Planting Sr. Dot

May 30, 2019

At Sister Dot’s funeral a peasant stood up and declared: “Sister Dot, we are not burying you; we are planting you.”  Sr. Dorothy Stang was from rural Ohio and was one of the small minority of defenders of the environment whose murder was prosecuted.

“Sister Dot: A Modern Martyr”
Poster by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

When she knew her life was in danger she was advised by many to leave the country  but she refused to.  She wrote: “I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.” Among her astute teachings is that “the death of the forest is the end of our lives.”

It was my privilege to know Sister Dot since she came to my master’s program to study creation spirituality.  Family and friends reported that following her study of CS and returning to Brazil she began to talk about God as “Mother,” or as “Father/Mother,” and related more to the feminine side of God on her return to Brazil. They found her a “more playful, passionate, creative Dorothy who had been hidden for a while under the weight of so many violent, sorrowful experiences” from her years of struggle in Brazil. Dot told her brothers that creation spirituality helped her to support her courage to live her vocation.

She is a martyr who united the Sacred Masculine with the Divine Feminine living out a creation spirituality commitment.  She has so much to teach us about art as meditation, joy, feminism, courage.  Deep lessons we all need to learn and relearn.

She was also a lover and student of Hildegard of Bingen.  Indeed, next to her bed was a copy of the book Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen by Franciscan Sister Gabriel Uhlein.  Sr. Dot’s brother David was so kind as to give me Sr. Dot’s book and it is marked up with pictures that demonstrate the fun Sr Dot was having interacting with Hildegard in the book.

Sister Dot, like Sister Hildegard, is living proof of the power of art as meditation to feed and nurture prophets and spiritual warriors.  Art as meditation is the “way of the prophets” according to psychologist Claudio Naranjo.  We will explore how this is so in subsequent meditations.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina, or “Divine Reading,”is the ancient practice of meditatively and prayerfully reading the words of Scripture or other sacred texts, asking Spirit what your proper response might be to the truths they lay bare.

In this spirit, take a phrase or word from this meditation and be still with it, letting it wash over you and through and through you.  Repeat it as a mantra.  Be with the silence that follows.  Be with, be with….

By Roseanne Murphy

The murder in 2005 of an American nun, Sister Dorothy Stang, focused the world’s attention on the plight of poor farmers in the Brazilian Amazon and their struggles with rapacious developers. This book presents the inspiring story of a woman who died defending the poor and God’s creation.