(The scene is the interior of the Clare of Assisi Italian Restaurant, which is lit with a neon sign by the front door. There is one large rectangular table with a white tablecloth set for 13, reminiscent of the setting in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” — a poster of which is hanging center stage. The background music is “In the River of
Dreams” by Billy Joel. Francis, a handsome Italian man wearing an elegant suit, is pouring tea for all the goddesses: Hagar, Mary Magdalene, Shakti, Joan of Arc, Green Tara, Grandmother Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Black Madonna, Rev. Antoinette Brown Blackwell, General Sherman Tree, and the Polar Bear. Nina, wearing a baby pink nightgown, bolts into the restaurant with Shadow, a man in a dog suit. He comes in walking on two feet and then he gets down on all fours. Lighting creates the impression of an owl flying periodically around the restaurant. The goddesses who are seated rise from the table, those who were standing move toward door to greet Nina as she enters, with hugs and kisses and vocal greetings all taking place at once.)
GODDESSES (All talk at once.) Welcome Nina, come in, out of the cold. So good to see you. We have been waiting for you! Blessings Nina. (ad lib more greetings as they all hug and kiss her) Bless you, my child. Oh Nina, you look wonderful! Oh my dear, let me give you a hug. (After long, warm huggy-kissy greetings, the thunder rolls impressively. Nina is terrified and runs into the Polar Bear’s arms. After it’s over, she looks around. dazed and amazed.)
NINA. Where am I?
POLAR BEAR. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. (Everyone laughs.)
NINA. How did I get here, anyway?
JOAN OF ARC. Don’t worry, Nina. It’s just a dream., well not “just” a dream for dreams are where we go to be with God. While I was dreaming, I saw you, and you told me telepathically that you were going to Assisi, Italy, to be with Clare and St. Francis of Assisi. And so I thought I would join you in your dream. Here are some flowers for you.
(She hugs Nina and gives her a bunch of mustard seed and other yellow wildflowers.
Joan is wearing a crown of mustard seed flowers in her hair.)
NINA. Well, thank you, Joan. They are beautiful. Mustard seed flowers, just like Jesus said. The kingdom of God is in every mustard seed flower and in every little girl like you.
(She kisses Joan) I recognized you right away. You are Joan of Arc — I saw you the other day as a young girl, playing with fairies in the forest, when I was reading about you.
ST FRANCIS. You remember me, don’t you, Nina? Here, let me take these flowers and get you a vase.
NINA. Well, of course, you’re St. Francis and this is Assisi, Italy? Wow. I’ve had a dream about you many times. I have always wanted to come here to Assisi. I dream about living in the manger scene with the Holy Family. You invented the live manger scene here in Assisi, didn’t you?
ST FRANCIS. Yes I did, and tonight we have decided to hold the first goddess pot luck dinner party. I have cooked up some of my famous spaghetti with meatballs as big as your head. Also, for Lent I decided to give up celibacy, and this goddess party seemed a good place for me to begin my new spiritual practice.
GENERAL SHERMAN TREE and the POLAR BEAR. (There is a large blast of thunder and lightning and the sound of rain on the roof. Nina hides in the Polar Bear’s fur chest.
Polar Bear and General Sherman Tree flank the group on stage right and stage left.
Both of them reach their hands overhead and say with heads up toward heavens) OK, OK already, we heard you.
SHADOW. Ruff, ruff, ruff. (Barks loudly up at thunder. Everyone laughs)
POLAR BEAR. You tell him, Shadow.
(Francis comes back from kitchen and places the flowers at the center of the table.)
NINA. Thank you so much, Joan. I bet you picked them yourself. I love your mustard seed crown.
JOAN. I’m making one for you and all of the goddesses.
(Gradually all the goddesses sit down at the table where they had been before Nina arrived and go back to drinking their tea, which they pour for each other and drink throughout the scene. There is also a glass of water and pitchers of water that they also drink from and pour for each other.)
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Here, child, come sit down and warm up with a nice cup of tea.
(Nina sits in the middle seat at the table. She takes a sip of tea and sees them all looking at her expectantly. Nina bursts into tears. Grandmother Mary sits to Nina’s left and Mary Magdalene to her right. Hagar, all the while, next to Grandmother Mary, is holding a baby who is nursing. Every few minutes the Polar Bear come to take the baby and takes it into the kitchen and then brings her back a new baby, each one wrapped in a blanket the color of one of the goddesses: red, rose, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. The General Sherman Tree is on the stage left side, seated at the end of the table, and manages to try to place her branches lovingly to canopy everyone. The Polar
Bear is on the opposite end of the table on the end stage right.)
NINA. (She starts getting anxious and stands up and paces around frantically) No, thank you. I don’t want any tea. I want out of here. OK, is this some kind of God headquarters? A God courtroom or something? Oh, I get it. I’ll tell you what — I'll make a deal with who ever is in charge. Who is in charge here?
GRANDMOTHER MARY. No, no, it’s not like that. None of us is in charge or anything like that.
