For the past 30 years, while other women her age were going to law school, running for office, doing gender studies, speaking out about sexual harassment - being feminists in the real world - Carol Lee Flinders was meditating.
Oh, to be sure, she was also being a wife and mother, helping to run a communal farm, writing a vegetarian cookbook ("Laurel's Kitchen") and a series of newspaper columns, getting advanced degrees and teaching at Berkeley about mysticism and the female Catholic saints. Still, at her core, she was a meditative woman, not a political woman.A decade ago, she began to pull it all together. Politically, she knew she had to speak out (her feminist side believes women have been silent too long). Spiritually, she knew silence was the way to clarity.
Now she's written a book that pulls it all together for the rest of us, that shows the women's movement where it needs to go next. "At The Root of This Longing," is an important book.
Flinders makes sense in precisely the same way that Mohandas K. Gandhi made sense. In fact, throughout her book, she quotes him and explains his relevance to American women.
"Gandhi's first campaign to promote Indian freedom from British colonial rule ended badly. What had been intended as nonviolent satyagraha turned ugly, and Gandhi refused to pursue it any further.
"Instead, he moved to the countryside and launched a Constructive Programme . . . . He would free India from the ground up and from inside out . . . . But he never saw this work as fundamentally political or economic. India would rise up and claim her rightful place as an equal among modern nations, he believed, when she had first reclaimed her ancient spiritual tradition.
"When he came back to India, in 1915, after 20 years in South Africa, his head was shaved and he wore the white cotton garments and carried the staff that symbolized for Indians the life of religious renunciation. Wordlessly, he was sending them a powerful message, and they got it.. . . his sourcebook for revolution was the Bhagavad Gita.
"Gandhi understood that India's problems went far beyond political and economic oppression. Indian women and men had lost confidence in themselves because they had internalized the British government's view of them."
Just as Western women and girls have internalized this culture's view of them. Flinders makes her points eloquently and intellectually. She's going to take her place with Mary Pipher (author of "Reviving Ophelia") as a woman in this culture who knows what she's writing about and knows what needs to happen next.
Hint: It will be a peaceful and spiritual revolution.