A Simple Story for Our Time, by Ruth Scott

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A short story by Ruth Scott.

Once, we stood on the brink of the abyss. It all seems so unreal to me now. Like some half-forgotten nightmare. But it did happen. I need only look at the strange plant growing on my desk to know that. For you my story may some unbelievable. I can only say that in wartime everything that does not make sense happens, even the absurd. Listen, then, to my tale, for though it be absurd it is true.

The madness began in some now-forgotten state on the other side of the world. Surrounding countries found themselves drawn reluctantly into the conflict. Major powers far removed from the situation tried to intervene. Foreign armies invaded the land they sought to rescue from oppression. Violence escalated. Somehow political and religious divisions became entangled with one another. The change was insidious. Even I, the chief peace negotiator, could not see how it happened.

One moment people were allies, the next they were enemies. Men of different faiths who had lived peaceably together for generations now took up arms against each other. Peacemakers became warmongers. Guns silenced the songs of dreamers and storytellers. The feet of children danced the dance of death before they had learnt the steps of life. Bombs obliterated the beauty of the earth. Darkness invaded the human soul.

Those of us who were not killed retreated underground. We survived as best we could on ever dwindling supplies of food and water. Across the earth incarcerated men, women and children watched and waited for the end to come. Occasionally we ventured above ground foraging for food, but for the most part we stayed entombed beneath the rocks. We lived in a twilight zone where night and day were no longer distinguishable. When the oil lamps ran out of fuel, and the last candle guttered away, we lived as the blind. Some tried to carve out a little comfort in their caves, but many sat vacantly hour upon hour, too shocked to function, withdrawing into themselves as they waited for death to come.

For our part, my partner and I tried to keep cheerful. For the sake of our children we could not give in to despair. We invented games and tried to keep active, feeling our way around the system of tunnels in complete darkness. But the hours were long, and without adequate food and water we became listless.

“When will we go home?” the children asked.

“Soon, very soon,” we said. We did not want them to know their fate. We did not want them to know that this would be their last resting place. We wanted them to die without fear in their hearts, and we prayed that we might live long enough to prevent them dying alone.

Then one day, into the desolation of that subterranean world I shared with my family, there came a strange company. Who they were, who sent them, and how they found me I do not know. Suffice to say, they wanted me to return with them to the outside world. I listened in silence to their invitation. In silence I hugged my partner and children. In silence I followed the strangers, and left behind all that I held most dear.

The journey that I embarked upon is of little consequence. It was long and I spent much of the time blindfolded. That was no hardship. I was used to the dark. I did not feel like talking and my companions spoke only in answer to my rare questions. I was left in silence to prepare for the work ahead. Firm hands moved me from helicopter to plane to truck, and finally guided my stumbling footsteps to their destination.

When the blindfold was removed the light was agonising. I felt sick with the pain of it. As my eyes adjusted I saw I was standing in a large underground bunker. I was given food, meagre in amount, but more than I had seen for some time. I was offered a little water to drink. It was dirty, and tasted of chemicals, but I drank it as if it had come from the clearest mountain stream.

In the centre of the room stood a vast round table surrounded with chairs. I sat down and waited. I felt nothing. Perhaps that was just as well: Hope terrifies the desperate, and I could not afford to be terrified.

A door opened and a line of silent men filed in to the room. Soon the seats at the table were occupied. Around me sat the leaders of the world – men of every race and religion – war-weary and wary-faced. When the last man was settled they turned expectantly to me. Thus began our final attempt to broker peace.

At first, we seemed to be making progress, but as the hours passed the atmosphere chilled and the hostility grew. Time and again we hit against immovable beliefs that could not be reconciled. Political Treaties and Holy Scriptures were waved in evidence for this or that view. I tried to keep the leaders on track, to help them notice what they were doing and where their approach might lead, but they did not listen. Once measured voices now rose in anger and condemnation. Fists banged on the table. Accusations ricocheted around the room. Chairs scraped as men rose to interrupt one another. Calls for order were ignored. Hopes for peace were dashed against the rocks of human intransigence. Images of my own family flashed across my mind. I tried to shut them out. Despair began to seep through my bones. Suddenly a scream sliced through the chaos!

