This Sunday, I’ll be celebrating women’s spiritual stories of healing at herchurch (Ebenezer Lutheran). In other words, I’ll be preaching, singing and dancing! Join us at 10:30 a.m. at 678 Portola Drive in San Francisco.
Alice Martin’s smile is shy and her black eyes observant. When asked to characterize her experience of the Divine, she begins with a story about herchurch. “It was during last year’s croning ceremony. Oh, how can I describe it?” Searching for words, Alice looks toward the altar, allowing me a partial view of her tucked-in crown of hair. She depicts the older women sitting up front in chairs like thrones, how they were honored for their wisdom, how she was moved to tears. “It’s like the floodgates just opened, and I was in this experience of joy. I really felt the presence of God, of Goddess. It was like a down-pouring.”
Alice reaches up with both hands as if parting a curtain. “It felt like this light on me, this golden glow, and this connection to the Source, the Divine. So many times I’ve been struggling against my own feelings of unworthiness and the sense of being oppressed as a woman, as a minority. You have those everyday pressures and then there’s your own emotional baggage that kicks you down and keeps you down, and the task is to dismantle that. But this was just such a moment of ‘I’m of worth. I have value. I have a place.’”
Photo credit: VanViva.com
God to me
Is my dark-haired mother,
Stroking my forehead
As she lullabies me to sleep.
My Mother is the earth
And all her creatures,
The web that brings us into relationship
With one another.
God to me
Is the Mother
Who spills Her essence into the world,
Creating and calling us to create
From the wombs of our being.
God to me
Is the Mother
Whose voice was drowned out
For most of history,
I find Her in my deepest wisdom.
Alone, I feel Her touch
Upon my brow,
Mothering me still,
Mothering us all.
Dedicated to my mother, Anabelle Dalberg, on Mother’s Day 2004
Artwork from Gaia Goddess of the Earth
Celebrate International Women’s Day
MARCH 8, 2013 3 – 5 p.m.
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street, San Francisco
Author Lana Dalberg
joined by dancers, chanters & drummers
“These multifaceted accounts of spiritual experience in the lives of women both ordinary and remarkable … are generous and inspiring.” – Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program
My book is here!!! You can preview and order on the publisher’s website: http://www.skylightpaths.com/page/product/978-1-59473-480-9
Join me for International Women’s Day at March 8 and March 17 events listed on my website events page: https://womenspiritandfaith.com/upcoming-events/
Powerful narratives of suffering, love, and hope that inspire
both personal and collective transformation.
In Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, 40 women of faith describe inspirational, Spirit-filled moments: a Korean student feels the hands of God supporting her despite excruciating torture; a grieving pastor walks a labyrinth and rediscovers the Rock of her existence; a human rights advocate re-encounters Allah in an intensely visceral moment in the sun; a Salvadoran peasant woman under fire discovers within herself the God who gives her courage. Each woman’s story invites reflection and the deepening of readers’ own spiritual practices.
Order or preview at:
Also available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
“At last, a vibrant investigation into the lived spirituality of God-intoxicated women! Lana Dalberg’s Birthing God is more than a series of snapshots into the lives and thoughts of deeply spiritual women; it is a glimpse into the living Divine as She makes Herself known to us through these amazing seekers. The result is a spirituality of radical openness that offers a much-needed alternative to the closed-hearted and narrow-minded spirituality that dominates so much of contemporary religion.”
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature
Every time I enter a department store, I think of the recent sweatshop tragedy in Dhakah, Bangladesh. On November 24, 2012, over a hundred women and girls, forced to slave for hours in a sweatshop locked from the outside, perished when a fire broke out and they could not escape. But the Tazreem Fashions’ sweatshop owners are not the only ones responsible for their deaths. When we shop at Wal-Mart and buy dirt-cheap goods, some of that blood and ash gets on our hands, too, for we are driving the demand for sweatshop labor with our consumption.
So this holiday season, when everyone is expected to show their love through their purchases, what can we do? Here are a few solutions I’ve come up with:
- Donate to organizations that the receiver supports and appreciates.
- Shop at great consignment clothing stores like Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange.
- Wrap fair-trade beverage items (tea, coffee, sipping chocolate) with one of your favorite poems or quotes. That way, the person can savor the words while enjoying the beverage you gifted them!
- Share an afternoon with a friend, treating him or her to dinner and a movie or better yet, a hike or a lakeside stroll.
