Tag Archive: The Feminine Face of God


Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship, but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

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Hi Mom 100

A special Mother’s Day essay for Mothers and Daughters! And ESPECIALLY for Daughters of Mothers!

Trio

It is sometimes a difficult task for Mothers who are especially bonded to daughters, treasuring their closeness, to be perfectly graceful and accepting about the ending of day to day familial intimacy. Maintaining times together with our ever-widening “tribal” configurations with in-laws, children and grandchildren can be daunting. Yes indeed, we have full lives as well with our own friends, peers and enjoyable social activities after “empty-nest” syndrome, but for those of us who truly enjoy and savor the time with and company of our daughters, that bond of closeness with our girls and the longing to be together to talk and share never actually  goes away.

Fam 2

Being a Taurus woman with a Cancer Rising sign,  it is hard to escape the theme of Mothering. Taurus…the sign of the Earth Mother… and Cancer, the sign of the Great Mother of Home and Hearth makes it hard to escape the deep emotions around closeness and connection with our children..and for me to daughters. (Bonding with sons is a different issue and energy with its own story to tell, but as I did not have sons I refer only to what I know). I used to think that it was just unique to me with this particular astrological heritage, but in talking with many other women who are mothers of daughters, I learned that the bonds run karmically and emotionally deep….and for us Moms, though we celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of our daughters, we all have had to learn to manage the periodic sadness and feelings of momentarilly being left behind, and the energies of trying to subtly and successfully (or not) catch up to stay connected. 

We Three

Living in three different states with families and children, my daughters and I cannot easily get together throughout the year but when we do, now including husbands and children as a larger family group, we enjoy the brief togetherness of “us”  and as MOM #1,  I savor the feelings of familiarity and pleasure knowing even for a day or two the comfort of that “us-ness” once again being together. Altho we each now have quite different lifestyles on our individual paths, our shared tribal sense of The Past and the Present intertwine for a time…and then they are off and speeding down the highway of their individuated paths but  hopefully they have been nurtured (as have I) by re-connecting as the “tribe” from which they were sprung!

Still there are times when things and communications do not go as smoothly or as planned… a momentary situational or emotional “disconnect” and the distance between us seems to have lengthened. A while ago such a thing happened and for now in this moment, I cannot even remember what it was about, but there was something…some misunderstanding, frustration, disappointment or lack of time to connect that left me feeling WAY behind, losing the sense of my place in “family”. It was a morning filled with those feelings when I left the house to go shopping for groceries on a quiet weekend but my heart was filled with longing and a prayer for each of my daughters and for the time when we could be together for a special visit..

 As I turned onto the highway thinking/feeling this distance,  a silver van sped by with a message etched out in the heavily dusty rear view window. It went by SO FAST and raced far ahead of me but I had caught a hint of the message and hit the gas pedal with amazement trying to catch up to the car.

Hi Mom 99

For those who know me here, it is a very familiar occurrence that the “Universe” often gives me instantaneous “feedback” when I am working with intense Soul-stuff necessary to restore inner balance and harmony… an often humorous, inexplicable and surprising communication that soothes, affirms, directs and guides me back to right thinking and peace.

With one hand on the steering wheel and one hand holding my camera to the windshield, I closed in on that speeding vehicle to photograph the message on the rear window of that van, which I KNEW was especially for me in that ILLUSORY moment of feeling “left behind”  through the distance  of physical miles between myself  and my daughters in their truly very busy lives at this time  And there it was…! One of those “I Can’t/CAN believe it” messages on the back of that car when I finally caught up to it ….. “HI MOM!”

Hi Mom 100

I KID YOU NOT! How could this synchronicity have happened in that exact moment of personal mometary longing for connection, closeness and communication with and from the two young women I love most in this world! At the exact moment of reading that message, I in my mind, distinctly heard the music of goodwill and greeting in the unique voices of each of my daughters upon greeting by phone or in person. For sure did I laugh out loud!

Always I am thankful for these messages from the Spirit World that keep me in line and feeling loved and connected. And always I am thankful for having been allowed to be the mother of two of the most beautiful babies/girls/WOMEN on the planet!

Mamma a Girls

Not to ever forget as well these lines from “The Prophet” …a guide and lesson for all Mothers/ Parents to “let go” while still maintaining relationship with our children:

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

To my beautiful daughters Lisa and Melissa. We are ALWAYS connected. Happy Mother’s Day to all three of us… in it together as individual creative and kind women of shared blood, lineage, heritage and memory,  whether nearby or in distance through the miles.  I love you always!

Mamma Groupie

From Mom, aka The Greening Spirit with love.. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

self Oct 2     Always I am so amused to get that immediate feedback from the Universe when I am on track. This morning at our Unitarian Sunday Service in honor of Mother’s Day, the choir sang this song “Calling My Children Home”  which is exactly the theme of this post about a mother’s “heart”.  Here is a beautiful rendition of this, lyrics following, by Emmy Lou Harris. Have a tissue at the ready.

