Like Rain on Dry Land by Marcia Bedard
When first I moved to a rural mountain community near Yosemite, I was spiritually parched, and my soul felt dry as a bone. Desperate for the rich conversations of my sisters, after taking an early retirement from the CSU Fresno Women’s Studies Program, I had an intuitive sense that I might find some like-minded women friends in a small group that met weekly at our local church, led by Diana, our courageously and outrageously feminist pastor, who has since moved on to what I hope are friendlier communities for feminist pastors.
If PFLAG, and similar marginalized groups, had found an oasis there, in what was called (in order to please the church fathers) a Women’s Bible Study Group, so could I. A year before, this would have been my last choice of groups to join, but in a town where fundamentalist churches thrived, and Starbucks was the only place you could find a copy of literature as subversive as The New York Times, it was my only choice. It was in the church basement, amidst a thinly disguised knitting/bible study group, that we gathered weekly to receive what turned out to be a truly holy (meaning wholly) communion of spirit, enriched by various reading that Diana generously shared with us.
As one who envisions Creator as decidedly female, and most probably feminist, the first week I was there I realized how much of the original, or at least early, writings of Christianity had been deeply warped by the patriarchal church establishment. This was my first introduction to what is today called feminist theology, and is a popular course at all the local colleges where it is taught. A decade ago, however, it bordered on witchcraft, and there are still Christians in that sad town who hold the same view today. I want to share one of the earlier versions of what has come to be called “The Lord’s Prayer”, as that is the first reading that Diana shared with our pseudo knitting/bible study group:
Lord’s Prayer Translated from Aramaic
(A Translation of “Our Father” from Aramaic into English)
O cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration. Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space
within us where your Presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose, but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision, the birth, power and fulfillment, as all is gathered and made whole once again.
For this parched soul, simply knowing that at one time, when the world was younger and greener than it is now, people actually prayed in these words, was for me, like rain falling on dry land, I lifted my lips and drank deeply from this pool of spirit, knowing for the very first time, what the true intent was of the person who wrote this prayer of celebration and gratitude to the One.
Marcia Bedard, Ph.D. is Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies from the California State University at Fresno. She is a published author and lectures on topics related to women both publicly and as visiting professor at various colleges and universities. Ecofeminism and women’s deep spiritual connections with nature are her current areas of interest.