Katy and the clergymen
What is women's power?
meaning of power
birth in Bethlehem
year at this time, I need to rediscover the meaning of Christmas. If I don't,
this "holy-day" season seems bleak indeed.
This year I made a remarkable discovery. I came across some very good news about
I'll share that good news with you as we make our way toward Bethlehem and
in the process of considering: what is women's power?
Katy and the clergymen
There's a place in the county west of where I live called the Speedwell community.
Speedwell is home to a woman by the name of Katy Johnson.
Katy never went to college. She hasn't had any formal training. Still, she's tended
to the spiritual needs of her neighbors with such kindness, skill, and devotion
over the years that people there recognize her as their minister.
A couple of years ago, the clergy in this part of the state organized a three-day
retreat for themselves. People in Speedwell gladly put their money together and
sent Katy to the lakeside conference center. Turns out she was the only woman
didn't have to listen too hard to hear the clergymen sputter, "What's she
doing here? She never went to seminary. She hasn't been ordained. She can't even
preach a sermon!"
On the third day of the conference they all trooped down to the lake and piled
into a boat for a picnic on the other side. Halfway across the lake, the engine
died. The captain tinkered with it a bit. Then he admitted he'd forgotten to fill
up the gas tank.
While the clergymen were muttering among themselves, Katy stood up and said, in
her matter-of-fact way, "I'll go back and get us some gas." She stepped
out of the boat and walked across the water, back to shore.
The clergymen turned to each other and snickered, "Look at that. She can't
What is women's power?
We women possess extraordinary, even miraculous power. Yet we often take it for
granted, hide it, or try to forget about it. To us, it may seem rather ordinary.
Here's the starting point for our journey to Bethlehem: creativity. And here's
a question for you. What are three ways you've expressed your creativity in the
past year? Name at least three things experiences, opportunities,
connections, designs, systems, networks, or whatever else that
you've created during the past twelve months.
Here's another question. Where does creativity take place in your body?
You've already testified to your creativity. You've given birth to ideas, products,
services, designs, systems, and more. Perhaps you've given birth to a child as
we've ever been pregnant or not, whatever our age, we each have the capacity to
The power we contain within our bellies is procreative power, the capacity to
bring new life into the world. Even more, it's pro-creative power: the power to
promote creation in any dimension we choose.
What's the best-kept secret in contemporary Western culture? It's something that
women and men through time and across the globe have known: The belly the
body's center is the origin of our physical and spiritual vitality.
It's the site of our soul power. It's our connection to Source Energy, the divine
energy that animates our lives.
The Japanese call the belly and its power hara. In other cultures, the
body's center is named Throne of the Creator, Energy Garden, Luminous Pearl, Self-Radiant
Diamond, Ocean of Life Force.
The energy concentrated in your body's core ignites your creativity, confidence,
and sense of purpose. The power to promote creation that you embody is kin to
the Power of Being that creates, sustains, and transforms the world.
This pro-creative power energizes the entire cycle of life: Giving birth, launching
a project. Sustaining, guiding the project through its growth and development.
Transforming, wrapping the project up once it has fulfilled its purpose.
As life cycles through the creative process, something else happens: consciousness
Women's power is this: giving place to the process of creation, and to the evolution
The meaning of power
We usually encounter "power" as power-over. Someone's up and
someone's down. Someone wins and someone loses. "Power-over" is domination.
It implies ranking, establishing a hierarchy of value.
Distinct from domination, women's power is dominion. Sovereign within our
own realms, we see to the well-being of who and what is within our circle. We're
the pivotal force within our domain. Dominion implies responsibility, relationship,
Women's power is giving place to the process of creation. Women's power is exercising
dominion. Our fundamental, most essential dominion: our bodies.
does creativity happen in your body?
Christmas is one time in our culture when a woman's big belly gets some good press.
Mary, the pregnant virgin. Mary, big with the Divine Child. Mary, the Mother of
expressions refer to a woman being pregnant? She's got a bump. She's expecting.