Screams are the common currency of a world at war. At the height of battle they go unheard. Only in the lull after the storm of conflict do they return to haunt the memory of the hearer. But here, away from the dirt and the dread and the destruction, the response was an immediate shocked silence.

The source of the scream was an old woman. She was sitting at the table – a mere sparrow amongst this company of eagle-eyed men. Her huddled bony figure was all but covered in a torn black shawl. Only her walnut-wrinkled face and tiny wisps of silver hair were visible. Dark eyes twinkled out at the startled men around her. To this day I do not know how she came unnoticed to that place.

For a few moments the old woman did not move at all. Then, from under her shawl, she whipped out an object the size of a football. The men around the table stiffened in their seats. Was it a bomb? Before anyone could act, the old woman delved beneath her shawl once more. Delegates flinched as a knife flashed through the air. It plunged into the mysterious object with a soft…shloop. It was nothing more than a piece of fruit, yet it was unlike any fruit I had ever come across before. The gnarled and leathery skin was of the deepest purple that ebbed and flowed as the light caught it. Where the knife penetrated, thick clear golden juice oozed from the incision. The ancient one sliced again. A segment fell away from the fruit. To my amazement the flesh was not golden like the juice, as I had expected, but the most brilliant and translucent aquamarine. At the centre blood red seeds glistened.

To those of us who had lived for so long with the greyness of a polluted and dying earth, the colours were breath-taking. Perhaps that is why we did not protest as the woman shared the fruit among us.

I will remember the taste of that fruit for the rest of my life. It spread out from the tip of my tongue and melted through every cell in my body. At one and the same time it soothed and electrified, warmed and refreshed me. I felt utterly complete.

“What is this?” I asked.

The old woman did not reply. Instead she looked from one delegate to the next and waited. Eventually one of the leaders turned to me and spoke,

“When I was young, and the land was still good, I lived on the edge of a great prairie. It spread out before me as far as my eye could see. When the wind blew and the grass bent to its will, it was like sailing upon a never-ending ocean, and I felt wild and strong and immortal. Such feeling does this strange fruit reawaken within me. It must indeed be Prairie Fruit.”

Before I could respond a short thickset man stood up,

“I understand nothing of what you say. I come from a land of snow and ice, where bitter winds freeze the very tears in your eyes. After long days hunting we would return home to blazing fires prepared by our womenfolk. The heat slowly thawed our chilled bodies and feeling returned to numbed hands and feet. It was like being bathed in warm oil. As I bit into this fruit, I remembered that bliss, and so I know that this is Fire Fruit.”

“How can that be?” demanded a bronzed man wrapped in flowing robes, “Where I come from the sun burns down. Its fire brings death to fragile desert life. As we travelled through the heat, we longed for the shade and cool of the next oasis. To plunge our hands into the clear waters beneath the date palms was to dive into heaven. Thus I know this is an Oasis Fruit, and would that I knew from which oasis it came.”

These words brought protestations from other delegates. They, too, knew the nature of the fruit, and it was not as others had described it. It was alternately Love Fruit, Rainbow Fruit, Snow Fruit, and so on; as many names as there were people around the table. For a while it looked as though the debate was going to get out of hand once more, but then a young man stood up.

“Wait, wait,” he cried, “Has war damaged our minds so much that we can no longer think? This fruit is beyond what any of us ever imagined fruit could be like. We do not know what it is or where it comes from, so we describe it in the light of experiences and places familiar to us. Our images are inevitably limited. They mean nothing to those who have not shared our experiences, but they convey much to those who live as we do. Might it not then be possible that we are all right according to what we know, and that we are all wrong according to what we do not know?”

For the first time in that gathering there was a general murmur of agreement. I should have been glad but I was furious. It is not the task of negotiators to allow our own personal position to enter the process of negotiation, but I could contain myself no longer.

