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Images of God

God Is Beyond Gender

Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Images of God

God Is beyond Gender
Wednesday, December 1, 2o21

Virtually all Christians are taught to call God “Father,” as Jesus did himself. Yet Richard understands the need for both masculine and feminine images of God. He writes:

I must invite us all to reclaim and honor female wisdom, which is often qualitatively different from male wisdom. I hope this perspective can invite you to trust your own experiences with the divine feminine as well. For many, it is an utterly new opening, since they always falsely assumed that God is somehow masculine.

Although Jesus was clearly of the masculine gender, the Universal Christ is beyond gender, and so it should be expected that the Big Tradition would have found feminine ways, consciously or unconsciously, to symbolize the full Divine Incarnation and to give God a more feminine character—as the Bible itself often does. [1]

New Mexico friend and mystic Mirabai Starr offers images of God as female and feminine, which is affirming and healing for many people.

Your God transcends gender. And yet She is also Mother. She is Shekhinah, pillar of holy fire, guiding you through the wilderness. She is Sophia and Al-Hakim, the essence of Wisdom, filling your troubled heart and telling you exactly what needs to be done next. She is Jamal, beauty, and Sakina, serenity. She is Rahim, the merciful source of all life. She is Shakti, coursing through your veins when you cry out for God, infusing you with unbearable longing. She is Guanyin, radiating well-being. She is Tara, formed from the Buddha’s own tears as he gazed upon the suffering of the world and wept. She is Miriam, Mary, Maryam.

You feel Her closest when you are shattered and when you are exalted. She dives into the heart of the tidal wave and scoops you into Her arms, promising that no matter how disastrous the disaster, She will always be with you. She is in the front row clapping too loudly when you get it right. Your God sneaks you in the back door to daven with the learned men in the synagogue. She whispers in your ear when you are trying to control yourself: Go ahead, She says, break the alabaster jar and cover His feet with priceless nard.

Your God transcends form. And yet She also dwells within every created thing. She animates all that is growing and going to seed, all that is ripened and fragrant, all that is raw and undomesticated. She dwells in creativity, in beauty, in chaos. She breathes with the laboring female animals, breathes with the newborn’s first inhalation, breathes with the old ones as they exhale one last time. She is the passion of lovers, the dignity of the queen. She is merciful, but She is not the least bit sentimental.

You do not mean to break the rules and call Her God. You try not to even conceive of God that way. But sometimes you can’t help it. Everything that feels holy feels like Her.

References:
[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope for, and Believe (Convergent: 2019, 2021), 121–122.

Mirabai Starr, God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Monkfish Book Publishing Company: 2012), 155–156.

Story from Our Community:
I really resonate with Fr. Richard’s message that we are loved children of God. As a hospital chaplain, I say it often, especially in our behavioral health units. So many people who have never been told they are a loved child of God—that they can even be loved. Usually, the tears start to flow and I know that God has touched their hearts. I feel blessed to share the love. —Dawn C.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations Editorial Team.

Image credit: Rose B. Simpson, Genesis (detail), 2017, sculpture.
We featured the artist of these sculptures, Rose B. Simpson, at our recent CONSPIRE conference—so many of us were impacted by her creations that we decided to share her work with our Daily Meditations community for the month of November.
Image inspiration: My art changed entirely when I became a parent. I never understood the true creative nature until I created a human being and the responsibility, the unconditional love, the fear, the intimacy and vulnerability that comes with it. . . and understand when we can love that deeply how we feel the presence of a larger parent. —Rose B. Simpson, CONSPIRE Interview, 2021
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