The phone rings loud on the bedside table near my head, and I wake with that tiny heart attack that only truly jarring things, like middle of the night phone calls, seem to trigger. It takes me a moment to gather myself, to remember who I am, where I am, and what that sound is… and then I grab the phone, hop out of bed and cross the hall into the office where I can finally answer.
It’s a familiar voice, Eli, my colleague and friend from the domestic violence and sexual assault shelter where I volunteer. They’ve just received a call from the emergency room about a sexual assault survivor asking for an advocate and I’m the volunteer on-call this week.
Eli handles himself so very well, knowing that while he is awake working the night shift I am still trying to grasp his words, trying to shake the sleep from my body and my mind. As his words sink in I write down the survivor’s name and start pulling on clothes to head to the hospital.
Though I’ve taken a fair amount of these calls during daylight hours, this middle of the night call is a new experience for me. I live in the upper peninsula of Michigan and while I love it here, this particular night also happens to be yet another night with significant snowfall, and it takes me quite a while to dig my car out enough to get it out of the tiny alley next to our house and up the hill toward the emergency room.
Continue reading “Moments by Katie M. Deaver”
Last week, I had the incredible privilege of sitting vigil with a friend in hospice in her final hours on this earth. She slept for most of the time I was there, but her waking moments were lucid, if brief. She whispered how good the fresh juice tasted (it had been made for her by a friend), and she seemed to prefer having my hands on her back to pain medication. In the last hour I was with her before leaving, a mutual friend joined us and played gentle, lullaby-style music for her on the kalimba and guitar. As he sang softly to her, I could barely make out his words; the intention was pure, the moment was intimate, and I felt honored to be present for such a profoundly sacred moment.
Speaking with another mutual friend who had held space for Maria in her final days, I mentioned that as I was at hospice I had felt an awareness of priestessing the priestess. Our friend agreed, and said she’d had a similar sensation. “That’s who Maria has been for many of us, whether she claimed that title or not.”
Maria and I were not part of a shared formal congregation or spiritual community in the traditional sense. We were both part of an informal network of friends in a variety of communities whose membership and interests overlap – sacred movement, ecstatic dance, ancestral healing, sound healing, and alternative spiritualities. It’s a network that is both leaderless and full of leaders, as its inherent diversity of beliefs and practices lends itself to members who are specialists in one tradition, students in another, and generalists in deep compassion, holy presence, and unconditional love. Continue reading “Priestessing the Priestesses by Chris Ash”
Sometimes I think it happened gradually. Other times it feels like sudden change. Either way I find myself in an in-between space that is my life.
With apologies to Victor Turner and his cultural anthropological appropriation of liminality as a threshold space, I have come to view my liminal living as a more permanent dwelling place these days. Turner’s category of liminality locates subjects in the betwixt and between as they move from one manifestation of identity in community to a new kind of integration or role in community. I am starting to wonder, however, if the thresholds are actually dwelling places for some of us in this world.
I don’t know if that means I am actually more marginal than I am liminal. The margins are margins because they remain on the outskirts and they help define the boundaries. Margins are permanent. Am I marginalized if I live at the edges of the communities and identities I use to occupy, perhaps never to return to the bosom of the center? I hesitate to make such a claim mostly because I still occupy privileged spaces not the least of which are those constructed from how whiteness grants access and authority in this world. Continue reading “Living Liminality: Of Thresholds and Dwelling Places by Marcia W. Mount Shoop”
“This ain’t your daddy’s conference!”
I knew that I was going to be attending a totally different type of conference than I had ever been to before when I received the following instructions on additional items to pack: (1) my own mug with which to drink coffee or tea (“we will go green in this conference as much as possible”), (2) 3 oz. of water “from a source of nature near your home” to be offered during “opening worship,” and (3) a small, modest, pre-owned, homemade, or inexpensive “earth-honoring gift for exchange.”
Continue reading “My First Experience at a Women-Only Conference by Grace Yia-Hei Kao”