Tag Archive | birthing god

Loved for Who I Am

meditation image In my dream this morning, I was with my youngest daughter and parking my car when I discovered I’d gone down the wrong street – I had mistaken the way back to my own home! So I parked and got out of my car and ten minutes later, I couldn’t find it and couldn’t even remember what it looked like! To me, my vehicle and my home are dream symbols of my life. And right now, I am feeling a little lost, a little off course. I am working very hard at my new job, and I am not taking the time I need for myself. As I give my job my everything, my personal life disappears from view. But identifying this imbalance is the first step to helping me find what I need to restore the balance. Daily meditation is key. The Divine Mother grounds me because She is right within me. I lose sight of that truth in the whirlwind of daily pressures and tasks. In meditation, I take the time to listen, to be in Her presence, which is also my unguarded presence. I create the quiet where She can enter, and I feel myself loved not for what I do but for who I am.

Lana Dalberg, author of Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

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BIRTHING GOD: WOMEN’S EXPERIENCES

“Birthing God. Kenosis.” These three words come to me in the middle of the night. The first two words provoke an apt title for my book. But the third stumps me. Not remembering “kenosis” from my seminary daDark madonna & childys, I fling back my covers to look it up and discover that it signifies self-emptying in ancient Greek. Back in bed, I try to sleep, but the notion of self-emptying echoes inside me, reminding me of the Buddhist concept of no-self: not a cipher or empty sack, but a receptivity to Spirit that makes incarnation possible.

Women, I realize, empty themselves all the time, making room for the spouse or the child and his or her attendant needs. I think of Mary—an unwed woman, a girl. What is her response to a divine being who tells her that she is pregnant when circumstances dictated that she could be stoned for that condition?

“Let it be to me according to your word,” Mary is said to have responded, opening her life to the risk and the potential of divine inspiration. Receptivity, desire for connection, making room for another: these attributes express women’s most fundamental ways of being in the world.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In preparing for this book, I interviewed many women, and everything they shared reinforced one simple treasure: however we name Spirit, we receive it with deep-hearted openness. Our receptivity is active, recognizing the value we bring to relationship by trusting and honoring the God within; by experiencing Spirit as soul mate; by glimpsing the Divine all around us; and by allowing God to cradle and nourish us. At the same time, our spirituality is a process, unfolding and growing with each passing day. Our spiritual stories are full of missteps and unabashed celebration. They are narratives of suffering and of hope; lessons in shedding fear and learning to love ourselves.

Ours are embodied stories that begin with emptying so that we can glimpse the Holy Other, this Light who appears in ways unplanned, unexpected, and unsettling. Our lives are the surprise that begins with the response, “Let it be.”

Excerpted from Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine.  Order it now and share as a holiday gift!

Birthing God, Birthing Myself

squatting_birth_goddessAn excerpt from a time in my life when meditations were pulsatingly alive:

…Visions appeared, fragrant from another realm: oceans and forest streams with eddying pools where four-legged animals gathered to drink. During that period, as my body shifted toward change, toward menopause, my inner spirit opened itself to the larger Spirit, and I came face-to-face with God as Mother. Scenes unfurled on my inner eye in undulating landscapes, and she stepped into them.

In the visions, the Mother cared for me, providing me nourishment, clothing, walking sticks, and gemstone necklaces that spoke to me of my inestimable worth in her eyes. She midwifed my children, helping me to birth them into the world. And there were later visions of death and rebirth. I typed each one into my laptop.

“Today I saw myself emerging from the water, clothed in buckskin and with long black braids. But as I emerged, I saw pieces of myself break off like shards—shards of me falling away, splashing into the water. I was afraid, and I reached toward the sun, my Mother. The sun voice said, ‘Behold, here is my daughter, with whom I am well pleased.’ And I was a woman’s body again: curvy, voluptuous, pregnant, and, althouearthmothergh pregnant, old. I walked with a cane. I carried age in my bones. The time came for me to bring forth the child in my womb. I gripped a pole, and my Mother Midwife soothed me, stroking my hair, patting my brow dry, feeding me water to drink, and whispering words of encouragement in my pain. My pain was the labor of birth but the pain of not knowing, too. I heaved and groaned through the pains, and I birthed an adult—an androgynous human being that was as big as me, that merged with me, swirling like the symbol of the yin and the yang. This was My birth, I realized. I searched for my Mother God, and I heard her say, ‘I am here: in the rain, in the sun, and in the earth. I will always be there for you.'”

 

From Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

Click to order Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

 

 

POEM FROM AN EMPTY NEST

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A redwood tree shades the slender daughter shooting up from her side: an apt metaphor, I think, or at least one that calms my heart. In a few weeks, my youngest child will leave home for college. I both hate and welcome this change. Every few days, a sudden nostalgia pulls at me when I am least prepared. The faint tunes of a familiar merry-go-round make my eyes tear up. My throat tightens when I pass the pumpkin patch lot, now empty. The playground nearby is newly remodeled, but I still hear the thrill in my young one’s voice calling out, “Look at me, mom! I’m flying!”

