Thursday, September 26, 2013

He was everywhere, but She was never to be found

Mother God, with hair of fire.
Growing up, my mother had a large poster with all of the different names for God in the Bible. Nowhere on the poster was a name for God that indicated or celebrated the over thirty-to-forty (depending on how you want to count*) times that God is referenced in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as a woman. All of the sacred names were considered male. We prayed to a male god. Our Bibles and Sunday School texts capitalized all of the personal pronouns when referring to God. He was everywhere, but She was never to be found.

By the time I went to seminary, I had left behind the congregations of my youth where this male god was omniscient and all controlling of the fate of the world and my own actions. I had found my way to a beautiful congregation that carefully sang the Doxology and used “Creator, Christ and Holy Ghost” instead. At that time in my life the abuse of my childhood at the hands of my adoptive step-father had me clamping my mouth shut at every utterance of “Our Father, who art in Heaven.” The Lord’s Prayer was sung each Sunday, yet I would not sing a note until “hallowed be thy name.” My church’s inclusive language—a term I did not know of until I began my attendance there—eased my own internal debate about calling God “father” when that name was loaded with broken promises, deep scars, and night terrors.

Still, I had not seen Mother God.

I had heard passages that referenced God as being “like” a mother, but I knew nothing of God as a mother. (Something my own mother-in-waiting heart even more deeply understands now.) I knew of a father who screamed, threw things, went away, were silent and raging, who touched you where you did not want to be touched, who took advantage when at your utter weakest, who threatened, who manipulated, who abused. My own real kind Daddy long dead also was a father who abandoned (through no fault of his own); I needed to be protected from fathers. What did I know of loving fathers who stayed, cared, kept promises, watched-over, and loved?
What I knew of Mothers—especially given my own mother, grandmother and Amazonian Aunts—was love, fidelity, humor, grace, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, generosity, and love all over again. Oh how my little-girl self needed a god who reflected these values in the same way the women of my life did so exquisitely! Oh how my abused little-girl self needed the protective wing of a god who “as a mother comforts her child, so [she’ll] comfort you.”(1) But this god, this Mother God, was not to be whispered about, talked about, praised, worshiped or revered. She simply did not exist in the religious places or people I knew.

~Excerpt from "There She Goes" by Jacqueline Hope Derby.

Shared with permission from thesophiacollective.com.  Click on their link to finish the essay!


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