“You have all seen, touched and tasted the same fruit. Your descriptions appear contradictory. How can Fire Fruit and Ice fruit, for example, be one and the same fruit? Yet they are, and you understand and accept why this is so.”

I hesitated, struggling to find the right words. My heart thumped in my chest and my breath came in short gasps. I felt an almost physical pain.

“For the same reasons will you not also have many different pictures and names for the source of all being, meaning and purpose, which is far less tangible. You do not even understand each other, so how can you claim to understand that which is immeasurably more than any one person can comprehend? How many more people must die from the diseases of arrogance, blind ignorance and egotistical power?”

When I finished speaking there was, for a moment, complete silence in the room. I slumped back in my chair, embarrassed by my outburst. I looked across at the old woman and I saw her eyes fill with tears. Slowly they spilled down her cheeks and splashed upon the table. I have heard it said that when someone cries in ancient myths and fairy-tales, it is a moment of cleansing. I know that to be true now. From the depths of the ancient one came a sound like I have never heard before. It was as if the very earth itself was crying out its agony. Perhaps it was. The frail body was wracked by uncontrollable anguish that filled the room and shook the walls. The roof above us split asunder with a deafening crack. How it was that no one was hurt, I do not know. Indeed it was not until afterwards that I realised what had happened, so transfixed was I by the old woman’s sobs. Somehow her anguish penetrated to the very core of my being. Every carefully constructed emotional defence crumbled in the face of her tears. I found myself crying like a baby, crying like I had not cried since I was a child – great uninhibited wails that turned me inside out.

Had I been in a state to notice, I would have seen this same effect in each of the men around the table, and in those hidden in the shadows. The woman wailed on and we wailed on, and the sound of weeping spread. It seeped through the space where the roof had been. It was carried on the turbulent air currents of war, and rippled through the rocks as if through water. It echoed around the Earth. The people in hiding wept their way out of the tunnels and bomb shelters that enclosed them. Tombs became wombs forcing out life into the world. The tears of the living fell upon the parched earth, and the tears became streams. The streams became rivers and the rivers became seas. The heat trapped by the polluted atmosphere evaporated some of the water, which formed into cloud and was blown across the arid mountains before falling as rain. Where the rain fell tiny seeds, long buried in the dead earth, germinated and put forth new shoots.

I do not know for how long we cried. Caught up in the eternity of the present moment, time lost all meaning. It was not until I came to myself that I realised what had happened. With the startled amazement of a child emerging from a violent tantrum I looked around in disbelief. Suddenly I was outside the madness that had seemed so rational and so right. So it was with the men around me.

Of the old woman there was no sign. For a moment I wondered if I had dreamt her existence. Perhaps she had been nothing more than a delusion erupting from the mind of desperate people trying to escape the futility of their last few hours of life. But this could not be so, for there, on the table, a handful of blood red seeds lay scattered in a pool of perfumed juice, glistening gold in the light of a new dawn.

© Ruth Scott 2018. Copyright is with the author, please do not reproduce without permission.

Join us on Friday June 1 at 6.30pm for the next – and last! –  event in the series, Darkness, Imperfection and the Feminine, with Justine Huxley and Ruth Scott. Book tickets here!

ruthRuth Scott is a facilitator, trainer and mediator. She was among the first women ordained as priests in the Church of England in 1994. She has subsequently become a member of the Quakers. For the last 20 years she has worked primarily in the field of conflict transformation.

For many years she worked in interfaith dialogue with Muslim and Jewish colleagues here and abroad, most particularly as a committee member of the Interfaith Foundation. She runs a workshop, Women Together, Standing Tall, for survivors of sexual violence, which she led first in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for women raped as a weapon of war. She returns regularly to Egypt to run the workshop for women who have experienced FGM and sexual abuse. Most recently she has facilitated training for Iraqi civil and religious leaders working to address religious intolerance and hatred in Iraq. She was on the Design and Facilitator Teams commissioned by the House of Bishops to run the series of Shared Conversations across the Church of England around issues of human sexuality, and continues to work as a mediator and facilitator in Church conflicts.

