I am writing this blog on New Year’s Day, so Happy New Year! Today I say these words as both a statement of hope and as invocation. Happy New Year: may it be! My twin told me that our horoscope said that 2017 would be a party: we should throw our energies into anything and everything we want to see happen in our worlds because it can and will happen this year—may it be! Because it certainly doesn’t feel like a time for flourishing. I echo the introductory sentiments of Kate’s blog last Friday:
“ I am fried. These last two years proved personally & professionally exhausting. And yet, another year looms ahead unavoidably — another incredibly demanding year which will require more than I can fathom I actually have to give at this moment.”
Yes Kate. Oh my god/dess yes. This is exactly how I feel… and sitting down to write this blog this morning, I felt overcome with a wave of anxiety and stress, focused on all the things I have to do, the lack of time I have to do them, and the lack of energy I feel. Lurking beneath this stress is real pain and fear. What should we expect this year, in light of what’s already happening, in light of the hate already ignited? I think I have been locked in this pain and this fear.
I am a great evangelist. I used to evangelize in Pentecostal settings until I was 22. Then, I left my church to evangelize about feminist issues to every woman that crossed my path. Rhetoric is a gift I received when I was a kid and that I inherited from my grandpa and my dad. But during the COVID lockdowns, it was hard to socialize, and my evangelization skills turned toward making my friends and family join the privileged fan base of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. One by one, I convinced my sister, cousins, neighbors, and best friends to watch the reality show, and they did with astonishing devotion. Every week, two or three of us gather in someone’s living room wearing masks to watch episode after episode after episode. Our debates about the queens in the show could last all night long. Who had the best performance? Did you like their lip-synching? “That elimination was so fair/unfair!”
I just returned from a Pagan festival in Tennessee. This is the first overnight event that I have gone to post Covid pandemic and also the first Pagan festival that I have ever been to. Pre-pandemic all the events that I have gone to have been Women’s events and gatherings such as Gather The Women Annual Gathering, ALisa Starkweather’s Daughters of the Earth, Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference and others along those lines.
They pretty much all had a Pagan dusting to them because anything where you find the Divine in the Feminine and in the Earth, rocks, crystals, herbs, the stars, and populated by people who live closer to the Earth, avoid crowds, are empathetic, well, you’ve got Pagan leanings.
But I shied away from the word ‘Pagan’ for a long time, because I grew up Catholic and even though growing up in a very waspy suburb of Dallas, I did not give it much thought at all, I have since realized that the undercurrent of my belief system was that Pagans were evil, animal sacrificing, overly sexual, devil-worshiping and otherwise just something to be avoided.
I have newly found myself a wife and in the throes of motherhood. In many feminist circles, I have encountered anti-family and anti-wifehood sentiments. The understanding is that to be a wife, and, to be a wife that chooses to start a family, is an oppressive position to occupy as well as the antithesis of the feminist movement. Though I am not typically a fan of tough physical, emotional, soulful labor, these two positions have been the highlights of my life so far.
My daughter embodies both my husband and me, physically. However, she is and will become her own person-soul. She is so young, but her soul is eternal, and has experienced eternity. I am here to help her navigate remembering who she is. She inhabits the intersection of Blackness, divinity, femininity, and infinity. Motherhood has greatly increased my capacity of appreciation for women and what women are capable of doing. Especially from the intersection of Blackness and woman-ness. From the capacity to create, labor, and deliver life to the task of raising Black children in a country that would have them annihilated, emotionally traumatized, and made to accept they are inferior.
Once she believed that
it was her fault
they came on to her,
that she owed them something…
They owned her?
girl was pleased
because any kind of attention
was better than none,
or being so “different” –
stitched into an Indian skin.
She was a pretty shell,
an abandoned spiral
worn down by waves –
assaulted from within
by the pornographic gaze.
How she hated being young.
