One time, I went to a Muslim religious service. The guys told me ahead of time I didn’t have to dress as a woman or go behind the veil. I chose to.
True confession: I loved it. If I could worship God in some way that no one ever had to see, if I could disappear into my inner room and no one would ever have to know I was even there … that would be awesome. At my soft, chewy center, I’d rather be left alone with God.
There’s a space in me that’s bigger than the universe, than every universe that ever was or could be. That space isn’t a void. It’s love, vast and intricate. neither vague nor intrusive. It’s like touching the third rail, so empowering and terrifying that I’m scared what people would think if they knew.
I am at my core truly alive, a contained universe that wants to make absolutely sure that everyone else gets theirs. I don’t think that I’m alone in this, but I think we all forget sometimes. Well, I’m tired of hiding my light under a basket. I’m tired of “being nice.”
There’s this counter-narrative that I despise to my core, this idea that we are supposed to impose our wills, our selves, “God’s will” on other people. It’s the spirit of Antichrist. It’s a denial that the Only True God is the God who fully and irrevocably embraces human limitation. The spirit of anti-human destruction would murder us all – if we let it.
In one of his many parables, Jesus talks about day laborers who all get paid the same amount at the end of the day, however long they worked. A superficial reading of this parable is a lot like how I feel about feminism and intersectionality – as latecomers to the game of grace.
It doesn’t seem fair, does it? We’ve been slaving like the bride of the Song of Songs, growing dark as night out in the fields, caring for other peoples’ gardens. Meanwhile, ours have grown wild. The white guys get to march into heaven with all of their perfection – and their perfect lives. Do we really get to sneak in at the last minute?
Well – not really sneak. More like walk right in, past all those guys worrying more about other people’s actions and motivations than their own.
Parables play with our expectations to reveal what really matters to us. For example, there’s this parable of the virgins with the oil lamps who need oil in order to recognize their husband (this is in the bad old days when men could have more than one wife.) Only those with enough oil would be able to recognize their guy and get married. Barbaric right? I think so!
Here’s how far too many believers seem to interpret this parable: I have oil for my lamp. I will recognize my king when he arrives. I’m holy and good. So long suckers. Um, no.
Sharing what little you have, that’s what will enable you to recognize the king – or not. What do you do, then? Keep your oil or give it away? Do you really need to ask? Sigh. ALWAYS GIVE IT AWAY. That’s the ONLY WAY to keep it going forever.
When I see all these holier-than-thou misogynists keeping themselves unsullied from the world, I laugh. That’s like hiding yourself from wolves by locking yourself up with them. Because guess what? That selfish, me before them mentality? That is about as *worldly* as you can get. If they’re lucky, maybe one day you will let them know what they were missing: the chance to see outside that solipsistic prison. Probably not. Everyone gets to heaven eventually. It’s just heaven is a bit bigger for those with bigger hearts.
Hell is more terrible than fire and pitchforks. It’s the one unforgivable sin, the one no one can escape. It’s missed opportunity. It’s coming to the end of the journey and seeing those you have pierced. We will forgive each other – but still. There are no takebacks, there. And, it happens every day. We see it every day, people shutting themselves emotionally in – or not.
Here’s the fear I live with daily. One fear terrifies me to my core: that I will reach the end of this life and not have done everything I could. I don’t even care – past a certain point – what God or anyone says to me about this.
Like any good warrior, I try to choose my battles carefully. I can’t do everything. That would be wrong, even if I could. It would be wrong. I’m always learning, to survive, to fight on. I write and pray and write and pray as a way to maximize my reach – with faith and hope God will get and use it – even if no one else ever does.
I’ve gotten to know God very well over the years. I know a lot of things about him/her/them. The real God is not a single husband with a harem of wives. That’s just poetry. The real God is strong enough to be who God is – so that we can be who we are. All that talk of worshipping God and God alone? That’s not patriarchal “look at me” rhetoric. It’s the chant of the personal trainer. It’s what God says to focus our attention. What you are about to do will seem impossible if you think about it, so don’t.
Look at the end goal. Ignore Everything Else.
We all falter, we all fail. But guess what? That’s how you thread this particular needle. It’s not about being perfect, dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s. The name of this game is love, charity for all. When you love, when you really reach out, you are going to make mistakes. You will be perfectly imperfect. That darkened skin, that dirt under your nails? That means you’ve been working.
Even if the “other side” could figure us out, it’s way too late now. We are far ahead of those self-centered losers. Because we’ve had to be. They may talk about humility, about putting others ahead of themselves – but we’ve been doing it for years. Guess what else? It is so worth it. There are a lot of things – like palaces and titles – that you can’t take with you when you go. But good deeds, lives impacted, character and compassion and awesome memories? Yeah – those live on forever.
I’ve been on the fence for a while on the subject of women’s ordination. I’m still on some kind of fence. I still think it’s time for a new/old way of doing church. The real God does not “lord” it over other people.
Now, the leadership continues to accuse women of clericalism, of wanting some kind of “perceived power” we don’t have. I’ve been sifting through this rhetoric. It’s starting to sound like – if you don’t shut up, we are going to blow everything up. Then no one gets anything. That is BS. Anarchy is not a life plan. Hm…. Let’s be honest here. Or not.
If something’s not working, then God’s creativity is boundless. Put down the hammer. Pick up a sword. Work smarter, not harder.
As ever, I for one am free to decide, free to be what I want to be. That is my divine mandate: to love without limit. Freedom is our divine mandate. Because, Christ has set us free – and we are free indeed.