She was a BBC Radio 2 ‘Pause for Thought’ presenter for 18 years, and broadcasts regularly with Chris Evans and Clare Balding. She runs retreats, and lectures and leads workshops here and abroad on leadership, trauma and working constructively with conflict. Her fourth book, The Power of Imperfection, came out in 2014.

Morning Office with Holy Mother God, by Rev. Samantha Wernham

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Icon of Sophia by Dr Mary Plaster

I start most days by greeting Leo and Serenity, two beautiful cats that share their lives and loves with me, and together we step out into the early morning garden to meet the community of life that we are part of. There are prayers of blessing to be silently offered over the mint and lemon balm, now that spring has returned and there are fresh leaves for morning tea again. Serenity likes to join me, as I light a candle before the icons on my altar and then settle down to drink tea and chant my Morning Office. Or if it’s warm, we sit out on the deck beside the wild patch and my prayers are woven through with birdsong.

Like many Christians in the spiritual community throughout the world that we call the holy mother church, I work with the ‘First English Prayer Book’, which was written by a mostly anonymous group in 1549 (probably solely composed of men but who knows?) and which draws upon prayers and scripture that root back into several millennia of Christian and Jewish tradition. I have consciously chosen to work with tradition and yet I also feel free to innovate and re-create it day by day, to reflect my experience as a woman. So I change the words somewhat and make up my own tunes. I use my imagination and intuition. I use movement and gesture, scents and sensing and I dig deep into stories to restore and reclaim the women and the more than human beings who are present there. I feel strongly about this. I meet many people who are highly critical and rejecting of Christian tradition, as I once was (and still sometimes am) and yet these days I mostly feel that it’s no longer good enough for me personally to turn away from the tradition I was born into, without looking more closely and making a little more effort. Also I feel a heart response, a response-ability to all the women who have walked the Christian way, whether silenced, overlooked or not, to honour their journey, their wisdom and inspiration.

So I began this morning, as I often do, by changing the word “Lord’ while still keeping the poetry of traditional devotional language:

Beloved open thou my lips
and my mouth shall show forth thy praise
Holy Mother make speed to save us
Our Lady make haste to help us

As I slowly chant, I feel my heart unfurl and that the wonder of life truly is something to delight in and to praise. I think of all that is being hurt and destroyed and that I long to be saved on the good earth and I choose to trust that there is some greater mystery at play that holds my yearning for healing and transformation. As the traditional service continues to unfold, the earth and all angels are acknowledged as sharing in the great outpouring of praise and celebration of the divine source, ‘heaven and earth are full of thy glory’. When I imagine heaven, I draw upon my Celtic ancestry and the indigenous forms of Christian expression that flourished after the Romans left Britain in the fifth century. I imagine the ‘Otherworld’, a heaven of subtle senses and presences that are woven in together with embodied sense and earthy beings. Today the glorious reality of heaven and earth is angelic orange tip butterflies flitting among the fresh green of spring nettles.

Crossing the thresholds of worlds continues as the service moves on to remember Apostles (I think of Mary Magdalene, Mother Mary, Thecla and others), Prophets (I imagine Miriam, Deborah and more), the communion of Saints (I picture Theresa of Avila, Clare of Assisi, Mother Julian or my more recent heroines such as Annie Dillard, Adrienne Rich…) I feel myself surrounded by a great cloud of women witnesses over countless generations. My Trinity is of a Mother God, her Son and the Holy Spirit, named in Hebrew Bat Kol – daughter of the voice.

Next comes scripture reading – met in sacred silence and explored through the imagination. A recent reading spoke of Sophia – divine wisdom:

Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand.

