Last night, 25 women gathered in my backyard to hear the personal story of Maggie Gonsalves, visiting from India. As we sat in a large circle around a fire pit, Maggie mesmerized us with stories of being one of twelve children born outside of Bombay and of her father's passionate commitment to educating his nine daughters and three sons. Though he was very poor and this education required a huge financial commitment, he told his daughters, "Your education is your dowry." Maggie was by nature inquisitive and fierce, and her education reinforced in her the importance of questioning assumptions and injustice.
Maggie followed the thread of questions in her life. She chose to enter the religious life as a Carmelite nun when she completed her post-graduate degree. Within her spiritual community, she has been a powerful catalyst for change; she believes that the patriarchal structures of the church must be challenged so that the wisdom and experience of the women can be valued equally. She has been tenacious in pursuing opportunties for more education, including a graduate degree in feminist theology in the U.S. And now she is here again seeking guidance and support for her dream to create feminist ashrams in both the U.S. and India, providing a creative and nurturing space and pace where women can bring their courage to dream. Maggie's project is called ANNNI, which means Alliance of Woman, Man, Nature and God and is the Sanskrit word meaning 'and'. You can find out more about ANNNI at http://www.annni.org/.
As the sun set last night and the big moon rose over the tree tops, the women sat in small circles to reflect on what Maggie had shared with them and to talk about their dreams. Many of them spoke about their knowing that this is the time for the feminine to rise and how they are finding their place in that lovely pattern. They experienced synchronicities which will help them manifest their dreams, and they discovered the joy of connecting with one of their global sisters.