March 2019 WATERritual

Celebrate National Women’s History Month

By Diann L. Neu and the WATER Staff

Praise women of the seven continents
for the inspiration and justice they bring to the world.

March is Women’s History Month. This is a time to raise up women. It is a month to speak their names, tell their stories, and thank them for sharing their unique gifts with the world. It is a chance to become those women.

This liturgy invites participants to honor and thank women locally, nationally, and internationally for sharing their unique gifts with the world.

Preparation

Gather a globe, candles, a pitcher of water, a bowl, chimes, flowers, injera, tortillas, rye bread, a glass of water, wine, or juice, and news articles of women. Use the color purple for candles, cloths, flowers, and decor. Purple has been used in suffrage and women’s liberation movements across history, and is used to denote gender equality.

Call to Gather

This Women’s History Month we come together to honor women and thank them for sharing their unique gifts with the world. Who comes to your mind and heart as you think about women who inspire you? Bring specific women from around the world into your consciousness.

Naming the Circle

We will pass a globe around the circle. When you receive it, speak your name, name a woman you bring here today, and tell us a piece of her story as you locate her on the globe. Let us assume that among us we cover this globe, country by country. Begin with, “I am part of a world which includes….” Naming

Blessing of Solidarity

In solidarity with women around the world, we bless the four elements that correspond to the cardinal points on the compass: Fire to the South, Air to the East, Earth to the North, and Water to the West.

We unite with you, Sisters of the South, and share Fire. (Light a candle.)
We unite with you, Sisters of the East, and share Air. (Play the chimes.)
We unite with you, Sisters of the North, and share Earth. (Place flowers on the altar.)
We unite with you, Sisters of the West, and share Water. (Pour water into the bowl.)  

Song:  “We are a Wheel,” words by Hildegard of Bingen, musical round by Betty Wendelborn, Sing Green: Songs of the Mystics, 2d ed. Auckland, New Zealand: Pyramid Press, ©1999.

We are a wheel, a circle of life.
We are a wheel, a circle of power.
We are a wheel, a circle of light,
Circling the world this sacred hour.

Litany of Gratitude

Let us thank women for their unique gifts to the world.

Thank you, Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States, for promoting education and working to create a healthier country and world.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist and youngest Nobel Prize laureate, for defying the Taliban in Pakistan and demanding that girls be allowed to receive an education.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Qiu Jin, China’s first feminist executed in 1907, for fighting for the emancipation of women at a time when such movements did not exist in China, for refusing to bind your feet, for leaving your loveless marriage to study in Japan, and for starting your own feminist newspaper, Chinese Women.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, and the brave women who sparked the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, for refusing segregation.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Sadako Sasaki, Japanese hibakusha “bomb-affected person” after Hiroshima, for folding one thousand origami cranes before your death, a symbol of the innocent victims of nuclear warfare.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Sally Ride, American engineer, physicist, and astronaut who became the first American woman and the third women overall in space in 1983, for showing the world, especially young girls, that women can reach for the stars and fly into space.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Rigoberta Menchü Tum, K’iche’ political and human rights activist from Guatemala, for dedicating your life to publicizing the rights of Guatemala’s indigenous women and ethno-cultural reconciliation, and for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian novelist and author, for giving a definition of feminism for the 21st century in your book, We Should All Be Feminists.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Mary Daly, American feminist philosopher and theologian, for challenging us to move Beyond God the Father.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist, first women to win a Nobel Prize, and first person and only woman to win twice, for your groundbreaking work in the field of radioactivity and for setting a new bar for women in academic and scientific achievement.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Helen Keller, American author, political activist, and lecturer who was deaf and blind, for campaigning tirelessly on behalf of people who are physically challenged and for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, and antimilitarism.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, Wangari Maathai, Kenyan ecologist who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, for your contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace with women to reverse African deforestation.

Response: We are grateful!

Thank you, mothers, grandmothers, ancestors, and all who have nurtured in every family and country, for shaping generations with your inspiration.

Response: We are grateful!

The list is endless. Who else would you add?

