The Shift Network Blog

On the Path of the Feminine Mystic, We Are All (Reluctant) Prophets
Mirabai Starr
By Mirabai Starr
InterSpiritual Teacher, Mystic-Scholar

Imagine Mother Mary when she was just a girl….

She's 14 maybe, in the fresh embrace of puberty, and the air is charged with meaning. One night, unable to sleep for the unbearable beauty of being alive, she hears the rustle of great wings and feels a rush of wind on her face.

Frightened, she presses herself against the stone wall of her tiny sleeping alcove and begins to tremble.

"Miriam," a voice reverberates in the dark. "You have been chosen among all the women of the world to receive the Messiah in your own body and give birth to Peace on Earth."

What would you do? Would you leap out of bed and shout, "Great idea, Lord! When do we get started?"

More likely you would do everything in your power to convince the powers that be that they had the wrong girl.

We all have our angel Gabriel. That angelic presence that fills the horizons of our hearts and says "You. There is work to be done. It's up to you to do it."

We have our burning bushes, before which we take off our sandals and drop to our knees, like Moses, and receive our instructions to confront the tyrant on behalf of the people.

We are meditating in our private caves, like Muhammad, minding our own business, when suddenly an archangel gathers us in a tight embrace and insists that we take dictation on the word of Allah.

Like Jonah, we stow away on a ship hoping that if we sail far out to sea we can get away from the voice that insists we stand up against injustice, that we uncover the light we've hidden under a bushel, that we speak and sing and paint and parent our way to peace for all beings everywhere.

But we are not ready….

We are an unmarried Jewish teenager from a poor family. We are a shepherd with a stutter. We are an illiterate camel driver. We are languishing in the belly of a giant fish and it's dark in here.

We are not nearly well resourced enough to be a resource for others.

Who, when faced with the enormity of widespread humanitarian crises and pending environmental catastrophe would raise our hands high and say, "Oo, oo, pick me, God!  I choose to be exhausted and reviled. I want to bear the unbearable and accomplish the impossible. It's my turn."

Well, it is your turn. And fortunately it's mine too. It's up to all of us. As the Hopi Prophecy tells us, we are the ones we've been waiting for.

And we do not have to do this alone.

Of course we are reluctant. But the prophetic call is a collective one, and we are not required to carry the pain of the world all by ourselves. We cannot.

That same prophecy also tells us that we must let go of the familiar shore we've been clinging to and push off into the middle of a rushing river.

Yet within that flow we are meant to look around and see who is in there with us and celebrate our companionship. The ones who remain on the banks of that river desperately grasping for the familiar landscape of a shifting reality will suffer.

It is only when we surrender that we can rise to the call that resounds through the universe in the depths of our own hearts.

As it turns out, this prophetic response has a deeply feminine quality….

Rather than react with our masculine impulse to fix what we perceive to be broken, to champion the downtrodden with swords outstretched and shields installed, we are invited now to gather the wounds of the world into our own tender heart and shelter them there.

To lean close and listen before charging ahead and vanquishing. To create community rather than align against the Other.

The feminine Mystics of all traditions — from the great reformer, Teresa of Avila to the ecstatic poet, Rabia — embodied this radically compassionate and inclusive and supremely grounded approach to mending the world.

They were not interested in transcending suffering, but rather in transmuting it in love. The way of the feminine mystic is the way of incarnation, of recognizing the Creator in every facet of Creation, and praising that divinity, and protecting it with all our hearts.

You do not have to be a woman to walk the way of the feminine mystic....

All over the world, men in positions of inherited power and privilege are voluntarily abdicating and deferring to the wise females that surround them.

They understand that we have all suffered for having denied and denigrated the wisdom of the feminine, and they too long for a return to the essential balance instilled in every soul.

Nor is your reluctance a sign of inadequacy. All the best prophets have been the reluctant ones!

But neither is the way of transformational healing supposed to hurt. Jewish wisdom teaches us that we are each uniquely designed to repair the broken world in our own way. Yours may not look anything like you thought it should be.

We are all prophets, made for peace. We are all mystics, worthy of a direct encounter with the sacred.

Ours is a response of love, rather than a call to battle. It is a celebration, not a sentence.

Come. You are invited to this feast of love. We cannot begin until you take your place at the table.


PS - Enjoy the insights included above? If so, please download my free hour-long recording, Answering the Prophetic Call of Feminine Mysticism: