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You’re in a maze of twisty little passages

Sometime it feels like a maze – maybe it’s just the labyrinth aspect.

Sunday, I found myself at mass listening carefully to both the homily looking for the non-masculine elements. Jack is really a wonderful preacher. There is a deep spirituality in the man that bubbles out when he preaches. He almost always gets to me. This weekend he spoke about Jesus calling the apostles, about them getting up and following — about the change of heart and life — about metanoia. And, in listening, I think I “met a noia.” That’s a joke from a Cursillo weekend.

My current journey has been emotionally draining for the past couple of weeks. Listening to feelings what they are trying to tell me. Metanoia means that I not only listen, but allow what I discover to make a change: a change in attitude that will effect a change in life. It’s hard to be fearless in this case.

Upon finishing Dance, I decided that I would try to catch up on reading “His Way” (David Knight). His WayThis is the text book for The School (of Leaders). It was originally published in about 1970. Still good stuff, but not for the feint-hearted. Right now I’m into the first part of chapter 5, but I’m still chewing on the questions at the end of Chapter 1: If I no longer believed in Jesus, what choices would I make differently – what would be the difference.

This is a struggle… I’m not sure. I have difficulty trying to figure out what would be different. If I no longer “believed in Jesus” would I then no longer be able to accept that God[dess] loves me unconditionally? Not sure. And if so, what would that mean? Again, not sure. ‘Tis something to ponder.

Serendipity

Last night I caught most of “The Spoken Word” on GPB – a talk by a historian on which facts are true in The DaVinci Code. It was interesting… and I did find out a bit more about some of the “lost gospels.”

The strength of The DaVinci Code still seems to be 2-fold: a fun, interesting mystery/puzzle AND it tapped into the missing, or at least buried, Feminine Divine. I really think that the second is the reason for the popularity and the talk. Whether or not people will admit it out loud, deep inside Christians have a sense that the current mainline Christian view is skewed. It makes some folks really angry that one can conceive of God as Mother. It makes some folks sad that we don’t often see the image of God(dess) as Mother/Sister. The common thread is that this idea really gets folks heated up… it touches a nerve somewhere.

The author of this book stayed away from theology – but did offer some assistance on where to look for the Gospel of Phillip and the Gospel of Mary. They will go onto my reading list.

Picking Up Stones

At the Foot of Knocknarea (Cathie Ryan:The Music of What Happens) is a song about a woman carrying a stones to the top of Knocknarea to leave at Queen Mave’s (sp?) cairn – a stone that bears all her troubles. I’m picking through the stones I’d like to leave at the tomb, or the cross.

One stone is regret (and guilt) over being silent and fearful. Not listening to my soul. Hiding my feelings so deep they were hidden from myself. To be honest, I can’t name those times. I can name a few times when I was brave, wasn’t silent. So – I’ll leave the un-named stones for healing and remember being brave and what it meant.

Many years ago, neighbors and family were at my house for dinner or some such gathering. We were standing in the kitchen. I think my sister and brother in-law were there, and the folks across the street. The conversation had to do with the others recently joining a local club (think a large relative of the whitetail deer). Only the men could/can join as it’s a men’s organization. (I really don’t have as much of a problem with men’s only organizations as maybe I should, because if women need to be free to have sisterhoods, then men probably need brotherhoods…. but that’s an aside to this story. ) They were encouraging my husband to think about becoming a member. The lodge has a nice swimming pool and the kids could go there to swim during out brutally hot summer. And – this is the part that got me rolling – when the kids went there you didn’t have to deal with the blacks like you did /do at the city pool. Something snapped. I heard myself proclaim the “John wouldn’t ever be joining any a racially prejudiced men’s club.” The room went silent. My heart pounded. Then the conversation slowly restarted – on a different topic.

Fear is a powerful thing… overcoming it is also powerful. However, I still need to learn to accept my own spot when I do find my voice…. and not feel guilty about succeeding.

On Eagle’s Wings

I think I might just sing the refrain differently if I don’t watch it:
And She will raise you up on eagle’s wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of Her hand.

I’ve been listening to “On the Wing” on the Radio Reader for a couple of weeks. One observation that the author/narrator makes is that in the bird world the females are often larger and stronger than the males. The particular birds he was referring to are Peregrin Falcons, and he goes on to observe that the females fly slightly later than their brothers — probably because they have more growing to do than the males. So, why wouldn’t those eagle’s wings be Hers? And, perhaps the slowness in realizing my full potential is because I have more growing to do to get there.

Learning what I already knew

I’ve reached a point in my reading of Dissident Daughter that has shown me that I have already absorbed a lot of the ideas – only with different words. I’ll never be as articulate or organized as Sue (I feel like I know her so well through the reading, we must be on first name basis).

