Richard Rohr's Daily MeditationWeek Twenty-fourFeminine IncarnationFriday, June 14, 2019Today’s reflection is by Mirabai Starr, drawn from her article in the Center’s spring newsletter and her new book Wild Mercy:As you have undoubtedly noticed, the feminine is rising at last, overflowing the banks of every landscape, from politics to religion, from the world of entertainment to the fields of peace and justice. She is unconditionally loving, and she is deliciously irreverent. She is shifting the global paradigm from one of dominance and individualized salvation to one of collective awakening and service to all beings.Her wisdom has been hidden in the heart of each of the great spiritual traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and all Indigenous wisdom ways. Access to these jewels has required excavation, but the treasures that have emerged are transfiguring the soul of the world, offering medicine for the broken heart of humanity and the materials needed to mend the torn fabric of the earth.Ever since I was a young girl, I have been irresistibly drawn to every religion I encountered. Born into a non-religious Jewish family, I had embraced multiple spiritual traditions by the time I was twenty and integrated them into my daily life: a deep devotion to an Indian saint, a daily Buddhist meditation practice, initiation into multiple Sufi lineages, a reclamation of the ancient beauty of my ancestral home in Judaism, and an unexpected friendship with Christ through the mystics, whose words I have since translated. Each of these paths has comingled in my being, creating a rich and robust spiritual soil.It is the Christian women mystics who have become my most cherished spiritual sisters and role models. The sixteenth-century Spanish mystic, Teresa of Ávila [1515–1582] has shown me what it looks like to cultivate ecstatic intimacy with God in the center of my own being and also find my Beloved “living among the pots and pans.” The medieval Rhineland visionary Hildegard of Bingen [1098–1179] praises God’s greening energy in every particle of creation, helping me to glimpse the face of the One in all that is. The English anchoress Julian of Norwich [1342–1316] had a near death experience in which Christ revealed himself as an unconditionally loving Mother who continuously breaks herself open and pours herself out to her children, endlessly forgiving and enthusiastically adoring us.Through each of these wise women, I have come to recognize the holiness of incarnation. There is nothing in this gorgeous, messy world, not a thing in my own imperfect perfection, no place in the scope of the human predicament or the majesty of the natural world that is not, by its very nature, blessed: the chosen dwelling place of the One we love. Our experiences of embodiment may not always correspond with idealized images of holiness, but these preconceptions derive from masculine standards of perfection. Such paradigms have caused great harm, and they are no longer valid. I invite you to abandon your efforts to fix yourself and instead reclaim your innate beauty and worth as a luminous cell in the body of Mother Earth. Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation. Mirabai Starr, “Indwelling and Outflowing,” the Mendicant, vol. 9, no. 2(Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), 3. Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 154.Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). Thetilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico
Friday, June 14, 2019
Thursday, June 13, 2019
Noa Pothoven was raped at 11 years of age and then again by two men when she was 14.She suffered from depression and anorexia, and attempts at suicide.She was treated in mental hospitals numerous times, having to be placed in a coma in order to feed her when she was dangerously thin.She wrote a book to help others suffering similarly.At age 15 she went on her own to the end-of-life-clinic at The Hague to request euthanasia but was turned down because of her age. She said she couldn’t wait until she was 21 to be evaluated for euthanasia. Her parents, family, and doctors tried desperately to help her.She would not eat or drink and finally they decided not to intervene. Noa died on June 2, 2019 in Holland.
Poem by Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP
Beautiful NoaTell it!Tell it tothe world,to countries,courts,religions.Yes, tell itto The Hague—Rape is evil.Shout it down.Pray it down.Stalk it.Exorcize it.Annihilate it.It burst intoyour “house,”your body,Noa.A fatal toxinseared your soul,the sanctuaryof your selfhood,crushing your girlhood,stealing your joy.“I’m still breathing,but no longer alive,”you explainedas rape traumadefaced your spirit,afflicted your being,though you laboredto heal,fought tosurvive.Women,men,humanity,Come!‘‘Tis the hourto scale themountain,‘Tis the momentto trekthe sharpascent.Fueled withcompassionfor herunbearable suffering,take the arduous steps.Driven byher tragedy,seek the distant skies.Drawn into future,chant the truth—“Rape is evil.Shout it down.Pray it down.Stalk it.Exorcize it.Annihilate it.”Women,men,humanity,Come, circle nowround themountaintop!Shhh, listen,be silent.You cansense Noain the expanseof sunand clouds.You canfeel Noain the softnessof the breeze.You canknow Noa,in shining foliageeverywhere.She’s being free.She’s being recreated.She’s being beautiful.Beautiful as the sun!Shhh, listen,be silent.‘‘Tis only aneternity tohear her song.Tell thisto theworld too.
She Is Love, Feminine Incarnation, Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation From the Center for Action and Contemplation
Why not? Why not pretend for now that the Absolute (the Great Mystery, the Ground of Being) sometimes expresses itself in the body of woman? Pretending God’s a dude hasn’t exactly worked out for the vast majority of the human family, let alone the animal and plant communities or the air or the waters. —Mirabai Starr 
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, an African American pastor and author that I greatly respect, spoke at CAC’s recent conference on the theme of racial and gender inequity. Not surprisingly, some white folks in our audience were very uncomfortable. And that’s okay! Discomfort is a teacher; it’s an invitation to learn and grow. As unpleasant as it may be, we must face the truth of Christianity’s complicity in creating and supporting systems of oppression. It’s more than time for all of us to reimagine God.