She's got a bun in the oven.
The image of Mary with her big belly is a sign of women's power. And the sign
points straight toward Bethlehem.
Giving birth in Bethlehem
Bethlehem is a town south of Jerusalem. Its name in Hebrew is Beit-Léhem
and in Arabic it's Beyt-ul Lahm. Texts dating from the 14th century
BC mention a town south of Jerusalem called Bit ilu Lahama.
Both Beit-Léhem and Beyt-ul Lahm mean ''house of bread."
Christ was born in Bethlehem. Does this mean Jesus was born in a bakery? Tempting,
but I don't think so.
What is bread? Bread is extracting seed from grass, grinding seed into flour,
mixing flour and water into dough, shaping dough into loaves, watching the loaves
rise, placing the loaves into ovens, heating ovens with fire.
In cultures the world over, women and men have imaged grain as a divine being,
a goddess. Grain is the staff of life. It's the grace that allows the tribe to
Bread works miracles. It mediates between nature and culture, between earth and
person. It conducts grace from divine being to human body. It transforms the elements
of air, water, earth, and fire into the substance which feeds us.
Bread is life. Everyone needs enough "dough" to pay the bills. If you're
gainfully employed, you're a bread-winner.
The first request in the Lord's Prayer is "Give us this day our daily bread."
The Christian calendar marks August 1 as Lammas, the "loaf-mass." Giving
thanks for the first harvest of grain, celebrants bring a loaf of bread to church
to be blessed.
Bread is a miracle. The loaf rises. A woman's belly swells. What's the burgeoning
Christ was born in Bethlehem. In the house of bread.
Bethlehem. In Hebrew, Beit-Léhem. In Arabic, Beyt-ul Lahm.
In texts recorded fourteen centuries before the birth of Christ, Bit ilu Lahama.
Bethlehem also means "house of the goddess." Which goddess? Lahama.
the Babylonian story of creation, Lahama is the daughter of the primordial goddess
Tiamat. She guards the gate to the sea; the sea is her dominion. She holds an
overflowing vase; she contains, bestows the waters of life.
Lahama. Her name is the sound of "ah" said three times. The syllable
"ah" figures in nearly all names for divine being. It is the sound of
the breath moving out into the world.
We can meet Lahama through the Sumerian syllables that comprise her name.
to bright and light. We can see and hear that light in the word
refers to mouth and the capacity to speak. We can see and hear "ha"
in the Latin halitus, meaning breath, and in the English word halitosis.
We might see and hear "ha" in hallow, to make holy, as well.
In Hawaiian, aloha means "may you have everlasting breath"; "ha"
means breath of life. We hear "ha" in the Japanese hara,
the body's center and its capacity for transforming breath into life energy.
the sense of to speak, to name, and to give breath to. It
refers to manifestation, bringing something into evidence in the world. Also meaning
mouth, "ha" suggests passage through an opening, a gateway.
"Ma" refers to
a ship, a vessel. Ships and sea-going craft are agents of transformation. They
transport you from one shore to another, from one form to another. Many languages
refer to ships and vessels with words in the feminine gender.
can see and hear "ma" in the Latin mare, meaning sea. The names Mary,
Maria, and Miriam incorporate the sound and meaning of "ma." Ma
takes meaning as mother.
In my listening, Lahama means: She who carries forth the light. She who brings
spirit into form. She who gives birth to the being of light.
Christ was born in Bethlehem. In my listening, these words mean: The light of
consciousness is born in the house of the goddess. In the temple of Lahama.
Who is Lahama? She who gives place to the process of creation. Just like you do.
Where is Bethlehem? Close to home.
What is Bethlehem?
Bethlehem is your blesséd body. It's the power to promote creation concentrated where?
In your body's center, your belly.
Hail Mary, full of grace.
Hail Mary, with a bellyful of grace.
May we know ourselves as sacred beings.
2006 Self-Health Education