Free Indeed

Free Indeed

Last Saturday I was having dinner with a wise and intelligent acquaintance. Through the course of the evening we talked about a myriad of subjects.  One stayed with me until morning. As we spoke of the spiritual awakening we see unfolding, occasionally within the church but more often outside, she said, “The second coming will be the rise of the conscious feminine.” I asked what she meant and received a thoughtful response that left me pondering the prophetic voices of several women who have come into my life and nurtured me  into greater fullness.  I was reminded of the words a friend recently relayed to me:

As I thought of you on the drive home I reflected on your history and what you represent. You, in many ways, ARE the patriarchal lineage of the church. Certainly you carry that within, with your long heritage of generations of ministry and the closeness of your family to the fabric of the church. Your transition, then, can really be seen as a metaphor for what God is doing at this time in our history. It’s really quite beautiful and my sense is that creating you the way God has is no accident. 

I am happy to speak out on transgender issues when opportunities arise, but my calling has always been to the church. The manner in which that calling is being made manifest is proving to be a lesson in courage and humility.

I am no longer afraid of speaking truth to power. I am no longer frightened of losing my employment, or my friends, or my church. I have learned if you do what is right and are willing to accept the consequences, you can sleep at night.

Having survived my necessary defeat, I am free to listen to the call of the Spirit. The message about the patriarchal lineage of the church was in an email I received in June. Because of its power, the email remains at the top of my inbox, just beneath another powerful email I received last November, shortly after the election:

We are grieving and we need to grieve. It comes in waves and the men don’t seem to need to – only the women and minorities. So we will. We will grieve well, we will grieve complete, we will grieve because something fundamental to who we are as a people, as a nation, has died. We can discuss the rising later, it’s too soon. This is the middle Saturday. And you are amazing and fabulous and going to rise to partner with this world – when it’s time. 

When you are unencumbered by fear, the call of the Spirit is amplified and unmistakable. These women who have spoken into my life have known great loss and understand the freedom that lies in surrendering to the truth.

Last week one of them asked why I had befriended her. In a meeting just a few days earlier I had listened to her story of extraordinary courage and thought, “Why on earth did this woman befriend me?” Truth is I’m not sure we befriended each other. I believe we were brought together, refugees fleeing a tribe with a penchant for naming scapegoats. We knew we were made for more and dared to answer the Spirit’s call.

Cathy, my wife for 40 years, always called me toward greater heights than I would have sought on my own.  Her wisdom, like the wisdom of these other women, is grounded and organic.

Most travelers prefer convention and stick to the main highways, focused on the destination and not the journey.  I treasure these fellow travelers I have found on the road less traveled.  When you encounter kindred spirits on a nameless dirt path far from convention, you receive them as the gift they are, a visitation of the conscious feminine.  And together you travel on, as the whole of creation is being reconciled to our loving creator.

And so it goes.

4 thoughts on “Free Indeed

  1. Oh, Paula, you constantly amaze me. You are so gifted in so many ways. How fortunate I am that you share your thoughts, ideas, inspirations and insights with me and with others. My life is so much richer since I’ve met you.


  2. Paula,

    What a “pregnant” metaphor for the awakening that is unfolding (if you don’t mind another layer). Daily news headlines remind me that testosterone-poisoned chest beating is leading us further into the abyss.

    Your freedom from the fear of losing employment, friends & church is a painfully gained gift. What might happen if more of us were freed by perfect love to join the revolution? Isn’t that the essence of the call to follow Jesus? This reminds me of a quote by E. Stanley Jones, the Wesleyan missionary to India in the first half of the 20th century:

    The cross never knows defeat, for itself is Defeat, and you cannot defeat Defeat. You cannot break Brokenness. It starts with defeat and accepts that as a way of life. But in that very attitude it finds its victory. It never knows when it is defeated, for it turns every impediment into an instrument, and every difficulty into a door, every cross into a means of redemption. (E. Stanley Jones, Christ of the Indian Road.)
    Peace and courage,

    W Michael Smith
    1 Faulkner Ave.
    Asheville, NC 28805


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