The Scarlet Cord: Conversations with God’s Chosen Women
Reviewed By June Maffin of Bookpleasures.com
•By June Maffin Published June 29, 2011 Women’s Issues
Authors: Lindsay Hardin Freeman and Karen N. Canton
ISBN: 978 1 84694 375 1
“Scarlet Cord … God’s Chosen Women.” Before the first page of the book is opened, the reader is confronted both by the exquisite artwork on the book’s cover by artist-illustrator Karen N. Canton and the questions that arise from the book’s title and sub title … what is the significance of the scarlet cord? … who are God’s chosen women by author Lindsay Hardin Freeman.
In Greek mythology, Princess Ariadne helped Theseus (who entered a labyrinth to slay the Minotaur) by giving him a golden cord to tie to the entrance of the labyrinth so that he could follow the cord and find his way out of the winding maze. In this book, author Freeman prefaces each of twelve women whose voices have long been silenced, by skillfully using the analogy of a scarlet cord (a significant part of Rehab, the prostitute’s story) and artist Canton stunningly paints a portrait that includes a scarlet cord in the painting of each of the women. This remarkable team guides the reader into the personal lives of the women who are united with one another and with the reader.
While Scripture (briefly in most instances) recounts the story of each of the featured women, it’s important to note that such storytelling is from a male perspective, for it was men who initially shared the oral tradition of the stories; it was men to wrote the stories that had been recounted in oral tradition; it was men who handcopied those stories; and it was men who decided what stories would be included in Holy Scripture. Freeman’s decision to let each woman tell her story in her own unique way, opens the path for women everywhere to tell their own story. In doing so, the author reminds readers that the challenges faced by the Biblical women are not that far removed from their own challenges of poverty, rape, fear, homelessness, male dominance, powerlessness etc. The women become a mirror for readers to “let go and let God” into their lives in new ways.
Uniquely creative and descriptive chapter titles: “Rehab: From Harlot to Hero … Eve: Just a Bite, You’ll Like It … Sarah: No Laughing Matter … Deborah: Warrior and Holy Woman … Hannah: Holding Close, Letting Go … Ruth: Lighting the Way … Shulammite: Love and Lust … Mary: A Long and Holy Night … Well Woman: Drinking Deep … Martha of Bethany: Practical and Passionate … Mary of Bethany: Hospitality Extraordinaire … and Mary Magdalene: Forever Changed” immediately connect the reader to the narrative and the reader begins to realize that “God’s Chosen Women” not only include the woman in the chapter but themselves.
Not just a writer, but also an educator, Lindsay Hardin Freeman asks two questions about each woman at the end of her particular chapter: … why does (X) matter today? … what learnings might (she) inspire? These questions naturally lead to other questions and Freeman’s “Learn More” chapter at the end of the book gently moves the reader into the realms of imagination, biblical exegesis, history and perhaps even deeper personal spiritual awareness.
Following Jewish tradition that describes Torah as ‘black fire written upon white fire’ (i.e. black fire – the tangible … the ink/paint on the page; white fire – the intangible … the piece of wisdom that is sometimes missing e.g. in describing the relationship of women to men), the black fire of artwork and narratives in this book powerfully combine to reveal the white fire, often-ignored feminine in the divine – an added, unexpected gift of the book.
This is a book that will nurture your spiritual journey; keep you pondering possibilities about the lives of women of Hebrew and Christian Scripture; open your eyes to an understanding that God’s story is incomplete without the story of each of us; and it will encourage you to recognize that the scarlet cord continues to bind women of long ago, the women of many years from now, and the women of today … all – “God’s chosen.”
Reviewer June Maffin: Living on an island in British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Maffin is a neophyte organic gardener, eclectic reader, ordained minister (Anglican/Episcopal priest) and creative spirituality writer/photographer with a deep zest for life. Previously, she has been grief counselor, broadcaster, teacher, journalist, television host, chaplain and spiritual director with an earned doctorate in Pastoral Care (medical ethics i.e. euthanasia focus). Presently an educator, freelance editor, blogger, and published author of three books, her most recent (Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality) has been published in e-book as well as paperback format and a preview can be viewed on YouTube videos. Founder of Soulistry™ she continues to lead a variety of workshops and retreats connecting spirituality with creativity and delights in a spirituality of play. You can find out more about June by clicking on her Web Site.