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
From Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine (SkyLight Paths) Photo: Courage Campaign.org
Sister Elena Kelly is tall and broad shouldered. She takes a seat and drapes her dark floral-print skirt over black suede boots. Elena is not your ordinary woman religious. She is starting a convent for transgender women. She made her own transition several years earlier, after serving in the U.S. Navy, raising six kids, becoming ordained in two religious traditions, and founding a nondenominational church in Colorado.
These facts spill from her with ease, with laughter, but her life has been anything but facile. She points to the Divine Mother as the one who sustained her. “My first experience of the Divine Mother,” Elena recalls, “was a long time ago. I wasn’t even five years old yet. My mother was an alcoholic, and my dad was a farmer and gone all day. One day my mom and dad get in this terrible fight, and I’m horrified. I remember running back to my room, getting down on my knees, and saying, ‘Dear Heavenly Mother, the Heavenly Father is not paying attention when I pray. Would you please do something about my parents and make them stop fighting?’ No sooner had I said those words when the house went silent. And I thought to myself, ‘So there is a Divine Mother. I thought so. If there’s a Father, there has to be a Mother.’”
When Elena was still very young, she dreamed, “An angel from heaven—I like to call her Divine Mother—came down from heaven with this big white robe and feathery wings, and she wrapped her arms around me and took me away from that horrible life I had.”
As a teenager, Elena attempted suicide twice. “Mother Mary, the Divine Mother, saved me from killing myself,” Elena asserts. “She’s been there every step of the way. Things happen to me every day that She has ordered and put into place.”
Before reading from my book, Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, I walked with a friend through the redwoods surrounding Stillheart Institute in Woodside, California. As we descended the trail, I ran my fingers over the plush, green moss coating the rocks along the path. I relished the sponginess of the forest floor beneath my feet. I hugged one of the younger redwoods, encircling it with my arms and staring up at its branched, lofty spire as it disappeared into the misty fog.
There in the forest, and later seated before a window with an ample view of the redwoods, I silently offered my prayers as our celebration of International Women’s Day began. The room radiated with the fire’s crackling heat and the pulsating energy of 70 incredible women. Viviana and Hyun Kyung, the women whose stories I read, were present in a special way. They had suffered greatly, and yet had opened their hearts to divine love and the interconnectedness of all life. Their stories offered us insights into our own pains and transformations, our own deaths and rebirths.
Thank you, Stillheart for honoring all women and enabling us to come together on International Women’s Day as we pursue our individual and collective transformation. Thank you for empowering us to celebrate boldly, to nurture our souls, and to share our gifts with the world!
To preview the women’s stories in Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, click here:
For more on Lana Dalberg and a schedule of upcoming events for Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, click here:
Blog originally posted on Stillheart’s website at:
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/
CHRISTIANITY AS AN EMBODIED RELIGION
Rachel Brunns is a spirited and thoughtful young woman who was a member of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps when I interviewed her. She is currently studying theology at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
Rachel, who is from Minnesota but spent some time in the Andes of Peru where she experienced the Divine Feminine in Pachamama [Earth Mother], told me, “Christianity, at its core, is an earthly, embodied religion. It’s something I hope we can reclaim.”
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Send me your thoughts!
Photo credit: Viva Van Assen
“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