We may all remember 2020 as the year when we could no longer look away from death. Our western culture has hidden death away in hospitals and funeral homes for generations. However, in these past months we have all been inundated with daily images of COVID-19 patients dying alone in ICUs, terrified people and wildlife consumed by flames or flood, televised funerals of victims of racial violence, children starving due to droughts, the loss of icons of courage and compassion like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elijah Cummings, and John Lewis, and so much more. Even as we seem to be surrounded by death, we risk being inured to its tragedy by the sheer numbers of dead from these and other causes.
How we survive this time as individuals and a society may depend in part on how we are able to answer the question “Were we able to mourn each life lost – human or non-human — as a sacred being, unique and irreplaceable? Did we ignore the suffering of others or did we find deeper compassion?”
You’ve been held in a windowless room for a long time. So long, you can’t remember how long it’s been. You have shackles on your ankles. Sometimes you can see beyond your sleeping pad, sometimes not so much. You’re instructed to perform tasks assigned to you according to the will of your captor. Most days you work so long you feel as if you’ll drop. Sometimes you have enough food to eat, other times not. It’s cold and damp in this holding cell where you’ve lived most of your life. You’ve been sick here, but you have no access to a doctor. You’ve been beaten regularly, physically and verbally, for infractions perceived by your captor. You still have the bruises. You’ve not been outside this place for so long you’ve stopped scraping the number of days you’ve been held captive onto the walls.
But, sometimes, you can faintly hear a voice whispering to you from the outside. It’s a voice that calls to you in quiet moments when the usual crushing noise more easily heard doesn’t drown it out. It’s hard to understand the words the voice is speaking. They sound so foreign to you. The voice suggests there is something else outside this cell. When you ask your captor about it, the reply is always the same…laughter, mocking, anger. So you become afraid to listen.
Then one day your captor gets careless. Or maybe you’re listening closer. The incessant noise seems less. Your captor forgot to lock the shackles on your ankles and bolt the door. You hear the voice outside. It offers you something else. It sounds too good to be true. You’ve heard your captor say as much. You’d been told that the voice offers empty promises that will never become reality. But you ask yourself how much longer you can go on here? So, you stand up at your sleeping pad. Your legs are shaking. The hair is standing up on the back of your neck and carefully, timidly, you walk toward the unbolted door. You reach out. Your hand is shaking as you place it on the knob. You see the red marks from old bruises on your wrists. Something inside you knows you no longer can tolerate this cell. Only, it’s all you’ve ever known, or it’s all you remember.
It’s your moment of truth. You might not get this chance again in your lifetime. Do you turn the knob? Do you step across the threshold and move toward the voice? Or do you shrink back, fearfully choosing the familiar, the devil you know? Do you choose the somewhat reliable crumbs laced with indifference and resentment your abuser has been dishing out for years? Can this really be all there is? Or can you find it in yourself to take a leap of faith? Are you going to continue a life of institutionalized abuse and exploitation or are you going to walk across the threshold into a different life?
“When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about something my grandmother would always tell me: “When life hands you lemons, sometimes you have to make applesauce.” I know, it sounds crazy, but life right now appears to be more on the crazy than the sane side.
We’re all in a state of uncertainty right now. The news is scary. Twitter is scary. Heck, even TikTok is losing parts of its humor. Everywhere we seem to turn, it’s more information about COVID-19, new cases, new lockdowns, and new things that we shouldn’t do for the foreseeable future. Continue reading “When Life Hands You Lemons… by John Erickson”
The Tanakh, Jewish scriptures, predominately call the deity king and lord and use the masculine pronoun. These images evoke a certain level of power. Just how powerful the deity is in then multiplied when “he” is addressed as “G-d of Gods,” “Lord of Lords,” judge, almighty, all-powerful, and warrior-like with vengeance, fury and flaring nostrils. Events like war, army invasion, disease, drought, and famine are often described as divine punishments for wrongs done throughout the Tanakh.
