Our family members celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. This year the dates overlap. I decide it will be touching to offer mealtime prayers from each tradition. Then a voice inside of me says, “And you can offer one too.” I find great value in the traditions of Christianity and Judaism. They are not however my traditions. I am a mystic who celebrates Divine presence in all. I do not follow a system with a hierarchy or have a need for an intermediary to speak to the Divine.
Offering a prayer at our holiday table seems risky. I am reluctant to stand alongside these old acceptable ways of encountering God. I don’t know if I have the courage to show up in the truth of my practices. Practices I’ve developed over decades with Eastern Meditation teachers, Native American teachers, Earth-based religions and my early Christian education.
I believe that life is a gift and an unfolding mystery.
Could I offer a blessing from my heart to the people I love and who love me? The proposition feels more daring than when I offer prayers to the circles of women I lead. I think about it as I prepare the meal and then repeatedly during the day. I can’t decide if it’s appropriate or if I have the courage to speak.
It’s time to eat. Don and I offer a toast. Then I invite the prayers.
First comes the Jewish prayer. My daughter and her family stand and sing a Hebrew blessing over the bread. I feel proud of Deb and her family. They have a tradition that connects them to God and each other. My sister Mickey, who is earning a Masters in New Testament Studies, offers a beautiful Christian prayer. It honors the arrival of Christ and the gift of his presence among us. Her words are touching and heartfelt. She is growing in faith and wisdom as she completes her degree.
Without hesitation I speak. “Now I will offer a prayer honoring my traditions.” Well, I said something like that. To tell you the truth I can’t remember what I said. It was short. I said it. That is what’s important to me. I showed up. I am a woman celebrating life in a complex blend of spirituality.
I let that truth guide me.
I felt strange and happy. It was a kind of coming out moment for me. My family knows about my spiritual practices, that I meditate daily, pray often, offer ceremonies and rituals in my retreats. But all of that is done out of their view. I hadn’t claimed my place at the table. Today I did. This is who I am!
Showing up happens when we stand in the truth of who we are! We often do it on wobbly legs.
Each January, in the Women’s Circles, we create intentions. They are statements of how we choose to be in the coming year. Not a set of goals to be measured, but a way of being. This year my intention is showing up. It is the year of the documentary by the same name. Showing Up: Daring to live from Your Heart will be released in the first half of 2020. I am producing it with director Keith Kelly. We will offer it to the world in the hope that it inspires others to show up.
Along with creating intentions in the circles, we create a statement of a belief that we are ready to release. The belief I’m ready to release is; fear can stop me. I know that fear will be my companion as I move forward with different projects, especially the documentary. I don’t expect fear to leave. I expect to be unstoppable.
We all have moments where we are urged to show up. It can be as simple as offering a prayer or as complex as writing a book. Where is your inner voice asking you to show up?
Film Artwork by Nancy Wright Gelband
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- 2023 Women Writing to Unfold (Taos, NM)
- 21 Aug 23
January 4, 2020 at 8:50 am
Nancy J. Hill
January 4, 2020 at 9:14 am