NINA. Well, who is in charge of this horrible world — that’s what I want to know. Do any of you know who is in charge of this universe anyway? My ex-husband won’t return my kids according to the stipulation in the court order. He does this just to screw with my head, I know he does. But I can’t go back to court because the Judge said if I did she would have the kids taken away from me. There was this witch trial many years ago and
I lost. I will never be able move away from him. I had to give up my Ph.D. program. I had a full scholarship and a teaching fellowship. But I don’t care about any of that anymore. I just can’t stand to see my kids terrorized and not be able to protect them. If whoever is in charge could just keep my kids safe, I will do anything. Just keep them safe, I'll do anything. Do you hear me? (She is making her case with everyone and goes up to each person and seems to search their faces to see if they might be able to help her.) You don't understand. I mean anything. I'll wash toilets the rest of my life or steal for you or sell my body, anything. (She drops in a heap in front of the table and weeps. Grandmother Mary is the first to hug and comfort her. Hagar stays nursing at the table. All the other woman stand huddled around, while Francis is in the kitchen.) Or, if Vador
wants to kill me, that is OK. But leave the children out of this. Please. I beg you. Did I do something wrong to deserve this? In another life? Or is this genetic — do I have a bad depression gene? I cry all the time. (Our Lady and the Black Madonna lift her and guide her back to the center seat while saying, “there there shhh, it’s going to be OK,” etc.)
No, I know. It's because I'm a woman right? I'm paranoid, hysterical, and crazy because I am a woman, because I was born female. What did I do wrong? Help me, please. I am having a really hard time. I can hardly sleep, but when I do, I wake up from terrible nightmares. I started studying Christianity because I wanted to kill my ex-husband and I thought seminary would be a better place for me as a mother than penitentiary.
OUR LADY. Good idea. Muy bueno. Prison is no place for a mother who has small children. You made a good choice. Me gusta.
NINA. I can’t get away from him or protect my kids from him. I swear he is even meaner to me now than before we were divorced. And all of you are, to be honest, really annoying. Well, not you, Joan.
JOAN OF ARC. (She goes over and hugs Nina) I love you, Nina. Je t’aime. I’m sorry you are having such a hard time.
NINA. Thank you, Joan. I’m sorry to be so upset around you. Aren’t you too young to be out at night on your own? (She blows her nose.) Vador took them last week and was supposed to bring them back last night and he is out of the country. They are with his
weird girlfriend for God’s sake, and she won’t let me talk to them by phone. He has not brought them home. I have left a hundred phone messages. What should I do? I am so tired and freaked out.
OUR LADY. You have to sleep, Nina, perchance to dream. There, there. You have come to the right place. You are not alone. We are here with you.
NINA. Please, please help me. I can’t stand it anymore. I surrender. I give up. I need your help. But tell me why? Why is this happening to me?
GRANDMOTHER MARY. They asked Jesus, why was this man born blind? Was it a sin of the man or his parents? And he said no, no one had sinned. It was yet another means to reveal God.
NINA. (Nina jumps up and becomes filled with rage and screams at her) What? Are you out of your mind? I suffer to reveal God? (She again drops to her knees and she weeps in despair.)
SHAKTI. Maybe you just married the wrong guy, honey.
BLACK MADONNA. (Leads her back to her chair and begins to give her a shoulder and neck massage.) That’s it. I always tell the girls. You can marry anyone but be careful who you have children with. Green Tara, why don’t you rub her feet. You do know all
those cool pressure points, you know like acupuncture points in the feet? I love that. I will take care of her shoulders and neck. (Green Tara pulls up a chair and begins rubbing Nina’s feet. Our Lady rubs one shoulder and the Black Madonna the other.)
MARY MAGDALENE. Here, I have some special anointing oil for you to use.
HAGAR. There, there, Nina. It will be alright. I promise.
NINA. You are Hagar. I’ve dreamt of you before. Is that your baby, Ishmael?
HAGAR. No, dear, he is grown and gone. I nurse all the hurting and hungry babies.
NINA. (Through her tears and as she blows her nose) I have nothing to complain about. At least I get my child support checks every month. Only because they are garnished from my ex-husband’s paycheck. But, I mean, children are dying in wars, but so many of them are dying in their own homes from domestic violence — to say nothing of starvation. Me and my kids, we have plenty to eat, believe me. So why am I so freaked out? I am sorry, I feel guilty. I’m a lightweight. The worst part is I can’t sleep. I wake up all the time with nightmares, thinking they have stolen my children. I run into their room to check if they are still there. I started studying religion because I wanted to die and I hoped that religion would help me understand something I needed to be OK, to be like you Hagar, to help me survive. (She stares at Mary Magdalene) Oh my God, YOU are
Mary Magdalene — just like in the painting here! (She goes to the picture on the wall.)
Oh my God, here we all are. We are sitting around the table just like at the Last Supper, but we are all women... and you, Mary, are sitting right where you were in this picture, next to Jesus.
MARY MAGDALENE. Well, yes I am, Nina. Jesus is not here, but He is always with us.
SHAKTI. She was married to him, you know. (She winks at Mary Magdalene) Way to go, Mary.
NINA. Oh my God. I am so sorry you watched Jesus being tortured to death.
GENERAL SHERMAN TREE. And she never left his side. (The owl hoots and they all listen.)
MARY MAGDALENE. Yes, and that is want we will do for you, Nina. Oh, by the way, this is Sophia the owl. She is saying hello to you. We will not leave your side. You are not alone. Anyone can recover from anything if they have people to bear witness with them and love them. My daughter Sarah is always with you too.
REV. ANTONIETTE. Mary, you were the first to see the risen Christ in all the Gospels. And still they did not make you the heir apparent to begin the Christian Church. And
then they made up a story about you being a whore. Unbelievable! (She shakes her head in disbelief.)
