January 2022 WATERritual: Step into the Pool with Sojourner Truth

January 25, 2022 WATERritual

Step into the Pool with Sojourner Truth

By Diann L. Neu

Listen to the audio recording of the January 2022 WATERritual here.

Call to Gather    

Today, in keeping with the “I have a dream” theme of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we raise up a wise African-American woman who inspires us to live the dream. We gather to celebrate Sojourner Truth, a down-to-earth preacher and Spirit-led activist for abolition, women’s rights, and non-violence, who continues to inspire us today.

She was born into slavery near Kingston, New York, in approximately 1797, but escaped to freedom with her infant daughter. After laboring for four masters until 1826, she finally took her freedom and never looked back. She is honored in American history for her speeches against slavery and for women’s rights, and for her work on behalf of people freed from slavery after the Civil War.

Sojourner was renowned in her time for her speaking and singing abilities. As someone who could neither read nor write, she had people read to her, especially the Bible. She stirred the waters of her day, and inspires us to do the same in ours.

Tonight we tell the story of Sojourner Truth, using her own words about women’s rights, anti-racism, and non-violence. She challenges us to step into the pool while the waters are stirring.


Song: “Come and Go with Me to That Land,” Traditional, words by Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock


*Come and go with me to that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound, where I’m bound.

*Come and go with me to that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound.

*We’ll all be together in that land… *Nothin’ but peace in that land…

*No more hatred in that land… *Come and go with me to that land…


Reading: “A Name is Sometimes an Ancestor saying Hi, I’m with You” by Alice Walker from Living by the Word, San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1988.

“There are always people in history (or herstory) who help us, and whose “job” it is, in fact, to do this…Now these people – our “spirit helpers,” as indigenous peoples time after time in all cultures have referred to them – always create opportunities that make a meeting with and recognition of them unavoidable.

“Sojourner Truth is one such figure for me. Even laying aside such obvious resemblances as the fact that we are both as concerned about the rights of women as the rights of men, and that we share a certain “mystical” bent, Sojourner (“Walker” – in the sense of traveler, journeyer, wanderer) Truth (which “Alice” means in Old Greek) is also my name. How happy I was when I realized this…

“I get power from this name that Sojourner Truth and I share. And when I walk into a room of strangers who are hostile to the words of women, I do so with her/our cloak of authority – as black women and beloved expressions of the Universe (i.e., children of God) – warm about me.

“She smiles within my smile. That irrepressible great heart rises in my chest. Every experience that roused her passion against injustice in her lifetime shines from my eyes.

“This feeling of being loved and supported by the Universe in general and by certain recognizable spirits in particular is bliss. No other state is remotely like it. And perhaps that is what Jesus tried so hard to teach: that the transformation required of us is not simply to be “like” Christ, but to be Christ.

“The spirit of our helpers incarnates in us, making us more ourselves by extending us far beyond.”

The words of Alice Walker.


Song: “Come and Go with Me to That Land,” Traditional

*Come and go with me to that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound, where I’m bound.

*Come and go with me to that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound.


The Words of Sojourner Truth

1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio

“…I want women to have their rights, and while the water is stirring I’ll step into the pool.”

Stir the water.

1867 First Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Association in New York

“There is a great stir about colored men getting their rights, but not a word about the colored women; and if colored men get their rights, and not colored women theirs, you see the colored men will be masters over the women, and it will be just as bad as it was before. So I am for keeping the thing going while things are stirring; because if we wait till it is still, it will take a great while to get going again.”

Stir the water.

Unknown date and location

“I’m not going to die, I’m going home like a shooting star.”

Stir the water.


Song: *Nothin’ but peace in that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound, where I’m bound.

*Nothin’ but peace in that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound.


1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio:

Kerry Washington reads Sojourner Truth


“Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man–when I could get it–and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

“Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [Member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or Negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

“Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

Song: *No more hatred in that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound, where I’m bound.

*No more hatred in that land, (3x)

Where I’m bound.


Reflection and Sharing

What has been stirring in you?

What has Sojourner Truth said to you about women’s rights, anti-racism, and non-violence?

How and when will you step into the pool?


Blessing with Water

Come to the water. Hold your bowl of water. Stir the water. Bless yourself with this water. Touch your whole body saying,

            Bless my body, mind, and spirit that I may sense when the water is stirring,

            and step into the pool.


Song: “Wade in the Water,” danced by Alvin Ailey Co.


Wade in the water, wade in the water children,
Wade in the water, God’s a gonna trouble the water.


Sending Forth

Like Sojourner Truth, we are called to step into the pool and wade in the water.

Let us go forth committed to paying attention to every experience that rouses our passion against injustice.

Let us go forth remembering we are loved and supported by ancestors like Sojourner Truth to act justly.

Let us go forth knowing that we are not alone; we are part of a compassionate community.


Take Action

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

~ Read more about the life of Sojourner Truth. Google her!

~Visit this this exhibit on Sojourner Truth at the Library of Congress: https://www.womenshistory.org/exhibits/sojourner-truth?gclid=CjwKCAiAxJSPBhAoEiwAeO_fP3NbKgNhDQ6D3txTe4OLTeyxahOJPuFsmEHwjQQPv7BlN3Sw0H8nUBoC7QgQAvD_BwE

~ Meditate with the quotes from Sojourner Truth used in this liturgy.

~ Take a stand on anti-racism, women’s rights, and non-violence in your community. Stir the waters!


Song: “Lift Every Voice and Sing”



Learn More from These Resources

~ Cannon, Katie Geneva. Remembering What We Never Knew: The Epistemology of Womanist Theology. Richmond VA: Center for Womanist Leadership Publishing, 2018.

~ Harris, Melanie. Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth-Honoring Faiths. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017.  

~ Hinga, Teresia Mbari. African Christian, Feminist: The Enduring Search for What Matters. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017.

~ Morris, Catherine, and Hockley, Rujeko, et al. We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85: New Perspectives. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018.

~ Vesely-Flad, Rima. Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2017.

~ West, Traci C. Disruptive Christian Ethics: When Racism and Women’s Lives Matter. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.


ⓒ 2021 Diann L. Neu, dneu@hers.com, adapted from Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice