Life’s Enduring Journey – Part Two

We have seen many people forced to address issues because they saw an injustice and determined that they would work to right the wrongs. Equality, fairness, civil rights, and freedom are all causes which have taken people like Confucius who changed the psyche of his nation through teaching, Martin Luther King who brought awareness and change to the plight of African-Americans, Florence Nightingale who changed the face of nursing, Gandhi and Mandela, who brought freedom to their nations, Golda Meir, the first woman to lead the nation of Israel, Jesus, who preached of God’s love so that his disciples could bring Christ consciousness to the world, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony, who fought for equality of women’s rights. Social, spiritual, ethical and religious revolutions brought their leaders to heights they never imagined.
Leadership carries its own weight and responsibilities. Without the brave men and women who saw the need for profound change, our world would be completely different. Each moved forward without knowing the end result but we can applaud their incredible foresight.
And yet, each Leader would tell you, that no one person works in isolation. As you make your way into the ‘journey’ of your own world, taking a stand for what you believe in, following through on the promises you made to yourself and others is important. If you join like minded souls whose passion for a cause matches your own, you will be no less an agent of change than those who have followed great leaders since the beginning of time. We are nothing in isolation. We are nothing if our message is lost because we failed to commit ourselves to an ideal and follow through.
From all of our earliest journeys, we have traveled the path of our destiny with others. We join hands across the table, the room, the country, and the world, to connect with our human brothers and sisters. Like us, took they took that first breath of inspiration and rose to meet the challenges of growth through development of skills and strengthening of faith in a common purpose.
Our early experiences may have been different but at a point in our lives, much like this point in time today, we must intersect with each other to learn, to create change and bring about a better world for all.

From The Desiderata

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

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First again

Reverend Judith Andrade,  My Ordination Journey.

Over the weekend of October 1-2 2011,
the second of my firsts came to fruition. Imagine at my great young middle age,
having the opportunity to participate in something new, something never done
before with an amazing group of people I never met for the second time in less
than three months!  My ordination as an
interfaith minister was as challenging as it gets.

Although I had been  ordained in 1999 through The International
Assembly of Spiritual Healers and Earth Stewards, I didn’t take my divinity
degree until 2002-4, when  I realized a
dream to build a new and unique Ministry for and by women. The additional
training added a wonderful dimension to the work. The whole plan started to blossom
in 2004 only to have it shattered with the
sudden and unexpected death of my co-collaborator, dear friend and business
partner.

Everything was put on hold. For the first three years I was shattered, feeling
that perhaps it wasn’t meant to be. Then one day, I woke up, like Buddha and
wondered why I thought all the dreams we shared as friends  should end. Some dreams die with people who
share our goals, some have to be adjusted and some should go on in order to
honour the person and keep their spirit alive. This dream we had of helping
women and men to overcome trauma and childhood abuse was worthy and needed. Our
vision was not for ourselves but for how we could help others.

So I started on projects which clearly got me back on the right track. I
completed and published my two novels, The Will To Be True/In The Shadow of the
Blackbird and a third, Suspect, Love. Just as I completed my third book and
pitched it at the first ever ‘Pitchfest’ organized by my publisher in Hollywood,
I was offered a chance to be ordained
with the seminary where I completed my degree, something which was not
available at the time I graduated.

How do they connect?  The novels relate stories
of strong women who have overcome childhood traumas and succeeded where they
thought the status quo was the only option. On completing the books and having
them published, I was inspired to complete my own paths and fulfill my dreams.

Getting to the point of ordination was not easy. We were given three months to
complete herculean tasks (well it seemed that way to me). With much focus, I
finished the required courses, books, and services. ( I mean, who needed to
write another 10,000 word essay after writing a 100,00 word book). I mailed my
last assignment two days before the deadline and blamed Canada Post for not
getting it there on time. I wasn’t the only one but the College faculty were
beyond understanding and so patient with all of us because this whole
ordination things was new for them too.

Our group was just amazing. We were from all walks of life, sharing different
histories, but working with common purpose to prepare for our graduation and
bring our strengths to a multi-faith service in which we all took part.  I never met any of my colleagues but knew all
of them by voice. With very few hitches, we were all ordained by the hardworking
Director and Administrative Director of the College through the support of A
World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy.

Change and challenge are always
wonderful exercises which allow us to observe the strength of the human spirit.  As humans we are blessed with the ability to
look back at where we started and see where we reach then use that impetus to
move us forward. What will always please me is the chance I had to be first
again and pave the way for others. I am mindful in these later years of my life
that I must follow the example and goals set as a standard for life by my pioneering
grandmother way back in 1927. If I emulate her courage even for a day, I hope I
have made her proud of me.

 

Why everywoman is a Goddess

“When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid”.

~ Audre Lorde, 1934-1992

This wonderful and inspiring quote from the celebrated Black Author and Poet, Audre Lorde, never fails to provide me with a deeper courage to face challenges that sometimes get me down. This gave me pause to really think about courage and what it means for women.  As I was researching the word courage, I fell in love with another word that is rich with meaning;  Agathology.

My Grandmother, who demonstrated enormous courage, in her day and time was named Agatha. I used to feel that her name was so old fashioned. She was also given the right to choose my name at birth and it was just as old-fashioned. I never used my given name until I was 19 and forced to change it from the family nick-name. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I suppose we sometimes have to grow into a name.

Agatha, like the name Judith, has strength, but there is a softness to Agatha that speaks of woman at her best, nurturing, providing for her family, out there protecting, doing what it takes to survive. This was very much my Grandmother’s way and how she had to live her life. So, I fell in love with Agathology, which means ‘an inquiry into the nature of good’.

There are so few references to this lovely word and its practice, Agathism and its adherents, Agathists. In adopting a philosophy (love of knowledge), related to the nature of good, I was inspired to learn about and appreciate the women and the stories of their life and their survival. I wanted to know how good can overcome evil and how we strive towards good in the absence of negativity. Further, I was inspired to write about them from their own words, out of the depths of their own pain and hope that other women will read the sometimes harrowing struggles and be inspired too.

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I started writing a series of stories and interviews about surviving to help give voice to women who didn’t have one.

 The dictionary defines survive as ‘live on’ endure subsist. None of these words can really describe what it means to overcome the despair of tremendous loss or breach insurmountable obstacles. Does one really live on after losing a life long partner, suddenly and cruelly? How does one endure the normalcy of everyday life after suffering the most inhumane physical and sexual abuse. Millions of women subsist in wealthy countries as well as poorer nations every day as they struggle to make a life for themselves and their children. The definition does not come close to describing the true meaning of a survivor. Hestia’s Hearth, our Sanctuary of healing,  thinks survivor is synonymous with courage!

Quite often the newspapers or TV tabloids will carry ‘human interest’ stories that provide the rest of us with the occasional reminder of the strength of the human spirit. Reading or hearing about the intimate and extraordinary things that ordinary people can do in the face of adversity is inspiring. When women find themselves surpassing even their own expectations and serving as role models for others, their story has a profound energy and quality.

Hestia’s Hearth is a quiet sanctuary in Southern Ontario which serves as the setting for intriguing interviews with ordinary women who have shown tremendous courage and fortitude. The subjects of these fireside conversations are the true heroes of Hestia’s Hearth. They are women from all walks of life and all parts of the world who, for the first time in some cases, will be sharing painful memories, courageous acts and hearts filled with spiritual presence.

I hope you will have a look at their stories.