Awakening to the Mystery of Absolute Beginnings
Appeared on Feminism and Religion, February 1, 2013
As I rise at 5:30 each morning, my spirit reawakens in a between-the-worlds realm of absolute beginnings. For those few minutes of quiet and slowly revealing dawn light, I revel in mystical newness, endless possibility, a horizon that is only the future. By 7 am, when I can hear cars on the road and see television screens through windows as I walk to work, normal, plodding space-time has taken over, leaving just a shimmer to linger in my memory.
I remember living all day with this feeling of being at the very beginning of my world when I was a young child and everything that I did and thought was for the first time. I believed this sense was lost forever when I was later taught by society, as so many of us are, that I was only the tiniest, most ordinary mite in a world already built many eons ago by people with a much brighter genius than me.
And then, on my 25th birthday, I heard Merlin Stone speak about When God Was a Woman. As I truly envisioned the Divine with a female face for the first time in my life, I felt a joyful excitement as if I had been transported back to that first second in human history when the insight dawned that a sacred presence exists within ourselves and all of creation that is unseen, but real, and that it can be expressed and shared. Because I had never been taught about Goddess or how to interact with Her, I was able to discover and act on what I knew intuitively within myself about Her in a way that was completely my own. With great fervor I began my own individual journey of the spirit and found that this exhilarating profound newness never left me because the territory I was exploring was completely unfamiliar to me in my own experience.
Later, as I gazed upon hundreds of images of the Divine in female form made so many millennia ago, I wondered if perhaps the artist who molded the first hand-sized goddess statue or painted the first woman figure on a cave wall felt this same complete freedom that comes with being present at the absolute beginning of a great adventure or discovery. When I read the stories of goddesses of the spring like Persephone, or of the morning, like Aurora, or of Changing Woman who expresses nature’s constant rebirths, I thought that perhaps those who created them may have done so with feelings not so different from mine.
The more women and men I meet who practice and study feminist spirituality, the more I find this quality of profound “beginningness” in them. The art, poetry, music, dance, fiction, and every kind of artistic endeavor created by those who find their inspiration in feminist spirituality have the same vitality and hopeful passion that I find in myself. In fact, creating rituals for ourselves and others has become its own art form. In my experience, sometimes the most meaningful and beautiful rituals are those that have had the least planning but instead are designed on-the-spot to reflect the women and men who are part of the circle on that particular occasion and allow for spontaneity and individual expressions of insight and creativity.
The feminist spirituality groups I have known seem to thrive in a spirit of continual renewal; they have an organizational flow and a non-hierarchical form of leadership that encourages innovation. I think of the women’s spirituality organization with which I have been most aligned and which recently closed. In its last circle, a common theme I heard from the founders was excitement at now having the opportunity to pursue other goals rather than bitterness that what they had built over decades was ending. Others in the circle spoke about how they would continue the organization’s work in their own way, thus ensuring that what was most vital to the organization will live on and that these other women will now have their chance to make their own dreams grow using what they have learned.
Perhaps this spirit of being open to new beginnings is one of the important contributions of feminist spirituality to the world at this moment. So much of the conflict in our world comes from our human tendency to act from fear of the unknown and a desire to preserve the status quo, even if current ways promote inequality, injustice and strife. A culture that treasures each individual as the creator of a unique, valuable, and never-before-seen perspective and that encourages everyone to use her or his talents to the utmost as if they are creating an entire world anew is particularly needed now.
Seeing ourselves as creators of our world is not only a way of looking at ourselves and our spirituality, but a commitment to making sure that the world continues, that the future that we see before us will actually come to pass. Our current environmental global situation makes it seem as if we may indeed be in the last years of our Earth as we know it. Feminist spirituality is integral to bringing to my life, and maybe that of others, the beginningness that can re-energize our commitment to finding solutions to the problems that our planet faces. I am always amazed at the array of activist initiatives that members of any feminist spirituality circle I have attended represent and that speak to the connection between feminist spirituality and involvement in environmental as well as social justice efforts.
We have a unique opportunity to use both the energy of beginningness and the knowledge that comes from millennia of experience to remake our world to be the paradise it was meant to be. Over and over, in each one of us, in the spirit of our early morning hours, indeed, She rises again.