June 2020 WATERritual

Drawing from Wisdom’s Well

By Diann L. Neu with Techika Rhodes and Laura Carr-Pries

Listen to the recording of the ritual here.

May Wisdom be in my heart and in my perceiving.

Preparation
Place a bowl of water, a towel, sprigs of rosemary and lavender near you.

Call to Gather
Welcome to Wisdom’s Well! This bowl filled with water represents Divine Wisdom’s Well. Wisdom calls, and those who hear her gather around her well — to protest, to memorialize, to stand in solidarity, to nourish our spirits. At birth, baptism, bat mitzvah, and rites of passage, Holy Wisdom calls girls and women to feminist ministry and service. She challenges us to proclaim our gifts and to act with wisdom. During these deplorable and uncertain times of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the unveiling of the systemic violence of racism and white supremacy in our cities, what calls are we hearing? What actions are we taking?

Tonight we meet around a well. Wells throughout the ages were places where the community gathered, welcomed one another, remembered together, blessed one another, and sent each other forth with water for their homes and their communities. Many women of the Bible make their entrances by a well, and many commentators have noted the well as a feminine, womb-like symbol, a hidden source of life. Remember this as you wash your hands during this pandemic; as you weep because peaceful protesters were fired at with tear gas and bullets; as you pray desperately for an end to racial violence.

In Celtic spirituality a custom called “well dressing” involved placing plants, flowers, or herbs near a source of water as a way of honoring the precious gift of water from Divine Wisdom. Today we know how precious water is! Put rosemary and lavender, symbols of remembrance, around the well to help us remember those marked by COVID-19; to help us remember George Floyd and the calls for racial justice his death has sparked; to help us remember that we are called to break silence and work for racial justice.

Praise Divine Wisdom
Let us praise Divine Wisdom for raising up wise ones to bless us during this COVID-19 time and during the struggles for racial justice. Our response is: “Bless us with wisdom.”

Praise to you, Divine Wisdom, for raising up Miriam to dance your people to promised lands.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Praise to you, Holy Wisdom, for empowering Mary Magdalene, the apostle to the apostles, the first to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection, and the foundation of women-church.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Praise to you, Divine Wisdom, for raising up the African American community and the Black Lives Matter Movement who challenge the corruption of the American government, law enforcement, militarization, and racism everywhere.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Praise to you, Holy Wisdom, for calling forth doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, home healthcare aids, and first responders to care for those living and dying with COVID-19 and those with physical and emotional wounds from protesting in our cities.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Praise to you, Divine Wisdom, for giving us courage to face our anger, fears, anxieties, impatience, and uncertainties during this uncharted pandemic and ongoing racial violence.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Praise to you, Holy Wisdom, for calling us to remember those who are most vulnerable, those who have no safe place to shelter, those who are hungry, and those who are unable to earn an income because their jobs are suspended.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Praise to you, Divine Wisdom, for giving us this time to rebalance and transform our lives, our hearts, our cities, our countries, our planet, and our universe.
Response: Bless us with wisdom.
Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

Reading: “Litany of the Saints” © 2011 Marsie Silvestro from Feast of Sisterly Trance Formation

Women
from every corner
of the earth,
fighting oppression,
saying no to violence,
and war and rape,
feeding the hungry,
clothing the poor,
healing the sick
and themselves.
Women
from every corner
of the earth,
birthing songs and paintings,
books and baked goods,
policies and petunias,
children and cats,
out of their hearts,
their homes
and bodies.
Women
from every corner
of the earth,
working to free
their mothers, their aunts,
sisters and daughters,
all in the name of Justice,
all in the name of Love,
all in the life of You.

Song: “Woman Wisdom” by Juliana produced by Llewellyn ℗ 2001 New World Music Ltd.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edvemRnMc-o

Ooooh, Ohooo, Aww, Aww
There will be times, when I feel betrayed
There will be hurt, and there will be pain
but there is a strength (there is a strength)
I find from within (I find within)
I can release, all the anger that’s been

There is a light, burning so bright
Deep within my heart and my soul
I stand still and breathe
I still believe,
Where there is light, there is a life of woman wisdom in me

(Oh) There will be nights, when you feel alone
There will be fear, you think it won’t go
But there is a voice (there is a voice), a faith that is you (faith that is you)
It holds the key, it speaks the truth

There is a light, burning so bright
Deep within your heart and your soul
Stand still and breathe
You can come through,
Where there is light, there is a life of woman wisdom in you

There will always be the doubt, and the fear
We’re only human and the lessons are found here
Don’t let some people take control of your life
Listen to the voices that have echoed in your mind

There is a light, burning so bright
Deep within our hearts and our souls
Stand still and breathe
Now feel the love
Where there is light, there is a life of woman wisdom in us

(Now feel the love) Where there is light, there is a life of woman wisdom in you
Of woman wisdom in me,
Of woman wisdom in you

Reflection | Sharing
Think about wisdom’s well, women’s wisdom, the reading, the songs, and the stories you have been hearing. Let us take a few moments of quiet to reflect on these questions:
Who do you feel especially connected to and why?
How will you draw upon Divine Wisdom during these uncertain times?
Pause for quiet reflection.
After a quiet time, I will invite us to share as we wish. Sharing.

