Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with the feminine. But mostly, it was hate. I knew few women that I could relate to, let alone admire. Of course, my almost-loathing for the feminine was a reflection of a deep loathing for myself. It is only in the past couple of years that I have reclaimed what it means to be female and to see the value in the feminine. I have been blessed with women in my life who I admire and respect and deeply love; the foremost of these women is me.
Of late, I have gravitated towards books about spiritual women, wanting to see what the female experience of "enlightenment" looks like. I blogged about this here. I just finished reading Rita Marie Robinson's book "Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom: The Feminine Face of Awakening". This book was incredible to read. I found myself nodding a lot as well as smiling and laughing out loud, crying and otherwise responding with a silent yes! Finally, women I could relate to. Women I could respect. Women I could aspire to. Women just like me.
I was browsing recently through a second-hand bookstore. I often choose books intuitively. I will scan book spines until one appears to jump off the shelf. And then I'll read the back, smile and take the book home, knowing it was meant for me to read at that moment. One such book is "The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred In Women" by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins. This book, written, in 1991, chronicles the journey of many women as they define for themselves what spirituality and the divine mean. It is an inspiring look at the sacred feminine in everyday life.
Again, I feel as if I'm being given a profound gift through this book. The gift of spending time looking into the lives of women whose experience mirrors my own. I feel at times these women are sitting in my kitchen discussing life over a cup of tea. And we look into each others eyes knowingly with a silent yes streaming from our hearts. As with my naming ceremony this past weekend, I feel a coming home occurring, as if I am sinking into my own skin, feeling oh so content to be here, to be a women, to be me.
This one quote from a woman interviewed for the book struck me:
""I felt I wasn't very far along," a former student of Tibetan Buddhism told us, as she described leaving the teacher she revered. "I felt I never would get anywhere on my own. But then something arose in me, a trust that something in my life itself was the teacher. And I thought, 'It isn't a tradition that's going to get me where I need to go. And I don't have to become a nun or live in a cloister either. There is a gnosis, a direct inner knowing, that is driving me. It's not somebody else's tradition now; it's mine, and I have to follow it.""
I have blogged often and much about the ongoing experiment I call my life. And this is how I live now, with this direct inner knowing, this sense that I must lead my own path, that I will not rely on anyone ever again to direct my life, that it is mine and mine alone. I remember a moment last summer where I sent out a wish into the ether. I asked to be able to experience life directly. I was no longer content with thinking about life or writing about life or analyzing it from the north shore, I wanted to get into life directly and feel it without restriction. And life has obliged my wish. It is raw. It is mucky. And it is altogether wonderful.