May 26, 2014 – I just signed a letter to Pope Francis in support of U.S. Nuns – asking him to remove the Unjust Mandate Against LCWR (Leadership of Women Religious). If this speaks to you, please check the following link and join the campaign: http://action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/pope-francis-support-u-s-nuns-remove-the-unjust-mandate-against-lcwr.
May 2014 News – Standing Women Global Village calls upon the women of the world, from the day-old babies to our most senior elders, to stand with us to save the world. Sharon Mehdi wrote a wonderful short story for her five-year old granddaughter, The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, that has inspired us (see Selected Resources below).
Please stand with us for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 11, 2014, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate, to signify your agreement with the statement below. Please stand at a different hour with a different time zone if 1 p.m. is not your preferred time. We ask you to invite the men who you care about to join you. We ask that you bring bells to ring at 1 p.m. to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence and to ring again to signify the end of the period of silence. During the silence, please think about what you individually and we collectively can do to attain this world. If you need to sit rather than stand, please feel free to do so. Afterwards, hopefully you and your loved ones can talk together about how we can bring about this world.
Sharon is a friend of mine, and I have given copies of her book to family and other friends. I think every intention and action can make a difference, and I intend to stand on May 11th.
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 had the opportunity to facilitate numerous Divine Feminine workshops at the annual Middle Eastern Festivals, which are planned and sponsored by the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace (EISCP). Those experiences affirmed the feminine face of the Divine for me and deepened my sense of community. I continue to grow in my understanding of what all of this means and its many implications for 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.net/
BIBLIOGRAPHY (downloadable as pdf):