I’m finding I have little affection for the concept of patriarchy. Honestly, lately, God referred to as He makes me cringe.
This is not about man bashing. I love men. It is about millennia of stifling roles for both genders. Male pronouns and their baggage have dominated for so long, I feel it is overdue to compensate on the side of the feminine long enough for things to balance a bit and eventually even out.
When making my New Year’s resolution, I considered making it the year of God as She. I’m doing it anyway, because it feels like an aspect of margin to me, this release from a top down sense, to a more care-taking, encouraging one. This means I’ll need to constantly translate, but I’m game, since it is so needed. As I take notes during my Bible Lesson study, I’m transferring pronouns or avoiding them entirely.
But more importantly, as I pray the Lord’s Prayer, I’m praying Our Mother which art in heaven. I’m bowled over with what a different feeling this gives me.
I grew up in a rather happy, functional family. However, my dad was definitely the king of the roost, as the breadwinner and professional superstar. My mother was a creative artist, who sidelined her life to be a homemaker and mother to three daughters, of which I’m the youngest. Also in my close family unit were my dad’s widowed mother, and my mother’s only sister, who was single. So it was basically my dad and six women. It was a perfect recipe for patriarchy, unwitting as it was. He had no idea of his privilege, but as the youngest of those six women I sure did, and I chafed against it.
When I pray Our Mother, the feeling is of all she unselfishly did for us, how she was always there for us, how creative she was, how she’d listen to us, or help us with our projects. She’d take our part in any difficulty. She had a strong sense of integrity, fairness, and morality, and would clearly expect us to behave properly, while easily forgiving our mistakes. She’d make sure we had what we needed. She was a supporter– not afar off and tacit like my dad, who was the big gun brought in at the celebrations and calamities– but a constant there all in between. These more reassuring qualities of fidelity and nurturing presence are so much more helpful for me as I turn to a metaphor for God.
I know not everyone has been blessed with a wonderful mother, so this may not help all of you, but this trade off of one word is working for me powerfully right now. It feels like a fresh lease on life. Maybe give it a try and see what you think?
And let’s also remember the “Our” part at the beginning of that prayer. We’re turning to the ultimate ideal of One Collective Mother that we all share. No human mother is ever all that, not me, or mine, nor even Jesus’. It is the integrated essence of the most perfect mothering combination of qualities that we are turning to.
Let’s all snuggle into the embrace and unconditional love of that, which wants the best for us, yearns for a loving relationship with us, and will do anything to make everything come out just right.