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.
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.
Pastor Stacy Boorn proclaims, “I also think that it’s important for the whole world that the power of women—not just a few women in the United States but women globally—be seen and that the power and the understanding of the Divine Feminine be seen. Not just feminine metaphors, but the real-life females of the world as well, women like yourself.”
In a sentence, Reverend Boorn links the power of God-talk (or in this case, Goddess-talk) to real women and women’s agency in the world. She expands this connection to the earth and all beings. “The world and the whole of the universe are in essence the body of the God/dess, and we jointly share the life forces.”
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.’”
“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