Shortly after this declaration, when her mother died from cancer, Williams discovered three shelves of beautiful cloth bound journals. She opened one, then another, then another, only to find them blank. All of them; empty.
This was the catalyst for When Women Were Birds, 54 Variations on Voice.
Why would her mother do this? What was she trying to say, without saying a word?
What do we say without saying a word?
I really liked this book. It consists of 54 chapters, each with its own beauty on the meditation of the mystery of her mother’s blank journals, which in turn, causes the reader to consider her own voice.
She questions what it means to have a voice.
Her mother was Mormon; a culture that espouses journal writing as a place to record one’s personal history.
Her mother, however, was private. But this private?
“Because words fail us….because there are times when what is public and what is private must be discerned.”
Don’t we balance that as bloggers, writers and FB users? There’s a great post at Grown and Flown on finding that on-line balance that begs the same question.
Mothers traditionally withhold their voices to let their children develop their own. Not when they’re very young, but as they develop and especially, I’ve found, when they’re grown. Our “voice” becomes more and more what we do, how we live our lives, what choices we make, how joyful we are. That’s how I best speak to my children now that they’ve flown the nest.
When Women Were Birds was a book I had to read in pieces; a little at a time. It turns through chapters like a kaleidoscope, displaying new colors and patterns.
But why the title?
“Once upon a time, when women were birds,
there was the simple understanding
that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk
was to heal the world through joy.”
Where do you think the author went with that?
What do we say in between?
Have you considered 54, or even 26, aspects of your voice?
You can find When Women Were Birds, 54 Variations on Voice, at this link.