Response: We are grateful!

Song: “Moment of Thanks” by Jan Novotka, from Lovers of Life ©2008.

A silent moment of thanks is what I offer, a moment of thanks,
a silent moment of thanks.

Reflection | Sharing

Let us take a few moments of quiet to reflect on these questions:

What did you hear in the women’s stories that inspires you? How do you inspire others?

After a quiet time, share your inspiration. 

Blessing Bread

One woman holds injera and prays: We bless this injera in solidarity with our sisters in Africa. From the land of the Nile in Egypt to the land of former apartheid in South Africa, women struggle with famines and wars and unite to work against patriarchal domination.

Women of Africa, we are in solidarity with you.

Another holds tortillas and prays: We bless these tortillas in solidarity with our sisters in Central and South America. From the highlands of Guatemala to the rim of Chile, women struggle against U.S. domination of their lands and unite in demanding democracy and justice of their own governments.

Women of Central and South America, we are in solidarity with you.

Another holds rye bread and prays: We bless this rye bread in solidarity with our sisters in Europe. From the land of the former Berlin Wall to the highlands of Russia, women struggle to exercise their rights and unite to make their voices heard.

Women of Europe, we are in solidarity with you.

Blessing Drink

One holds water and prays: We bless this water in solidarity with our sisters in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. From the outback to the seaside, women struggle to retain their ancient cultures and their dreamtime, and unite in passing on their cultures.

Women of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, we are in solidarity with you.

Another woman holds juice and prays: We bless this juice in solidarity with our sisters in Asia. From the Middle East to Beijing, from Japan to the Philippines, women toil in rice fields, sew in sweatshops, and unite in embracing new realities.

Women of Asia, we are in solidarity with you.

Another woman holds wine and prays: We bless this wine in solidarity with our sisters in North America. From the tip of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, indigenous women struggle against racism and oppression, and unite in calling all to care for Earth.

Women of North America, we are in solidarity with you.

Share Bread and Drink

Praising Women of the Seven Continents

Praise women of the seven continents for inspiration and justice they bring to the world.
Praise to you, Sisters of Asia, for your strong resistance to oppression.
Praise to you, Sisters of Africa, for raising your voices in public squares.
Praise to you, Sisters of Europe, for your leadership in peacekeeping.
Praise to you, Sisters of North America, for confronting inequalities of race and class.
Praise to you, Sisters of South America, for struggles that bring about equality.
Praise to you, Sisters in Antarctica, for your scientific research.
Praise to you, Sisters of Australia, for your steadfast demands for justice.

Take Action

Let us put our prayers into action. Here are some possible ways.

~ Place pictures of inspirational women around your home.

~ Search for a woman online whom you admire, read her biography, and let it inspire you to shape your own story.

~ Write a letter or send an email to a woman who has guided you.

~ Take a wise woman out to dinner or cook a festive meal for her.

~ Make a collage of the names of women who have sparked in you a passion for justice.

~ Speak out to end discrimination, violence, and murders of trans women and in particular trans women of color.

~ Advocate for women’s rights to move forward and not regress on issues such as choice, non-discrimination, comprehensive immigration reform, and voting rights.

Sending Forth

Let us go forth and continue to raise up women.

Let us speak their names, tell their stories, and thank them for sharing their unique gifts with the world.

Let us be women and men who inspire others.

Greeting of Peace

Breathe deeply. Take in the energy of the candlelight. Play the chimes. Smell the flowers.  Bless yourself with the water. Send peace to women in your family, in your community, in your country, and around the world. Blessings to you during Women’s History Month!

Closing Song: “Dancing Sophia’s Circle,” Colleen Fulmer, Dancing Sophia’s Circle, © 1994.

Ring us round O ancient circle,
Great Mother dancing free,
Beauty, strength and Holy Wisdom,
Blessing you and blessing me.

Learn More from These Resources

~ Read the women named in the Litany of Gratitude to learn more about them.

~ Google https://www.internationalwomensday.com/ for the latest about International Women’s Day.

© 2019 WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual dneu@hers.com