All of these images bring forth a certain mindset regarding who the divine is and what “he” does. Indeed, such images may well have been crucial in those ancient days when famine, drought, war, and disease were ever present and, day-to-day survival was often extremely difficult. People sought understanding as to why they were suffering, and the workings of divine beings offered such explanations. Continue reading “What We Lost When We Became Monotheists by Ivy Helman”
My hobbling has made me aware, in a new way, of my vulnerability. When I walk down the street, I notice that very few people actually seem to notice my constraint. And this makes me feel even more vulnerable. I’ve been afraid to take the subway, afraid to be in crowds, uncomfortable even when I am alone at home. I worry about another break, a fall, a misstep—banging into something, or having something drop on my foot.
And I think, with deeper compassion, about my friends and acquaintances—and all the people I don’t know—who bravely endure even greater, often invisible, challenges.
Just a few months ago, not long after turning seventy, I was diagnosed with mild osteoporosis. I had thought that all my yoga, my occasional forays to the gym, my daily walking, my frequently consumed leafy greens and yogurt , my calcium supplements would protect me. I had thought I was different from most other women my age, that I could avoid taking the medication that I knew was sometimes problematic. But the bone density scan revealed what I had feared, and because both of my parents declined and died shortly after hip fractures, because I had once broken an ankle, I decided to accept my doctor’s sober recommendation: that I begin a weekly dose of alendronate. It would be the first chronic medication I would ever be prescribed.
But right before I actually began taking my weekly pill, I noticed a strange new pain across the instep of my left foot. For the first few days I ignored it; I felt it only when I walked, and I assumed it was a strained muscle or tendon. The pain increased; when, after ten days, it persisted even when I was not walking, I decided to see a podiatrist.
Women-only circles have long existed within the Goddess movement, the Red Tent movement for example exists as an inter-faith, grass-roots movement for women only to come together to claim safe and sacred space. But too often ‘women-only’ in fact means ‘cis women only’. Trans women are not allowed. This has been the topic of much heated debate in recent years, culminating last year in the publication of ‘Female Erasure’ an anthology of essays on gender politics and feminist spirituality that has led to calls for the editor Ruth Barrett to be expelled from her thealogical seminary on grounds of transphobia. Barrett and many of her contemporaries openly call for the exclusion of transwomen from women-only Goddess circles and respond to criticism by saying that asking for ‘women born women only’ space is not meant to be antitrans but simply carving out a space for people with similar life experience – in the same way that people of specific ethnic minorities may gather, or LGBTQ people. Surely, they may say, the answer is for trans women to create their own spaces?
There are two problems with this. Firstly, trans women are in a significant minority, making access to groups of other trans women practicing Goddess spirituality difficult. If a local woman’s circle is their only means to practicing their religion with others, and they are excluded by this on the basis of their genitalia, this exclusion is incredibly hurtful and undermines not just one’s ability to practice a faith but one’s very identity and esteem. Secondly, it is not just local, personal groups that are practicing this exclusion, but large and public gatherings, making very public pronouncements that trans women are not welcome. They have been excluded from womens rituals at PantheaCon in 2011 and Michigan Womyns Music Festival has a policy of excluding trans women from the entire event.
That seems to be the refrain these days, particularly in politics. The more you terrify people, the more likely they are to vote, protest, and otherwise engage in political activism.
Well, maybe not. Apparently, hammering people with more and more reasons to live in terror actually tends to demoralize and paralyze us. A little bit of fear goes a very long way. A certain amount does indeed motivate people – like a deadline, for example; that nervous energy can make us highly productive, efficient, and focused. Moreover, Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear, argues that we need to listen carefully to our bodies’ fear response, because our society has trained people – particularly women – to suppress gut instincts that otherwise would have saved them from violent situations.
Interestingly, when we understand not only how to recognize warning signs but also how to trust our intuition to identify potential danger, we feel empowered and live with less anxiety and fear the rest of the time. Validating the ‘gift of fear’ makes us less fearful. Nonetheless, there must be something lucrative to the politics of fear, because studies have shown fear is at an all time high in America, particularly the use of fearmongering as a political strategy. It turns out, fear sells, big time, and it is a pretty great way to further ideas of us vs. them and to undermine a sense of community, of the “neighborhood.”
