Tumbling in the Sand
I sat down to write last night and stared at the screen. I finally gave up and went to bed. It had been a good and busy day, but I was exhausted.
Because I was so exhausted and kind of grouchy most of the day, I didn’t really get what God kept hinting at for me to reflect on. This morning, I notice the hints like little cat prints in the snow.
First, it was my devotion, which wanted me to reflect on the divine feminine, using a beautiful hymn for Mary written by Hildegaard von Bingen. One would think, by the mandala that I painted that I was somehow particularly familiar with reflecting that way (it is the image for this post).
Honestly, the divine feminine is not one of the things I’m particularly great at reflecting on in my own personal spirituality. I tend to prefer to think of God in gender neutral terms. My childhood images of God are mostly masculine in nature. I find the feminine images of God to be liberating, powerful, and expansive (even as they feel kind of limiting around a very few traditional roles for women) and my seminary education broadened my thinking lots about that (enough to vehemently argue for the use of such imagery in our churches, our devotional lives and in our language),
But to be honest, I personally struggle with how to incorporate the divine feminine into my life. I’ve never found a lot of sacredness in being a woman. Being a woman has mostly been a liability in the professions that I have worked at and again and again I’ve felt like I’ve had to demonstrate that female is not some form of handicap. In a world in which men rule, I find myself out of place as a female not interested in fulfilling expectations of traditional roles.
And, so, I painted this image (based more on Hildegaard’s hymn than my efforts to reflect on a God who contains the feminine) and was surprised at it’s beauty … and it’s striking familiarity to very traditional trinitarian symbol (as is typical of this form of art reflection, what came to be is not what first began in my head). The painting certainly makes the feminine divine seem less foreign to me … and yet, it breaks the boundaries of the circle, just a bit.
But, apparently God was not done with trying to get me to notice. I met with our new music minister yesterday to pick hymns for Lent (finally) and upon reading the gospel text for this week, a hymn came roaring into the forefront of my mind. It has been lingering there ever since…
When twilight comes and the sun sets, mother hen prepares for night’s rest.
As her brood shelters under her wings, she gives the love of God to her nest.
Oh! what joy to feel her warm heartbeat and be near her all night long;
so the young can find repose, then renew tomorrow’s song.
One day the Rabbi, Lord Jesus, called the twelve to share his last meal.
As the hen tends her young, so for them he spent himself to seek and to heal.
Oh! what joy to be with Christ Jesus, hear his voice, oh! sheer delight,
and receive his servant care: all before the coming night.
So gather round once again, friends,touched by fading glow of sun’s gold,
and recount all our frail human hopes: the dreams of you and stories of old.
Oh! what joy to pray close together,kneeling as one family,
by a mother’s love embraced in the blessed Trinity.
For a very long time, I have hoped to find ways to incorporate the feminine divine into my spirituality in an organic, holistic (rather than just academic) way. I’ve never quite been able to grow into it. And while I’m certainly not there yet, maybe these “prints in the snow” indicate that it is time to follow and see where they go.
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