"One is that of my grandmother: Lillian Campbell from Camden, Arkansas. Born in 1898, she was both grandmother and friend to me. She raised three children of her own and a good many more out of the goodness of her heart. About age fifty she suffered a brain tumor which almost took her life, and yet she lived another forty years to shower love and affection on a host of others, including those who, like she, knew the trials of old age. She was a window through whom I saw God. While nanny may not have been a goddess, she is nonetheless a living presence in my memory and her 'face' shines on me today, even as it shined on me while she was alive. She is a female face of God, a female presence through which the very light of Holy Wisdom shines.
"A second female face that nourishes my soul is the Guadalupe River in south Texas. I realize that not all people experience rivers as embodiments of female energy. Indeed, I know some rivers that are male. Still, for me and for others I have queried, the Guadalupe is female rather than male. She is not an 'it' but rather a living presence imbued with strong, creative energy, and somehow this energy is female rather than male. Like the Ganges, the Guadalupe seems more a goddess than a god.
"Along with my grandmother, the Guadalupe has been a spiritual guide in my life. Swimming in her as a child, I discovered the way in which dark, green water can nourish the soul and enliven the spirit. I especially enjoyed swimming beneath her surface, with goggles on, learning about the strange worlds of perch and catfish housed in her womb. From the Guadalupe's underwater depths I learned that I too have an underwater dimension, a side others cannot see but which bubbles up from my own inner depths. And I realized that other people too have inner depths that are more than the eye can see. Today I find myself grateful for two goddesses in my life, one human and one aquatic; both have been spiritual directors for me.
"As the example of the Guadalupe River suggests, a 'face of God' need not have eyes or a nose. It is any living presence, inwardly felt or outwardly perceived, that serves as a channel of grace in our lives. Faces of God may include a grandfather and a lake, a mother and a garden, a sister and a forest, a brother and a dog, a father and a farm, a cousin and a mountain, a friend and a cat, a lover and a star. Whatever our chosen channels, they are holy icons for us. Through them we have discovered green grace and red grace.
"Green grace, we recall, is the healing we experience when we recover rich bonds with people, animals, and the Earth. Red grace is the healing we experience when we own our inner turmoilsuffering or guilt, fear or shametrustful that we are embraced by God in our humanity. Both forms of grace are ecological in their way; they are from the Earth and of the Earth. And yet both are also divine. They are ways in which the healing energy of god can be part of our lives. My suggestion, then, is that the various faces of God that we find in our lives some inside our own imaginations, some outside our bodies can be channels of both red and green grace."