Sometimes, being overwhelmed with guilt makes one unable to act. Other times, guilt manipulates and attempts to control. It might offer a sense of responsibility and concern. More often than not, guilt comes bundled in small doses of should-haves and could-haves.
For example, when you feel guilty for skipping exercise and instead lay in front of the television binge-watching your new favorite show. It’s not the end of the world, but you really should have gone and exercised. Or, when you feel bad for getting into a fight with a friend and saying something mean when you could have done otherwise. In general, I think there is such a thing as a healthy amount of guilt which spurs right actions, sincere apologies, forgiveness and knowledge of the good.
Jewish tradition generally agrees with me that a measured amount of guilt is often quite helpful. Guilt instructs us in right and wrong and guides us to be more responsible, more mature individuals. Indeed, it even clues us into a better understanding of G-d. Continue reading “On Guilt and G-d, the Parent by Ivy Helman.”
I recently had the opportunity to travel to my undergrad institution on a student recruitment trip. During this trip I was able to preach during the college’s weekday chapel service. Despite the fact that I have lived, studied, and worked within a seminary community for the last seven years I had not actually written (not to mention preached!) a sermon since I was a senior at this very college… to say the least I was a bit nervous. As it turned out the sermon writing went well, and I also felt positively about the preaching experience. But even though the writing and preaching are over I can’t stop thinking about the topics I choose to speak about.
The scripture lesson I used was Luke chapter 24 verses 22-24 “Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”
These verses offer a quick recap of the Easter story that comes earlier in chapter 24 of Luke. The women go to the tomb with the spices that they have prepared, but when they arrive they discover that the stone has been rolled away and the body of their friend and teacher is not there. Instead, there are two men in dazzling clothes who ask the women “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Another mass shooting. Syria. #MeToo. Hunger. Animal extinction. Iraq. Climate change. Deportation. Slavery. Central African Republic. Hate crimes. Rape. Animal cruelty. Oppression. Accidental nuclear war alerts. Homeless encampments. “Illegal immigrants.” Afghanistan. More mass shootings. Sex robots. Trafficking. Russian bots. Racism. Police brutality. Myanmar. Child abuse. Prostitution. Torture. Poverty. The war in Chicago. The privatization of water. Patriarchy. Prison industry. Islamophobia. Migrants.
This is our world. And I can’t breathe.
I often wonder – is God breathing? Does God care anymore? Does She wonder why we can’t stop harming each other? Has She given up on us? I certainly wouldn’t blame her.
As I sit writing this, the world outside continues. As we awake to more news that numbs us to the every day atrocities we commit upon each other, I believe, inside each and every one of us, we are screaming. We want out. We want this to stop. We are scared. We can’t breathe.
But, we don’t know how to stop. So we keep moving. We keep going. Because that’s what humans do. We keep hoping. We wonder how much time the universe will give us. Will we get a break? Will something or someone finally stop us? Are we even deserving of the chance after chance we continually receive – to get it right?
In the ancient world, snakes represented fertility, creativity, rebirth, wisdom and, even, death. They were often closely connected to female goddesses, priestesses and powerful human females who were the embodiment of such powers. For example, there is the Minoan goddess/priestess holding the two snakes in her outstretched arms. She is closely linked with fertility and domesticity. Similar figurines, with similar associations and dating to approximately 1200 BCE, have also been founded in the land of what once was Canaan, where Israelites also lived. Medusa, in whose hair lived venomous snakes, turned men who looked at her to stone. Ovid’s account of the creation of Medusa credits the Greek goddess Athena with Medusa’s lively hair. Another Greek legend says Perseus, after killing Medusa, gave her head to Athena who incorporated it into her shield. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, is portrayed often with snakes wrapped around her as a belt and/or on the floor next to her. Continue reading “On Snakes by Ivy Helman”
In my last post, I addressed the deeply personal accounts of Haroon Moghul’s self- and religious exploration in his memoir How to be a Muslim: An American Story. This post will broaden that reading to consider an October 2017 interview with Moghul at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.
