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StorkNet presents . . . Celia Straus'
Prayers On My Pillow

StorkNet.com > Columns > Celia Straus ~ Prayers on My Pillow

Exploring Our Womanhood Through Love
by Celia Straus

Many thanks to Celia Straus for writing this column in honor of our new site in the StorkNet Family network, Exploring Womanhood.

In Marc Gafni's book, Soul Prints, he talks about each of us having an individual spiritual signature or "soul print." Our soul print is as unique to each of us in the realm of the spirit as our finger print is in the physical world. If we can discover our soul print, Gafni says, we are better able to experience profound connections to ourselves, to others and to God. Marc Gafni's words speak to me. I believe that, embedded in each of us is the summons, the yearning to be our truest, richest self, to explore our womanhood as deeply and as passionately as we possibly can, to. We hear a lot these days about writing our own scripts and being heroines of our own stories. And yet for most of us, at this moment in our lives, the process of discovering our soul prints (or stories), of learning to listen to our soul's voice instead of our personality or ego is an entirely new way of mapping the exploration of our womanhood. I believe it's a map worth following no matter how arduous, surprising, overwhelming, mysterious, glorious, tragic, whimsical and often laughable our exploration turns out to be.

I wish this exploration process wasn't so new. I wish it was an old familiar process like baking my grandmother's recipe for sugar cookies or nursing a baby or knowing when to reach out and embrace a loved one so that it would be (I'll admit it) easy -- something I could schedule into my day like jogging or a yoga class. I wish I could say that twenty, even ten years ago I became aware of my soul print, discovered my story and immediately began to live it, enabling me to write this from a wise and fully actualized perspective. Please! No way. Like most of us, I've just begun to work through the personal baggage and the patterns of behavior keeping me from soul discovery. My use of the word "work" is a good indicator of how I can quickly become clueless about how to find my way back to my soul print, the map to my own story. I still get caught in that familiar trap of thinking I can take control and improve my own life not to mention the lives of those I care about like my children. I forget that, as independent manifestations of God's love, children are to be protected and nourished, physically, mentally and spiritually, but never commanded.

I still set ridiculous deadlines for myself requiring that I operate off of an adrenaline high (usually accompanied by not a little anxiety) so I can show the world what? That I can do it all? That I can have it all? That if I can't have it all, I can have enough? I forget that I have within me an inner place of calm and wholeness from which to create that which has infinite value; that which is timeless; that which expresses my soul's voice, the only truth I have to offer. I still become depressed about wrinkles, bags under my eyes, cellulite, chronic illness, occasional aches and pains, memory loss, menopause, empty nest syndrome (although it's four years away) and my insatiable craving for Milky Ways. I forget that, at any time, in any place I have the freedom and the power to be "in the moment," breathe deeply and freely, filling myself with light and laughter. I still act from fear, forgetting that by experiencing the resonance of my inner knowing, learning to discern and trust my inner voice, I can act from love.

For love is the one sure way I know back to my soul print, as Gafni calls it, and the exploration of my own womanhood. For me it's not through genealogy, organized religion, therapy, revisited childhood experiences or amassed adult accomplishments that I am able to explore who I am with courage and compassion. It's through love. I'll give you an example. It was through love for my daughters that I began to write prayers for them in 1995 when they were 12 and 8. As I drew upon that love day after day, feeling and resonating with its warmth and light and expressing that resonance through words, I began to feel, for the first time, love for myself as the adolescent I was, and as the adult I am. Since then, through the website, girlprayers.com, books, workshops, school activities and continuous writing of prayers, I have learned that the better I can give and receive love, the better I am able to receive the souls and the stories of other women and girls. And it is during those times of connection that I discern for a moment, however ephemeral, the joy of knowing the presence of God within. I don't need to tell you that these moments have been the high points in my exploration. I have come to believe that the only times we know the depth of happiness we all long for, is not when we pursue happiness as a goal in itself, but when we experience it as a byproduct of the love we feel.

In another wonderful book, The Feminine Face of God, the Unfolding of the Sacred in Women, by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins, it says that a critical part of a woman's exploration into her self and spiritual development is a willingness not to know where she is going. The miracle that, step by step, comes out of that trust is a sense of wholeness experienced through love. If we are truly going to explore our womanhood, we must begin to trust the unknown, the reality of the moment, the exploration process. The miracle that comes with our trust is we are led to the essence of who we are. We discover our soul print. We live our stories.

In my second book of poems, More Prayers On My Pillow, there is a chapter entitled " I Am Love - I Am Me." Here is an example:

May I awake
With heartfelt joy
Greeting the day
With a song of my Soul
Filled with confidence
That I can be
One with my world
My body and mind are
Connected to Spirit.
My senses awake
To nature's beauty
My world will be
God's garden
Wherever I go
Whomever I meet
Whatever I do
If I live this day with love.



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