Solo: I found, strength, courage, and wisdom
And it’s been inside of me, all along
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me

A Blessing for Wisdom
Take some water from Wisdom’s Well to connect with your birth, baptism, bat mitzvah, and rites of passage, and to your call to feminist ministry and service. If you wish, touch each part of your body as you pray for wisdom.

Touch your heart and say: May Wisdom be in my heart and in my perceiving.
Touch your head and say: May Wisdom be in my mind and in my thinking.
Touch your mouth: May Wisdom be in my mouth and in my speaking.
Touch your hands: May Wisdom be in my hands and in my working.
Touch your feet: May Wisdom be in my feet and in my walking.
Touch your body, especially any other part you want blessed: May Wisdom be in my body and in my loving. May Wisdom be with me all the days of my life.
Amen. Blessed be. May it be so.

Prayer: Our Mother by Miriam Therese Winter in Gil Stafford, Wisdom Walking: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life (New York: Church Publishing, 2017), 199.

Our Mother who is within us
we celebrate your many names.
Your wisdom come.
Your will be done,
unfolding from the depths within us.
Each day you give us all that we need.
You remind us of our limits
and we let go.
You support us in our power
and we act with courage.
For you are the dwelling place within us
the empowerment around us
and the celebration among us
now and forever. Amen

Sending Forth
Strengthened by coming together at Wisdom’s well tonight, let us go forth to pray for and act with strength, courage, and wisdom during these heart-wrenching and deplorable times.

On June 1, 2020 WATER wrote this witness:

The Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) stands with all who deplore the systemic violence of racism and white supremacy. We condemn police actions that resulted in the brutal killing of George Floyd. This was yet one more instance, from microaggressions to murder, of the racist violence that we seek to eradicate.

Racism produces economic inequality, lack of access to education, substandard housing, and unemployment. White supremacy assures undeserved privilege for white people and guarantees that people of color, especially African Americans, will always have to work harder, be better, and still find themselves vulnerable. These social evils have real physical and psychological consequences that are deadly for individuals and lethal for whole generations. This must end.

We recommit ourselves personally and organizationally to stem the tide of racist violence through education, activism, and alliance building. We urge our Alliance to act with all who work to dismantle this pernicious, pervasive system of racism and white supremacy that is corroding our nation’s moral foundation and destroying our social fabric. We can and we will do better.

May we go forth filled with Divine Wisdom and courage to make the world a safer and better place for everyone.

Take Action
• Join a protest — in your neighborhood or digitally.
• Sign a petition to advocate for change. You can find petitions at https://www.change.org/
• Explore this website which includes links to articles, books, podcasts, movies and many other important resources to educate oneself on anti-racism, ways to take action, and of people and organizations that are taking important action.
• Donate to a local bail fund that is freeing people by paying bail/bond. Find your local fund here.
• Read these books on wisdom written by wise women:
– Cannon, Katie Geneva, KATIE’S CANON: WOMANISM AND THE SOUL OF THE BLACK COMMUNITY. New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1995.
– Cahill, Susan. WISE WOMEN: OVER TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF SPIRITUAL WRITING BY WOMEN. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.,1996.
– Schussler Fiorenza, Elisabeth, WISDOM WAYS: INTRODUCING FEMINIST BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION. Maryknoll NY: Orbis Books, 2001.

• Beals, Melba Pattillo. I WILL NOT FEAR: MY STORY OF A LIFETIME OF BUILDING FAITH UNDER FIRE. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Revell, 2018.
• Cullors-Khan, Patrisse & Bandele, Asha. WHEN THEY CALL YOU A TERRORIST: A BLACK LIVES MATTER MEMOIR. New York, NY: St. Martins Press, 2017.
• Ransby, Barbara. MAKING ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER: REIMAGINING FREEDOM IN THE 21st CENTURY. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018.

Song: Strength, Courage, and Wisdom by India Arie
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6P4jI8t-0I

(Speaking: Here we go) Umm, umm, umm, umm, umm, umm, umm
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 in 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 missin
Running too fast to stop to listen

It’s time to step out on faith, I gotta show my face
It’s been illusive for so long, but freedom is mine today
Step out on faith it’s time to show my face
Procrastination had me down, 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

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh
Um, um, um, um

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)
So let it be (So let it be)
So let it be (So let it 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
It’s been inside of me yeah all along,
Now everyday I’m praying for

Strength, courage, and wisdom
To find yeah, oh
(Strength, courage, and wisdom)
Inside of me um, um, um, um, um, hmm, hmm yeah, yeah

I found it in me, I found it finally
(I found it) I’m sure to keep it’, so I say thank you
I found it (Oh)
I found it
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: India Arie / India Arie Simpson
Strength Courage & Wisdom lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

© 2020 WATER: The Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, dneu@hers.com