- Attend artisan fairs and craft shows, purchasing local artists’ toys, pottery, artwork, jewelry, kitchen wares, and other hand-crafted items.
- Check to ensure that your factory-made purchases are made by unionized workers whose rights are protected. If you are creative with some of your gifts, you might be better able to afford the higher price tag of a garment produced by someone whose life and rights are respected.
I know that bucking the consumerist mindset during the holidays can be very challenging. I have to admit that I’ve already bought three big-box store items this year—their rock-bottom prices were just too hard to resist! But I have also purchased local, hand-crafted jewelry, written a few poems, shopped at second-hand stores, and even purchased a clothing item from what I used to call “those super-expensive, made-in-USA” stores. Yep, that’s right—me, a single mom and tight-wad daughter of depression-era parents. And if I can do it (well, almost do it), then we all can.
It’s time to take back our holidays from the corporations who benefit from so much spending and consumption. We can celebrate our holidays in ways that recognize that we are not separate from those who slave and perish in overseas factories. We can endeavor to show our love in actions and with gifts that nature holds out to us rather than depleting her abundance or demeaning other human beings.
So this holiday, let’s make the better choice. Even if we slip up and buy a sweatshop item, there’s always the next gift idea or activity that we can improve on, so that we can continue to celebrate the holidays in an increasingly interconnected and resplendent world!
What is the title of your book?
Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine. It will be published by SkyLight Paths Publishing in March 2013.
Where did the idea come from for this book?
I’ve had a variety of experiences of Spirit, including mystical visions and nature-based revelations, and I was curious to learn about other women’s experiences of the Divine.
What genre does your book fall under?
Definitely nonfiction, although I crafted the interviews into narratives so that they read like stories.
How long did it take to write the first draft?
A year and two months. My goal was to interview 50 women by International Women’s Day. By the time I was done, I had interviewed nearly 60 women in total.
What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?
Hhhmmm. There’s 40 women’s stories, so I’d have to think of a lot of women actors: Viola Davis, Cicely Tyson, Michelle Yeoh, Ellen DeGeneres, Salma Hayek, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave…
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In Birthing God, 40 women relate spirit-filled moments: a grieving pastor walks a labyrinth and rediscovers the Rock of her existence; a human rights advocate re-encounters Allah in an intensely visceral moment in the sun; an educator, moved by an ancestral vision, launches a global tree-planting project to heal the wounds of slavery; a revolutionary awakens from a coma and realizes that all of life is infused with Spirit. Each woman’s story invites readers to deepen and enliven their own spiritual practices. Oops, that was two sentences!
Will it be self published or represented by an agency?
My publisher is SkyLight Paths Publishing (www.skylightpaths.com).
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My own mystical encounters and a craving to hear other women share their experiences since most spiritual accounts are authored by men.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
While spiritual memoirs abound, not many showcase 40 women’s spiritual stories in one book. The closest cousin to my book is the anthology, Women, Spirituality, and Transformative Leadership (SkyLight Paths 2011), where 30 women contribute their thoughts on women’s spirituality and the imperative for women’s transforming leadership in the world.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The stories sizzle with insight and intensity. For example, a Korean theologian and dharma teacher describes feeling the inexplicable consolation of God’s hands while she was being tortured in a South Korean prison. In another story, a Salvadoran under fire discovers within herself the God who gives her courage. (If it sounds like I’m totally jazzed by these stories, I am!)
Thanks to Lindsey Crittenden for inviting me to participate in this blog chain!
Ayesha Mattu’s first book, ‘Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women’ was featured globally by media including the New York Times, NPR, BBC, Washington Post, The Guardian, Times of India, Dawn Pakistan and The Jakarta Post. She is working on a family memoir about three generations of Pakistani Sufi women, and blogs at Love InshAllah. http://loveinshallah.com/contributors-2/
Uncovered barely a hundred years ago, Machu Picchu was a temple city for the holy men and women of the Incan nobility, according to my guide. The Incas built their temples close to the sun, but caves were also important to them. Inti Machai is the cave I chose for meditation.
Inti Machai is like a tomb, an entrance into the heart of Pachamama, Earth Mother. After passing under slabs of granite, the same stone the Incas hewed for their temples and terraces, I found an altar and placed upon it my offering to Pachamama. Emerging from the cave-tomb, I felt like a newborn, both tender and strong. Sunlight and the green heights of El Cerro Feliz, the hill the people call Happy, greeted me. Words cannot express my gratitude, the immensity of my joy.