WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

Responsible for the World

By Erica Shadowsong

“It has been said that Sekhmet is the Goddess of Ten Thousand Names. Some of these names are to be found in Ancient Egyptian texts and inscriptions. Some are revealed in contemporary times, through dreams, revelations, meditations, and inspirations.”
—from Heart of the Sun: An Anthology in Exaltation of Sekhmet, eds. Candace C. Kant and Anne Key

A bright gold sun on the horizon seems to rest on a person's outstretched hands, palms up,

As a devotee of the Egyptian sun goddess Sekhmet, one of my core spiritual tenets is responsibility for the world around me. Whereas I once saw good and evil in terms of battling forces, now I understand the world as created and shaped by humans, for better or for worse. When horrible things are going on in the news, when I get that awful feeling of why?!?!, my answer is: It’s our choice.

Human beings are the ones in the realm of matter; this is what I've been taught. We're responsible for the world we create, both intentionally and unintentionally. We don't get to do that individually. We are all in this together, and when bad things happen that are preventable by human means, we are all implicated. It's not about guilt; it’s just about direct cause and effect. Whenever I get close to hopelessness and helplessness, this is what I end up reminding myself.

I acknowledge this in my prayers: Evil is not some separate force "out there" any more than good; both forces are part of us. We create what we imagine, fueled with our emotions. What we create lasts after we are gone. There is some bizarre comfort in this; it gives me perspective, and it also prevents me from giving in to the nihilistic perspective that “nothing I do matters.”

But sometimes it’s not enough. When I wanted to pray about suffering in the world, it wasn’t enough to say, “I know we’re the ones responsible, but…"

Instead, I said to Her, “I know we are the ones responsible for the world, but we are also children. As a species, we are not fully mature! Even as children grow up, parents have to set some boundaries for them, because they can't be expected to make mature choices themselves. Please, you are our Mother Goddess. Please don’t let us commit every mistake as fully as we could; hold us back from the ledge a little bit?”

After all, what’s the point of working with the Divine if we don’t expect it to make a difference? This prayer felt right; it gave me a little hope again that we—foibles and all—are not in this totally alone.


Precious Flame of Hope, The One Before Whom Evil Trembles, guard us and protect us from ourselves. Help us to minimize suffering. Help us to be the best versions of ourselves. As we co-create with You, with the gods, with all the Divine, I look to You to do the part that only a Mother can. Thank you. I believe in You. I believe in You.

About the Author

Erica Shadowsong

Erica Shadowsong is a religious educator with years of experience in congregations. She has a passion for all things creative, especially the performing arts. She enjoys using her storytelling skills in Unitarian Universalist worship settings.


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