Lyrics:

Those lives were mine to love and cherish.
To guard and guide along life’s way.
Oh God forbid that one should perish.
That one alas should go astray.

Back in the years with all together,
Around the place we’d romp and play.
So lonely now and oft’ times wonder,
Oh will they come back home some day.

I’m lonesome for my precious children,
They live so far away.
Oh may they hear my calling…calling..
and come back home some day.

I gave my all for my dear children,
Their problems still with love I share,
I’d brave life’s storm, defy the tempest
To bring them home from anywhere.

I lived my life my love I gave them,
to guide them through this world of strife,
I hope and pray we’ll live together,
In that great glad here after life.

I’m lonesome for my precious children,
They live so far away.
Oh may they hear my calling…calling.. and come back home some day.

Keeper of Mysteries

What happens when your authentic soul path leads away from your traditional roots?  A little memoir  about following or including different Paths in search of the Great Mysteries : “All that is Hidden, All That is Plain: A Personal Story”.

Please go to my new companion website to follow this thread: www.thegreeningspiritmysteryschool.com   *click on the post title there to read or leave comments. Thank you!

I bet many others have their own stories on following a path of Authentic Unfolding!

The Dance of the Femine Face of GodA week ago at the Greening Spirit’s Home, we had an evening convocation of spirited women coming together in another one of our sacred Circles to learn and share community, wisdom and inspiration. The purpose of this gathering was to view the newly- released documentary of the visionary artist, Meinrad Criaghead. Formerly a contemplative Benedictine nun for 14 years, she is now a shining Elder who lives simply in a small home and studio in New Mexico, by the Rio Grande, with her canine companion,  opening her heart and space to small groups of women coming in on occasion for communal retreat and contemplative renewal.

Meinrad was not just your ordinary contemplative  Catholic nun living in a monastery. While participating fully in the Christian practices and life of Catholic teachings,  her primary workplace within that community was in the art studio, creating wild and passionate paintings expressing her private inner relationship with God the Mother.

Since the paintings were recognized in the art world as something quite extraordinary and were selling to those who understood and appreciated what they saw, and because monasteries must support themselves independently (jams, cordials, greeting cards, fruitcakes etc) the Order’s practical monastic financial  saavy left Meinrad alone to produce darkly beautiful images of the Divine Feminine….and so starkly and passionately that I am sure in another age, she may have been burned at the stake for heresy!

Before watching the movie, and with a huge bowl of sweet and salty Kettle Corn on our table altar for sensual treats, we went around the circle so that each woman could introduce herself and share her original spiritual backround, and where she was now on her spiritual path and present naming of God. There was eagerness  in each women to speak about this, and eagerness and intensity in each of the women to listen deeply to the experiences revealed, without judgement, without challenge, and with the greatest hospitality and reverence. No one seemed to have to fill a desire to make a point, take a stand, but rather to Learn and Listen, Question and Share.

The stories each woman shared about their former religious paths were deeply engaging, amusing, comforting and shocking. Three of us had grown up Catholic and had loved the sensuous beauty of Catholic liturgy…the lovely music, the candles, the incense, the artwork , the gorgeous and inspiring setting and architechtural design of Church and stained-glass windows as well as the ritual of the Mass and “Time Apart-ness”  in the silence of catherdral or chapel  Yet now, all of us,  past the age of 50, have moved away from full participation, if at all, in  the traditional parish church and the patriarchal language, teaching  and practices that have silenced women’s voices and ignored the sacred passages inherent in a women’s life cycle…which  are very dramatic if we start to name what those passages are, biologically, spiritually and psychologically. The naming of God remained more problematic..If God were not inherently MALE, then is God FEMALE ?  Do we say “Goddess” instead, which for some is just as problematic as “God”. The consensus for our naming was that one woman said yes, for her the image of God remained Male out of familiarity, tho now in question. The two others said God is “Mystery/Spirit” and the renaming is now in process. One of us is moving towards the image of the Feminine Face God as in  the Great Mother, or She-Who-Is.

One woman was raised,  and is still active in, the Episcopal church, in which she has experienced the freedom to think more for oneself  than in the Catholic Church, and in which both gay persons and women may be ordained as priests, and even elevated to Bishop.  For her, God is “Spirit” at this time, male imagery gone….but not necessarilly feminine either.

One lovely and deeply spiritual woman was raised a natural “pagan”…no push in her family to go to any church, but a family with strong ethics and ties to home, family, fields and land by the sea, which became Church for her as she played, prayed and listened to nature and the natural flow of one season into another…everything sacred and filled with mystery and delight. To her, Everything is wondrous and Holy. And God is NOT masculine. Not even close.

