Woman, the world needs you. You can’t marry or mother your way to worthiness. Your own self, your own existence, your own recognition of the divine within you, is the gift.Read more
The Lectionary for July 30 includes the story of Leah and Rachel and Jacob. This is a hard story for me to engage with; the patriarchy and polygamy, the treatment of these two women is sometimes more than I can see past. There is much to learn from the story, but as a (modern, feminist) woman I must acknowledge the elephant there: two young powerless women being traded by their father for field labor, without their consent, determining the course of their lives. It arouses my own sorrow for the continuing plight of women in the world.
There are times when I can engage with a difficult text seamlessly. And sometimes not. This one was a not this week. So instead, I wrote a poem. Because, as a friend of mine who is a priest says, "If you can't make it happy, make it beautiful."
We made you work for it
But we were worth it.
You didn’t get exactly what you wanted at first
But in the end, you were happy.
We didn’t control our fate.
We had no say in whether, or when, we were given to you.
You obviously had a favorite.
Everyone knows that.
But we served you well
For little reward.
And you did the work. You agreed to the plan.
Because we were so valuable to you.
Plan A didn’t work out -
You were given second best;
A saboteur got the better of you,
While you, in your lust, weren’t paying attention.
Plan B got you your beloved,
Who was barren for the longest,
But beautiful and graceful
None of this was perfect. None ideal.
But you became rich anyway, a father of many.
We were jewels among your hoard,
Breeders among your flock.
Your 14 years of labor
Paid your penance.
Who is Jacob
To complain about his inheritance?
I considered writing a litany for Mother's Day. But then I realized that I am frustrated because Mother's Day tends to be the only day of the year that your average Jesus-y church talks AT ALL about the feminine. So I've written this prayer to hopefully inspire us to a larger perception of the Divine, and to lift up my sisters who have been told by their religion or faith-culture that they are Less-Than or Other because of their gender.
God, we know that you made us, male and female
All in your image.
You are above all, throughout all
And in all.
Your image can be found in fathers,
And your image can be found in mothers.
In brothers and sisters, in servants and rulers,
In shepherds and sheep, in adults and children;
In men and in women
The truth of the divine is reflected.
Human society has relegated that image of you that is feminine
To the Less-Than and the Other.
We have worshipped the male
And maligned the female.
We have worshipped the warrior,
And overlooked the nurturer.
We have worshipped the fact,
And ignored the question.
Forgive us for only assigning value to a part of you
And making an idol of it;
All the while closing our perception off
From a broader picture of your goodness.
Restore to us an understanding of you
That encompasses the sacred feminine,
And that helps in turn lift up all of us
Whose identities reflect your feminine image.
Our desire is to know you
Fully and well,
And to see you in the vastness
Of your beauty and majesty.