My dreams help me remember who I am. I love that experience, that aha moment, when an image or a scenario or something I say in a dream brings home to me the feeling of being at peace in my own core, my center.
Recently, my dream self brought home some core personal truths. It was my waking dream at one time to be a spiritual teacher via the route of ordination in the Catholic Church. Some of you may remember those heady times when women stood up even to the Pope in public and said, we want to be ordained.
In a recent Sisters of Mercy Newletter which I discovered on their website, they recount an event from Pope John Paul II's visit to the US in 1979:
"In 1979, Theresa Kane, a Sister of Mercy, was denied a conversation with Pope John Paul II in her official capacity as the then-president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. At the official welcome ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., Sister Theresa beseeched Pope John Paul to include women as equal members of the Body of Christ. Had her request been heeded, the Church would surely be a healthier, holier institution than it is today and, more importantly, the pastoral and sacramental needs of Catholics around the world be better served today. It is time to again raise that issue."
I remember watching Sister Theresa stand up and address the pope, knowing it would be broadcast around the world on TV. I remember thinking, you go, sister! That took cojones! (Or brass breasts, as I'm fond of saying).
All this great stuff was happening during my post-grad studies in Scripture and Pastoral Counseling at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, NY., including the successful and courageous campaign that ended in official Episcopalian ordination for women in 1976. We in the Catholic church believed! Yes, we can!
Then, not so much. It took a decade but by banishing the rogue bishops who supported women's ordination and replacing them with papal clones, the RC managed to beat back the tide.
You know, I don't regret a second of that good fight, and maybe it is time, as the Sister's of Mercy are suggesting, to take it up in earnest again. But for me, what happened was a major transformation of paradigm, initiated by a dream actually, and fueled by the writings of some incredible theologians like Mary Daly with her bombshell "Beyond God the Father". The door opened for me to alternative spirituality, primarily women's spirituality. ( The dream is titled "Howling Mary," by the way, and I will blog about it sometime.)
It's been a lovely trip since then; my spiritual life is rich, diverse and anchored in dreamplay.
Still, anytime you choose to live outside the primary social paradigm, you're going to feel the pull of normalcy a bit. In the western culture in which I reside, the norm is to be Christian, Jew or Muslim because these are the three big established patriarchal religions of the world. What bothers me about these religions is that they often put women outside their circle of trust. What's up with that? Even after all these years, to suggest that it's important to also see god as Mother, that we abandon the Feminine Divine to our own very great detriment is, at the least, controversial.
Here's the dream that's led me down this alley of contemplation:
Episcopal Aspirations 3-3-2010
I'm talking with a woman Episcopal priest about my application to be an Episcopal priest. She's telling me that she submitted Jim's name (my husband) thinking that it was a good idea and the committee decided that he was their choice. I'm dismayed, disappointed; I say to her; "You submitted his name? Why?" Then I started to change my mind and get behind supporting him: 1. because I really don't want the pressure of answering to the committee in an interview; 2. because I really don't want to be an Episcopal priest, or a Christian for that matter. I say to her that Jim will be a good candidate because he'll be honest, blunt and frank. She modifies it saying, "but he would never say anything inappropriate." I say I'm not so sure, rolling my eyes like, are you kidding me? At some point, she gives me an example of a question that would be asked that is about a place or historical event that is pretty obscure. I realize with relief that I won't have to answer questions like that, but Jim pops into the conversation with a lovely, accurate answer that confirms my sense that better him than me.
This dream had me laughing about what I said about Jim; anyone who knows Jim will probably find it funny, as well. I really love how my dream self is helping me center on what I want and who I am. My spiritual role as teacher is outside mainstream religious offices; teaching people to listen to dream messages is what I love to do and do best. Yet, I fully support those who in truth and courage fill those official positions, like those lovely rogue bishops, priests and women religious of the 70s; bless them every one.