A few final ideas from the book Radical Wisdom, which I finished this morning. In my blogs “Feminine Spirituality – 1,2,3” I shared four characteristics that typify the spirituality of women. Here are the last three that author Beverly Lanzetta presented:
- Women have the capacity to hold opposites, black and white, good and evil, left and right, in their hearts at the same time. This can sometimes be interpreted as “selling out” or “waffling” on one’s beliefs. But this capacity is grounded in a spacious heart, a mother’s heart. It is typical of a mother to love two children at odds with one another and to forgive hurts because “love covers all.” She was prepared to do this as she allowed her life experiences to awaken her to her own failings and as she entered deeply into her own pain enabling her to feel pain of others.
- A woman sees herself a conduit for God’s love and grace. This is the lesson of childbirth. Just as life begins and grows and then is released into the world, she is bearer of God’s message. The Native American elder Black Elk spoke about the mystery of the pipe. We breath in truth and healing from God, we then breath it out into the world.
- Feminine spirituality implies an intimacy that is so penetrating that as a woman surrenders to God, she begins to see the world through God’s eyes and to feel the pain that God bears for the world. This experience can be so profound as to render her silent or so filling as to overflow.
Lanzetta has given me so much to ponder. Her greatest gift was the affirmation she offers to women who have been taught that they were unworthy of God, that their spirituality was in some way less than that of their male counterparts.
Is the kind of spirituality of which Lanzetta speaks only for women? Throughout the book, Lanzetta refers to so many men who lived this kind of spirituality and who happen to be among my heroes: St. Frances of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, and Thomas Merton to name a few. Also, there is a male spirituality that serves to balance feminine spirituality. I guess I believe that the world as we have progressed thus far has been tilted toward the former. As I go on to other spiritual writers, the lessons I have learned here will sink in and will meld with new ideas. That is the story of my journey.