73 | theTYPEAhippie Podcast | ChiCast: Transitioning With Time, Expectations and Faith (Petra Strand)

I met Petra a long time ago when we were both embarking on a 200 hour yoga certification. She's lived a lot of life since then. She's become more authentic and is living a life that is more in alignment with who she is. I stumbled on an older email thread from when we were on that yoga journey and it struck me what can happen in 10-11 years as the email sender was Peter rather than Petra. We have the potential to grow and change and become more vulnerable, authentic, real and add to that the backdrop of space and faith. 

I am Petra Aleah and live in the United States, in northeastern New Jersey. Since childhood, the quest for the Divine has been the exclusive center of my life.


One of the Fireside Poets, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), might have spoken for me when he wrote in 1858 in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, chapter 9, “I was born and bred … among books and those who knew what was in them,” and chapter 6, “I like books,—I was born and bred among them, and have the easy feeling, when I get into their presence, that a stable boy has among horses.”

I too always loved books, especially old books, and the culture of books.


I love nature, and I love wilderness and whenever I can be out where it is wild—and beautiful and vast—and where people are sparse. Nature, as living presence, has always been the healing and nurturing companion of my spiritual life.

I first started backpacking 30 years ago and converted to ultralight backpacking probably over 20 years ago. I am still an avid hiker, backpacker, and canoeist.

Between 2014 and 2017, I worked in retail as a sales specialist at REI in Paramus. I was hired on the basis of my experience as an outdoorswoman.

I am a Woman

I am a woman who is transgender. My transition took place late in life. Outwardly I became to others who I already was to myself.

I have therefore occupied the world of both genders: for most of my life I tried my best to live in the role of a male; in 2015, I finally “came out” to the public and transitioned outwardly to the wonderful creation of the Divine that I have always been.

This is who I am before the Divine, who I have always been, the actual one whom the divine One created and redeemed. In a way, this is not a big deal because I have never been anyone else; it is just that no one else knew my actual gender, and I spent my life confused about it. That confusion and my coming out of it, of course, was a big deal (however little surprise it was to some others). A couple of years ago, I wrote a short reflection on my transition (see My 58th Birthday).

In Admonition XIX, Francis of Assisi said to his brothers,  “What a man is before God, that he is and no more.” I would add, “and no other”: you are no other than what you are before the divine One. Bonaventure, in his Legenda Maior, tells us that Francis “had these words continually in his mouth.” My preaching every week on the Gospel according to Matthew in 2013, and seeing how this recognition by Francis was foundational to Jesus’ own teaching—along with the spiritual reflection I was doing while taking a course at the General Theological Seminary during its Fall semester—compelled me to face the truth about myself, who I was in the presence of my divine Lover. Francis’ words catalyzed my transition and my coming out.

A newspaper story on me: “A Transgender Minister’s ‘Long, Painful, Joyous, Happy and Dizzying’ Road to Acceptance.”


I am a Franciscan, a Franciscan woman, a vowed member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans since 2001. I think of myself this way first of all.

To connect with Petra:

* Email: petra.aleah@gmail.com
* Website: https://petraaleah.net and http://mylonging.net

* FB: www.facebook.com/petra.aleah