We are here today to pay our respects and mourn our Mother.
She was a vibrant, adaptive, creative and beautiful Being, Our Mother, the Earth. We gather here today to reflect on all she has given us over the eons. We gather to feel and express our heartfelt gratitude for her generous gifts. We all have our own favorite memories—those peaceful and inspiring moments when our Mother Earth held us in her majestic Presence and taught us lessons we could never learn from a book or a lecture or a conversation. She spoke to the innermost parts of our Being, taught us how to listen, to be still, to trust the silence and the flow of life. She spoke to us through the song of the wind through aspen leaves and the honking of autumn geese flying in perfect formation. She comforted us with blue skies over mountain peaks and allowed us the opportunity to shed our ego, even if for just a moment, during a raging thunderstorm. When we were willing to let her teach, we learned about impermanence, death, rebirth, adaptation, symbiosis and the connected web of all life. When we spent time with her, Mother Earth quelled our anxieties that stemmed from age-old human conditions, as well as anxieties we brought upon ourselves in this modern technological age. Whether on a mountain peak in the Rockies or just watching a line of black ants march across an inner-city sidewalk, Mother always had something to teach, for those willing to listen. She was generous like that. Even when her children were abusing her, she still had more to give. We will never find another Planet like Her—she gave us everything we have, and all that we are. She was one-of-a-kind.
But in addition to gratitude, we also gather today to feel and express our grief in all of its stages, honoring each person in their place on their grieving journey: the initial shock we felt when we realized the gravity of Mother Earth’s sickness. The ongoing period of denial that is so hard to move through and beyond. The anger and rage- the outpouring of bottled up emotion at the wrongs that have been committed against such a generous and gorgeous Planet. We shout and rage and chant for you our dear Mother Earth. In our grief, we sought to bargain with reality: maybe if we took proper political avenues we could convince those in power to tap into their moral compass. Perhaps if we convinced all of our friends and family to reduce, reuse, and recycle more, then we could beat back the destructive monster of climate change. Bike to work or take the bus! Meatless Mondays! Grow your own vegetables! Surely we could bring our Mother back from the brink of destruction if we just did our little part. Then the depression set in. The doctor said we only have twelve more years to turn this around, and that was an optimistic estimate. Even if we somehow elected all the “right” politicians this next few times around, it would still have been too late. There would still be decades of red tape, policy battles, and infrastructure rollouts to wait for. Even if our politicians had suddenly started telling the truth about climate change and developed a moral backbone, our government’s systems of process of procedures would have moved too slowly in this broken two party system controlled by corporate money. The depression lingered, and we watched our Mother Earth die, feeling alone and helpless.
If only we had been willing to feel all these emotions and move to a place of acceptance. Not acceptance as in condoning the atrocities that ruined our ozone layer and warmed our oceans. But an acceptance of reality— seeing where we are and letting the gravity of this truth sink in. Accepting that we are up Shit Creek, but then noticing we in fact do have a paddle.
If only we had grabbed that paddle of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – the paddle of peaceful yet persistent rebellion, we could have saved our Mother, dear Planet Earth. If only we had left the comfort of our daily routine to fight for Her life, and contingently, for our own lives.
Because this Eulogy has a surprise ending. We are not just grieving today for our Mother the Earth, but for all of Her children. She is survived by none of her human offspring. We have all died out, whether by disease, drought, or displacement that led to mass chaos and war over territory, fresh water, and food.
If only we had trusted in cooperation over competition, in the spiritual over the material, in generosity over greed, in hope and action over a resigned cynicism! Then we could have saved ourselves and our Mother Earth. If only! If only…..
(But there is something we can all do, now. https://rebellion.earth)
With the deluge of social media posts using #Metoo, women are hoping that men will finally understand that sexual assault and harassment happen to us on the daily. Perhaps they will wake up to the fear that women have internalized and had to accept as "normal." Thankfully, I have not (thus far) experienced the horror of rape or physical assault. I have, however, experienced harassment as regular as sneezes during allergy season. Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. Here’s a (partial!) list of my experiences:
~ After hitting puberty, I wore baggy pants and large shirts for 15 years in an attempt to keep roaming eyes and inappropriate comments away from me. It didn’t work. So I chopped off all my hair, and lots of people assumed I was a lesbian. It still didn’t work.
~ I bike everywhere, as opposed to taking public transit, because it has reduced the amount of street harassment I experience by about 90%. My bike makes me feel safe and free. However, there are still plenty of guys who shout at me while I’m riding past, “Hey girl, ride that bike a little slower for me!” or “Damn, girl! You look good on that bike!” or the classic dog whistle followed by “Hey girl, come back here and go on a ride with me!” Sigh...
~ I used to ride public transit for three years, and I was sexually harassed every day, often multiple times a day while waiting at the bus stop. Everyone wanted my phone number, and everyone had comments about my ass or my weight. One stranger walked up and said, “Ooo, I really want to suck on those sexy toes,” and I was even solicited twice for prostitution (while fully covered and wearing baggy clothes, breaking out in profuse acne, and sporting dirty dreadlocks. In case you were wondering, it’s not about what she wears.) Everyday before leaving the house I took deep breaths and prepared a response to this verbal abuse. Hyper vigilance became the norm.
