Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rediscovering the Feminine Face of God...

Holy cow….here it is Holy Week, and only five days away from Easter. How did that happen so quickly? Life has been a total whirlwind these past 6 weeks, but in a very, very good way. Before Lent started, my life was (once again) careening out of control—not in a destructive way--but in an over-committed way. I was saying yes to too many things, had far more on my plate than I could handle, and was starting to miss deadlines and fall further and further behind.

So I decided that for Lent I would *Just Say No.* I would take on no new projects, meet no new people, make no new appointments, accept no new social invitations, volunteer for nothing new. For the six weeks of Lent, I would only complete projects already begun, honor commitments already made, and spend time with people already in my life rather than seek out any new connections.

One of those commitments was what I call *doing Lent.* This means fully immersing myself in the practice of Lent, in the hope of gaining spiritual renewal and rebirth. Not that I was suffering spiritually to start with. But with all that busyness, I was getting further and further away from what feeds me spiritually, and I was feeling the disconnect, and noticing the drain on my soul.

So I went into Lent with the best of intentions, planning to fully participate in the myriad Lenten activities offered by my parish, immerse myself in reflection and renewal, maybe even blog about the meaning and traditions of Lent.

Turned out I didn’t need all of that. All I needed to find my renewal in Lent was three nights with the parish mission speaker, Edwina Gately, and several evenings with the women's speaker series our parish now puts on annually during the weeks leading up to Easter.

The good news about finding my answers so quickly, was I was able to get right to work on implementing my new spiritual practices, and my, what a difference they have made. (More on this some other time.) Let’s just say that this is one Lenten season that will see me totally refreshed and renewed, thanks to the hard work, dedication, and devotion of so many women of faith, most of whom I am blessed to know through my own faith life and parish.

The creators of our women's speaker series, Sophia’s Circle, are nothing short of amazing. For years untold this faith-sharing group of about a dozen women talked of offering in love something uniquely feminine and uplifting for their spiritual sisters in our parish, and finally, three years ago, they were able to pull it all together and offer their first speaker series.

They didn’t expect much attendance. Spring is a busy time for women in this small town farming community. Winter doesn’t give way to spring gracefully around here, and in March and April you’re just as likely to be driving to church in a blizzard as you are in shorts and flip flops.

So imagine their surprise that first year when each night of the 6-week series, attendance grew, until well over 100 women showed up. Imagine their surprise when they started out big right away with the second year’s series.

Imagine the time, energy, effort, and creativity that had to go into brainstorming, planning, and executing a whole new series this year. Expectations had been raised in the past two years, hungers had been awakened, and now it was time to deliver.

And deliver they did, in a powerful four-week series that centered around the words Purpose, Passion, Power, and Peace. The series was no less effective for being two weeks shorter than before. Easter is late this year, and people are busy with taking advantage of dry roads and growing things. The words they chose to focus on meshed beautifully, and created a cohesive message of renewal and rebirth representative of the positive face of Lent.

Purpose…the speakers encouraged us to look deep into our hearts, find that which we love, and focus on that as our purpose in life. Sometimes our desires are in conflict with God’s purpose for our life, but eventually we come around, be it by the long, hard road, or the quicker and somewhat less painful one. I say *somewhat* because God never promised there would be no pain in our lives, only that He would be there to share our burdens, maybe even turn them into blessings.

So which route you take to find your Purpose in Life depends on your relationship with God. But either way, if you don’t find it—and that’s not to say your purpose can’t change over time—you most likely won’t be a happy camper and your life will not be as full and rich as it could be. You’ll be like a puzzle piece, part of a whole, but with holes in your life that need to be filled if you aren’t connected to the rest of the puzzle.

So go into the silence, search your heart, find your Purpose, and then pursue it with Passion. I missed the week on passion, unfortunately, as that was opening night for the high school musical and I was there to witness my son and several of his friends’ passion for singing and dancing instead. But I don’t think I’m lacking in that department. If you have any doubt, read my PMDD blog post, They Only See Our Failures.

I repeat: Find your purpose, and pursue it with Passion.

The third week, we were reminded of our Power as women. Women as healers, women as caregivers, caretakers, peacemakers and nurturers, generously endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. A candlelight meditation brought the overwhelming amount of positive energy in the room into clear focus. In this week we celebrated the feminine face of God, which goes by many names, including Mother God, Sophia, and Wisdom. We ended the evening arm in arm, singing along with Libby Roderick’s How Could Anyone Ever Tell You (you were anything less than beautiful?).

Find your Purpose, and pursue it with Passion. You have the Power within you.

The final week, our focus was on Peace. Being at peace with ourselves, our relationships, relatives, situations, circumstances and perceived failures, walking in trust with God that all is as it should be and we shouldn’t waste our time and energy on blame, worry, anxiety, and fear. Again, during the meditation, I clearly felt the creative energy and power in that room, as well as a pervading sense of peace that comes to me more and more frequently these days, due in part to my Qigong classes three times a week.

Peace, as it turns out, was the special word I took home from last year’s women's speaker series, and I have made great strides in that area in the past twelve months. Would I have done the same without attending the series? I don’t know, and does it really matter? What matters is that my life seems to be falling into a pattern of Purpose and Passion, Power and Peace that this year’s speaker series has only validated from without, and that is a good and positive thing.

I know where I’m going, even if I don’t yet know how I will get there, but I have the Power and Passion to follow my Purpose, and the Peace of knowing God supports me all the way.

Thank you, women of Sophia’s Circle, for once again bringing us closer to our God, in whatever form we choose to view Him or Her, and to the women we were meant to be.

1 comment:

Mona Risk said...

Hi Liana-- I enjoyed your summary of Lent workshops. It is so important to reach inner peace, and not to lose it when tribulations shake us.