In recognition of black history month I’m leading with inspiration I received from The Embodied Social Justice Summit that I just attended.
This particular summit informed, healed and confirmed prayers in this life stream that I am happy to see manifesting in powerful and beautiful ways. I attended Boston University School of Theology, the home of Martin Luther King in the early 80’s. I wrote and performed sacred dramas (a form of liturgical dance) mostly around the abuse of authoritative power, namely sexual violation. Faculty and community members joined me to take this service to chapels, centers and prisons for women. The drama gave the audience an opportunity to break a silent code and step into a sacred brave space to write or speak their secret and begin the journey of healing.
Ironically for me, this came to an abrupt halt after a sexual violation by my male spiritual mentor Father Jim— a tall muscular charismatic man clothed in vestments that did not match his flirtatious personality. He was secretly involved with five women within the parish. I regularly attended his 7am mass along with my friend, a former nun with experience in uncovering the secret codes of men beneath liturgical vestments.
Completely shocked by the slap on the hand and transfer that Fr. Jim received for his “confused” behavior I took leave to what was called The Kripalu Yoga and Health Ashram. Initially, I froze, then I fled. I lived in a dorm with 80 other white woman and hid behind austere yogic practices while receiving one certificate after another. Was this a “spiritual bypass?” I don’t know. Spiritual bypass is something I continue to explore as a strategy, a topic for another blog.
Until that time my ministerial training walked hand in hand with my Black colleagues. Now, with the emergence of “Black Lives Matter,” I remember the powerful engagement I felt living in Boston amidst diversity and participating in social activism as an integral aspect of spiritual development. I relished the opportunity to walk in a line of woman down the isle at St Mary’s Cathedral as a line of men walked in the opposite isle to receive ordination sanctioned by ancient theological superiority. Ours was a silent peaceful protest exhibiting colorful signs requesting the ordination of women rooted in universal divinity. As I recall these provocative times, I hear the voices of conservative Catholics that sat in the front pews yelling at us: “Go home. You belong in the kitchen. Your job is to make babies.” The entire display intrigued progressive news channels that gave us a brief interview.
Given the life with my twins that I’ve come to accept as marginalized, I’m excited about the noteworthy collective rise in people committed to healing collective trauma, global liberation, unlearning oppressive social and cultural systems and repairing our relationship to each other and mother earth. My work has always focused on the power of love and will continue to follow this stream of dedication. I’m actively integrating the courage within my soul that I unconsciously numbed along the way. Habits of disconnection, shame and reactivity continue to linger as a result of the tragedy our family experienced at Stanford hospital twenty four years ago. In the past several years, a deeper inquiry shows me how this incident is linked to a larger historical story of collective trauma toward bodies of women and people of color.
Participating in this summit opened me to understand that the perpetrator also experiences trauma. I feel this to be true every time I lose my cool and spout an unkind action. It never feels good until I make amends. This summit has already past yet I am sure there will be more like this. The recordings are available to purchase. These are some of the questions explored:
- How can we reimagine and embrace new forms of activism?
- How do we take effective action in the world to respond to social issues?
- How do we become the change we wish to see, and what does that look like from an embodied perspective?
- How can we stay grounded and centered and increase our capacity for sustainable change?
I am very eager to deepen my capacity for sustainability. At the end of the day I want to feel I have done my very best to insure a more equitable world for my children, their children and all of the children to come. In the words of Reverend Angel Kyodo Williams: “Love and Justice can not be separated.”