November 2019 WATERritual 

Give Thanks for Women of Wisdom

By Diann L. Neu and the WATER staff

Preparation
On the table place a plate of apples, cider, honey, and bread; five unlit candles that you will light during the ritual. Put photos or symbols of wise women on the table and around the room if you wish.

Call to Gather
Welcome to our Thanksgiving ritual. This is the season of gratitude, an opportunity to say thank you. This is the time to remember ancestors. It is time to give thanks for all good blessings. Lift your spirit and give thanks today for women of wisdom. Lift your voice and give thanks for life.

Tonight, we honor women of wisdom—from goddesses to biblical women, notable women in recorded herstory to the women in our personal lives. We connect to their wisdom, and dive into our own lived wisdom. 

Naming the Circle
Let us create our thanksgiving circle by sharing our names and something we are grateful for this season. Example: “I am Name, and I am thankful for . . . ”

Centering Prayer
Light a candle.

Let us center ourselves breathing in positive energy and releasing negative energy that manifests in our bodies and minds.

Breathe in hope 

Breathe out anxiety

Breathe in gratitude

Breathe out tension

Breathe in rest

Breathe out anger

Breathe in the calm space around you 

Breathe out any stress or burdens you may have

Centering Music: Overture in C Major by Fanny Mendelssohn, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra led by conductor Mei-Ann Chen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX1-wNcrzsk

Prayer
Sister Wisdom Sophia, we remember today the women, named and unnamed, who throughout the ages have used their wisdom and gifts to transform the world. We call upon these ancestors to help us discover within ourselves your wisdom and the ways we can use it to bring about justice and peace. Be with us on this journey. Amen. Blessed be. May it be so.

Readings about Gratitude
Light a candle.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can have major benefits for mental and physical health. Let’s listen to women’s words of gratitude.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” –Maya Angelou

“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
Alice Walker

“My gratitude for good writing is unbounded; I’m grateful for it the way I’m grateful for the ocean.” – Anne Lamott

“I grind with gratitude for the richness of our harvest, not with cross feelings of working too hard. As I kneel at my grinding stone, I bow my head in prayer, thanking the great forces for provision. I have received much. I am willing to give much in return, for as I have taught you, there must always be a giving back for what one receives.” – Polingaysi Qoyawayma (Elizabeth Q. White), No Turning Back: A Hopi Indian Woman’s Struggle to Live in Two Worlds (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1964).

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.” –Oprah Winfrey

Centering Music: Overture in C Major by Fanny Mendelssohn

Litany of Goddesses and Biblical Women
Light a candle.

In gratitude, let us remember women who imagined they could make a difference in the world—and did.

Our response to each name is: Thanks for your Wisdom.

We remember Kwan Yin, a Buddhist Bodhisattva from China, the Goddess of Compassion, whose name means “She who hears the cries of the world.” 

Response: Thanks for your Wisdom.

We remember Gaia, the Goddess that embodies Earth itself and all that live and breathe. R.

We remember Sarah, Hagar, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, for answering the call of Sophia Wisdom and putting their faith in a covenant with the Holy One. R.

We remember Judith, for fighting for the freedom of her people and for not conforming to any one idea of femaleness. R.

We remember Mary, a Galilean Jew and mother, for listening, pondering, and knowing that she had been chosen to give birth to Jesus, a powerful liberator. R.

We remember Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles and the foundation of Women-Church, for sharing the first news of Jesus’ resurrection. R.

We remember Lydia, the businesswoman of purple dye from Thyatira, deaconess, and spiritual leader of the early house-church movement, for being called to a discipleship of equals. R.

Litany of Women of Recorded History
Light a candle.

We remember Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, the Mexican nun, for courageously criticizing misogyny and the hypocrisy of the patriarchy that led to her condemnation by the bishop of Puebla. 

Response: Thanks for your Wisdom.

We remember Sojourner Truth, for her defiant declaration of “Ain’t I A Woman” as she advocated for freedom by fighting for abolition and women’s rights. R.

We remember Harriette Tubman, for conducting the underground railroad for eight years, never running her train off the track, and never losing a passenger. R.

We remember Dorothy Day, for founding the Catholic Worker Movement and believing in radical hospitality with those who are poor. R.