The interview echoes themes relevant to current global crises which implicate religion including how religious rhetoric circulates to support extremist violence and Islamophobia. Exploring how the events of 9/11 intertwine with such crises adds depth to understanding Moghul’s individual experience.
I saw an interesting headline the other day entitled: “Olympic Gymnast Hits Back at Body-Shaming.” I immediately thought, “Wow not again.” The fact that body-shaming is even an expression is a disheartening commentary on the society we live in today. Women’s bodies have long been the subject of casual objectification in our culture and in the media. The fact that people think it’s ok to comment on a woman’s body, in whatever fashion pleases them, blows my mind. Not only is it disrespectful, but it comes from the problematic way society equates a woman’s worth with her beauty.
People have diverse ideas of beauty, and different cultures value different physical qualities, but this does not mean that those who don’t live up to the ideal should be shamed. In the article, Gymnast Aly Raisman relates an experience at an airport where a female employee recognized her and mentioned one of the reasons was “because of her muscles.” A male colleague then stated “Muscles? I don’t see any muscles” and “continued to stare” making Raisman feel uncomfortable. She then took to twitter to relay the events stating: “I work very hard to be healthy and fit. The fact that a man thinks he can judge my arms pisses me off. I am so sick of this judgmental generation.” Continue reading “Tall Order by Sarah Kiefer”
It is horrific, there is no doubt, and I am in no way belittling this act of terror, but, I am always perplexed when these things happen, and how it turns into something so horrible that we forget how many children die every day around the world from other things, including terror.
One can easily find the statistics (which do vary) – an estimated 19,000 children die every day around the world due to effects of malnutrition and disease mostly in non-descript villages. Many of these young children die alone – they are unseen and forgotten.
Trafficking of children is higher than it has ever been with approximately 400,000 children trafficked worldwide every year, with an estimated 50% of these children trafficked for sex.
Let’s see if the following course of events makes sense. A few Wednesdays ago, I was thinking about possible topics for this post considering it would be Mother’s Day. In the midst of thought, the warning sirens in Prague began. They were only being tested but, nontheless, I immediately thought of tornados. You see tornados, as awful and devastating as they are, make me think of thunderstorms and lightning. I love a good thunderstorm, the louder the better.
A Wisconsin childhood supplies plenty of thunderstorms. I cannot tell you the number of times as I was growing up that I stood outside watching the sky turn into that distinctive greenish-purple and smelling the storm on the breeze. Nor could I count the umpteen times we gathered in the basement as the tornado sirens blared and the radio advised its listeners in no uncertain terms to seek shelter. Nor could I recall how many times I sat with my mom during more recent summers watching the storms come in or the lightning blaze across the sky like a spider’s web. We’ve been lucky. Never once did a tornado hit our neighborhood although a house or two has been hit by lightning. Continue reading “Sirens, Thunderstorms, and Bowling: The Divine on this Mother’s Day by Ivy Helman”
As I post this, May 10, a full moon, known as the “Bright Moon” or “Flower Moon” is in the sky. This full moon occurs during a season of transition when living thing things renew and bloom. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s spring, but another transition is already underway. For many of us, spring is nearing close to summer in temperatures; in plant, animal, and insect life; and in our schedules. I am concluding a long, demanding spring semester and yearning for summer. Even though I welcome the transition, I know that like all change, it holds both opportunity and challenge. The full moon prompts me to look at the upcoming summer with clear, examining eyes
As I post this, May 10, a full moon, known as the “Bright Moon” or “Flower Moon” is in the sky. This full moon occurs during a season of transition when living thing things renew and bloom. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s spring, but another transition is already underway. For many of us, spring is nearing close to summer in temperatures; in plant, animal, and insect life; and in our schedules. I am concluding a long, demanding spring semester and yearning for summer. Even though I welcome the transition, I know that like all change, it holds both opportunity and challenge. The full moon prompts me to look at the upcoming summer with clear, examining eyes.
