Some years ago, I worked as a Domestic Violence Counselor at a Women’s Shelter where I conducted both group and individual sessions. I met several wonderful women and on one of my weekly visits, I worked with a young lady who made an impression on me. I am singling her out because of the topic I have chosen for discussion—and for how our sessions progressed.
In our very first one-on-one, we met in the living room at the shelter, and I remember that the blinds were fully closed and it was early in the afternoon with the sun shining outside. She could not allow herself to open the shades, even after I brought her attention to that fact. My first priority then was to release her fears. As she gained more confidence, I asked her to begin creating a vision of herself to reinforce her new narrative of her life, versus how others saw and defined her. On our last session before she moved out of the shelter, she shared her vision in a poem that gave me goose bumps! I still remember how I felt in that moment.
The approach I used had also worked well for me when I was in the process of reshaping my own narrative and world. The assignment was: “Re-write the text of the Magnificat in your own words, correcting for gender. Then, using the Magnificat as a model, you will write a Hymn of praise to yourself and your gifts. You are glorifying the divine, immanent within your own body. Have mercy on yourself and give praise that you were created in the image of the most holy.” I chose Bach’s Magnificat, which I played several times over a period of time, until I was satisfied with my assignment. To this day, I feel it is one of most life-changing experiences, and it especially gave me my own channel to connect with the divine. I was presented an opportunity to deeply reflect, create, and share the vision of who I am. Here’s my version:
The Magnificat in my Own Image
I was born in the month of November
As the elders describe, that is the month
where if one goes through, one is able to live and tell their story.
I was blessed with a rich imagery of depth and permanence
When my birth coincided with a fixed water element as my astrological sign.
I was named Amma for a girl born on Saturday
And was honored with the name Esi Mensimah, my grandmother’s name.
And my soul rejoiced.
Culture and tradition appeared in every fiber of my being,
with drums speaking to my heart.
I learned that I could whisper through the wind to talk with the
Goddess and she appreciated the proverbs, songs and rituals that honored her.
This indigenous religion reinforced my belief that human progress brought
peace and harmony to my community.
And my soul rejoiced.
With a powerful physique,
I was endowed with great love, sensitivity, mystery and wisdom.
As the eagle was introduced to accompany my journeys,
I learned to love with fierce abandon.
My heart opened and burned with passion for love and justice,
And my soul rejoices for what is yet to come.
As you may know, the Magnificat is a representation of St. Luke’s record of Mother Mary’s words. [Luke 1:39-56 – story; Luke 1:46-55 song]. The main themes highlighted are social justice, women’s empowerment, divine power and mercy. I believe it is timely to share this intricate assignment, because it underscores the need to examine and interpret our own spirituality, consequently impacting the external world, which seems to need our attention and with some urgency.
I am aware that some women may have hesitation in reading further, or even taking the time to sit and listen deeply to Mary’s words, but I would encourage you not to get caught up in personal objections about religions and theological analysis, because I trust that this experience would be transformational.
This work requires an inward look, and as a practical experience unfolds, we may deal with rising conflicts, embrace ourselves in the midst of uncertainty, and find our truth. This inner work, which is guided by Mary’s words, will bring the understanding that what we experience is identical with the true Source.
Walking steadily in one’s truth, I believe, is one of the most exhilarating experiences there is! Now imagine it-multiplied millions-fold across this world, women rising to reclaim the feminine. The force is with us, and we have the wind at our backs as we walk steadily with dignity and grace in our truths.