~ I once had a van full of men try to kidnap me on a Sunday morning at 10am. They used a woman to try to lure me inside by having her ask me for directions. Luckily, my intuition told me to run right before the guy tried to reach out and grab me, and I was close enough to my church to find Sanctuary.
~ I got a dog for many reasons, one of them being so that I could walk alone around my neighborhood and feel a little safer. Even though I trust Chancho would try to protect me, I always bring my wallet with me when I walk, because I know I could end up dead and pantless in a country ditch somewhere and I want my ID there to make the identification process quicker. This thought feels quite casual, as it is routine. “Keys? Check. Phone? Check. Wallet-in-case-I get-raped-and-die? Check. All right Chancho, let’s go!”
~ I have been dumped because I didn’t wear tight enough pants. I have been dumped because I was “too old to be a virgin” at age 23. I have had a partner not believe that my “no” actually meant “no.” I have found out 5 times that the guy I thought I was dating actually had another real girlfriend, and I was just for fun. I have been cheated on in a committed partnership twice. Every day it’s a struggle to convince myself that I am good enough, and that I deserve respect. Not because I’m some man’s sister or daughter, but because I am a human being worthy of respect. It’s hard to feel worthy and whole some days when my experience keeps telling me otherwise.
Men, if you’re looking for a place to start contributing to the solution, stop calling grown women “girls.”
Girls = Children. This automatically implies that we are less intelligent, need to be disciplined, and don’t know what’s good for us. (If you’re wondering when to start calling us women, how about at age 21 when we are legal adults? Better yet, once girls hit puberty, start calling them “young women” as an added nod of respect.)
Men, also practice this line so you’re ready the next time you overhear another man harassing a woman or even talking disrespectfully about her when she’s not there (e.g. How fine her ass is). If you’re wondering if this is a big enough deal to address in the moment, it is. “Locker room talk” and “boys being boys” is how the culture lays the framework for women to become second class humans. Here’s your line, regardless of the situation:
“Stop degrading women. I don’t like it and nobody likes it. Show some respect.”
If they come back at you with some “your such a pussy” crap, just repeat your line, broken record style until they hear you. You will be our hero!
“Boys will be boys” is only one part of our cultural problem. Of the many contributing factors, the Church has played a huge role by CENSORING THE HOLY SPIRIT’S GENDER. (That was in all caps so you don’t miss the significance of the violence toward women in this intentional political move.) Long story short, the early Christians all believed that the Holy Spirit, the Mother of all Creation, Lady Wisdom, was in fact, well, a lady. She brings balance to the otherwise male Trinity. Father, Son, and Mother. Because, duh, nobody comes into existence without a mother.
The Hebrew word for Spirit is Ru’ah which is feminine. When it got translated into Greek, it became Pneuma, which is gender neutral. Finally, by the time the Roman Empire co-opted Christianity for its own political purposes of power and control in the 4th century, Her name gets translated into Latin as Espiritu Sancto. Male.
Many early Christians were adamant about keeping the integrity of the Divine Mother, and so in Latin they always said Espirita Sancta (Female), because the language allows for that. The Empire tortured Christians who refused to call the Holy Spirit male. Whole churches of faithful Mother worshippers were burned alive inside their churches, thrown into the colosseum, or otherwise murdered by the Roman army because they refused to say "Espiritu Sancto." There were likely as many female priestesses and apostles as there were men, and a shit-ton of men were putting their lives on the line for these powerful women leaders.
So what’s the big deal? Why would so many thousands of early Christians not budge on one little gender pronoun, to the point that they gave up their lives to defend this? The answer lies in the way the early Church conducted their community. They truly believed in an equal society where “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28). Stop for a moment and let that sink in. That is a group of badass radicals who are bucking the system and saying “NO MORE!” to any form of hierarchy. They knew that if the Holy Spirit lost Her gender, all women would lose their respect and sacredness within the Church! And they were right. We did.
For the last 1500 years, women have had to bow down to an exclusively male God. We have been going to church and never seeing ourselves as included in that select circle of holiness. We could never have the option of being sacred like men. Men had been going to church for 1500 years and having the privilege of looking at Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and having the warm fuzzy feeling that they were looking in the mirror, that they were good and lovable because they were made in God’s image. They also internalized that women were unholy, unclean, and unworthy, apart from the image of God. Men belonged in the circle of God’s trinitarian love. Women did not. Hearing all male pronouns and metaphors over and over drove this home to the point of defeat and degradation. (e.g. Lord, Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Father God, The Son, etc).
The Holy Spirit Mother, Ru’ah, Shekina, the First and Primal Force of all Creation, Espirita Sancta, Divine Lady Wisdom is calling us to bring her back from the grave where the Empire-Church buried her. She has been slandered, harassed, abused, mocked, degraded, and worst of all, erased. She is crying out with all the hurting women of the world, #Metoo!! #Metoo!! She is calling to all women (yes, including, and perhaps especially, trans women) to rediscover our sacred holiness, to reconnect with and love our bodies, to bring our unique and necessary healing power into the world!
