Sunday, May 25, 2014

El Shaddai & Gender

A couple weeks ago, I posted here about my transformation after learning of God's use of feminine language to describe God's self. I mentioned as a side note a possible translation of God's name, El Shaddai, as "the breasted one." Now, I've got the goods on that, for those of you who like good resources (I know I do).

Reading Rachel Held Evans' Sunday Superlatives (a great source of quality posts and endless new blogs to follow... le sigh), I saw this amazing piece by Susan Pigot titled "El Shaddai and the Gender of God." Susan takes a scholarly approach into the original Hebrew to contextually and linguistically reveal the meaning of "the breasted one."

So often, we live limited lives. More abominably, we enforce limitations on others' lives. In my experience, the use of purely masculine language to discuss God, and the priority placed on male leadership, cut my sex, my story, and my talents out of the narrative. I felt I was left holding a bag with potential that could never be realized.

Now, this language resonates more than ever. I already tore down the walls keeping me from living my whole, gendered life and capacity. But as a mother, I live the power of this imagery every time I breastfeed my daughter.

This name of God weaves with the other names of God. I don't want to take it out of context and prioritize it above the others. When we elevate it INTO context we see how God teaches us about God, how we consequently learn about ourselves, and paradoxically, how that in turn teaches us more about God.

If I ever I think of a pithy title for this cycle, I'll feel like a true wordsmith. Anyone ever heard of one?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Deep (breathing) and Wide (living)

Remember that Sunday school song, "Deep and Wide?" I'll admit, I'm not sure about its purpose -- other than giving large groups of hyper kids something to do with their hands. But the refrain came to mind today as I considered the changes ahead of me.

I lived "shallow and scattered" for years. I ran from opportunities to look deeply into my talents and faults. In college, I wrote a paper about Christians in journalism. I argued that persons of faith report, write, and work with integrity and depth in a field that views belief as undermining to "objectivity." Good paper, actually. Even though my professors held the opposing view, they offered to help me publish the paper. I never followed up. I remember walking away from at least two other offers to publish or promote my writing talent.

We do this. We think we have all the time in the world to get it together, or get off the couch, or love big, or take risks. And, having all the time in the world, we never do.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Deconstructing Gates

Jason recorded my first sermon with our camera. It's shaky, fuzzy, and wobbly. Much like I felt! Although, to be truthful, I enjoyed getting to do this. I appreciate all those who contributed, knowingly or not, to the development of the sermon. The text for the day was John 10:1-10. It wasn't included in the video, so I'll post that passage below.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our Parent, Who Art in Heaven...

Only photo from that year I could find.
Four generations of Valentine women.
It's 8th grade. With braces, shoulder length hair, and a budding sense of fashion, I exist in that invisible social strata, sandwiched between the kids who attract most of the ridicule, and the kids who attract none of it. What happens in the classroom, like Vegas, stays there. The real jungle is the cafeteria. That cute guy who talked to you in class won't see you in the lunch line, and certainly never offer you a seat at his table.

The group I sit with at lunch has slipped a multi-colored, tightly folded note into my locker. "I really like you, but one of us thinks you laugh too loud, and wants me to tell you not to sit with us anymore."

... (breathe) ...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rob Bell, Hope, and Finding My Voice

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday this week with Rob Bell and 50 other passionate, loving, creative, honest people. I have to mention it, not to name drop, but to honor the way it shaped me, and be public with my gratitude for that time and space, and those persons. I am fueled and humbled, stilled and motivated. And, definitely re-centered in (as Rob says) "the divine impulse to make something of the world."

In the last few years I lost that impulse in a flood of rational thinking. The rational thinking was, at its core, a defense mechanism against the pain of faith and hope. Pain of faith and hope? Two such happy sounding things actually take a lot of work for me. More will be coming on that in the future.

But this week, I opened myself up to have faith in unknown, unanswerable things, and hope in divine impulses and appointments. At about 9:30 in the still warm morning, I gathered my courage to raise my hand and share the story of the things I've learned about life while witnessing death and illness. To my great joy, the people with me affirmed my voice and message. They overwhelmed me with their response.

Because of this time, I will have the privilege of traveling to several states to share my story. I experienced the privilege of a personal hero (Rob Bell) validating and helping hone my message. I felt something mysterious welling in me. And I went surfing. It's hard to say how closely to link the welling and the surfing... (just know I grinned from ear to ear the whole time).