Charleston and Women
“Like you, I have seen reports suggesting young girls and women were targeted by recent terror attacks. The goal is to punish women for living independent lives and to drive them back into silence and submission. If this is true, then let me share another truth, one I have learned over decades of working alongside spiritual women of the world: there is no power men can devise that can overcome the strength, dignity and courage of women. Trying to deny the rights of women is like trying to outlaw life itself. The Spirit that stands by her sisters stands eternal. The Mother that defends her daughters never sleeps.” Bishop Steven Charleston
I remember when I first encountered the feminine Spirit of the God of my understanding. It was in the 1980’s. I became acutely aware of how masculine the words and works of the liturgy and practices of my tradition were. There was no honoring of the feminine in language or in church practices. I tried changing pronouns in the service, and that worked for a while. The altar party was made up of men. I longed to worship with other women, maybe even heaven forbid, around an altar, so we started a group on Saturday mornings using our church facility to study and learn about feminine spirituality. We soon had a huge crowd. How comforting to know that others were hungry for this facet of the divine. After a couple of years, as more women from very different traditions joined the group, the words and practices became too different and radical for even me. I knew I had to make a decision. Remain in my tradition and wait for changes or go over to the feminine traditions that now were in territories that were too foreign for me. I made the decision to go back to my tradition. Soon there were changes there. Our prayer book changed with less masculine language. Women were given much greater roles in the church.
I know and believe in the feminine Spirit of God that Bishop Charleston is talking about. It is a power that visited my mind and body and spirit when I least expected it, and for some time, I could not understand it. I had been living in the very masculine world of medicine at the time. Suddenly I saw a different way of looking at things, of working out problems, or relating to others, of worshiping and honoring and praising God. Why I was awakened by this power, I do not know. It was like a Damascus road experience. I had no choice but to pursue it. It was like experiencing another pregnancy. Perhaps this nudge come from one of my deceased grandmothers who lived under a masculine rule, but subtly tried to accomplish something different. I only know that my job now is to treasure the gift of the feminine spirit and try in some way to pass on or model the gift for my children and grandchildren. I know it can change the world just as it changed me.
I wait to hear more from you.