It was eerie. I can't think of any word other than "eerie" to describe it, what I felt, what I experienced on election night. Suddenly I was no longer watching the televised returns in my comfortable living room. Suddenly I was wherever you were, as some of my past moments merged into your present moment. Suddenly I found myself there, in that uncomfortable place, in that space where "Not-yet" moments do their haunting.
I heard the echo: "We really like you, Ilene. If we were seeking an Associate Pastor we'd want you! But our church just isn't ready to have a Senior Pastor who's a woman". Not yet.
It did happen, eventually. I served as Senior Pastor of the very progressive, and very brave, Madison Square Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. But that was after I'd walked a while along a path littered with Not-Yets, my own and those of so many of my clergy sisters.
Those old oh so very old Not-Yets that have been haunting women since long before you and I were born, Hillary. They've been echoing down century after long century, then down the decades of your life and mine. I believe - how strongly I believe it! - that it was the ancient Not-Yet which robbed you of the presidency.
The pundits talk about hacked emails, interference from the Director of the FBI, Russian manipulation, some candidacy strategies that might not have been wisest or best. And maybe those things did play a part. But it was beneath all of that, what I believe caused it. Beneath all that the pundits opine, there was an evil, an evil power that most of the pundits didn't want to whisper, much less utter aloud. I believe it was that old zombie-like rottenness which thus far has refused to die: patriarchy. The power that pulled the presidency away from you, I believe it was the patriarchal Not-Yet. The patriarchal Not-Yet, which some men and some still entranced women, would like to see as a Not-Ever voiced to women, to any woman no matter how competent and prepared who dared run for the office of President.
Hillary, as you continue to battle patriarchy on behalf of all women, and as you continue passionate advocacy on behalf of human rights for all people, please know that we're on your left and on your right and watching your back, millions of your sisters working with you. We're with you, toward that day when patriarchy takes its last breath, no child of God, female or beaten up male, ever again to hear its evil Not-Yet.
And here's a strange thing, Hillary. Somehow, after all you've been through and we've gone through with you, somehow the example you gave us of authentic love for our nation, for the whole world and for everybody, somehow your example is shining even brighter than before. It's a strange phenomenon, this brightness growing brighter. It's turning eerie into something grand. The eerie dawning of what's beyond Not-Yet.
Sincerely with love and gratitude and so much admiration,
Rev. Ilene Brenner Dunn