She Is Love

Feminine Incarnation

She Is Love
Thursday, June 13, 2019

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. —Mirabai Starr [1]

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, an African American pastor and author that I greatly respect, spoke at CAC’s recent conference on the theme of racial and gender inequity. Not surprisingly, some white folks in our audience were very uncomfortable. And that’s okay! Discomfort is a teacher; it’s an invitation to learn and grow. As unpleasant as it may be, we must face the truth of Christianity’s complicity in creating and supporting systems of oppression. It’s more than time for all of us to reimagine God.

Keep your heart open as you read Jacqui Lewis’ vision of God:

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 problem occurs when we don’t examine those projections with a critical eye, with a hermeneutic of suspicion. 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.

I know I’ve got my projections. They are inspired by my imagination and by textual studies. In Hebrew, the words for womb and mercy have the same root, and the word for spirit is feminine: ruach. In Greek, the word pneuma [breath or spirit or soul] has a feminine article, the word Sophia stands for wisdom, and the word agape—God’s love for us—is also a feminine word. Therefore, my God is an incarnate feminine power, who smells like vanilla and is full of sass and truth, delivered with kindness. She’ll do anything for her creation; her love is fierce. She weeps when we do and insists on justice. She is God. She is Love.

References:
[1] Mirabai Starr, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics (Sounds True: 2019), 32.

Jacqui Lewis, “She Is God. She Is Love.” the Mendicant, vol. 9, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2019), 23.

Image credit: Our Lady of Guadalupe (detail of the original image as it appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego when he experienced a vision of Our Lady on top of Tepeyac Hill, outside of Mexico City). The tilma is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The apparition known as Our Lady of Guadalupe . . . appeared on the exact spot where the Nahuatl people [of Mexico] had been worshiping the fertility goddess for millennia, and she spoke first to an indigenous farmer in his own language. Her skin was dark like their own. . . . She wore the traditional pre-Columbian maternity sash and also a mantle of stars, like the Virgin Mary. She made it clear that she was the Mother of All People and that her task and her delight was to love us, to give us shelter, to comfort our hearts, and to protect us. —Mirabai Starr
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