Tag Archive | feminist theology

Gratitude for Everything We Are Given—and Not Given

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Viviana’s story ends in gratitude, but begins with illnesses. She had polio as an infant, and typhoid as a young adult. “When I was nineteen years old, I was in a coma. I was at the University at Trujillo in Northern Peru and working for a political party. I was working in the slums, and I would eat anything, and I got typhoid. I didn’t know I had it. I just kept going. I felt dizzy. I felt fevers, but since I come from Cusco, from the mountains, and the university was in the hot area, I thought it was just the heat. I started to throw up, and still I didn’t want to go to the doctor. I said, ‘This is going to pass.’ Then I went on a hunger strike with other students, professors, doctors, nurses, and that’s when the typhoid got worse. But the hunger strike was very important to me. We were asking for health rights and protection for the prostitutes because in Trujillo there was a very large red-light district, and there were women coming from different parts of Peru. At the time I didn’t know much about human trafficking. But we knew the levels of exploitation, and there were a lot of sexually transmitted diseases. And because of that, we wanted to organize the women and develop a union with them.”

Viviana was on the hunger strike until one day she collapsed. “When I was unconscious, they took me to the emergency room. I was in a coma for a month. During that time, there was a moment when my mother and the doctors thought that I was going to die. That is the only time that I was fully conscious, fully aware of everything: my ability to choose, my inner power, my knowing of an existence of a different reality that is not this physical world.

“The moment I remember is suddenly I saw my mother, and the doctors and the nurse, and the boyfriend I had at the time, and a few of my other friends all gathered around me because they all thought that I was going to die. In the coma, I could see them. My mother was holding my hand, and she was pressing my hand and telling me, ‘Please, feel my hand, feel my hand.’ And I remember wanting to talk to her. I wanted to tell her, ‘I’m not dying, I’m here,’ but my body didn’t respond. They were telling my mother that they couldn’t keep the IV needles in me, that they couldn’t find more veins. They were going to look in my feet, they said, and a nurse touched my foot. For the first time in that month, I felt my foot. I felt it in a way that I cannot describe. I cannot explain that feeling of her hand on my foot. It was like it was entering my foot. It was like it was one with my foot. After that, I had this experience of choosing, and I thought, ‘What do I want? Do I want to come back?’ And I came back. I chose to be alive. And after that, I changed. It changed my life completely.”

For seOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAveral years, Viviana worked with shamans in Peru and Mexico. She lived in California and studied transpersonal and integrative psychology. About two years ago, she returned to her homeland to develop a retreat center. Together with her husband, she also runs an orphanage called Niños del Sol. Viviana describes the village and surrounding mountains. “It is a place to remember your own magic, a place to educate your consciousness as you connect with the Mother Earth and all its elements.

“There you realize that the main prayer is gratitude—gratitude for everything we are given, as well as for everything we are not given.”

Excerpted from  Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine

Advertisements

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.

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.

*              *              *               *

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

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

 

Share with your friends or book club

Birthing God:Women’s Experiences of the Divine is now part of a book club promotion! Check it out! http://www.skylightpaths.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=BOOKCLUBPROD&Store_Code=SP&Product_Code=978-1-59473-480-9Birthing God cover