Keep your heart open as you read Jacqui Lewis’ vision of God:
It makes sense that because white men created so much of religion, the image of God was an old white man with grey hair. However, this image needs a makeover because he’s no longer working.
My God is a curvy black woman with dreadlocks and dark, cocoa-brown skin. She laughs from her belly and is unashamed to cry. She can rock a whole world to sleep, singing in her contralto voice. Her sighs breathe life into humanity. Her heartbreaks cause eruptions of justice and love.
Of course, because God is a mystery, we don’t know everything about Her. So out of our imaginations and our yearnings, our hopes and our fears, we make stuff up. At our best, we project goodness, power, kindness, and love onto God. At our worst, we create a God who is punitive, angry, judgmental, and harsh. We do this because we are those things, and we think they make us safe.
Projection itself is not the problem. The problem occurs when we don’t examine those projections with a critical eye, with a hermeneutic of suspicion. The issue is that we write laws that codify the shadow parts of the god we create, in order to diminish others, to abuse others. The trouble starts when our god is too small, when we reduce our worst projections to fit in our pocket and keep this god on our team. When we neglect to confront this created god, we get the Crusades and the Doctrine of Discovery; the murder of indigenous people and Jews; apartheid and enslaved Africans; sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia—all in the name of the too-puny god that is the worst of ourselves.
I know I’ve got my projections. They are inspired by my imagination and by textual studies. In Hebrew, the words for womb and mercy have the same root, and the word for spirit is feminine: ruach. In Greek, the word pneuma [breath or spirit or soul] has a feminine article, the word Sophia stands for wisdom, and the word agape—God’s love for us—is also a feminine word. Therefore, my God is an incarnate feminine power, who smells like vanilla and is full of sass and truth, delivered with kindness. She’ll do anything for her creation; her love is fierce. She weeps when we do and insists on justice. She is God. She is Love.
Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.
 Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 32.
Jacqui Lewis, “She Is God. She Is Love.” the Mendicant, vol. 9, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), 23.
Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Outside United States Bishops Conference Meeting in Baltimore June 12th- "Women Praying Beside the Water; Male Bishops Praying Inside" by Janice Sevre-Duszynska ARCWP
This windy Baltimore afternoon, holding a tambourine and an anti-nuke poster Pope Francis calls “The fruit of war,” I joined Catholic Worker women friends, Paul Magno of Jonah House, and other local women for a 2 pm prayer service outside the Marriott Hotel by the water as the US bishops prayed inside.
It was good to meet up with these women friends who pilgrimaged to Rome in February during the Bishops Summit to bear witness to the suffering church and address reforms.I was looking forward to praying with them again.
Our invocation took the form of a litany of saints: among them Mary of Magdala, Hildegard of Bingen, Mary Mackilop of Australia, Brigid of Ireland, Sr. Thea Bowman, Dorothy Day and pacifist Ben Salmon.
After the Opening Song, “Spirit of the Living God,” we began with an Opening Prayer adapted from a prayer written by Sr. Joan Chittister:Come Spirit renew the hearts of all who are gathered here for prayer and praise. The Holy Spirit embodies the life force of the universe, the power of God, the animating energy present in all things and captured by none. In celebration of the great feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit of God, we pray:May the Gifts of the Holy Spiritbring fire to the earthso that the presence of Godmay be seenin a new light,in new places,in new ways.May our own heartsburst into flameso that no obstacle,no matter how great,ever obstructs the messageof the God within each of us.I had brought along a treasured booklet of reflections by Sr. Elizabeth Johnson: “Women, Earth, Creator Spirit,”
that accompanied my witnessing to the bishops years earlier. I showed this “dancing” Hildegard of Bingen description of Spirit to Claire Schaefer-Duffy who suggested it as a third reading after Acts 1:12-14, 2:1-18 and an Excerpt from Sr. Veronica Openibo.“I, the highest and fiery power have kindled every living spark and I have breathed out nothing that can die...I flame above the beauty of the fields; I shine in the waters; in the sun, the moon, and the stars, I burn.
Andby means of the airy wind, I stir everything into quickness with a certain invisible life which sustains all... I, the fiery power, lie hidden in these things and they blaze from me.” (From Hildegard of Bingen: Mystical Writings, Fiona Bowie & Oliver Davies, eds. (NY: Crossroad, 1990) 91-93.Here is a sampling of the Intercessory Prayers:
We pray for Pope Francis and for all of the bishops gathered for this Spring meeting that they will open their hearts to the cry of the people of God. We pray that they will listen, and be given the courage and strength to be renewed and heed the call of the Holy Spirit.
Response: Spirit of God, breathe in us.
We pray for all survivors of sex abuse that they may be given comfort, experience the deep healing love of God, and find mercy and justice for what they have suffered and endured.Response: Spirit of God, breathe in us.