Ecology: she speaks of experiencing oneness with the world, with all of creation. Connected to suffering, crying dolphins. This type of connection has always been close to me. Growing up I was the one who dosed the dogs and cats; the one who could stand next to a 17 hand horse without fear. Even if I didn’t understand the connections, they seemed to be the right direction… the ideal, the dream.

I have trouble cutting the strings that connect me in relationships. Even when it might be better to cut some of them. They are a part of the fabric of my life.

Learning boundaries has taken a lot of work. And boundaries must be learned. Otherwise children can never be let go of. And if they aren’t let go, then they either have to fight bitterly, or they never become themselves. It seems that I always understood somehow that my children were both eternally connected and eternally separate people. It took a lot longer to understand and accept that I could not be the emotion for both partners in marriage. That I had to face fear, accept my shortcomings, my abilities and inablilities and basically hand JP his own emotions to deal with. Well – maybe I’m still fighting that battle.

I never thought of this connectedness in terms of Goddess. But, I do recall that when I worked my way through She Who Is that the one thing that really stayed with me was the image of creator and creation as that of mother and child. A woman carries a child within her. It grows within until birth – or some other separation, be it miscarriage or abortion. At birth, the child becomes “other”, but it is alway still a part of her whether it thrives or fails. This I understand.

So – now I find that my path is shared in many ways. It is also mine alone… and I’m not there yet!

Wounds

My friend observed this morning that perhaps I had a problem with God as Father because of my difficulties with my own father. My gut reaction is “NO” – but for argument’s sake, I’ll say “Maybe – in part.” Having gone that far, it doesn’t seem to change anything. For whatever reason I internalized the idea that the female side of myself is less than any “masculine” parts, it’s still a wound that has to be opened and healed.

After years of counselling, I’m seeing that this road I must travel either with companionship or alone. It must be walked. No companion, or guide required. Greatly appreciated, but not required.

If there is anger (and I’m not feeling anger at this time) then I must step back from it and see what it tells me. Same with sorrow. Same with shame. And – at times, with joy. I was smiling down to my toes this morning after hearing the belly-dancer story. What does that tell me?

A Gift for the Journey

This morning, on my way to work from my Cursillo small group meeting, there was a wonderful story about a woman who has sold her house, given up her job as an accountant and is moving to Paris to pursue her life as a professional belly-dancer. That was wonderful in and of itself, but the crown jewel was when she talked about how when she dances, when she moves and lives in the the dance it’s a way of communing with the Divine. How glorious and image!

It seems that my 3 different small groups (all women of course) have been a part of my salvation. My focus is generally fairly masculine: I work with priests in my second job; I am a programmer, webmaster, computer geek by profession (and choice) – I love working with men, even though they often frustrate me to no end and sometimes seem so clueless. My sisters have given me a chance to come to terms with my feminine, female side. That’s not so easy at times. It seems that I have absorbed some of the cultural bias of women as second class – or womanhood as something to overcome instread of something to embrace. My sisters don’t always see eye to eye – with me or each other, but we share fearlessly at times and we are not afraid to hug each other and say “I love you!”

Br. David Stendl-Rast (gratefulness.org) has a book, Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer that opened a door for me by suggesting that one go to the place where you felt like you belonged – a time or event, and start from there. I’m finding those places more these days on this journey to myself.

Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer – I recommend it, but you will find that if you aren’t ready, it will be impossible, and when you are ready, you can’t put it down!

Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

The other day, my friend Leigh recommended The Dance of the Dissident Daughter for my new year’s reading. She had decided to tackle one spiritual work per month this year, and this was the first one she came across. Having read and enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees, and listening to Leigh’s brief bio of Sue Monk Kidd, it seemed like it was worth a shot.

Of course, as friends do, I gave her my suggestions for her reading list. The 2 that I put on her list were Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life the Diaries, 1941-1943 and Letters from Westerbork and She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse by Elizabeth A. Johnson. Her response – “oh, I think that both of those were referenced in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.” So, then it really seemed like her recommendation would be good one.

I’ve been plowing my way through this one for the past few days… a few years ago, at the suggestion of a Vincentian priest (he’s now left the priesthood), I read a couple of very powerful books. The first was Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life the Diaries, 1941-1943 and Letters from Westerbork; the other was She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse by Elizabeth A. Johnson. (Now you know where my recommendations came from.) and lo and behold, Sue Monk Kidd refers to both of these books. We’re on the same wavelength now!

More as I progress through the book.

Etty Hillesum: An Interrupted Life the Diaries, 1941-1943 and Letters from Westerbork
She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse

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