My way of sacred reading, whether of the ’small book’ of the Bible or the ‘big book’ of nature is inspired by a traditional method developed by Francis de Sales in the sixteenth century, who invites engaging through meditation with the head and the heart, imaginatively entering into the ‘story’ and then distilling from our thoughts and feelings a simple intention and embodied action that we can carry into the day. So I am struck in the passage above by the potential to meet wisdom ‘along the way’, that any encounter ‘where paths meet’ may contain a wisdom teaching. So I re-dedicate myself today to trying to be more present and receptive to those moments of encounter with the human or more than human world and whether easy or difficult. Perhaps in this writing there may be a moment of encounter with you, dear reader?

My Morning Office with Holy Mother God ends in prayer that reaches out into the world. It’s as if the energy of the early parts of the service, from the devotional praise, celebration and the inspiration of sacred reading, is then offered back to the world. I pray for all the beings who share this space I call home, for neighbours and neighbourhoods, for a widening circle of life in all its beauties and horrors. I finish with my slightly adapted versions of the ‘Collects’ (prayers in which we collect our heart and mind and recollect what matters most) for peace and grace. These help to root me into a deeper place of trust as I move into another full working day and to remind me of the reason I am dedicated to Christian leadership and ministry – to love and serve life.

Holy Mother, who art author of peace, and lover of concord
in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom:
defend us, thy humble servants, from making the other our enemy,
that we surely trusting in thee, may not fear the power of any adversity.

All loving and ever living God, which hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day:
defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we do fall into forgetfulness
but that all beings may be held with love and wisdom
and we may do what is right, whole and holy in thy sight.

Amen

by Samantha Wernham.

Resources:
For more about women and the sacred feminine in the Jewish and Christian traditions, you might like to dip into:
The Book of ‘Proverbs’ in the Bible, especially Chapter 9
‘The Hebrew Goddess’ by Raphael Patai
’She Who Is’ by Elizabeth A. Johnson
‘Band of Angels – The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women’ by Kate Cooper
‘Goddess and God in the World – Conversations in Embodied Theology’ by Carol. P Christ and Judith Plaskow
anything by Mirabai Starr

For art & icons by Dr. Mary Plaster, see http://www.maryplaster.com/

Join Samantha Wernham at our next event on Friday May 4 at 6.30pm, The Feminine and Spiritual Authority: Christian, Buddhist and Muslim Perspectives! Samantha will be joined by Remona Aly and Sahajatara Blake for an interfaith panel discussion. Book tickets here!

Rev.Sam_.WernhamSam Wernham is the founder of social enterprise Living Spirit, which has offered many projects celebrating spirit, art and nature over the last twenty years. Current projects include Wild Church, which is an inter-spiritual pioneer ministry committed to silent pilgrimage and contemplative communion. Wild Church is currently working on the development of a new monastic centre and ‘sacramental landscape’ in Dartington, Devon.

Sam has travelled widely and been a life long student of spiritual ecology, ranging from the Buddhist communities of Ladakh and Zanskar to the Celtic churches of the Scottish Highlands, where she worked a croft for five years and built an eco retreat centre. She nows lives on pilgrimage between her micro monastery in Dartington and Christ Church University in Canterbury, where she is engaged in doctoral research into transformative learning focussed on the motif of the sacred marriage. As an ordained interfaith minister and committed Anglican, Sam is especially curious about the marriage of tradition and innovation. http://www.living-spirit.co.uk/.

Tara And The Tears of Avalokitesvara, Sahajatara Blake

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‘The earth goddess Drittar is very important in the story of the Buddha’s enlightenment. The Buddha-to-be is seated on the diamond throne and Mara appears and asks, what right do you have to take your seat on the diamond throne? And the Buddha says he has the right because he’s practised the perfections for countless lifetimes: so he’s practised generosity, ethics, patience, energy, meditation and wisdom for countless lifetimes. Mara says, who saw you practising the perfections for countless lifetimes? And the Buddha-to-be touches the earth with his fingertips, he makes the earth touching mudra, and the earth goddess Drittar appears, and she says, ‘I’ve seen him.’

Listen to a talk given by Sahajatara Blake, one of the panelists at our upcoming event on the Feminine and Spiritual Authority! This talk was recorded at the Brighton Buddhist Centre in 2015.

