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I’m interested in what women do in spaces that are primarily male, in structures that are patriarchal. 

Most religions and religious institutions fall into this category. Priesthood and direct communion with God is generally reserved for men. But then, every so often, a woman, usually a young woman, hears directly from God, or talks to the Virgin Mary, or is overcome by something mysterious and terrifying and beautiful. All of the hierarchies of gender are bypassed. She is possessed by piercing truth and awe. Not all of the saints and mystics here fall into a strict theological definition. Some are poets or artists. But all of them are people. I love that they are people. They are odd and funny and specific — teenage girls who hear God (or want to), women who write journals or poetry, women who struggle with faith, women who died for their beliefs. They inspire me, primarily, to listen. Listening is the most important task of any actor, but also of directors and writers. Because when you grow quiet, there is a chance, however unlikely, that something divine will speak to you and through you.

– Greta Gerwig

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“At fourteen I fell into one of those fits of bottomless despair that come with adolescence, and I seriously thought of dying because of the mediocrity of my natural faculties... I did not mind having no visible successes, but what did grieve me was the idea of being excluded from that transcendent kingdom to which only the truly great have access and wherein truth abides. I preferred to die rather than live without that truth.” 

– Simone Weil (May 15, 1942)

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"What I am asking for is really very ridiculous. Oh Lord, I am saying, at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But then God can do that — make mystics out of cheeses. But why should He do it for an ingrate slothful & dirty creature like me? I can’t even stay in the church to say a Thanksgiving even, and as for preparing for Communion the night before — thoughts all elsewhere. The rosary is mere rote for me while I think of other and usually impious things. But I would like to be a mystic and immediately.”

– Flannery O'Connor (September 25, 1947)

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