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SPIRIT MATTERS: A river runs through Her

I love words.

I think you probably know that about me.

It just amazes me, how, when entrusted to the right mind, heart and soul, words can be strung together with such power, such artistry…and give life.

Take this bit from the late poet Maya Angelou, for example:

“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing.”

I mean, WOW.

From a woman’s standpoint, and this is only my opinion, it doesn’t get much better than that. These aren’t complicated, dramatic words. Ms. Angelou simply took 12 common words from the English language, combined them, and created a pictorial masterpiece.

The first time I read these words, I could immediately identify with what Ms. Angelou had said. I could remember those times when I was in harmony with my own spirit, and how, those times were “like a river flowing.”

In fact, I so identified with these words, I recently ordered them in vinyl script to hang on the wall near my laptop at home.

So now, if I ever need to be reminded, I can just turn my head, and hear the lovely Ms. Angelou speak those words across time and space into my waiting soul.

Women already know this potential to be “like a river flowing” about themselves, even if they have never consciously realized it. This truth was planted in them in the womb of their mothers, to come to fruition at some point in their Earthly lifetime. And when they do realize this truth, they feel like they have come Home, even if only for a moment. But even if they should forget, that truth never goes away. It might get hidden under the dirt and drudgery of life, but it is always there. And cannot be permanently taken away from them.

Some men out there get it – kind of. They look at the women in their lives and they *know* there is just some quality, something mysteriously different about them; they just can’t put their finger on it. In any case, for these men who get it, their breath is taken away in the presence of the woman they love, or in the presence of any woman who has allowed the Spirit of the Holy One to consume her.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, there are many men who *don’t* get it. They don’t and can’t understand what that unique quality is in every woman, that quality Pope John Paul II famously termed “the feminine genius.” That quality sprinkled on them at the dawn of Creation by the Hand of God. That quality that demands awe and reverence.

These men, who are blind to that “genius,” can often only see in women a piece of property to acquire or dominate or control. They wrongly interpret the Christian Scriptures as allowing them to do this, pointing to the Story of Creation, where God took a rib from Adam and formed that rib into Eve. God didn’t take the rib from Adam and make it into Eve for a man to claim ownership over her. God gave man and woman a rib to share, so that they would always be part of one another. They are partners. Equally.

And even if a woman should never partner with a man in marriage, and travels a different path through life, she is still equal to man in the sight of God. She is no less a woman. She is complete in herself.

These men about which I speak, who are blind to that “genius” Pope John Paul II described, simply cannot see the rich inner life and wisdom and *beauty* of the woman’s soul.

Singer-songwriter Billy Joel once wrote these timeless words: “She’s got a way about her. I don’t know what it is. But I know that I can’t live without her. She’s got a smile that heals me. I don’t know what it is. But I have to laugh when she reveals me.”

Women in harmony with their spirits have the ability to give life where there is none, or where that life has been reduced to nothing but ash. Just by being true to themselves.

Women don’t have to physically give birth to another human being, to bear this quality of a life-giver. They can “give” life in many ways, whether it is in their position as a nurse, a teacher, an artist, a counselor, a minister, a writer, a missionary, an aunt, a stepmother, a doctor, a lawyer, a Senator…a leader of a country…

Whatever their station in life, whether it is considered significant or insignificant by the standards of society, women have this life-giving power indelibly marked in their beings.


It is true.

A woman in harmony with her spirit, is like a river flowing…

SPIRIT MATTERSáis a weekly column that examines spirituality in The Times' readership area. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada at to share how you engage your spirit in your life and in your community.

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