MARY MAGDALENE. Well, the truth and the real story are coming out.
SHAKTI. Hey, you even have a Hollywood movie “The Da Vinci Code.” I like it myself.
Starring Tom Hanks. I know, you had Jesus — the guy every girl wanted — but Tom
Hanks is not bad. A few of us girls like him too, you know.
JOAN OF ARC. I like all the scenes of Paris.
MARY MAGDALENE. And your story is coming out too, Nina. Our human family is not very conscious. But we must tell the truth — what else can we do? Tell your story, Nina.
My story is being told and you must tell your story.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Yes, Mary Magdalene has woken up after thousands of years
— like Sleeping Beauty. Nina, soon it will be time for you to wake up as well. When you do, it will encourage others to awaken also. Mary Magdalene was cured of seven demons and you can be too.
MARY MAGDALENE. You can also heal, Nina, but it is hard spiritual work to purify the unconscious. The fruits are not only wholeness but the ability to see with your heart. With a pure heart, you can see beyond space and time. Tonight is just a beginning.
NINA. But what about my kids? I can’t handle anything anymore because I am so worried about them all the time. (For the first time we hear the baby Hagar is nursing cry. Hagar comfort the babies, “Shh” etc.) Hagar, I related to you more than anyone in the Bible. Oh my God, you had it so much worse than me, being thrown into the desert to die with your baby Ishmael. Oh my God, the injustice of their asking you to have
Abraham’s baby because his wife couldn’t, and then after you gave them their firstborn son, Ishmael, they throw you and the baby out to die.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Nina, let’s rest your mind for a while. First things first. It is time we feed you, Nina, but first we must teach you how to pray. (They all become reverent and get into different kinds of prayerful positions.) Praying helps a lot. (All the ladies agree, yes, Wow you said it. Yep, etc. Mary Magdalene lights the candles on the table and summons the Holy Spirit as she reaches out with her arms over the candles during the prayer and Sophia the owl flies around the table.)
NINA. You are right, I don’t know how to pray. I am afraid that I am going to get cancer or something terrible if I don’t learn how to talk to God. Hell, I don’t even know what the hell God is. I don’t even know if I believe in God. (There is a huge flash of lighting and roar of thunder.)
SHADOW. Ruff, ruff. (The dog looks out into the audience and goes to edge of stage to bark. After the thunder there is a sound of chimes and the house lights go up on the
audience. And an angel is seen as a light that is shown throughout the theater and then lands as an image flying on the back scrim. All the goddesses hear and see this, and even Shadow begins barking happily at it, but Nina does not see it.)
(Nina goes to the edge of the stage and looks out. All the goddesses also look out and giggle as they wave to the audience, but none of them let Nina see them looking and interacting with the audience.)
NINA. Shadow sees ghosts, I swear. There is no one out there, goofy dog. Go lie down.... Well, at least I have Shadow. He protects me. You are a good dog, Shadow.
(Very obediently the dog goes and lies down next to Joan, who is still sitting on the floor in front of the table making her floral crowns. As she finishes each crown she places it on a goddess’ head, who kisses her in thanks) Good dog, Shadow.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Well, you are not alone at night anymore. You have all of us. Just close your eyes and concentrate on your breath and imagine all of us. (Joan puts on Nina’s mustard seed flower crown. Black Madonna hums softly under prayer, “Angel’s Watching Over Me”) Let us pray. (Everyone takes a prayerful position, lowering their heads etc.) Our Mother, who is within us, we celebrate your many names. Your wisdom come. Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits and we let go. You support us in our power and we act with courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the
empowerment around us and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen.
(Miriam Therese Winter)
OUR LADY. Here is a rosary, Nina. You say these prayers as you keep count with the beads. Hail Mary, full of grace, the love is with you. Blessed are you amongst women. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother God, pray for us sinners now and the hour of our death. Amen. And then every time you have one of these kinds of beads, you say the prayer Mary just shared with you.
NINA. (Nina blows her nose loudly) A rosary, are you kidding me? Holy moly, you guys are out there. (She laughs) It sounds like you have changed those prayers somehow. I don’t remember ever hearing those kinds of words before.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Of course, Nina, they are especially for you.
JOAN OF ARC. Aren’t you going to tell her how to pray the way you taught me Mother Mary?
GRANDMOTHER MARY. No, I think you should, Joan. But first let’s begin to eat all the hors d’oeuvres everyone has brought. (They place the plates of food in front of Nina.)
JOAN OF ARC. Oh, it’s wonderful to pray without words, Nina. Just imagine the most beautiful dreams you have ever had. Then like tonight I imagined that I am riding on a
magic orange fish as big as a whale and he gives me a ride deep into the ocean. Then he comes up and jumps out of the water and I am holding on like a wild ride and we fly together. Sometimes I image a kind of circular motion — you know, like a spiral — and image it circulating first in your head if you are having bad thoughts or any place and just go up and down to your toes — I stop at my heart a lot — and keep repeating these words: “Heal me in your love” for about 20 minutes, twice a day. It’s easy.
HAGAR. I pray and imagine my children surrounded in white light, Nina.
MARY MAGDALENE. There are many kinds of prayer for you to practice healing your self. Silent prayer will help you, Nina. Just repeat “Spiritus Santus”
SHAKTI. That is great, you all can go do your silent prayers and active imaginations later. But Nina needs the best prayer of all — DANCING!
