Ann Smith is Co-Founder and Director of Circle Connections
Angela Weber lives in Salvador, Brazil where she celebrates our Winter Solstice as her Summer Solstice. She lives in a city that has 80% African descendants, the largest anywhere outside of Africa. It is called the city of women and has a population of 3 million people.
I first met Angela in 1999, when she by chance walked into a meeting that I was holding in her Episcopal Church in Salvador were we were planning a worldwide Anglican Encounter: Churches in Solidarity with Women event. She said she would help. As a woman with great connections to governmental officials and grassroots women in Salvador and Brazil, she was a life-savor and we became lasting friends.
Salvador is given the name city of women because within this region resides the oldest goddess religion from Africa, Candomble. Angela in her writing for our Enough book says: “This religion brings forward diverse aspects that are of upmost importance for Salvador inhabitants: the Axé – a state of mind and spirit of contentment and happiness. Also important is the connection among devotees, deities and nature. The African deities have and are connected with nature and through rituals that enable a communion, the devotees are able to achieve the deities’ blessings…. Most of Candomblé related people are the poorest in the city, but they seem to be the happiest.’
Her work for more than a decade with grassroots traditional women in two towns outside of Salvador has been one of deep listening and learning that led her to become a policy maker and spokesperson for them, so that policies are harmonious with their culture instead of obliterating them. It is so easy for me to generalize and say one size fits all in statements instead of truly listening and learning about cultural diversity and their needs. I have been privileged to work in Native American and Alaskan communities where I could listen and learn but being a policy maker is something I have not the skill or training to do. Angela and I share a love for the many faces of the Divine Feminine and the deep connections to nature as part of nature and not separate.
Angela inspires me to keep on keeping on and I try to do the same for her. Her writings are an important part of our Enough book because she speaks so clearly about the complexities of the modern world and the importance of valuing and preserving traditional cultures. Learning from and appreciating these cultures make me a better person, a person who listens and learns from nature, who loves the Divine Feminine in me and in all life.
Having a dear friend and colleague in the South also reminds me of the differences and the similarities. When Sr. Helena Marie, my colleague in the Episcopal Church USA, and I created a women’s round calendar, our publisher was perplexed about her drawing of the Americas and wondered what would happen when the calendar was turned so South was on top? We laughed and said we would get a different perspective. Having a South friend keeps me from thinking just north south but south north east west. Angela and the people of Brazil enrich my life with music and art and when times get tough, with dance.