I have always loved being in nature and when six years old would sneak out of my home at night and visit my sacred pond in the woods that was my sanctuary. I talked to God starting at age three and have not stopped. When I was eight years old I was baptized in the Episcopal Church that has nurtured me with ancient and modern rituals, music, prayers and the lack of “should nots.” When I was taking confirmation classes at the age of twelve I asked the priest if Jesus really was the son of God. Because I had an intimate relationship with God I didn’t understand why Jesus. The priest answered my question by saying he wanted me to think about it and answer it for myself. To be given this responsibility to answer the most important theological Christian question for myself and not be told what to think was a powerful experience that confirmed my wanting to be an Episcopalian.
Being an Episcopagan where I embrace God in all creation expands my dream of the Divine as both feminine and masculine. When enough people of faith believe in an inclusive God and embrace the Divine Feminine, we will stop the destruction of nature and violence against women.
Being an Episcopagan in relationship with Episcopal Native Americans has expanded my thinking and deepened my spirituality. I have and continue to learn how to be a spiritual person living in right relationships with four-leggeds, winged, scaled, leafed. I have learned to see water, earth, air and fire as holy. Pagan means the people of the land. My birth name is Ann Landaas that means the land. Loving nature defines and shapes my very being as a nature spirit in a human body.
It is only we two-leggeds who are separated from nature and out of balance with the Divine by identifying God as only male. Indigenous people of the Anglican Church gift us with inclusive language and ancient rituals that honors all creation. I can take the best from the amazing diversity in the Anglican worldwide church to nurture me; Divine Feminine of Sophia, Celtic traditions of non-hierarchical structures and mysticism, Indigenous cultures and language. The Anglican New Zealand prayer book that blends together the English and Maori culture and religions is filled with melodic prayers that unit our souls to God. This is one of the prayers and very powerful because it is an alternative to the Lord’s Prayer, Our Father.
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In the times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trails too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For your reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. Amen
This prayer and Earth-centered prayers speak to my soul. Inclusive language nurtures and transforms. I find it hard to attend church services that use God the Father language. I am an Episcopagan in search of sacred places for worshipping where we as the people, the two-leggeds, see ourselves as One with all creation and rejoice in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever.
Ann Smith is Co-Founder and Director of Circle Connections