In the past month I have found myself getting sucked in by #Walmartpeople and #viralvideos. In fact, I was so sucked in that Facebook even recommended one such video to me and I watched it several times. However, I don’t watch because I like these videos, and I didn’t re-watch this particular video because I enjoyed it. I watched it because to me, at least, it was so obvious that this woman was, and is, mentally unstable and I was so caught up in the viral aspect of this video. Yet, when you read the comments, people are outing her identity and Facebook page, calling her several expletives such as #slut and #uglybitch, simply adding to her hate. Hate, as we all know, begets hate.
I am perplexed by this whole viral video thing. It’s almost as if it’s a goal—your video goes viral and you too could end up rich, even when you have no talent—just like #KimKardashian. A world where you can become famous, making millions, from one post on Instagram because you once made a #sexvideo (that now costs over $10 million to buy) is mind boggling. Even more so that people support this, because if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be this hope for videos to go viral. Continue reading “The ‘Viralocity’ of the Human Race by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
At the end of 2016, my foot hurt—my body telling me: it is painful to move forward as you have been. You have to walk differently. Yow have to walk with more support, and sometimes, carrying less weight.
I am writing this blog on New Year’s Day, so Happy New Year! Today I say these words as both a statement of hope and as invocation. Happy New Year: may it be! My twin sister told me that our horoscope said that 2017 would be a party: we should throw our energies into anything and everything we want to see happen in our worlds because it can and will happen this year—may it be! Because it certainly doesn’t feel like a time for flourishing. I echo the introductory sentiments of Kate’s blog last Friday:
“ I am fried. These last two years proved personally & professionally exhausting. And yet, another year looms ahead unavoidably — another incredibly demanding year which will require more than I can fathom I actually have to give at this moment.”
Yes Kate. Oh my god/dess yes. This is exactly how I feel… and sitting down to write this blog this morning, I felt overcome with a wave of anxiety and stress, focused on all the things I have to do, the lack of time I have to do them, and the lack of energy I feel. Lurking beneath this stress is real pain and fear. What should we expect this year, in light of what’s already happening, in light of the hate already ignited? I think I have been locked in this pain and this fear. Continue reading “New Year and Sustainable Resolution by Sara Frykenberg”
Out of all of these things, the one thing that has kept coming to my mind is G-d. What is he (or she) thinking? I feel like I’m back in one of my Old Testament classes discussing the harsh and cruel G-d that thrust so many horrible things onto their believers. Maybe, the worst part about the election isn’t Donald Trump, but it is the realization that G-d may be dead after all.
Dear [Insert Name Here],
Something died on November 8, 2016, and I do not think I’ll ever be able to get it back. I sat there, walking back to my house, in disbelief and utter shock and scared about the next 4 years of my life.
For weeks leading up to the election, I had found myself praying in the copy room at my work almost daily. I would sit there, silent and alone, having just read some misleading article or alt-right post from a family member that called Hillary Clinton the devil, and wonder: when did everything go so off the rails?
In these these days when many of us are gripped by paralyzing despair as we come to terms with the election as President of a racist, sexist bigot who has created a climate of fear and promises to undo much of the progressive legislation of the past fifty years, I find it appropriate to reiterate an insight that has sustained me through many years of sadness and disappointment about the state of our world.
Remember the loss, because we’re going to need it for the tomorrows to come and for those that need our protection the most: the next generation. Remember, we are Orlando; now, tomorrow, and always.
I want to tell you a short story about the small town of Ripon, WI. On May 19, the local newspaper, The Ripon Commonwealth, which has served as the town’s paper since 1864, published a story regarding the political right’s uproar concerning President Barack Obama’s executive order that all public schools must allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom which matches that of their gender identity. Angry and upset, the paper’s education reporter wrote an article expressing his clear disdain for the President and also expressing a clear lack of empathy, understanding and sheer bigotry towards the transgender community.