And finally, one woman’s experiences of being raised in a Greek Orthodox Church drew gasps of surprise and grief. In her story, the most patriarchal of all, women were not allowed to receive communion during their monthly cycle  and after birthing, being seen as “unclean”. A rigid doctrine and body of religious rules forced her of her own volition and will, to flee all such indoctrination, which was so strong that upon leaving she “became” an atheist for a period of time…a leap necessary for her to claim her own authenticity, starting from scratch, and listen deeply within to what the poet Rilke described as ..”that Homesickness for what we cannot name”…, which can only be filled by some sort of personal connection to Mystery/Source,/God -of-your-own Naming.  Now presently finding a spiritual home within the Unitarian Community,  she expressed that our little Circle that evening felt like the finding   a gentle comfort addressing  a corner of  “that Homesickness that we cannot name”:  the candle on our altar, the incense in the air, the deep sharing of our stories in the VOICES and EXPERIENCES of Women seeking the Sacred, which are powerful and transformational forms of personal Sacred Scripture holding deep wisdom individually and for each other. Even gratitude too,  for the experience to dialogue with others over the concept of “God”.

The documentary of the Life of Meinrad Craighead was deeply moving, inspirational, emotional. Afterwards we shared about those stark,sometimes dark, always strange and beautiful images from her visions and paintings of the Divine Mother, The Feminine Face of God. At evening’s end, there were huge hugs, new connections, exchanges of phone numbers, and an enormous energy of gratitude, homecoming and blessing….

This was another form of “Church”.  In exploring the Feminine Face of God, we left with no Answers, but with many many new Questions…which as Rilke also said,   (…it is not as  important to have answers as it is to)…”Live the Questions…”

Through this evening, in Circle , with its  reverential and soul-sharing stories of the Feminine EXPERIENCE of the Sacred…God became Bigger.    

Yes, SHE did.

*Note: “Dancing Goddess on Fence” by Artist David Hickey, now living in Peterborough, Canada

The Mystic Life Through the Eyes of a Grandmother

 

128_128I am on a social networking site with a variety of “friends” who have a diverse swath of interests.  All are very interesting..and one can learn a lot and share a lot.

One  group of writers are very interested in the “Life of the Mystic”, sharing back and forth all kinds of writings and quotes by the Desert Fathers of ancient times, deep ponderings on the nature of God in the  Judeo-Christian traditions, and the finer points of theology and monastic life drawn from the Middle Ages.

While this is, in fact, part of my own original religious heritage and has much beauty and inspiration,  my life’s experiences as a woman have unfolded in such a way as to draw me ever closer to the Feminine Face and Feminine Experience of God and the Sacred, which has been much ignored if not at times denigrated in the major traditions.  The Path of the Mystic was somehow deemed to be somewhat rigorous,  often apart from daily life and to be officially accessed and supported through practices , prayers and readings drawn from sacred writings and texts.

This past weekend, much of my time was spent rocking my newborn grandson, a tiny newcomer alternating between asleep and awake, between  being “There” and “Here”, lying in deep peace and quietude upon my heart. His repose was awesome in those moments, full of Trust and just “Being”…nowhere to go, nothing to do,  just to Dream as he continued to slowly emerge into the World, even after birth.

For this weekend, all schedules of mine, tasks and responsibilities were set aside to assist my daughter and gently rock my grandchild into this new Life, and the repose and quietude within myself brought me closer to the Holy than any reading of scripture or poetry at this time. Watching my daughter breastfeeding, nourishing and comforting this newborn in her arms while she was very still and present was a prayer of wonder and celebration, the little one just BEING  in the arms, and on the Heart of the Mother, in the arms, and on the Heart of the Grandmother,  and all of us (including Dad, who also is loving and strong), in the Arms of the Divine.

The Path of the Mystic does require “Time Apart” in order to witness the small daily miracles that are ever present, and that fill us with a sense of awe and wonder. The Path of the Mystic can immerse  us in Beauty and move us to tears or prayers of gratitude and praise for the sacred surprises and Mysteries for which we often have no words.  We may trust, however, that it is in this  state of Presence and Soulfulness , blessed by Grace,  that ordinary experiences  are illumined and made extraordinary by stillness,  awareness and just being. (As an indigenous teacher once said “We are here to become human Be-ings, not merely human Do-ings).

We need not always enter the desert to find the Holy. And that is something  many Women have come to know since the lives of Mothers and Grandmothers often involve constant involvement in the lives of others. As the ones who physically give birth, and are often in charge of the care and feeding of others, giving out nourishment and support at all levels within the family system, the Time Apart to feed the Mystic within ourselves may be experienced in the brief  and simple moments of being in the garden, tending a wonderful pot of soup…or rocking a newborn.

And that IS a form of very personal Sacred Scripture on the path towards the Feminine Face of God.

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