We remember Dolores Huerta, for founding the United Farm Workers and continuing to work tirelessly to support immigrants and health-care reform. R.

We remember Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, and the brave women who sparked the Civil Rights Movement, for refusing segregation. R.

We remember Malala Yousafzai, for defying the Taliban in Pakistan and demanding that girls be allowed to receive an education. R.

We remember Rachel Carson, for being an ecologist whose book Silent Spring advanced the global environmental movement. R.  

We remember Thea Bowman, FSPA, for being a trailblazing African-American Sister, the first black Sister in her white congregation who encouraged people to stand up for their rights, especially toward racial justice. R. 

Litany of Women in Our Lives
Light a candle.

We remember our mothers, grandmothers, ancestors, all women who have been our guides and whose powerful lives have shaped ours. 

Response: Thanks for your Wisdom.

We remember women in ministry, feminist theologians, scholars and journalists, women prophets, and all women who speak out against oppression in all of its forms. R. 

What other women do we wish to remember now? Tell us, and we will respond with “Thanks for your wisdom.”

Reflection | Sharing
Let us spend a few minutes in quiet reflection on wise women in our lives.

What women of wisdom came to your mind and heart as you listened?

After some quiet time, let us share our reflections. 

Song: “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom” by India Aria, American singer and songwriter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6P4jI8t-0I

Inside my head there lives a dream that I want to see in the sun
Behind my eyes there lives a me that I’ve been hiding for much too long
Cause I’ve been, too afraid to let it show
Cause I’m scared of the judgment that may follow

Always putting off my living for tomorrow
It’s time to step out on faith, I’ve gotta show my faith
It’s been illusive for so long, but freedom is mine today
I’ve gotta step out on faith, It’s time to show my faith
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found, I found

Strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Behind my pride there lives a me, that knows humility
Inside my voice there is a soul, and in my soul there is a voice
But I’ve been, too afraid to make a choice
Cause I’m scared of the things that I might be missing

Running too fast to stop and listen
It’s time to step out on faith, I’ve gotta show my faith
It’s been illusive for so long but freedom is mine today
I’ve gotta step out on faith it’s time to show my faith
Procrastination had me down but look what I have found, I found

Strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

I close my eyes and I think of all the things that I want to see
‘Cause I know, now that I’ve opened up my heart I know that
Anything I want can be, so let it be, so let it be

Strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

It’s been inside of me all along, everyday I’m praying for

Strength, courage, and wisdom
To find me, yeah,
Strength, courage, and wisdom

Inside of me

I found it in me, I found it finally
I’m sure to keep it’ cause I like it, I say thank you

Source: LyricFind Songwriters: India Arie / India Arie Simpson

Strength Courage & Wisdom lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Blessing Apples, Honey, and Bread

We bless apples, honey, and bread tonight to taste and see the strength, courage, and wisdom of women. 

Hold an apple and a cup of cider: Blessed are You, Wisdom of the Harvest, for giving us these apples and this cider that are symbols of women’s wisdom. We remember Eve, who reached for knowledge, took a bite of the apple, and found that it was good. She was a wise woman!

Hold a bowl of honey: Blessed are You, Wisdom of the Harvest, for giving us this honey that adds a touch of sweetness to our wisdom. We remember Sweet Honey in the Rock! Let us pass the apples and honey around our circle, dip the apples into the honey, eat them, and connect with wise women as we enjoy.

Hold the bread: Blessed are You, Wisdom of the Harvest, for giving us this bread that nourishes and strengthens us to be wise and courageous women. We take, bless, break, and eat it with gratitude! 

Let us eat and drink giving thanks.

Take Action

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

. Learn more about one of the holy women named in the litany. 

. Express gratitude to wise women in your life by giving them a call or writing them a card.

. Plant a garden as a form of self-care.

. Take a walk outside and enjoy the beauty of Earth.

Sending Forth

Let us go forth in peace with
every breath of gratitude
for the wise and visionary women in our lives, communities, and world.

Let us go forth in joy with
every ounce of knowledge
that wise women are changing the world.

Let us go forth in gratitude with counting three blessings to contribute to our well-being.

Before you go to sleep tonight, name three blessings. Write them in a “grateful journal.”
Filled with this Wisdom, may you sleep well tonight.

© WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, waterwomensalliance.org, dneu@hers.com