Growing up in Ripon, I always read the paper when it came out on Wednesday evenings. Those of you who grew up in a small town can attest to the luxury of seeing friends, family members, and even the smallest ongoings in one’s town in print for the entire town to see and talk about. However, one thing I never saw in the paper was the clear hate I read in Mr. Becker’s article (the author of said piece). Enraged, I immediately asked myself: what can I do? Having connections back in Wisconsin, I immediately turned to friends who owned businesses, a friend who is the Director of a vocal and important group in the town, and community organizations and friends to begin to write letters. Continue reading “Remember by John Erickson”
In the past year, I have several friends that have lost loved ones to suicide. The statistics are real, raw and all too sobering. In the United States, an average of 117 people choose to end their lives every day. Almost all of us know someone who has lost someone to suicide, or, personally know someone who has taken their own life.
Suicide is a choice for many reasons, not just from mental health issues. 42,773 souls end their lives every year. That is the population of a small city in America.
I rarely talk of my attempted suicide and most people are shocked when they find out about it. My sunny disposition, along with a well adjusted approach to all that is, can be construed as me having an extra whip-cream, cherry topped, Hot Fudge Sundae, life. There’s a lesson in that. I was 19, had grown up in an abusive home, had a mother who left when I was 13 years old so she could survive, and I had recently dropped out of high school. My life seemed stagnant, and worse, morbid. The statistics were mounting against me as a woman, a person of color, no parental guidance, and, I was a serious rebel. I think one of the things I had going for me was friends that cared, and the fact that I didn’t drink or do drugs. Continue reading “I am a Suicide Attempt Survivor by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
In 1985, four months before I was supposed to graduate from high school, I awoke one morning, made a hasty decision to escape my harsh reality, and by the end of the day, I was a high school drop-out.
Even now, with a BA from Wellesley College and two theological master’s degrees, I have a difficult time admitting I dropped out of high school. It’s not necessarily because I am embarrassed, but more, it is because it reminds me of that very painful time in my life.
My journey is, I am aware, different, to say the least. However, as I rummage through my past, I am always reminded that I didn’t get here alone. No, indeed, there were many beautiful souls that helped me get to where I am today.
In all the work and conversations I have had with women around the world – women in the Slums of Mumbai, domestic violence survivors, rape victims, women that have experienced war and trauma, incest survivors – I am always reminded of one thing – women are all born with strength, beauty, hope, and a future. Somewhere along the way, for many of us, things change, and the sad reality is that things change because of where we are born, or our educational opportunities, or our social class, or our race, or our religion, or our place in the family, or mental illness, or abuse, and so on. I think a lot of times things change for women, simply because we are women. Continue reading “I Am a High School Drop-Out by Karen Leslie Hernandez”
Fall, the time of the Day of the Dead and All Souls Day, is a perfect season for us to contemplate “fearless spirituality” as we face our most essential fear, that of death. Though humans have celebrated these days for millennia, fear with a religious veneer pervades our culture, whether in hate towards women and the LGBTQ community, lies that demonize followers of other religions, terror of eternal punishment and spiritual unworthiness, and more.
When I seek guidance for cultivating spiritual fearlessness, I look to ancient Sumer’s Inanna and her willing descent into death. Her story cycle begins in fear of the Sky and Air gods and her desire to destroy her huluppu-tree, Earth’s first life. Gilgamesh hacks it apart to rid it of a serpent, a bird, and Lilith. The tree’s remains are made into Inanna’s throne and bed. In the next story she takes all the divine powers of her father, Enki, the God of Wisdom, and then joyfully celebrates her body and sexuality in her marriage to Dumuzi. Continue reading “Inanna’s Autumn Gift: Fearless Spirituality by Carolyn Lee Boyd”
Society has created this vortex of fear surrounding women aging. Yet, as I turn 30, I am only feeling awe. Awe over everything I accomplished in my twenties and awe in all the things yet to be realized in my thirties. The interesting thing is how other people are experiencing me turning thirty. Some are reminiscent of their twenties or how their experienced their thirties. Others start to bring up certain things which are apparently still lacking in my life. The biggest ones are a husband and children. They look at my eve of thirty-hood as the clock ticking away on me finding love and most definitely on my biological clock.