OUR LADY. Oh, but first she needs to eat. You must be starving, poor dear. Your favorite chips and guacamole. (Our Lady lifts the cover from the chips and guacamole placed on the table)
NINA. (She eats hungrily.) MMMMM. Thank you. Hey, this looks good, whoever brought the vegetable tray. (She begins to eat celery on the vegetable tray on the table.)
GENERAL SHERMAN TREE. I did, Nina. (She is also eating celery.) Fresh from the
Earth. Good for you, too.
NINA. Are you a tree? That’s a stupid question. Of course you are a tree. I can see that, but does that mean you are God or something? Is that it — are you here representing God?
OUR LADY. Well, we all came to encourage you to take care of your loneliness problem and your hunger problems here at our party tonight. Look what Green Tara brought: momos Tibetan potstickers. (Green Tara passes the dumplings around.)
SHAKTI. I brought the goddess dip, of course. Like me, it’s very spicy, curry. (She has dunked her celery into her dip and eats it seductively, then begins dancing around)
NINA. Hey, I recognize you. You are the Tibetan goddess, Green Tara, right? I love the color of your skin. Are you dressed up for Halloween or something? Why are you green, anyway?
BLACK MADONNA. She is a pigment of your imagination. (Everyone laughs)
GREEN TARA. Oh yes. Pigment! I just got it. (She laughs.) Yes, I am green. I am a pigment of your imagination. (Laughing)
BLACK MADONNA. Here you go, Nina, my potluck offering is stuffed mushrooms. I know you love them. They will give you the gift of visions.
NINA. Wow these momos and mushrooms...soooooooooooooooo good. I read about you, Rev. Antoinette, the first Christian women minister. I am sorry they didn’t even let you speak as the first women who ever was allowed to study theology at Oberlin, and they even threw tomatoes at you when you were preaching. You had to give up working in churches, they were so mean. I am so sorry. I think it is hopeless for women. At least, I give up, that’s for sure.
REV. ANTONIETTE, No, no, never give up, dear. Well, actually, Mary Magdalene is the first women Christian minister, but you are right that I was the first ordained women in
America, yes. I’m afraid we haven’t come that far in the last 150 years. Well, look who’s here now. I have been waiting to see who the twelfth “disciple” would be for this First (instead of last) Goddess Potluck Party.
SALLY RIDE. (Comes in, talking on her cell phone.) Thanks. Bye. (Hangs up) Hey,
Nina, how do you do? My name is Sally Ride. (She gives Nina a hug)
NINA. The first woman in space? Wow, way to go, Sally. This is really a weird LSD trip, I think. Sally Ride, wow. (Black Madonna starts singing “Ride Sally Ride.”)
SALLY RIDE. Sorry to be late, ladies, but I have been getting the spaceship ready for launch. Our special surprise for you tonight is that I will take all you ladies to the moon tonight after dinner.
ALL GODDESSES. (All get up from table, excited, ad lib.) Great! How fun. Wow, the moon. Let’s go.
REV. ANTONIETTE. Here, Sally. Please sit down. Dinner is almost ready and we are enjoying some hors d’oeuvres.
HAGAR. Pass the guacamole will you, Our Lady?
NINA. (Nina looks at the tree and asks.) I am sorry, what shall I call you? What is your name?
GENERAL SHERMAN TREE. Well, they named me General Sherman, after the Northern general in the Civil War. It’s kind of unfortunate, actually. But I’m used to it. And you have meet Sophia. (Sophia hoots.)
NINA. Nice to meet you both. (She shake hands with the tree and looks up into the branches trying to see Sophia.) Nice to meet you Sophia, wherever you are. Shall we call you the Tree of Life? How old are you anyway?
GENERAL SHERMAN TREE. Sophia is sleeping I think. Often she comes out of the dark. Well, we have met earlier. Do you remember you came to visit once in the forest?
And, as I recall, you gave me a big hug. Thank you, Nina. I am 2100 years old. I am one of the largest living things on Earth.
NINA. That’s right, you live in the Sequoia National Park in California. I have taken my kids camping near you. WOW, were you around when Jesus and Mary Magdalene were alive? Frankly, these goddesses are so weird I am glad to have a tree to talk to. I don’t mind talking to trees. These other ladies... (She indicates them to the General Sherman so they can’t see her, making a circle with her finger near her head to show she thinks they are crazy.)
POLAR BEAR. Yes, of course. We have all been here a long time. Longer than you humans!
NINA. Why is this happening to me, this whole thing with my ex-husband? Do you know, I mean, maybe with your different perspective as a tree and a bear? (She looks at the Polar Bear) Oh my God, it’s happening to you too, isn’t it? With all the pollution and global warming, aren’t you and your babies having a hard time too? Is the problem that we don’t treat babies and life as if they were sacred?
THE BLACK MADONNA. Remember, Nina. There are three important things to remember in this life. Number one, be kind. Number two, be kind. Number three, don't be a patsy.
NINA. What's a patsy?
OUR LADY. A doormat, Nina, a doormat. A ding-a-ling. Una tonta, una mensa. A jerk.
What is happening to you and your kids is not OK, and of course you are hurting and traumatized. Don't shut down and just be a nice girl. This suffering is real, es real. You are not imagining it. Suelta el dolor y respira.
NINA. You're right. I was a doormat. I always wanted to be such a good little girl. But maybe I am guilty of something. I have always felt like there was something basically bad about me. Do you know what I mean?
