Posted by: smstrouse | November 16, 2013

Occupy Your Sacred Self – Part 2

Last week I wrote a reflection about the Women of Spirit and Faith gathering, “Alchemy: Occupy Your Sacred Self.”


After re-reading it, I thought it might have come across as critical or negative – which was certainly not my intention. As a ‘T’ on the Myers-Briggs indicator, I tend to analyze stuff and pull out patterns, implications and other assessments. I know – way too T-ish! So this week I want to highlight some of the stuff that was just plain good – no analysis or evaluation needed.

The best thing was the theme of collaboration and the need for a new paradigm of leadership in the world. The conference itself was a model of how to put this into practice. Unlike most events like this, there were no keynote speakers, even though there were some big-name women, like Naomi Tutu, among us. But the idea was that each woman was a leader and each brought wisdom and expertise to the gathering.

WaterEven the schedule for each day was pretty loosely planned. There was a framework, but the planners allowed space for unexpected things to happen. One of their decisions was to say “Yes” to any woman who asked to contribute a chant, song or ritual. That meant being highly flexible and willing to make changes quickly and without drama. Would that could be true everywhere!


A beautiful symbol of this openness to the unknown and unexpected was the clear glass bowl that sat on the stage in the stage in the center of the ballroom for the entire event. The meaning of the empty bowl was that we had created a space for whatever wanted/needed to show up. That could be something for an individual or for the entire assembly.


The other thing that I loved was the intergenerationality of the conference. There was a good number of younger women there – and by younger I don’t mean under 50. There was truly participation by 20 and 30-somethings. But we oldsters weren’t neglected. There were many references to the wisdom of the elders, as well as the energy and creativity of the young ones. In fact, on the final day a group of elders and young women met in a circle among us all to share their thoughts, experiences and ideas for carrying the spirit of “Alchemy” forward.

I very much appreciated this coming together of generations. As much as I wonder how I could have ever reached the age of being an elder, I know that I have. Especially now, having two much younger colleagues, I feel the generation gap.


What annoys me is that a lot that’s being written about the emerging church and the new re-formation assumes that it’s only younger pastors who “get it.” I suppose I was just as arrogant when I was young, although I do remember older colleagues I admired and respected. So I just wish that writers would recognize some of us “dinosaurs” who are still out here doing the work of transformation and are quite happy to collaborate with our younger colleagues.

Whoops, I guess I just succumbed to negativity again. But, forgive, me it was in service to the positive experience of “Alchemy!”

The pictures above are the altars that Sridevi Ramanathan and I created for the conference based on the four elements: fire, water, earth and air – with the empty bowl for space in the middle.  

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