Response to Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, Isis
Making connections is so important. Women weaving the web of life remind us to connect the difficult past with present struggles and give birth to hope in a more peaceful and just future.
Back in the early 1980s, I remember questioning the traditional mythology presented at my son’s Waldorf school, mythology that told of war as inevitable. Weren’t there any powerful, responsible women who might come up with better solutions to conflict, if they weren’t depicted as eternally weak and shallow? Where were the stories of wise women and men making peace, protecting the web of relationships and life? I was just beginning to learn about goddesses and alternative gender relationships in very early times, so I knew there was more to the story. Maybe changing the belief that war would always exist needed to precede the end of war.
At the 1983 UU Women’s Federation meeting at the Vancouver General Assembly (my first GA), I learned about the curriculum being developed, “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven.” How great to be in a faith tradition that would not only consider but embrace this brilliant new perspective of women’s religious past and how it can inform our lives in the present! When the curriculum came out the following year, I became one of its avid facilitators.
Right after GA I went to the Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice, near the Seneca Army Depot in upstate New York. There I learned about war and patriarchy and about women’s culture as an alternative to war. It wasn’t perfect, of course, but we did manage to operate by consensus, confront racism and classism, and learn to listen carefully to opposing viewpoints to find common ground.
It was at the peace camp that I met many women of faith who renewed in me a long ago call to ministry. I also met hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombs, and saw pictures the US government took to document the effects of radiation. Shocked to my soul at the depth of the evil perpetrated by my own country, I decided to pursue ministry as a way to put my life energy on the side of justice and peace.
So making these connections is very important to me. I too am inspired by the revolution in Egypt, as I was with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. One of my enduring memories is of being at IALRW in 1990 and meeting one of the ministers who participated in that peaceful revolution. Later she invited me to visit her home in the former East Germany. I was one of the first American visitors and was welcomed with open arms. Sitting in the church where the revolutionary conversations took place, I was filled with the spirit of hope that any of us could participate in creating a future of justice and peace.
I still cherish that hope. The more of us who share a commitment to peace, the greater likelihood there is that peace will be possible. May it be so.
The Rev. Dr. Dorothy May Emerson has been a Unitarian Universalist minister since 1988. Her community ministry is with Rainbow Solutions, in Medford, Massachusetts, where she offers programs on spirit, money, and justice. She has also served as coordinator of the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial and recently co-created Becoming Women of Wisdom, a curriculum for women marking the passage into the crone years. (Rev. Emerson is on the right in the above photo.)