As hope wrestles fear for a grip on our imaginations,
conversations with family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors circle
the violent juggernaut that we feel increasingly unable to
influence. What, in God's name, we ask one another with each day's
headlines, can ordinary people do as our leaders plan to unleash
As the spiritual leader of a small congregation near Santa Fe,
N.M., who found her calling late in life, I'm keenly aware of both
my influence and my limits. But even as I feel far from the
decisions that may transform my world, I see a ray of hope, a place
On Monday, I will join several hundred women religious and
spiritual leaders at the United Nations in Geneva for the first
Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders.
This is a direct outgrowth of the 2000 UN Millennium World Peace
Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, which inspired a
commitment to build a network of women religious and spiritual
leaders who can support UN activities aimed at eliminating conflict.
As an American rabbi, I'll go with a freshly cleansed and hopeful
heart. In the Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur, I have just asked
forgiveness and I have given it. I have looked deeply at myself and
found ways that I can do better. I am ready, indeed eager, to act
Despite grim news on war with Iraq, I pack my bags with hope. The
results of such a gathering have profound potential: As nurturers,
healers, and educators, women leaders of all faiths have a special
role to play in bringing the universal values of religion - not the
beliefs that divide us - to the fore.
While the feminine dwells in everyone, women's expression of it
is distinct. Followers of women spiritual leaders say that women
tend to listen better, are more empathetic, less hierarchical, and
more approachable in their style.
While women of faith have for centuries worked for transformation
at the grass-roots level, we've been denied or have shied away from
Now, our skills and attributes are desperately needed to build a
more just, caring, and peaceful world. I hope what we can create in
Geneva is a tent where we have gathered - first, to be honest, and
second, to seek commonalities.
While there have always been representatives of the divine in
feminine form, never have so many women entered the realm of
religious and spiritual leadership as today. …