Posts Tagged ‘leading’

Wow, what a sight!

February 15, 2010

This weekend I had the immense pleasure of participating in WomanKind, an interfaith exploration of women’s spirituality hosted by the visionary St. James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. It would not do the experience justice to recount all of the nuances here (such as the gorgeous Botticelli-inspired décor). However, I will share the most memorable moment for me.
It happened at the beginning of Saturday afternoon’s healing service. As I watched a parade of women, old and young, black and white, clergy and attendants make their way up the center aisle to the front of an estrogen-filled church; my eyes grew big as did my smile. Soon, the altar filled with women ministers and priests. I swallowed hard in disbelief and tears filled my eyes at the sight. There it was – ancient wisdom in feminine form. 
After years of wondering if I would find a resonant place in a tradition about a man, a doctrine historically dictated by men and churches led predominantly by male clergy, the altar scene yesterday was startling and life-changing. I have been greatly inspired by masculine messengers and interpreters of God, including a recent embrace of the Ultimate Messenger. Nothing, however, has ever moved me more than this scene of my own kind – woman kind – delivering spiritual guidance in Christ’s name.
I know it sounds predictable coming from me to want to see women clergy. I wonder what it was like for the other 399 or so women in attendance – many of whom seemed to be followers of the Christian tradition. I believe that few would deny the lack of feminine spiritual role models held up for us to learn from, respect, and revere. The dearth of women spoken about in the Christian church was a major stumbling block for me in surrendering to this path, until I realized that Christ himself is the embodiment of what I consider most gorgeously feminine: care, love, compassion, service and community. 
It isn’t that I don’t value what men bring to relationship, leadership and spiritual practice – I do, very much. Yet to surrender my heart, body and will to God is such a personal, vulnerable experience. If I am to do it within a particular tradition, I need to trust that I and all women are considered as valuable and valid as men in the eyes of the church. I’ve no doubt that we are equal in the heart and mind of Jesus, yet much of what has been built in His name has called into question the institution’s reverence for women.
Nothing can adequately convey the heart-opening power of seeing wise, white-haired female ministers with their warm smiles and distinguished voices sitting amongst an interracial mix of intellectually fabulous, young priestesses. Garbed in white robes with beautiful stoles, these women shared delivery of the Gospel and God’s spiritual food.   The first prayer began, “O God, Mother of endless generations” – that alone would have sold me. The service went on to speak of “God in the midst of her” in Psalm 46 and to analyze the unconditional, deeply intuitive understanding of Christ’s power by a very poor, very sick woman as written in Mark 5:25-34. (Thanks to the flawlessly crafted and moving sermon of Dr. Linda Powell Pruitt.)
I had the intimate joy of witnessing this with my mother, an early 70’s feminist, who raised my four sisters and me to believe that something different from what she had lived as a young woman of the 50’s was possible for us. We both wondered how much more welcoming church might have felt to her as a girl and to independent young women today were this service their first experience of Christianity.
Even when the Christian church develops more balance of spiritual leadership, I will never forget my first time – yesterday at WomanKind – realizing what is possible and being sure that I belong.

Leading with Heart and Head

July 13, 2009

While talking with a fellow coach recently about what we do in the Women’s Circle – connect deeply with ourselves and others – he asked me what leadership quality I thought the women were practicing. This man is a retired naval officer and Vietnam War veteran, he knows leadership! Before I came up with a good answer, he offered his… empathy. In the Women’s Circle, we are exploring and deepening our ability to be empathetic.

This empathetic quality is born from the willingness and capacity to lead with a combination of heart and head. It gets dangerous when one cannot or will not. Case in point – see Marie Wilson’s article about Robert McNamara in the Huffington Post this week.

Four years ago I began working for Girls For A Change because I wanted to empower a future generation of women leaders. I believed that our community, our nation and the world would be safer, healthier and more vibrant with a balance of women leaders bringing more feminine qualities and discernment to the table. I realized in the last presidential election however, that it isn’t necessarily just more women leaders I want in office, it is more empathetic leaders.

Empathy serves our families, our colleagues, our community, and ourselves (because Lord knows we are hardest on ourselves!)

I invite you to open your beautiful heart in combination with your brilliant mind and see what happens…

Showing up for the other 50%

June 21, 2009

I heard this on a video of the Vital Voices’ Global Leadership Awards:

“Women constitute 50% of society, but please, we should not forget that they raised the other 50%.” – Shaika Lubna Al-Qassimi, the first woman Cabinet Minister of the United Arab Emirates
After I finished laughing, I realized the huge impact we have on the next generation by who we are as women today. 

On this Father’s Day where we celebrate the good men in our lives, I want to ask, how am I and how are we as women showing up for the other 50%?

What will my nephews know about women from the way I love them and from who I am in their presence and in the world?  What will your colleagues know about women from the way you lead a Board Meeting or manage your staff?

How do we show up for our boyfriends and husbands in love one minute and in a fight over his socks on the floor the next? What will all of those not-quite-right dates remember from the way we said goodbye?

What do I show my father about the woman I’ve become when he still remembers a 6-year-old needing his hug and a 16-year-old needing (but not quite wanting) his loving guidance?

I think it is worth exploring and practicing how we want to show up for this other 50% whom we love, lead, follow, learn from, partner with, raise, give to and send on their way.

For ourselves and for others, this is what we help each other do in the Women’s Circle.

me and my Dad in 1970

My Dad and I in 1970