Tag Archive | creativity

Gratitude: a Wellspring of Joy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis past weekend, I joined with friends to celebrate and deepen our gratitude—gratitude for the earth, for home, for friends and family, for the Divine, and for each other.

I learned from these dear friends that we receive so many gifts daily that some we  take for granted, like the moment we are free of pain or the moment we inhale another breath.

But if we awake to the wonder of each day, we see that every moment is replete with grace and possibility. Gratitude flows, a wellspring of joy.

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Pictured here is Viviana of Cuzco, Peru, whose story of wonder and gratitude appears in my book,  Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

Passing It On

 

Today is All Saints Day, when all my beloved departeds dance and swirl at the back of my mind, emerging whole from memories.

They remind me to cherish each moment and live fully engaged. A friend who is a cancer survivor once embraced me with an awareness like that. Many times he had been within striking distance of death, but none so close as his battle with colon cancer. I had not seen him for over a decade, but when he saw me, he hugged me tightly and said that he cherished me. His words were not romantic or trite. They felt pressed down into an essence wrung from illness and the certainty of death—an awareness that allowed him to freely express affection and gratitude every remaining day of his life.

This message is similar to the one my longtime mentor and pastor, Reverend Gustav Schulz, gave me the night before his funeral. I dreamt that I was in his church and he urged me to join in singing the song, “Pass it on.” During his adult life, Gus had participated in the civil rights movement, the Sanctuary movement, anti-war movements, homeless advocacy, and the movement to reunite North and South Korea. His was a hard act to follow. But here in my dream, Gus was encouraging me to take up the torch and to pass it on.

So I sang “Pass it On,” for Gus in my dream, and in my waking life, I renewed my commitment to struggle for social and environmental justice. On days like today, I feel the presence of Gus and many other peace makers, and I remember to pass on their legacy of struggle and hope.

Get Down into Joy

Sadaya Zimmerle transmits both lightness and spark over the phone, reminding me of her high-energy step as she led the Dances of Universal Peace that I’d attended. “At the Mendocino Sufi camp,” she says, “we get to do the dances for days. Tears come to my eyes, and I feel deeply held and loved and fully accepted. In the midst of dancing and also in chanting, I feel a deep clarity like I’m on the right track, and a deep well of joy. I might come to the Sufi dancing with all kinds of things on my chest, and it’s like that stuff gets sloughed off. Whatever pain I have gets gradually shed toward the surface, and I get down into joy.”

Sadaya’s selection is from Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine. To see a preview, click on the link and then on the Google preview button.

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

Spiritual Stories of Healing and Transformation

Flower

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. 

Birthing God cover

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

 

Worth. Value. Place.

Alice Martin“I’m of  worth. I have value. I have a place.”

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

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

Happy Mother’s Day!

gaia_goddess_of_the_earth

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,

And yet,

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

from  Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

Artwork from Gaia Goddess of the Earth

REVEREND ELENA KELLY AND THE DIVINE MOTHER

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.”

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