April 1, 2014
When Sleeping Women Wake, Mountains Move
a talk given by Melina Rudman to the UCC Women's Celebration
in Portland, ME on March 29, 2014
Good afternoon. I love words: I love to read them, write them and share them. Here are four quotes that have guided me as I prayed and wrote this talk.
When sleeping women wake, mountains move. - Chinese proverb
Jesus said, "I say to you, that if you had faith like the grain of a mustard seed, you may say to this mountain, 'Move from here,' and it will move, and nothing will be difficult for you. - Matthew 17:20
Once we are awake to who we are, we stop playing small and we stop trying to be special; our lives shift from one of strategy and greed to a life of serving and showing up as who we are in any way we can.- Charmelie Ardagh
Dare to let that holy flame within you grow hot and dangerous and you will look the world straight in the eyes and say.... - Charmelie Ardagh
Thank you for inviting me to be with you here today and for choosing to be with me this lunch-time. I hope you are enjoying yourselves and that all you consume here, food for body and soul, nourishes you.
We need nourishing, don't we? The women I speak to are hungry and thirsty. Hungry for peace, for justice, for kindness and for the power to bring these good things into a warring, unjust and cruel world. We are thirsting for respect, for equity and for self-actualization. Generally speaking, women's souls and the soul of woman, have been experiencing a 5000 year drought. But the gentle rains have begun to fall and small freshets of water are wearing away the mountains that have kept us from the promised land, from the Kingdom of God.
Like the Beloved in the Song of Songs we say, "...I am darkened by the sun. My mother's sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I have neglected ...." We are worn and weathered by caring for vines we did not plant and whose fruit we do not want. They are vines rooted in patriarchy, and their fruit is soured by violence, greed and oppression. We have been forced to tend them by the old power structures within our social mores, theologies and through physical violence. These vines are old and deeply rooted into the terraces of today's metaphorical mountains - religion, culture, business, politics, defense - they support these structures that would otherwise fall from their own weight. Tending them props them up and takes so much energy that we have become like share-croppers with no time to tend our own vines. We work hard ensuring the survival of what does not sustain us and then fall exhausted into troubled sleep. But the rumble of thunder echoing across the night sky is waking us up, and we are throwing off the heavy blankets that have kept our spirits covered.
I am someone who believes in the creative power of conscious and intentional imagination. I believe we cannot safely create what we have not imagined first. (I think we create all kinds of problems when we don't use our imaginations.) So, let's take a few moments to imagine the world we want to create: the world we want our children and grandchildren to live in. Try to resist the temptation to focus on problems. Instead see what you want and not what you don't want.
Close your eyes, or let your gaze soften, and imagine the world you would choose to live in. What would our cities be like? The countryside? Take a deep breath in this world and notice what the air smells like. Imagine sipping from a glass of water ... how does it taste? What would your daily work be? What would we teach our children? How would we worship God? How would we gather in community?
When you are ready, bring your awareness back to the large group.
What you imagined is part of your heart and soul's desire. It is what will grow when we stop fearing the anger of our brothers and begin tending our own vineyards. Our imagination will seed the clouds; our love will build the soil; our hands will plant new vines. Together we can do this.
Malala Yousafzai is a cloud-seeder and a mountain mover. She imagined a world where girls are afforded the same educational opportunities as boys. Malala is the 16 year old Pakistani woman who survived being shot in the head by a Talib for her advocacy of girls. She was in a small school bus on her way home from school when the van was stopped by a man with a gun. He boarded the vehicle and asked which of them was Malala. She responded, "I am." He lifted his gun, pulled the trigger and shot her in the head. Somehow she survived and was taken to London for treatment and recovery. She and her family still live there. She told Jon Stewart in an interview on The Daily Show that she forgives her assailant. Listen to the courage in this statement: "The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing has changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born." Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born. May this be so for us all. Malala is wide awake and I can hear a mountain crumbling into the sea. Can you hear it?
TO BE CONTINUED...