As a Roman Catholic child, I was taught that the mothers were the hearts of the homes and the fathers were the heads. Yet, I was scorned by my mother and grandmothers and encouraged by my father. It is dangerous to assume that a world where women rule and men will submit will be any more balanced, or human, than our patriarchal world is now.
It seems to me that claiming the fullness of being human, as opposed to simply being a member of the homo sapiens species of animal, entails reclaiming our unique abilities to integrate our “hearts” (emotions, instincts, traditions) and our “heads” (education, experience). It is my belief that this is what is meant by humans being in the image and likeness of The Sacred Spirit.
I purposely don’t use the terms “god(s),” “God,” “goddess,” “Allah,” or any other term referring to a deity or deities. This is because I have come to distrust the labels put on The Sacred Spirit that too much resemble men, especially monarchs. Even many goddesses have been portrayed as capricious, jealous, and vengeful.
This is where I have disconnected with any organized religions. I do not want limitations or faces put on my experience of The Sacred Sprit on our shared earth. I especially don’t honor any deity that demands sacrifices of the blood and suffering of his own children. Vengeance and love cannot live in the same “heart.”
I have officially defected from the religion of my parents and other ancestors, in order to remove those barriers to my openness to seeing and hearing the Sacred Spirit in any of my experiences. I have searched for, and found doorways into the sacred scriptures being written today.
Perhaps it is time for us to go back to the beginning and redefine what The Sacred Spirit isn’t, even though many have accepted violence as part of the sacred for many centuries. We will find the common core if we stop, look, and listen.
I joined a women’s organization, World Pulse, with thousands of members around the world, setting up areas where we can simply listen to the voices of all those who are supporting real physical lives on our shared earth. These women are addressing the physical needs of their communities with every ounce of their available education, energies, and experience. They are also sharing what they know in our worldwide, interconnected networks of World Pulse and Facebook.
I joined Women of Spirit and Faith, and found that they actually offer “Sacred Listening” lessons. I studied Kay Lindahl’s books: Practicing the Sacred Art of Listening: A Guide to Enrich Your Relationships and Kindle Your Spiritual Life, The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice, and How Does God Listen? I soon found a volunteer “community listener” position withWorld Pulse. In this position, I “hear” endless stories from the heroic women in Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Kenya, Cameroon, Sudan, DRC…and the list goes on to 10,000 members in 190 countries. So many of them are serving thousands of their people with only money they earn at their full-time jobs.
I am humbled by this kind of responsible compassion, which I think is the “core” of being fully human. These are examples of integrating one’s heart, head and hands. This is The Sacred Spirit in action.
I have been fortunate to connect with another organization that tells our stories through dance. One Billion Rising exists to take the stigma and shame from really seeing and understanding women’s bodies, and honoring the physical forms of The Sacred Spirit that human beings, men and women, inhabit on earth.
When asked to be an ambassador to the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I saw the chance to bring all these voices of those serving our earth with their hearts, hands, and heads to the leaders of the religions looking to reclaim (redefine) our humanity. I was especially interested in the first of the women’s initiatives ever presented at the parliament.
I jumped at the opportunity, and happened to find a sister that I made through Women of Spirit and Faith living in the area where the parliament is to be held. I am encouraged by the enthusiasm of SHEROES United, an organization that exists to honor women’s heroism in the world, located also in the city where the parliament is taking place. Imagine how many more SHEROES they will find in this extended family of faith in the future of humanity.
The Ambassadors are participating in The Listening Project at the Parliament, a training program in deep listening which Kay LIndahl and Eileen Epperson are facilitating. Several international journalists from the World Pulse sisterhood have offered to help record the sacred utterances of those to whom we listen. I believe this is how sacred scripture continues to be written, and this is how we will reclaim (redefine) the heart of our humanity.
Yvette Autin Warren