Join us on Friday May 4 at 6.30pm for the next event in the series, The Feminine and Spiritual Authority: Christian, Buddhist and Muslim Perspectives, with Remona Aly, Sahajatara Blake and Samantha Wernham! Book tickets here!

Fierce Generosity, a day with Pat McCabe by Amrita Bhohi

“It’s time for the women to pray together again, to remember our sacred biological and spiritual function as the life bearers, the life bringers and the creators…..to serve the thriving of all life.”  Pat McCabe.

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This is a guest post by Amrita Bhohi.

Recently I had the privilege of spending a day in the presence of Pat McCabe, a Dine’ (Navajo) indigenous teacher from New Mexico, trained in the Lakota spiritual tradition. This event formed part of a series of events at St Ethelburga’s Centre exploring the role of feminine principles in action at this time of global ecological crisis. Together with a group of 25 or so women from around the UK, she lead us in a workshop that was in reality a ceremony; offering her stories, teachings, prayers and longings with us and in service to as she named it, the great sacred hoop of life. In the traditional indigenous way, we sat gathered in a circle as the hours passed by, listening and receiving the wisdom of this true female elder, marked by the power of a primal authority, uninhibited vulnerability and deep humility with which she commanded the space. So much more was transmitted beyond the words that she spoke and shared with us, and a deeper understanding of the sacred feminine was one aspect of this. What her presence connected me to was an embodied sense of the feeling of a kind of sacred wholeness; of the masculine and feminine qualities, also of the Indigenous and Western worlds, and ultimately the union of the physical and spiritual aspects of life. Listening to her speak from this depth of reconciliation within herself, I experienced a glimpse of what it would feel like to inhabit a sacred wholeness in one’s heart and mind, and what it could be like to live from that place, which was true beauty, power and potential.

I realised that the feminine power that Pat embodied came from consciously inhabiting the sacred purpose of the feminine in service to life as a woman, but also that another aspect of her power was a deeper state of connection and reverence with the masculine, equally as with the feminine. Her stories conveyed the journey of reconciling with men and with the masculine, and taught us of the courage, commitment and generosity that this path to wholeness requires for women in this world today. Reflecting on how profound this quality of wholeness I had experienced in Pat had been, I recognised more clearly how wholeness truly is a sacred feminine power, and a principle that as women we can aspire to and embody as well as how much it is needed in the world and what a healing force it can be when put into practice. In a world so ripped apart by a paradigm of separation; from each-other, from the Earth and from the sacred, in a sense all of my own work in the field of Spiritual Ecology could be defined just as much as to a return to wholeness, as a remembrance of interconnectedness, which is how I usually describe it.

I was moved by the sad truth of Pat’s statement that as men and women today we live in a ‘power over’ paradigm with each-other, and how in this way none of us know the true expression of either the masculine or the feminine. I could relate to what many women expressed of this power-over experience and how insecurity, vulnerability and also anger meant that we related to men through competition and control dynamics, stemming often from a deeper fear of masculine power. In the face of the deep personal and collective wounds that all women’s feminine nature have been inflicted with in some way by the abuse of masculine power, Pat called upon the generosity of the Mother Earth, this archetypal energy that we are made in the image of as women. She invoked the fierce generosity of Mother Earth as the symbol and also example of the kind of feminine love we have access to draw upon to help us to deeply forgive and heal our relationship with men and the masculine. The day stimulated an aching longing in my heart for this reconciliation between the masculine and feminine, within ourselves and together as men and women. And a sense of wonder at how the world could be if this sacred wholeness could be truly lived.