OUR LADY. You need love, that’s all, Nina. And you have a classic case of post-traumatic stress disorder, ya quedo traumada, a lot of women have it, muchas mujeres lo tienen. I think it’s from being raped, battered, watching your children suffer, being deserted by your family, and having your job and all your money, su dinero, taken away from you. Perhaps it's a combination of all these things.
NINA. (Addresses all three.) Oh Mary, I'm sorry. How stupid of me. I forgot they killed your son.
SHAKTI. No, no, no, no more talk about abuse, terror, torture and starvation. This is a party. Here, Nina. I want you to open the present I have for you. It’s a CD of Aretha
SALLY RIDE. Music changes the vibrations, you know — the subatomic particles. It’s a truth revealed by quantum physics. We can affect everything with our consciousness.
NINA. Oh, that’s right you are a physicist, aren’t you Sally?
SALLY RIDE. Yes, and quantum physics is still young — just a hundred years old. We can actually open up new pathways in our brains for healing trauma, you know. We know now that everything is effected by the observer.
HAGAR. Loving someone is being their observer, their witness, if you know what I mean. ( She says this as she looks at the baby she is nursing.)
JOAN OF ARC. See, Nina, just like I was saying. You can image your dreams and they will take you into new places in your brain and you will be all better.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. All kinds of prayer and meditation will do this for you, too.
NINA. I have been so lonely. I don’t know where to go with my kids. McDonald’s is the only place that I know for sure that wants me and my kids around. Gloria Steinem said women were the only oppressed group in history who don’t even have a neighborhood bar to get together to hang out.
FRANCIS. (Coming in from the kitchen with the parmesan cheese and clearing the table to make room for spaghetti, he hears Nina’s last comment.) Well, we are happy to be your barroom if you like, Nina.
JOAN. (Jumps up very excited) Oh, I have to tell you a joke about that. My brothers taught me this funny joke. (She takes center stage.) What does a place you go to drink alcohol have in common with an elephants — oh, now I am forgetting the English word
— in English, Francis. (She goes and whispers something in his ear)
JOAN. One is a barroom and the other is a barroom. (They all laugh.)
JOAN. Je veux aller á la lune. When will you take us to the moon, Sally Ride? I am so excited.
NINA. Are we really going to the moon, Sally? (Sally nods yes.)
POLAR BEAR. Yes, but be careful what you ask for, Nina. Didn’t you sing a song called
“Fly Me to the Moon”?
NINA. Wait a minute, did you guys hear me singing with my kids when my ex-husband was stalking us?
BLACK MADONNA. We are kind of everywhere, especially when you need us — it’s hard to explain. We have been friends hanging out together for even longer than
General Sherman has been around.
SHAKTI. Well, most of us are really older than that, right ladies? As the ultimate feminine power inherent in all of creation, I guess I am OLD, but I feel YOUNG. I am wherever you go, Nina. Isn’t that right, ladies? You just forget about me and all the rest of us, I guess. We are always inside you. Aren’t we ladies? (They all agree. “She we are always there.” “You can count on us.” Etc.)
OUR LADY. ¡Si, es bueno! We are all friends and we encourage you, Nina, to call upon us when you need us. But in the daytime, you can get the women together, have a potluck party, and dance with each other. That’s what Hagar taught me they do in the
Middle East. The women dance with each other. You need more women in your life.
REV. ANTONETTE. How about we all make a recipe book for Nina and women everywhere? Yes, the recipes for food and practices for women and children who are hungry of body, mind, and spirit.
JOAN OF ARC. Can we put that photograph of the Earth taken from space on the cover? I like that one. It is just like in my flying dreams.
NINA. When I was in marriage counseling in my parents’ old house, it reminded me of the photos taken from the moon of our Earth. I guess I saw our ... (She searches for the right word.)
ALL THE GODDESSES. (They all help her and simultaneously respond) ONENESS! In
Arabic, Kolenawahed; in French, nous sommes une personne; in Spanish, estamos unidos. (They all laugh)
NINA. Growing up, I imagined God was this old man with a beard.... Well, having all you goddesses give me this party and all, well you are becoming like real people that I could talk to when no one else is around. It’s a funny thing about misery and the dark night of the soul, it seems to peak around 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. Well, you know. You all showed up. I have to continually talk aloud to all of you though, or God starts growing back his white beard! Suddenly, in my mind, God becomes this old man again, clapping his anger like thunder. Francis, I don’t want you to think I have anything against men.
FRANCIS. (Who has been coming and going from the kitchen to the dining room as he prepares dinner) Well, it sounds like you are angry at men. Anyway, who wouldn’t be, after what you have gone through? But you know, women are no better off than men.
The problem is when we lack awareness.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Yes, God is neither male nor female, Nina. God is beyond all language and thought. Beyond our comprehension. But we long to talk about God, so we say God is like this or that.... We talk about God in metaphors. God is like a mother hen or.... But the important question for you may be, does feminism make you kinder, Nina? Kinder to yourself?
NINA. But Mother Mary, I am afraid it might not, you know, make me kinder or love myself more. All the goddesses in my religious imagination — all of you — I don’t know really. I do know that becoming a mother sure changed me. I fell in love with my babies and that love changed me forever. But how do we try to stop war, especially in families? Isn’t that where war and violence begins?