Leaning against the redwood’s scruffy bark, I blink away tears. The tall, quiet tree and the younger redwood growing from her side enlighten me. I cannot cling to the past, to the small warm fingers that reached for mine or the upturned face that beheld me as all-capable. The redwood trees, mother and daughter, anchor me for my task at hand: to applaud the young woman who I have nurtured from her tiniest beginning within me. I weep and I praise her both, for now I know. Entwined at the roots, we each reach for sky and light. We become, each in keeping with her dream. But the rootedness remains. For that I can be glad.

Lana Dalberg 6/24/2014.

 

This summer, give the gift of Spirit-connected musings! Click to order Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

 

Drumming for Mother Earth

Dionne photo

“I drum for Mother Earth,” says Dionne, one of the women interviewed in Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine. Of Yurok-Karuk descent, Dionne has been a drummer since she was ten and has felt the pulse of the earth in her blood.

We all can be drumming for Mother Earth – in the drum circles that Dionne leads at herchurch*, but also in our lives, by attuning ourselves to others and by listening and responding to the rhythm of this planet. We begin by celebrating the rhythm of our own bodies as part of planet earth’s mega-rhythm. The beating of our heart. The rush of our lungs. The swish of our gait. Listen. Tune in. Awareness is the first step. And prayer is the second. “I pray for mother earth with my drumming,” says Dionne. I echo her sentiment: I pray for mother earth with my breathing. May each inhalation, each exhalation be a “thank you” borne of awareness and a desire to live attuned to those around me, all throbbing in harmony and the will to do good.

*Women’s drumming at herchurch (678 Portola, SF) is on every third Wednesday from 5:45 – 6:45 p.m. Feel free to drop by! Drumming every first and third Sunday during 10:30 a.m. Sunday service also.

God Among Us

Hermanas.1Remembering the Martyrs

Thirty-three years ago today, four U.S. church women were martyred in El Salvador. They had been working with the Salvadoran poor, Ita Ford and Maura Clarke in Chalatenango, and Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan in La Libertad. They were returning from a retreat when their vehicle was stopped by the Salvadoran National Guard at a road block. Their desecrated bodies were discovered in a mass grave a few kilometers away. Today we commemorate Ita, Maura, Dorothy, and Jean, and what better way to celebrate their lives then to continue their legacy of working with the Salvadoran poor.

In honor of the U.S. church women martyred this day in 1980, I am excerpting from Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine my interview with Sister Teresa, who continues their pastoral work in Chalatenango.

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Dressed in light cotton and sandals, Sister Teresa motions for me to take a seat in the tiny adobe-style house she shares with four other women religious in San Jose Las Flores, El Salvador. For nearly four decades, she tells me, she has lived and worked among Latin American’s impoverished communities. “For me, vocation has been very much defined as living my life among the poor.”

Still it was a big shock for Teresa—“un choque grande”—to arrive at the nearly destroyed community of San Jose Las Flores in the midst of El Salvador’s civil war. For Teresa, “the shock was to realize how far I was from the great suffering that so many people were living.” Yet one day, during her contemplation time, she heard God speaking to her inwardly. “It was a crisis but also a great revelation. God told me clearly in the words spoken to Moisés: ‘Take off your sandals, because this place, the place you are entering, is holy ground.’” At another time, Teresa recounts, “In a state of prayer, I felt Jesús come and take hold of my shoulder. ‘This is your place,’ he said. ‘I want you right here.’”

God was telling her in no uncertain terms that this community she was serving in the midst of extreme poverty, isolation, and war was holy, the dwelling place of the Almighty. “After that experience, each day I felt more dedicated, with greater commitment—entrega—because to me it was clear that the people were the face of the suffering, crucified Christ, with their willingness to give their lives for the good of all, and at the same time, they also exemplified the resurrected Christ with their vitality, solidarity, and courage.”

Sister Teresa describes the constant shelling in the surrounding hills, the periodic military incursions and occupations of their small village, the strafing of helicopters flying overhead, and the fear that these acts generated. “During the war,” Teresa says, “the Armed Forces High Command required that I and the other sisters with me report to them every two weeks. When we left the community to go report ourselves, the people entered into a state of fear. When we returned, they shouted, ‘Ay! The sisters have returned!’” Teresa laughs. “We didn’t feel that it was really about us, but rather that the people felt this presence of God that for them was tangible with our reappearance.” The people also perceived God’s accompaniment, Teresa says, in the miracles they witnessed as they survived attack after attack on their community.

She stretches out her hand and places it on the flower-dappled tablecloth. “This is my experience of God, in the people who are an expression of the incarnate Christ. In the midst of the war, the people here showed joy, solidarity, and compassion. They were available to one another. When terrible things happened, they were afraid; they wept and trembled, but nothing stopped them from having faith and moving forward. It was an experience that changed my way of being.”

Teresa ducks her gray head slightly before revealing her affluent background. “See, I am from the bourgeoisie in my country, and I was able to study. But my greatest education has been the poor, to see their living conditions, to feel how everything is denied them, to feel how much they are underestimated, how much they are despised. I feel their condition in my being”—her hand moves to her chest—“and their reality changed me, converted me. Encountering the poor, you encounter yourself with God in a totally different way.”

Excerpted from “Teresa: God Among Us” in Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine .

Maria leyó de Jeremías frente de la iglesia en Las FloresOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA