Just suppose. Suppose we took a trip down into the field of wild re-imaginings. Just suppose. We allow ourselves to allow ourselves to think differently. Thinking outside the box is how they term it, the glitterati literati. Our thoughts can define and confine at the same time. Just suppose the fence that keeps us securely in were broken down and we allowed ourselves to wander out.
Just suppose the Christian God image that most of us grew up with could be expanded. Suppose that the ‘friendly, white-bearded man in the sky’ is not a ‘he’. Suppose we imagine God as a woman. What image can we conjure up? History has presented the ‘male’ version of God yet in Jewish/Christian scripture the divine female presence is everywhere.
The spirit of creation is not masculine but feminine. The spirit of wisdom is feminine, there from the beginning of time, according to scripture. The presence of God during the exodus of the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land was feminine. ‘Shekhinah’ is the Hebrew word used for the presence of God in the Tabernacle between the two cherubim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.
Shekhinah is also a word used for the presence of God in Christianity, the Holy Spirit. It is a feminine word. Just suppose God’s presence was feminine. Another Hebrew word for spirit is ‘ruach’, a feminine word. The corresponding Greek word is pneuma – breath, spirit or soul. It also has a feminine article. The word we hear so much about, ‘agape’ – God’s unselfish love for us, is also feminine.
Author, teacher and translator of the mystics, Mirabai Starr puts it succinctly: “Why not? Why not pretend for now that the Absolute (the Great Mystery, the Ground of Being) sometimes expresses itself in the body of woman? Pretending God’s a dude hasn’t exactly worked out for the vast majority of the human family, let alone the animal and plant communities or the air or the waters.”
Catholic priest and mystic, Fr Richard Rohr constantly challenges people to ‘just suppose’. Recently he cited American author and pastor Rev Dr Jacqui Lewis: “It makes sense that because white men created so much of religion, the image of God was an old white man with grey hair. However, this image needs a makeover, because he’s no longer working.
“My God is a curvy black woman with dreadlocks and dark, cocoa-brown skin. She laughs from her belly and is unashamed to cry. She can rock a whole world to sleep, singing in her contralto voice. Her sighs breathe life into humanity. Her heartbreaks cause eruptions of justice and love.
“Of course, because God is a mystery, we don’t know everything about Her. So out of our imaginations and our yearnings, our hopes and our fears, we make stuff up. At our best, we project goodness, power, kindness, and love onto God. At our worst, we create a God who is punitive, angry, judgmental, and harsh. We do this because we are those things, and we think they make us safe.
“Projection itself is not the problem... The issue is that we write laws that codify the shadow parts of the god we create, in order to diminish others, to abuse others. The trouble starts when our god is too small, when we reduce our worst projections to fit in our pocket and keep this god on our team.
“When we neglect to confront this created god, we get the Crusades and the Doctrine of Discovery; the murder of indigenous people and Jews; apartheid and enslaved Africans; sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia – all in the name of the too-puny god that is the worst of ourselves.”
Is it any wonder there is such strong devotion to the Blessed Mother in so many cultures? In these cultures, Mary is the archetypal mother of the Earth, creation, care and love; she has a thousand names and shapes; she is the mother who gave birth to love and who accepts everyone; the spirit of wisdom; and the reassuring healing presence of the divine, breaking down the fences of condemnation, guilt and opinions.
Just suppose our image of God became more feminine. Just suppose.