The Holy Spirit Mother is calling to all the men of the world to get to know her, to bring her back from the dead! To find healing in her gentle and magnificent Love! To find their own gentleness and forgiveness. To find the courage and ferocity of a protective MamaBear, to channel the Divine Mother when they are called as men to stand up to violence against women.
Please, for the sake of all women, for trans and non-binary people, don’t mis-gender our Mother. For the sake of all men who need permission and encouragement to connect with their holy “feminine” qualities, please don’t mis-gender our Mother. Please, for the sake of the world, for the sake of balance and peace, stop mis-gendering our Mother.
Photo: 7th c. Bavarian Christian fresco of the Trinity, with the Holy Mother in the Middle.
I don't know about ya'll, but I have never felt so justified in hating others as I have in the last 6 months. The things being done to and said about fellow human beings in the name of "security" and "free speech" are appalling.
So naturally, when NeoNazis, Klan members, and other white supremacist hate groups gather in Charlottesville, it is our civic and human duty to gather and show them that we can meet their hate with more hate, their ignorance with self righteous indignation!
*Record scratch* Wait, hold up.
Of course there is a call, a rallying cry to stand up for justice, equality, and equal rights for all! Of course we must show up when hatred rears its ugly head and we must say "NO." But is meeting the "enemy" with hatred and scorn necessary for effective action? Is shouting and name-calling and swinging a bigger stick the missing ingredient for the recipe toward peace?
Obviously, the question is rhetorical. So why is it so hard to remove ourselves from the cycle of violence?
For me, the answer is slowing gaining clarity. We do not yet fully trust that love and compassion can be an equally strong force in this world. Anger is motivating. It gives us a charge of energy that can be felt coursing through the body. Our heart rate accelerates, body temperature rises, adrenaline surges. On the surface, it seems the perfect activist fuel to fight the powers that be, to stick it to the Man! How could piddly ol' Love possibly compare to the motivating power of anger and hate, of being against something?
If you're anything like me, this is where the line of reasoning usually stops, and we just go on with our thoughts, comments, and actions as usual (e.g. they suck, you're stupid, the world is f---ed). Thankfully, on my good days, I can recall the higher truths from the great Teachers. Let's start with the Buddha, when he says,
"In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible."
Never?? C'mon Mr. Buddha, isn't that hyperbole? Surely hatred has some role to play in our collective human evolution. Besides, anger just feels good, so it must be good....right?
The point here is that meeting hatred with hatred (a.k.a. revenge) sets us into motion in an ongoing cycle of suffering. If we closely examine our lives, this becomes obvious. When I spend most of my interior energy on reliving the hurt and pain inflicted upon me and imagining the ways my oppressor will suffer, I immediately enter the cycle of suffering. The truth that is often missed here is that even if I don't ever verbalize or act on my anger, I still enter the cycle of suffering because in my angry rumination, I become miserable. I feel trapped and on fire. It's not pleasant. There is no value added to my life or the lives of those around me.
Luckily, there is an alternative. That is solution-based thinking. Thinking, speaking, and acting with love. Love can also be a very motivating force. Consider for a moment a parent's fierce and protective love for their child. Consider the way they understand where their child's pain is coming from, even when the child is hurting them. This love is consistent, persistent, and undying. It is strong and filled with compassion. We all have access to this type of motivating love for others, if we can slow down enough to understand the "other."
This is a perfect time to consider another amazing teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. He says,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek,
turn to them the other cheek also."
Let's imagine for a moment that Homeboy was being literal. Someone, in an impulsive and angry fit, slaps you across the face. If you were to slap them back, we all know what would happen: at worst, a full-out brawl ending in death, or, at best, an angry exchange of words ending in the two of you storming off in a huff, likely never to speak to each other again.
Now let's re-live the scene. Someone, in an impulsive and angry fit, slaps you across the face. You remain silent and wait for them to hit you again. At worst, the person is still seeing red and slaps you again. At best, they hesitate because this pause has given them the time to think, to feel guilty, to notice your humanity. They don't hit you again. (If they did slap you twice, they would naturally pause after the second hit if they were met with silence).
Of course, this metaphor of the other cheek works on a personal level as well as a societal one. Jesus understood on a deep level that ancient and inexhaustible law that hate has never yet dispelled hate. It's just never worth it to hit back. It only makes things worse. This is why he didn't defend himself as he was being mocked, whipped, and eventually executed. He knew that only love dispels hate.
Might this inexhaustible law also apply to us in 21st century America? Love need not be silent. Love need not roll over and just "take it." Love, in all its wisdom and creativity, can speak Truth to power. Love can unite the masses. Love can connect us across borders, political boundaries, racial lines, and religions. So as the world rages on and ramps up, may we take pause to reflect on our anger. But only as long as is needed before we act in Love and in Power! For here is our final vision:
"They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore."
How will we ever get there, if not by Love?
I'm a Spiritual Director, Enneagram Educator, and Liberationist-Buddhist-Universalist-Mystic-12 step-Queer-Christian. Playing with questions, answers, and surrender.