Father Richard writes that our images of God become more fluid as we grow in spiritual maturity:
God comes to each of us in unique ways throughout our lives. It may be good if God comes to us as a Father, but sometimes God must come as a friend and other times as a lover. Yet as we continue on our spiritual journeys, I promise that sometimes God will reveal himself in feminine form: himself as herself. (Perhaps it will be through Sophia infusing us with wisdom, or Mary loving us as she loved her son Jesus.) For some of us, this may be the first time that we fall in love with God. I know many such people myself.
We have to break through our ideas about God to find out who God really is. Our early and spontaneous images of God are typically a mixture of our experiences with our own mothers and fathers. If our mother was harshly critical, so is our God. If our father was domineering or authoritative, likewise our God. It’s almost tragic to witness how many people are afraid of God, experience God as cold and absent, and even have a sense of God as someone who might hurt and betray them. These ideas about God reveal far more about the state of our parent symbols than they do about our Trinitarian God.
Many of us, consciously or unconsciously, have pictured God and reality as a pyramid-shaped universe. We placed a male God at the top of the triangle and everything else beneath. Most Christian art, church design, and architecture reflects this pyramidal worldview. Humanity’s capacity to disguise its own flaws, even through religion, seems endless. Pyramid or patriarchal logic is only “logical” when applied in favor of the system and the status quo—which it proudly calls the “real world.” Our very inability to recognize that shows how little influence the dynamic Trinity had on our historical ways of thinking. Trinitarian thinking is more spiral, circle, and flow than pyramid.
We truly have nothing to be afraid of. The Trinitarian flow of God’s love is like the rise and fall of tides on a shore. In a Trinitarian Universe, reality can be pictured as an Infinite, Loving Outpouring that empowers and generates an Eternal, Loving Infolding. This eternal flow outward is echoed in history by every animal, fish, flower, bird, and planet you have ever seen. It is the universe: the first incarnation of God.
All we have to lose are the false images of God that do not serve us and are too small.
The foundational good news is that all of creation and all of humanity have been drawn into this loving flow (no exceptions)! We are not outsiders or spectators but inherently part of the divine dance. Such good theology was supposed to create good politics and history. We still have hope.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: Exploring the Mystery of Trinity (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2004). Available as CD, MP3 download; and
What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self (New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2015), 74–75.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard’s poem “It Can’t Be Carried Alone,” written in response to the suffering of the Ukrainian people.
- Read contemporary mystic Mirabai Starr on images of God as female.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Toni Frisell, Nuns Clamming on Long Island (detail), 1957, photograph, New York, public domain. Jenna Keiper, Untitled Rose, (detail), 2020, photograph, used with permission. Annie Spratt, Women farming cassava in Sierra Leone (detail), 2017, photograph, Sierra Leone, Unsplash, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Divine expression comes in many forms. The Divine Feminine meets, nurtures, and is in us all, regardless of gender. Like a rose in a forgotten window, She Is and continues to be, despite attempts to neutralize her fragrance.
Story from Our Community:
I believe that the Holy Spirit is the Mother within the Trinity, brooding over Creation to bring forth life. Having been raised in the Catholic Church and then spending decades in a fundamentalist church, this belief felt like heresy, but I couldn’t shake the knowledge that God is simply too big for any gender-specific label.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.