SHAKTI. You all have to come to India. It is just like this potluck dinner party with lots of goddesses all the time. We have a very active religious imagination in India. If that is what you are after, Nina, with all kinds of different images for God — for Goddesses —
India is the place for you. Maybe you are a Hindu and just don’t know it yet.
NINA. Mother Mary. It is kind of embarrassing, don’t you think? I mean, all these people on the Earth praying to you. Even I do it. I put your pictures up everywhere in my house, and surely you all have noticed that I am not the only person who is stuck on the image of the Madonna or whatever you want to call — you — ahh. I mean, look here — not one Mother Mary but three of you. Isn’t that too much? But a lot of women are like me, I think, and we seem to have a case of the doormat syndrome pretty bad. Being burnt at the stake like you, Joan, didn’t make a lot of women want to go be like you. (She realizes suddenly what she is saying. She grabs Mother Mary and takes her to the apron of the stage where she whispers so Joan cannot hear her. Joan does not know what she is talking about and is still concentrating on her flower crowns.) Oh God, Mother Mary I just realized that Joan — maybe doesn’t know she is going to be burnt at the stake in six years when she is 19. It hasn’t happened yet, she is only 13. What have I said? Can we rewrite history and save Joan from being burnt at the stake,
MOTHER MARY. Calm down, Nina. She is only 13. Her mind is not on such things. Just let her enjoy the moment. That’s all anyone has anyway. Now pull yourself together and let’s have a good time. (Nina sits down and looks at Joan, overwhelmed.)
BLACK MADONNA. (She performs for all of them by lying down on the floor at the door and then jumping up. They all laugh.) The doormat syndrome! Girls learn it young and don’t have enough self-love or confidence, so they say, deep inside of themselves, “Come on walk on me, Jack.” Hey, you know what you have to do if you are a doormat,
Nina and Joan? (She gets up.) Get yourself off the floor, Nina. (Shadow goes wild with barking and jumps up and down in agreement. All the goddesses begin to dance around with each other playfully. They sing “Hit the Road Jack”)
HAGAR. (She and Polar Bear go downstage where Mother Mary and Nina have been having their private conversation. Polar Bear hands her a baby wrapped in a lavender blanket and one to Hagar in a purple blanket.) You have been called Nina out of the
Sahara, the desert of desperation, just like I was. Allah spoke to me, and Allah is speaking to you through all of us tonight. Out of great pain sometimes come new religious ideas, new consciousness. My son is the father of Islam. I am so proud of him. Nina, you never know how things will turn out.
NINA. Hagar, you haunt me. I keep thinking we have to get a good marriage and family counselor or something, Hagar, for the whole conflict in the Middle East and the world. Isn’t that the source of the problem? And why isn’t anybody talking about it? Yours is a story of an ancient family betrayal. My family betrayal seems sort of similar. It just keeps happening for thousands of years, over and over again. You were raped, thrown out by Abraham and Sarah, and Abraham’s firstborn son, Ishmael, has gone without his rightful inheritance. No wonder they all hate each other and can’t get along. They have never even talked about their painful history as a family. This family problem has gone untreated, not even talked about, between Jews and Muslims for thousands and thousands of years. And women keep betraying each other like Sarah betrayed you. And now, thousands of years later, here I am also betrayed by my family.
OUR LADY. (Joins them) Muchas mujeres estan tratando de sobrevivir y no creen que se puedan ayudar mutuamente. Las mujeres deben saber que hay ayuda y no deben permanecer en el mismo estado. (She begins in Spanish and then says it again in
English.) So many women are still in survival mode, they don’t think we can help each other.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. It has to be an inner transformation, Nina, not just in the family or in the world.
NINA. (She looks at the baby and is transfixed.) I remember walking in the park after my first son was born and realizing that everyone I saw that day had been a baby, had lived inside a women’s body. I felt a communion and compassion for everyone. I mean, this God way up in the sky, sitting on a cloud telling everybody what to do, I mean if you're talking about a God who is responsible for creation, the female who gives birth out of her body is a much better .... (Nina kisses the baby. The Polar Bear offers to take her baby and Nina hands it to her.)
BLACK MADONNA. Metaphor. Yes. A green woman is a good idea of different kind of casting of the divine. (All the goddesses laugh and agree with her. Shakti hands several women a belly dancer scarf they tie around their hips.)
BLACK MADONNA. Preach it to me, sister.
SHAKTI. How you say in America... You go girl. (She demonstrates how to make your hips shake for Joan and Hagar joins her. The women clap and dance to the drumbeat the General Sherman Tree plays on the table.)
NINA. (They fall down laughing.) All the women like me out there, who feel broken-down depressed. What do you think? (She grabs a bottle of wine on the table and lifts it up and seductively dances around Francis) Just keep the wine flowing tonight, Francis, keep everybody full of spirits. You get it? Spirits for the spirits. (Thunder sounds.)
FRANCIS. Yes, very funny. Spirits for the spirits.
HAGAR. Nina, I brought you some mother’s milk, Hali boomm, and moon cookies,
Halwa Elkamar, for us to take to the moon. (She reveals her beautiful pitcher of white milk and a plate of moon-shaped cookies that have been covered with a cloth on the table.) This is how Ishmael and I survived in the desert. God showed us where the water was. I drank and the water turned to milk and I nursed Ishmael, my beloved. And our love in the moonlight saved us. God is the love we have for our children.
NINA. Was it a miracle?
