Feminine Side of Spirituality Grows

Article excerpt

Byline: FROM HEART TO HEART by Shelly Richardson For The Register-Guard

March is the month that celebrates women. Today is International Women's Day, and all of March is designated as National Women's History Month.

Many communities will explore the social, political, economic and scientific achievements of women. One group whose contributions are just beginning to be recognized are the women spiritual leaders.

These women are opening doors previously closed to them, by serving in their religious communities and by writing and lecturing on spiritual topics. Indeed, more women are being ordained in the Jewish and Christian faiths today than men. And for the first time in history, there are enough women spiritual leaders in the world that a Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders convened in Geneva.

For me, the wonderful impact of women in religion is a growing awareness of the mothering, feminine and healing nature of God, or Spirit. In Judaism, for example, the Shechinah, which traditionally signified "the presence of the Divine on earth," is now accepted by many as "the feminine presence of the Divine." Also, Deity as Mother as well as Father is now accepted in many mainstream Christian churches.

One spiritual leader who discerned and appreciated the feminine qualities of Deity is Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th-century religious reformer and the founder of the Pulitzer Prize-winning international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. Raised in the Congregational Church, Eddy struggled with elements of a religious dogma which, at that time, portrayed God as stern and punishing, saving some and damning the rest. Her scriptural searches led her to new ideas about the loving, tender, healing nature of God's mothering. …