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
On this Valentine’s Day, I lift up Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung (center). Dr. Chung has a very big heart, and she exemplifies the compassion of Kwan Yin. In her story in Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, she talks about the loss of her biological mother in her infancy, how it left “a big hole in my heart” and how, through meditation, this heart wound was transformed, becoming her biggest strength. “I learned in meditation that my biggest trauma was my biggest power when it was transformed.”
On this Valentine’s Day, as the plum trees begin to bud, may we glimpse the transformations in our lives and allow ourselves to savor that sweetness, even as they change yet again, and again.
Pictured with Dr. Chung is Arisika Razak and Sridevi Ramanathan, also featured in Birthing God:Women’s Experiences of the Divine.
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!
Reverend Debbie Lee is one of forty women interviewed in Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine.
Debbie says that she experiences God in the multitude. When asked about her faith and her work for immigrant rights, she responds, “Spirituality is why we do social justice. It’s what makes social justice work.”
Debbie Lee is a United Church of Christ minister and the Director of the Interfaith Coalition on Immigrant Rights
Powerful narratives of suffering, love, and hope that inspire
both personal and collective transformation.
In Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, 40 women of faith describe inspirational, Spirit-filled moments: a Korean student feels the hands of God supporting her despite excruciating torture; a grieving pastor walks a labyrinth and rediscovers the Rock of her existence; a human rights advocate re-encounters Allah in an intensely visceral moment in the sun; a Salvadoran peasant woman under fire discovers within herself the God who gives her courage. Each woman’s story invites reflection and the deepening of readers’ own spiritual practices.
“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