She Was There All Along
Anti-anxiety Tool of the Week: Rub Your Knees
This is a new-ish tool for me--I found myself doing it one day and realized it was not the first time. I find it quite soothing. It's simple--I sit in a chair or cross-legged (always with pillows these days!) and gently rub the palms of my hands in small circles on and around my knees. I shift my hands slightly as I circle so as to get the whole front and sides of both knees. I find I almost always move my hands in opposite directions, with the right hand going clockwise and the left, counterclockwise. I do this fairly slowly, about 5 circles every 10 seconds, sometimes slower. Ahhhhh...
This is a new tool, so there's no previous toolbox link. Here's a link to the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
She Was There All Along
Okay, I confess--I'm going to do a little more musing about God. But wait! Before you close this post in irritation or disgust (or anxiety about what I might say), consider the fact that, whether or not you believe in God, the concept has been foundational to our culture. And foundations are really important to look at, to know about.
So consider bearing with me for a moment.
For some of us, the very idea of God is disturbing. For others, it's certain ideas about God that might make us uncomfortable. Like God as Mother.
I wonder sometimes--how would things be different in our culture if for most of our history we had had the concept of a Mother God instead of a Father? Or some mysterious, mystical combination of the two? These kinds of ideas and images were certainly not foundational in Western society.
But there are a few examples tucked away here and there in unexpected places. What I share here is is not an exhaustive list, just a few I have stumbled across over the years.
The first is from 13th century mystic and philosopher Meister Eckhart:
"What does God do all day? God gives birth. From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth."
As someone who has supported many women during labor and birth, I find that very compelling. The power, the sweat, the struggle, the elemental, primeval, primordial nature of birth. The incredible joy of new life when it is complete. Ongoing, all the time.
(Unfortunately, Eckhart was tried as a heretic, though not for this particular statement, as heretical as it might have seemed to the rigidly orthodox religious authorities of his day.)
Speaking of heresy, we can safely say that there aren't any images of a female God in the Bible. Right?
Or are there?
If you check out the book of Isaiah you'll find an interesting passage about a nursing mother in Chapter 49.
With nursing, when things go as they are meant to, a mother shares a deep, pleasurable and very tender connection with her baby, along with the attendant protective fierceness of a she-bear. The hormones have evolved that way--for survival.
So what did Isaiah, speaking as God (as prophets were wont to do in those days), have to say in this context? "Can a woman forget her nursing child?....Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you."
God as tender, very present, life-giving nursing mother--or rather, even more connected and gently attentive than that. Pretty powerful.
Okay, on to Jesus. He was a great storyteller, using stories frequently, and skillfully, to get his points across. In the gospel of Luke it's reported that he told a story about a man who, having lost one of his 100 sheep, leaves the rest and goes out to look for the one. A few paragraphs later there's another story, one that most of us know--the parable of the prodigal son
In both cases the one who has lost something--a sheep, a son--is really excited when he gains back what he has lost. So excited that he throws a big party, inviting all his friends and neighbors to come celebrate with him.
Jesus is, of course, using metaphors here--a time-honored storytelling technique. If you read the stories in full it becomes clear from the context that the men in both stories are metaphors for God.
But you know what? Sandwiched between those two stories, he tells one about a woman who has lost one of her ten treasured silver coins. She too searches diligently for what she has lost, lighting a lamp and sweeping the entire house. When she finds her precious lost coin, she too calls out to her friends and neighbors to celebrate with her.
So, lets see...the woman is a metaphor for...?
Dang! He kind of slipped that one in there, didn't he? A rather radical message in his day. And still, for many people, in ours.
So...she was there all along.
Just some musings I wanted to share. Food for thought, I hope.
Until next time,
Photo & art credits:
Child touching knees, illustration, Annie Kubler, Child's Play Inc.
Woman and newborn, Kalessa, Buoyant Birth
Shepherd, Patrick Foto, Flickr
Woman vacuuming & searching, Getty Images