“Celebrate Her. … You are of Her and you know how to do it.” — Olympia Dukakis, N SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
As Mother’s Day approaches, my thoughts turn to the women who paved my way through the ages and those who nurtured my own becoming — including the women I wrote about in IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE. (www.InSweetCompany.com)
St. Theresa of Avila once said that ”The demand of the splendid favors of awakening is that they be embodied,“ and this, surely, is what women help me do. Together, we are finding our way through the chaos of the times we live in and the lives we live; stumbling, perhaps for a time, in the darkness, but forging a life that speaks to our deepest needs. We gather in cul de sacs after our children are in bed, and in coffee houses and conference rooms by day to share our stories, to actively explore our options, to push the edge of our own and the collective envelope as we resolve personal and global conflicts. We are becoming the beating heart of a great renaissance occurring in America, a grass roots spiritual revolution that is changing the way women and men live their lives.
The search for meaning and the longing to live from our deepest values, though genderless, is embedded in women’s history. Despite centuries of religious persecution — or because of it — women articulated their spirituality primarily in the language of relationships, in harmony with the natural cycles of our lives, in our homes and in the arts rather than in our churches or the battlefields — as we birthed our babies and comforted our dying, in all that came between. The path we trod was personal, intimate, internalized, creative, and immediate.
As the 20 th century unfurled, our spiritual expression expanded to include the right to vote and equal rights; and we earned more than our keep through several world wars. We made education and child care a priority. When evidence of the great matriarchal cultures of the Neolithic Age emerged, the shroud that covered the feminine face of God to Western civilization was torn asunder. Once these ancient images of the Divine Feminine resurfaced, women and men began to find a path to the Divine in the arms of the Great Mother, an embracing image of Divinity that is broad, inclusive, compassionate and forgiving, yet strong, creative and joyful. She has many names: Mary, Sophia, Quan Yin, Gaia, Saraswati, the Shechinah — as many names as there are hearts to fill. Hidden from sight, hidden even from our awareness for thousands of years, we discovered She never left our side.
As Mother’s Day draws near, I remember Her, too.