeptical to believe. I was able to identify various parts of my own spiritual journey, in the five women presented through this story, and instead of asking what I would have done, asked myself, “How do I relate to her?”
I began to contemplate my role as a follower of Jesus – in what manner do I follow Him? Am I front and center, or do I hang back? Am I confident in my belief in Him, or do I waiver in my commitment? Do I embrace His teachings open-armed, or do I express skepticism in who He is, and what He teaches?
Finally, I began to assess areas in my own motherhood that I could focus upon – opening my heart more to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and guiding my family in a way which would foster and encourage deep, long lasting love of the Lord.
If you are interested in a quick, but powerful read, which highlights Catholic Christian teaching on motherhood, and more importantly, womanhood, I encourage you to pick up a copy of Walk in Her Sandals.
And, may you read it with your heart open to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit!
I’m writing this on behalf of a special installment of the Catholic Women Blogging Network (CWBN) Blog Hop, hosted over at Reconciled to You. Check out some other summaries and reflections on this book, compiled by other fabulous bloggers, if you want to review the book further before adding it to your reading list this Lenten season!
19 thoughts on “Provoking Thoughts on Motherhood and Womanhood: A Review of Walk in Her Sandals”
In general, my policy regarding books about motherhood / Biblical womanhood / Godly femininity (all one and the same concept no matter what you call it) is to ignore them outright. As a single believer, they very rarely offer any insight other than that I’m a failure of a human being for not being married or having had kids by now. So I figure if they ignore me, it’s only right that I ignore them.
But something you wrote just jumped out at me. you said that you hadn’t studied the women in the Bible – that I can believe because so rarely does motherhood figure into the story. For the women that followed Jesus from town to town, we can’t tell if they left their kids behind or brought them along. We don’t really see them staying at home and playing the role of a wife and mother, for that matter either. The women were described as being benefactors, bankrolling Jesus’ ministry and also as caterers (odds are the guys never learned how to really cook for a big crowd anyway); but they’re not shown as deferring to their husbands’ decisions or interacting with their kids in a day-to-day setting. To me, it seems that their role as wives / mothers were secondary traits more-so than their primary calling. We see this in the story of Mary and Martha where Jesus refused to send Mary to the kitchen to help Martha prepare the feast; rather she was at Jesus’ feet learning from him right alongside the men – something her culture would have forbidden and any other rabbi would believe to be dishonorable to the core and so he wouldn’t do it. I think what we’re all meant to do is to follow Christ first, beyond that, it’s all optional.
I will say, many of the women in this story are married, but a couple are widowed. Some are physically mothers, but the concept of “spiritual motherhood” is explored as one character faces infertility, and how we aren’t called to just be *just* wives and mothers, but Christ followers. It also definitely doesn’t advocate any vocation being more important than the other!
Historically speaking, most women “of age” were married in Jesus’ time, so this story does follow adult women, so they were married (or widowed). But, there was less emphasis on the marriage part with them, and more emphasis on their personal journey to becoming followers of Christ.
And, I would agree – we are called to follow Christ, each in our own path and our own vocation. My personal, primary vocation is that of wife – through my vocation, I should be called closer to a relationship with Christ. When I was single, that status should have led me closer to a relationship with Christ – not a deeper one necessarily than what I have now, just a different one.
This book explores how each woman, within her designated vocation, chooses to follow Christ. Because, ultimately, it is a personal choice we must make – God gives us that beautifully complicated free will!
Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you consider checking out more reviews of this book, and consider giving it a chance.
Maybe in time, but for now … I’m coming at it from the evangelical side of the spectrum where I’ve watched it do so much more harm than good. Like my friends at the head-covering movement, they’re well-meaning people but fail to see what their ideas represent in a larger context.
I can definitely appreciate your hesitance, especially after reading some of your posts on your blog. I actually veil in church myself, so I was intrigued by those posts, and I hear where you are coming from. I also understand some of their deeply-held beliefs, although I probably don’t veil for the same reasons! One other piece I would recommend is reading The Feminine Genius by (now Saint) Pope John Paul II.
Again, thank you for your comments, and I look forward to following more of your posts in the future!
At least I can say this for Catholicism; you have Mary, you hold one woman up and have an alternative for women – being nuns. That’s not the case in my churches. It’s either missionary work (if you’re gifted for it) or traditional living as a wife and mother.
I, too, would struggle with that. I find that to be such a true beauty of Catholicism – the Church is referred to as “she,” we have Mary, and we have several female saints who have been given titles of “Doctor of the Church.” Some people would even say the Catholic Church is like the churches you have experience with, but as I just pointed out, she (the Catholic Church) embraces feminism as an equal, and yet possessing different qualities and attributes from men,still honoring the feminine aspect of the beauty of God.
Perhaps we’re a cautionary tale, of what happens when the feminine of aspect of Christianity is sacrificed or downplayed to put the spotlight on the masculine aspect. Still, I think that there’s room for improvement in both churches. I don’t think that God is threatened by women praying to him, singing to him, preaching about him, reading from his word, or offering communion in his name.
I definitely can agree with that! And, I personally think He encourages the prayers, praise, songs, and unity women can bring to His table!
This is such a great concept, to see the Passion through the eyes of women. It is so needed in our time and for all of us searching to draw closer to Christ, especially through Mary and our sister saints. Thanks for sharing your experience reading this book!
I agree – being able to learn from their roles (and their perceived relationships with each other, and with Christ Himself) is such a beautiful concept! Thanks for your comment, and I hope you will add this to your reading list – if you do, let me know your thoughts!
A thoughtful and powerful review! I’m loving hearing everyone’s take away.
Thank you! I have enjoyed reading others’ reviews as well – I am amazed it touched so many women in all different walks of their faith journey!
Great review. It’s fun and interesting to see what were the greatest takeaways for each person who read it. I, too, had never really reflected on those women, why they followed Jesus, what their friends and families might have thought. Their stories really drew me in.
I have thoroughly enjoyed everyone’s own take away of this book, too! It’s been really fun reading through others’ reviews, seeing what similar things they took away, and maybe other subjects that touched them a little more than it might have me. Thanks for your comment!
“in what manner do I follow Him? Am I front and center, or do I hang back? Am I confident in my belief in Him, or do I waiver in my commitment? Do I embrace His teachings open-armed, or do I express skepticism in who He is, and what He teaches?”
This has given me lots to think about. I need to take some time to reflect on my way of following… Thanks for the review. 🙂
You’re most welcome! It has definitely provided me with food for thought for a couple weeks now! I certainly hope you read this and write a review, too.
I just got my book today and I was a little surprised by the format. Do you suggest doing the studies on their corresponding days or spacing them out throughout Lent so when they say arrives you’ve had time to contemplate the books teachings in conjunction with mass that day?
Can I get back to you on that? I only ask because I have to go back and check from the Ebook version I was given! If I am thinking correctly of your question – it is the perfect book to space throughout Lent, allowing you to fully contemplate the depth of each of these women, and really find something about yourself within each character.
They also released a journal for this after the book (and this review) were released. This year will be my first time trying that!
Also, WINE: Women In the New Evangelization is doing an online FB Study this Lent. I think you can search for WINE Book Club or something like that – or, just let me know and I will add you to the group!