In 2005, Sharon Mehdi wrote a magical short story, The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering (see Selected Resources below), for her five-year old granddaughter, and it caught international attention. Inspired by Sharon’s book, women of all ages (and men, who choose to join them) from throughout the world have been silently standing together in local parks, school yards, or neighborhood gathering places at 1 p.m. local time on Mother’s Day (May in the USA) to save the world and to signify their agreement with the statement below:
If this speaks to you, consider gathering with kindred spirits this Mother’s Day at 1 p.m. (or a time that suits you). Perhaps you could bring bells to ring at the beginning and end of a five-minute period of silence, during which time you might think about what you can do individually and collectively to save the world for future generations. Sharon is a friend of mine, and I have given copies of her book to family and other friends.
Growing up a Roman Catholic female in Iowa during the 1950s and 60s meant that my image of God was male, and most Christian role models held up as examples of good people were male. At the time, I was OK with a male God. However, I was disappointed when I told college representatives at our high school career night that I wanted to study theology, and they responded by saying girls didn’t study theology and telling me to study something else.
In the 1970s, when I was thoroughly involved in parish and archdiocesan pastoral work in Nebraska, I inquired about studying for a Masters in Pastoral Ministry. I was told that lay women were not allowed in the program. That response irritated me, but I liked education and wanted to study theology, so I pursued a Masters in Religious Education, which I received in 1977. I am glad I made that choice. It was a great program.
By the 1980s I had begun to read many of the books being published about the Goddess, especially after archeological research had finally revealed Goddess cultures that had existed for millennia in Europe and Africa. My heart raced, and I consumed those books. They made sense. Over time I also found myself starting to identify women from history and around me whom I could see as role models.
At some point in the 1980s I realized that many of the groups identified in the Bible as horrible ‘pagan’ heathens actually were communities that valued women and feminine faces of Divinity (i.e. Goddesses). I also discovered music that addressed the Divine Feminine and touched my heart. At this point, I began to find life and joy in groups of women, who took great delight in exploring their own spirituality in an experiential and embodied way.
During the 1990s I met Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun who had researched, written, and spoken about feminist spirituality in her book entitled Heart of Flesh. When Joan came to Nebraska to speak, my friend Deb and I went to hear her. We became excited, bought Joan’s videos, and used them in a series of Heart of Flesh retreats for women and men.
Not only were the retreats successful in Omaha, but they were popular at the University of Edinburgh, where the University Chaplain and I offered them to students, staff, and community participants over several years. Joan talks about one humanity, which comes in two genders. Feminists can be of either gender, and so can those who embody a patriarchal paradigm.
Also in Edinburgh I have had the opportunity to facilitate numerous Divine Feminine conferences and workshops in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace (EISCP). In 2017, we held a conference exploring both the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine.
All of my experiences have affirmed the feminine face of the Divine for me and deepened my sense of community. Of course, I realize that the Divine/Holy One/Source of All is beyond single categories. However, I continue to grow in my understanding of a feminine dimension and of how utterly important the return, integration, and evolution of the feminine in both women and and men is for the survival of the world.
Selected Resources for Divine Feminine and Feminist Spirituality
Heart of Flesh – book and video series by Sr. Joan Chittister http://store.benetvision.org/heofflfespfo2.html
‘Dangerous Old Woman’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, www.soundstrue.com/
‘Untie the Strong Woman’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, www.soundstrue.com/
Gather the Women Global MatrixTM www.gatherthewomen.org/
Sharon Mehdi’s The Grandmother Book http://www.grandmotherbook.com/
Jean Shinoda Bolen’s Initiatives http://www.jeanbolen.com/
The Millionth Circle (based on Jean Shinoda Bolen’s books) http://www.millionthcircle.org/
Standing Women, www.StandingWomen.org/
BIBLIOGRAPHY (downloadable as pdf):