Sunday, April 26, 2015

'Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience'

'Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience' is the name of a book by Elizabeth Dodson Gray that I read during our travels, filling time on the plane rides.  I picked it up at this spot in our laundry area where our fellow apartment dwellers (and ourselves) will leave things, like books, coffeepots, various other household items and, just this week, I saw a ratty sombrero!  I grabbed two books; if I didn't like one, then I could try the other!

'Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience' is a collection of autobiographical stories, written in topics such as: Women's Creativity, Creating Sacred Space, Feeding as Sacred Ritual and Our Bodies as Sacred.

I am not a "traditionally" spiritual person as the women authors in this book are; however, the concept of the sacred, especially as it relates to the divinity within women, is part of my personal spiritual practice. 

I would like to share some passages that struck a chord with me.

From the Introduction:

A woman walks the tightrope of her life as an accomplished high wire artist, making it look easy to juggle many balls while riding a bicycle and keeping aloft a pink parasol.

But I now feel that finding my own voice and listening and connecting to the voices of other women so that together we form a collective women's voice, is sacred work.

My power emerges from the wellsprings of who I am and reaches out to touch and connect with the lives of other women on similar journeys.

I am a conscious celebrant of the possible.

What I have come to see is that in our ability to live our creativity daily and in our search for such creativity, we can look as high as our creating life itself and living, and as low as the table set, the meal cooked and consumed, the dishes washed and put away.  And we begin in this creativity again and again and again.

From Caregiving:

Back in the kitchen, I look out the window at the huge maple in my yard.  Losing its leaves, it is prepared for another winter, I muse at its majesty and think I, too, must let go of the past season's fruit and growth to meet empty-handed tomorrow.

In describing the wisdom that is available to those who take the time to listen to the aged, (Irene) Burnside points out that the aged can teach us about life, death, courage, love and generosity.  They are a "distinguished faculty without formal classrooms, tenure, sabbaticals.  They teach not from books but from long experience in living."

In these moments of deep harmony together as mother and daughter, I was slowly becoming aware of the healing presence of the sacred.

Listening has become for me not only the language of love buy my pathway to an increasing consciousness of the sacred.

From Creating Sacred Space:

We moved to an intuitive response to the potential of water as a symbol of women's spirituality.

Recalling this now, I find myself thinking of God when God made the first rainbow, perhaps asking Herself, Does this color go right next to that color?

If our sensual and sexual lives are a gift from God given to us by the gift of our bodies and our lives and our love, then bedrooms should facilitate by scent (perfume, incense), by sound (music), and by sight a holy and satisfying erotic life.

The rooms my friend created in house after house tracked the changes in her life and spirits as they unfolded decade by decade.

Surrounding the primal pair are whirling lotus spheres, potent with Shakti, female cosmic energy, the activating force of nature.

Even more important, there is the need to acknowledge and honor those biological changes in our bodies which are unique to us as women and which constitute our rites of passage.  We need to honor our body changes of menstruation, sexual initiation, and menopause.

It is a tapping into the collective ground water that flows among us; the collective energy of the goddess, the liberating, transforming power which is in each of our sisters and in the sister within our brothers.

We must lift up life-giving symbols and keep them before us as symbols of our woman's identity, symbols of our empowerment, our questioning, our imagination and creativity, our energy and loyalty, our nurturing and love.

From Doing Housework:

Cleaning the house becomes a metaphor for opening the heart; I am literally cleansed when I am working with the right intention.

The linking back in time provided by this kind of knowledge is one of the major benefits that ritual enactment bestows on its participants.  In such enactment women celebrate the unstoried pattern of Hestia, goddess of the hearth.

From Feeding as Sacred Ritual:

Woman is as common as a loaf of bread, and like a loaf of bread, will rise.

Such work becomes sacred, I now think, when we focus creative energy into doing something, or making something, that contributes to the health and healing, to the well-being and wholeness, of ourselves and others.

From Our Bodies Are Sacred:

In this bonding women are beginning to accept and affirm our natural diversity of size, shape, weight, handicap, age, race, and sexual orientation.

As she felt the fathomless power of this place, she had a sudden vision, a voice--perhaps ancestral, perhaps her own--ringing in her mind's ear saying, "I am the oldest temple.  This, my body, is the oldest temple."

The ending of one family and the beginning of a "family of choice" is just as sacred as traditional definitions of family.

I have learned to trust that when my writing is most open and vulnerable, it is also most powerful, most likely to touch a chord and to influence change in others.

It is not surprising that in Western societies the Crone aspect of the goddess of earlier times has never existed in any of her forms except in a negative way. 

However the old witch is not burned at the stake any more.  She has been replaced by the benign grandmother who, unlike the witch, is perceived as a useless object.

Yes, my body is myself, and related to the universe.  It is indeed sacred.

...rejoicing is the flow of Being in the universe.  This rejoicing, this flow of being, is the intention of creation.  This is the intention of the overflowing and bubbling up energy of creativity which has brought everything in this 193-billion galaxy universe into being.

It had perfect places but I had to seek them out and enjoy them and make use of them.  Then like the birds and their nests, I had to sense changes and know I'd seek other perfect places, other places to sing and to be.

Perhaps we have only to step one microsecond to the side, into our own centeredness, to find that deep connectedness to the whole chorus, and to come home again to ourselves.

Welcome Home!!!


  1. what a jewel you found in the most unlikely of places. As with any reading you take what you need and move on. Sounds like a good read.

    1. Would you like me to send it to you?? :)

  2. Replies
    1. I need to get an envelope, then I can get it to the post office.

    2. Let me know when you have received it! I mailed it Wednesday afternoon!


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