HAGAR. There are many of us in history; slave women, those who are exploited, illegal immigrants, homeless woman, the welfare mother, the powerless women who is only remembered if she doesn’t show up to work.
NINA. The worst part for me — and I was not stuck in the desert near death with my baby, just a rich doctor’s wife stuck in the suburbs, though my husband wanted to scare me to death — well, I am so lonely all the time.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. The bread of life, Nina, to sustain you every day. Just like daily prayers we need daily bread. (She takes a beautiful cloth off the large platter of breads) Yes, I brought you all kinds of bread. Like love, we need to eat and have it inside us everyday. People everywhere need love and bread, French baguettes, matzo crackers, Jewish rye, rice cakes, tortilla, naan, crackers, every kind of communion bread, cracker and rice cake. Here we can enjoy them all with our spaghetti.
OUR LADY. Think of it, piensalo. La raza humana tiene una perspectiva muy amplia, una perspectiva cosmica, la perspectiva de nuestro propio ser, el ver como todo lo que hacemos afecta al projimo.
FRANCIS. You must be Sally Ride. How do you do? Would you like a glass of wine?
How about the rest of you? (He carries a bottle of wine and tray with 12 glasses and enters from the kitchen.)
SALLY RIDE. How do you do, Francis. Green Tara — please tell me something about yourself and Tibetan Buddhism. I have never seen a green woman before.
GREEN TARA. In Tibetan Buddhism I am actually known as a Buddha, someone who has reached enlightenment, who is awake. As a bodhisattva, I have vowed to remain in this world of suffering so that I may lead others to their enlightenment. I take human form and remain in oneness with the universe. Isn’t that what you are after, Nina?
SALLY RIDE. Yes, wine sounds great, please, Francis? (Francis begins to open the bottle, which takes time, and he does not pour any glasses.)
GREEN TARA. Why would we drink wine if we are trying to wake up? I would rather have tea, please. Thank you for inviting me to go to the moon, Nina, with all of your friends. Wherever I am, in Italy, Tibet, the moon, I know it is the inner journey that will bring me peace.
NINA. (There is great racket of thunder.) What's with the thunder? Is it the male God from all of the world religions up there, mad at me?
SALLY RIDE. It’s just raining, Nina. It’s atmospheric. Doesn't have to mean something.
Anyway, the idea of a male only God way up the sky is ridiculous. Just give it up.
SHAKTI. Oh, Francis the garlic smells fantastic, HUMMMMMMMM.... So wait, when do you drop the balls into the pot of red sauce? (They continue talking about how to make meatballs. Shakti is very flirtatious with him and follows him back into the kitchen.)
OUR LADY. We hardly need to have the spirits of the bottle when we have the spirit in our bodies. No brindemos con vino pero con leche – la leche maternal. Hagamos un nectar de las diosas. No debemos embotellar los espiritus cuando los tenemos en nuestro propio cuerpo. (She and Hagar begin to pour and serve the milk in the wine glasses.)
MOTHER MARY AND OUR LADY. (Standing at each end of the table, as all of the goddesses lift their glasses.) We would like to make a toast to you, Nina,
OUR LADY. Brindemos por Nina!
GRANDMOTHER MARY. A toast made not with wine but with milk, mother’s milk. To life!
MARY MAGDALENE. Mazel tov!
OUR LADY. In Mexico we have a rice drink called horchata. Hagar says it is just like horchata. It reminds me of mother’s milk. Don’t be afraid, Nina, it is sweet and delicious.
BLACK MADONNA. Yes, let’s toast. To you and your children, Nina.
NINA. And to all the polar bears, forests, oceans...our Earth! (They all raise their glasses and drink.)
FRANCIS. Please sit down everyone, dinner will now be served. (Joan helps him and they bring everyone a plate of spaghetti and they all begin to eat.) Yes, I will write down the recipe for you all.
GREEN TARA. A rabbi is like our rinpoche, yes? You know, the monks said they would pray that I would be reborn as a man so that I could attain enlightenment, but I told them that there was no male and no female, that nothing existed independently in reality, and that I wished to remain in female form as I became enlightened to serve other beings until everyone reached enlightenment. I felt that it was ignorance to presume that only men could be a buddha or a teacher of religion. Ever since then, many believe that I am one of the earliest feminists.
GRANDMOTHER MARY. Eat everyone, eat. We must keep up our strength up with the war going on.
NINA. What war?
BLACK MADONNA. Come now, Nina, haven't you noticed? Over 100 million people have died in the 20th century in wars, and about half of them were civilians — woman and children. More people have been killed in the last 100 years than in all wars for the last 10,000 years. There is domestic violence everywhere and violence to the Earth.
What we have done to the Earth, we have done to women’s bodies.
POLAR BEAR. The world is hot with global warming and every three seconds someone dies of starvation, every 10 seconds a woman is raped or someone is tortured, we have
26,000 nuclear bombs on earth, genocide.…
GREEN TARA. They give our children guns like toys and give them a lifetime meditation of violence….
JOAN OF ARC. Killing, destroying the plants and trees and flowers and oceans ....
OUR LADY. We starve to death physically and spiritually as a holy human family even when there is plenty of food for everyone and plenty of scriptures to teach us how to love our neighbor as ourselves...
GRANDMOTHER MARY. ...and to forgive our enemies, especially the enemy within ourselves. We must learn to love the least of these as Jesus said, the least of these parts of ourselves. There is a war on the inside of many people and that is sure to create war on the outside.
