This morning, at 3:45 am, I was rushing out of the house. I was heading to the airport for an early flight. I quickly threw my luggage in the back seat and then rushing, grabbed a trash bag that I had placed in the garage the night before to put in the garbage can outside.
As I ran out of the garage and rushed to pitch the trash in the garbage can, the universe arrested me.
Almost literally, but more figuratively. In a magical moment, I was captivated by a pure cloudless sky full of a million stars, some bright, some probably planets. It was remarkable. I had to literally stop and stare. Stupidly, I took a picture.
Inevitably, it couldn’t capture the stars, the magic of the moment. Nevertheless, I took another!
I just stared and stared…and then ….in the reality of life, I remembered my rushing. I shook off the miracle that had captured not just my eyes, but my deeper soul. Reluctantly, I headed to my car. Slower and sadly. I started the car and then, paused. I realized I had seen a book on my dresser that I thought I should carry on this trip.
And so, with the car running, I quickly ran back inside the house, up two flights of stairs, and grabbed the book on the nightstand next to my bed.
The book — The Miracle of Mindfulness, by Thich Nhat Hanh. A Buddhist monk, with compassion the size of the universe, who seeks to bring Buddhist practices that seem “foreign and Eastern, and unapproachable” to Western minds to lead to personal transformation. I grabbed the book, rushed back down two flights of stairs, (while momentarily being grateful that I could leave my car running in the garage and not worry that it would be gone), and got in the car.
As I drove to the airport, I reflected and tried to slow down and breathe and be mindful and mind my breath. Whew. It was Father’s Day. That got me thinking…about fathers – real and ethereal. And in our Western, Christian mind, God is Father. You know, the trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. That is all kinda scary for a kid, even a grown up. A Ghost that is Holy? What is that? And no one ever acted like the ghost was a woman or feminine or female. So, it has been this image of three powerful men who controlled it all. Everything. Everyone.
I was so confused as a child. Because this is such a mother-centric society, I was always confused as to where the Mother was. Why wasn’t it Mother, Daughter, and the Rainbows? You know, something that I could relate to and attach to and feel loved from. But, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Seriously!
And so, Biblical and Catholic traditions try to help us feel better by elevating Mary and other women as saints. But, really, there’s nothing like being God, and Jesus and doing miracles and having all that power that God and Jesus had. And, many images of God and Jesus are White men and when you look around America, those with power are White men, and so it is a cohesive narrative that we are taught as children. It goes something like this: God – the Original White Man, just appeared one day, created a bunch of amazing things in 7 days; rested, got lonely, and created a White boy. The White boy got lonely, and so God created a White girl. And then they misbehaved and everything was bad and messed up until God created another White boy – named Jesus – who was the salvation of the world and through whom everybody had to go to be saved and go to heaven, or else, you went to hell. This narrative – punctuated at times in a child’s life, by a belief that communion – this special Kool-Aid and crackers – could be transformed to Jesus’ body and blood, and if taken, could perhaps, lessen the likelihood of hell…or at a minimum, quench the seemingly insatiable thirst for distraction of a long church service.
All I’m saying is that this is a narrative that has been interspersed into my life – as a child, as a teen, as a young adult, and even as a grown woman. So, as my feminine and feminist sensibilities started to develop, I had to start looking for something that made sense to me. And most often, when we start looking, when we start to align our curiosity with a search for knowledge and understanding, the universe responds.
Space was created in my universe for other spiritual traditions and energies – those that acknowledged equally the power of women and female energy and people of color. Native American, indigenous, and Yoruba traditions often refer to Mother Earth, Mother Nature, and She as God. And after all, Woman and female energy is the birthing energy of the Universe. This lens, for a woman, a young girl, of color, is so empowering and important. It helps answer the question: Who’s got our back? Who understands us? Who identifies with us? And by extension….What power do I have as a woman, as a woman of color? And, most importantly, do I belong? Do I belong here in this world that only men and White men have power? Do I belong here in this world, where racism and sexism and classism seem to perpetuate inequalities that persist in subjugating women and people of color and those who are poor? Do I belong in this world where if I have to call on God for help, if I have to hope that God isn’t racist and sexist? And if I look for help in the universe, does anyone and anything hear my plea?
But this morning, the universe answered my questions. She said, “I am here. I am the stars and the sky. I see you.”
So today, I can say, Happy Father’s Day to the men in my life who are fathers and father figures and for the reminder of the importance of acknowledging the complexity of the universe and the energies that help empower us all. May we pause more for more moments of mindfulness and for time to stare into the clouds and feel the miracle of Creation.