The ultimate unity that Pat’s teachings put me in touch with was the coming together of the physical and spiritual aspects of life. In relation to understanding the role and function of the feminine, I noticed how this totally shifted something in my own relationship with the sacredness and significance of being a woman. In addressing this theme Pat asked the question, As a female member of the human species, or five fingered ones, what function do we have in upholding this sacred hoop of life?. She reminded us how every single part of the web of life has a specific role and function to play in the flourishing of all life, and as women we have a specific purpose. But it was when she brought together the physical function with an awareness of the deeper spiritual function, that I began to feel what the ‘sacred feminine’ truly meant and the role we are here to fulfill. In a biological and physical way Pat talked about the functions of women’s menstruation, the womb and our connection with the Earth. She spoke to the deeper spiritual purpose that these functions serve, in women’s ability to be spiritually connected to life and creation in a way that men are not. I understood that as women we need to know that our sacred responsibility and role is to simply be in this connection with life that we can experience – to nurture it, feel it and live it and speak from it. Pat described how a woman’s close connection with life gives her the responsibility to speak on behalf of it and remind the community to always put life at the centre. The beauty and power with which she shared this teaching brought a sense of honouring and valuing of my womanhood, in a way that I have never felt before. It also helped me to understand how intertwined the physical and biological make up of men and women are to their sacred spiritual function, how intimate the physical and spiritual truly are. This understanding within me came with such a sense of relief, and feeling of allowing and being, rather than striving. As Pat so wonderfully put it, ‘once you recognise as a woman how big and important the role is that we are here to fulfill.I have my hands full just being a woman, I dont have time to be a man as well!. This felt so profound and true and something I intend to remind myself in moments when feeling like I am not enough as a woman arise whether from others or from myself. How can I stay connected to the knowing of the immense preciousness and service to life that simply being a woman means that I am? How can this help me to give up the feeling of needing to prove myself, devalue myself by competing with men out of a sense of not being enough, of wanting to be valued? These are some questions I am holding and I am so grateful to Pat for putting me in touch with the sacred essence within the physical experience of being a woman.

Finally, I’m brought back to a deeper thread that becomes ever more clear in my work and life. The need to reconcile the physical with the sacred, spirit and matter, is the task of reviving a world that is by any accounts is on it’s way to complete destruction and dissolution. At St Ethelburga’s Centre I manage our Spiritual Ecology project, which calls for the need to move from a story of Earth as purely physical matter and resource to be used and abused, into a recognition of nature as a living, sacred and interconnected being. A world that we belong to and that gives us life. In this paradigm, humans are in a relationship that honours both the physical and the spiritual dimensions present in the Earth, a culture that brings a reverence for the sacred within all of life, and lives a recognition of our interconnectedness physically and spiritually. I’m struck by just how we’ve forgotten our sacred connection to the Earth, so too we’ve lost our connection to the sacred nature of the masculine and the feminine. For myself and from this experience with Pat, it is the reuniting of the physical and the spiritual that has subtly but significantly shifted my whole relationship to what it truly means to be a woman. And I feel that the real roots to the healing of our world lies in this deeper reconciliation and reunification process.

by Amrita Bhohi

Join us on Friday May 4 at 6.30pm for the next event in the series, The Feminine and Spiritual Authority: Christian, Buddhist and Muslim Perspectives, with Remona Aly, Sahajatara Blake and Samantha Wernham! Book tickets here!

Also, Amrita will be leading a retreat in May as part of the Spiritual Ecology programme. Spiritual Ecology: Reviving a sacred and interconnected world, will take place May 18th – 20th 2018, 42 Acres, Somerset. A two day residential workshop exploring the principles, practices and project application of Spiritual Ecology.

amritaAmrita Bhohi leads the Spiritual Ecology Programme at St Ethelburga’s Centre which explores how practical environmental and social action can be rooted in spiritual values and based on a recognition of interconnectedness and reverence for nature. Her work focuses on facilitating training workshops and supporting practical project development, mainly working with emerging leaders in the next generation. She is passionate about working with the energy, creativity and vision of younger generations in coming together in service to a different future.

Amrita previously worked on the global Eradicating Ecocide campaign and at the think tank, The Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). In 2013 she organised TEDx Whitechapel, which was named as one of the most popular and radical TEDx events in London. She holds a BSc from King’s College, and an MA in Ecological Economics from Schumacher College.