BLACK MADONNA. Come now, Nina. The war. Imagine how Mother earth feels. She has been living with all her children being in danger of extinction.
NINA. Oh yes, of course. The war! You know my major problem I need help with ladies is this. How do I raise my children in this war? How do I just keep going when there are predictions of the end of the world, or rather the end of the human species and most animal and plant life, climate change, nuclear bombs? (All are silent and look out. Long pause as they slurp spaghetti.) Please, I beg you ladies. Tell me. I mean how do I get rid of my terror, grief and rage?
SHAKTI. It’s time, ladies. TO DANCE. This whole party needs some real goddess power: Aretha Franklin. (She gets up and starts making large swirling dancing motions.)
Francis, dance with me. (She puts her back to everyone as she starts the CD.)
SALLY RIDE. (Her cell phone rings, she looks at who is calling her.) Excuse me, I have to take this call, it’s NASA. I hope it is head’s up and a GO, telling us that we can launch tonight. (She steps into the kitchen to be able to hear.)
FRANCIS. Yes, of course, Shakti. I'd love to dance with all of you.
NINA. (Stands up at her place at the table, visibly jealous, seeing their flirtation.) Wait a minute. Shouldn’t we wait with the dancing until I understand stuff better? We have to
talk about the war? (By now all of the goddesses have gotten up and dance around the table, singing and making hand motions, etc. Black Madonna plays Aretha and sings solo on top of the table and the rest are the chorus, and all know the same dance. This continues for several raucous minutes and after a while Nina gives into the fun and is dancing too.)
Find out what it means to me
Take care, TCB
Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me,
sock it to me, sock it to me)
A little respect (sock it to me, sock it to me,
sock it to me, sock it to me)
Whoa, babe (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on trying (just a little bit)
You're running out of foolin’ (just a little bit)
And I ain't lyin’ (just a little bit)
(re, re, re, re) ’spect
When you come home (re, re, re, re)
Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit)
And find out I'm gone (just a little bit)
I got to have (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
SALLY RIDE. (She goes over and turns off the music and they all turn toward her.) Hey ladies. Great news! We are cleared to launch. Just step outside and let’s fly to the moon. (They all cheer and begin to exit.)
REV ANTONIETTE. I have something for you to read on the way to the moon, Nina.
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. If women could have been teachers and taught these simple truths instead of what the church taught, perhaps we could have avoided so the extinction of our species and all the violence and suffering. (She exits.)
MARY MAGDALENE. Jesus and I had a great love for each other, Nina, which transformed both of us. As you found out when your children were born, when you love someone, that is where God lives. Jesus and I had a daughter, Sarah. You can channel her if you like. She is grounded and is a green heart light. Please don’t get sidetracked about male and female. Jesus taught me, “When you are able to make the two become one. The inside like the outside, the outside like the inside, the higher like the lower, so that a man is no longer male and a women female, but male and female become a single whole…then you enter it.” (The Gospel of Thomas, line 22)
GRANDMOTHER MARY. You have said yourself that your relationships with your mother and your ex-husband were similar. It’s not a matter of being male or female but about people’s decisions to be kind or driven by unconsciousness. (Mary hands
Grandmother Mary the anointing oil so she can use it.)
MARY MAGDALENE. I anoint you, Nina, for our journey to the moon. May you take the love you have in your heart for your children and open your heart to be able to see that love is the most powerful force in the universe, that will survive all suffering and even death. Love in service of transformation. May it be so for you always. Amen. (She anoints Nina’s forehead and then seals it with a kiss. All the ladies exit except Nina and
FRANCIS. (Comes in from the kitchen.) Well, I’ll turn the lights out and we can go.
NINA. Francis, were you flirting with Shakti?
FRANCIS. Nina, you have got to be kidding me. I put on this whole party just for you.
But come on, I can’t be with all the most beautiful goddesses in the world and not be able to enjoy their female beauty. BUT…you are the most beautiful woman to me.
NINA. Thank you, Francis, flattery will get you everywhere with me. That’s my problem
— I care too much what other people think.
FRANCIS. I have a special gift for you. It’s a beautiful new dress to wear to the moon.
(He hands her a package. Off stage, the goddesses begin to sing “Someone to Watch Over Me.”)
NINA. Thank you, Francis.
FRANCIS. You’re welcome, Nina. I am falling in love with you, Nina.
NINA. Well, that is lucky. Francis, I still think all these goddesses are goofy. I mean what is the point of this whole dream? I mean, you I get. A nice man is a good dream, but all these weird women?
FRANCIS. It’s your dream, Nina. Is there a message in your dream and? Do you think your dream is giving you guidance for your life? How does this dream apply to your life?
NINA. I have no idea, but maybe I have to spend some time with the female parts of myself that are sacred or like these religious symbols. I don’t think I ever considered
God as being inside me or that God is really with me. I just know I can’t live so all alone anymore.
FRANCIS. Two by two. Just like all the animals. I have given up celibacy myself and have dedicated myself to intimacy of all kinds. Maybe we can learn together. Me, a celibate monk, and you, Nina. We are not alone and we are loved. We are here to model that message Jesus taught us. May I have this dance, Nina? (He reaches out his hand and they begin to dance to the music then they stop and gaze into each other’s eyes and he kisses her as the music to “Someone To Watch Over Me” swells.)