Saturday, April 28, 2012

Remarks from We Are Women Rally

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight of walking
in the noisy street and being the noise.


This morning, I had the honor of being asked to both speak and give a blessing at the Denver We Are Women Rally and March. The weather was beautiful (despite forecasts of rain and gloom) and we gathered in the Civic Center Greek Amphitheater, some 2000 strong: women, men, children. The signs people carried were fabulous. One of my personal favorites: Keep the Fundies out of my Undies .

There were many inspiring speakers and I was moved by our determination and unity. As I wrote to a new friend on facebook (a connection made because we were both at the rally): Isn't it amazing when we all stand in solidarity? How power to change the world is much more obvious when we are should to shoulder! This morning as we marched after the rally, like a pulsing conduit of strength and change, chanting slogans such as When women's rights are under attack what do we do? FIGHT BACK! I completely understood the sentiment of Rumi: we were walking in the noisy street; we were the noise; we were a community of spirit.

For those not able to be there, here is the text of my speech and blessing.

I have a confession to make! I am a religious fanatic! I am a religious fanatic for justice, equality, equal access!

In 1969 when gay minister Rev. Troy Perry spoke at a rally decrying laws that discriminated against gays and lesbians he said "I’m afraid my private parts are my own and what I do with them is my business and not the law’s!"

And I stand here today to say the same thing. Women’s bodies are not government property. Our health care decisions are not up for public debate. Your religious beliefs cannot cross the boundary of my body and my decisions.

I believe we are at a cross-roads in history where the vitriolic rhetoric of anti-choice politicians and faith leaders is filling the air with fear, lies, and shame. Now, more than ever, we need to amplify the voice of pro-choice faith leaders (and politicians) to reframe the discussion, rather than react to the hysteria of those who would seek to repress these basic human rights. The issue of reproductive rights and access to such basic heal thcare as birth control is not only morally and ethically compelling, it is theologically sound.

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret: This is not about religious freedom; it’s about the tyranny of the religious right and the attempt to hi-jack our nations human rights and civil liberties. We need to remember that our forebears were clear that the separation of church and state does not mean merely freedom of religion. It also means freedom from religion.

And when an employer’s religion trumps women’s access to basic health care; when laws are made based on religious opinions of a few and not grounded in the communal good of all; when the right to choose abortion is subjected to shaming ultrasounds and paternalistic authority; when a woman’s role in society is reduced to being a fetal incubator, we must stand up and speak out against this outrage. We must speak for women’s rights in the streets, we must shout it in the voting booths. As Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John Adams (both Unitarians, let me just say), imploring him and the other framers of the US Constitution to include suffrage in that early document:

If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.

And I say today, we will not go back. We will not give in. We will not give up but we will press on with the conviction of all those who have justice on their side and we will prevail.

Would you pray with me:

Holy Mystery of Love and Justice who is beyond any name we might give, and who cannot be boxed into any denominational job description, we ask your blessing on this sacred convocation, we pray that you continue to give us courage to speak truth to lies, to speak boldly in the face of those who would seek to shame us into silence. We thank you for the solidarity we share, women and men of all ages, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and gender identity. We ask that you bless us and we ask that you open the eyes of women who would deny their own bodies for political gain, who would seek to shame and silence other women for social power. We pray for them, that their eyes be opened to how their very bodies have been colonized by the rhetoric of those who seek to keep women subjugated.

Be with us now as we sing for justice, as we march for justice, as we shout and work together for justice. May your voice be heard in ours, O Holy Love. In Your Many Names and in the Name of All that is Holy. Amen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Final Review of New to You

Okay.. I think this is the last retro-blog I will post. I had to follow up with the last one since this is like a sequel.

Falling Off the Speed Limit Wagon September 1, 2006

Well, I have to confess I have not been 100% in compliance with my new spiritual discipline of driving the speed limit.
I started off great on Wednesday, serenely careening down the road at speeds of 20, 25, 35.
I had pondered whether or not I should use cruise control but decided that this was a spiritual discipline, it was about the zen practice of mindfulness. I was not merely jumping through hoops or attempting to avoid another day in court. note: I appeared in court for my last speeding ticket the first of August. As my name was called to accept my plea bargain (faulty tail light...only 1 point as opposed to the 4 points on speeding charge) the judge waved my rather weighty file in the air and said "Nice to see you again!" I replied "Well, I do try to make an annual visit."
At any rate, my commitment to going the speed limit was not about avoiding speeding tickets, it was about searching for an elevated spiritual plane inaccessible to me as I rushed by at 10-20 miles over the posted limit. So I nobly chose not to engage cruise control but to keep an eye on my speedometer and try to maintain the needle at the posted limit.
As I said, this went quite well on Monday. I even reviewed other driving patterns of mine to see if I should change them as well.
I decided, nobly, humbly, seeking a higher truth, that while jack-rabbit starts from a stop light or stop sign were still acceptable in order to gain the lead over the slower car (And they are always slower cars) in the lane next to me, I had to forego my habit of "california stops" and instead come to a complete halt at the stop sign, look left, then right, then left again.
I smiled patronizingly at all those poor misguided sods who were so spiritually devolved as to zip past me, once they could, with annoyed expressions on their faces, thinking how sad it was that they still felt the need to speed.
And I was pleasantly surprised to note that I still arrived at all my destinations with plenty of time to spare. This week experiment was going to be a cinch, I thought as I pulled my car into the garage for the night.
Thursday dawned with all the promise of a day that included a session with my hair interpreter (for some people the word stylist just does not adequately describe what they do...Jerome doesn't just cut my hair, he interprets it, it's a lengthy process but always one with a happy ending).
Unfortunately, my morning kinda got away from me and I left the house already knowing I was going to be late. I had to decide what was going to bring more spiritual serenity: being late or going the speed limit and thought Dammit! I need to make that green light!
I willfully rebelled against my own vow of speed limits and not only sped, but whipped in and out among the traffic effortlessly. I was still 10 minutes late but I think that's much better than how late I would have been if I had missed that light.
Since I had already fallen off the wagon for yesterday I took advantage of my state of sin to speed away the rest of the day as well. Tomorrow, as Scarlett might remind us, is another day, after all. I also realized that I had to make the corner of T-Gap and Jackson an exception to my no califonia stops rule. You've just gotta carpe diem at that stop sign, baby. Slow and go and close your eyes. You'll know you've safely navigated the corner if your airbags don't deploy.
I did much better today, but realized in a spiritual epiphany of amazing proportions that part of the reason why I'm here on earth is to help others achieve their spiritual enlightenment. And if I'm driving the speed limit on a single lane road with cars behind me that want to go faster, and if that makes them cranky, that doesn't help their spiritual growth. Indeed the only thing I can do is to, well, unfortunately, speed up, go a little faster than the limit, lead them, if you will, into a place of serenity and calm that they will find as they, too, are able to go at a speed more conducive to their spirits.
I have to say I was proud of myself for sacrificing my own goals at going the speed limit to help others attain spiritual calm (and this was done in a non-co-dependent way, I want to point out. I wasn't sacrificing myself, I was simply recognizing the inter-dependence of the human family).
So, I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I'll do my best to reach for the next spiritual plane...even if that means I have to speed.