I told a tale about a Parish priest who rejected completely my theory about the human quest for God. We were steeped in the words of the Liturgy at the time; “The Lord our God is one and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” The ritualisation of praise, thanksgiving, supplication and repentance. This of course is the first commandment. God said, “I am who am”, meaning God is the being that simply is.
I wrap my God daughter’s Christmas present. I think of her having fun in the snow, oblivious to the road and rail chaos that abounds. I have been blessed with two God daughters, one is three and the other twenty. I hope to do a better job second time around and be more present in their lives. As God mother I am expected to introduce my God children to the Christian faith. I am supposed to be a mentor, a moral roll model, someone who they can trust and turn to should their own parents let them down or (God forbid), die. At their baptisms I was their representative in Christ. Tommorrow is Christ’s birthday. The coming of Christ. Even though he is born again every year, still we wait for his second coming.
Both of my God daughters have aramanthine and orchidaceous qualities, i.e. they have everlasting and exceptional beauty, like the amaranth and the orchid. How am I to reconcile my Christian faith with century upon century of inbred sexism, misogyny and political editing of the Holy Scriptures. The Hebrew word for God is “YHWH” and is pronounced in modern Hebrew as YAH-HO-VAH. this I am reliably informed is an archaic third person singular imperfect of the verb “To be”, meaning, “He is.” From the very beginning in Genesis, the essential feminine is not recognised and most probably ignored or edited out of vocabulary. Despite Christianity being my religion of choice, I am undeterred in challenging the masculinisation of God.
Masculinisation, is defined as being the “abnormal development of masculine characteristics in a female.” I must roll my eyes here. A very medicalised definition and so I ask; How can an essentially neutral God be masculinised before centuries and centuries of people, without someone wondering why the feminine was not represented in the name “YHWH”? I do not call for an emasculation of God, nor do I call for a totally feminine deity. What I would like is the word God, to be neutral in value.
Here, I must mention the Holy Trinity of the Christian faith, God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. Here it is only the Holy Spirit that is gender neutral. God the son was the incarnation of the Holy Spirit into the male vessel Jesus Christ. The “God head” remains neutral, even though the flesh is male. So, I believe if the Holy Spirit can incarnate into a male vessel, then equally it can incarnate into a female vessel i.e. a mortal woman. This will make them quake in the Vatican.
It’s an icy, dark December evening and I’m meeting a very special person. My hands are like ice through my wool pink gloves. I say she is special because she is blessed with many gifts. Her words are healing words and her deeds are healing deeds. She was sent to me by the angels, to impart her loving words of wisdom after the tragic death of my brother earlier this year. In a different context, she is/was my counsellor. Tonight we meet as friends, for a Buddhist Meditation class.
My first encounter with Buddhism, was way back in 1990. I was twenty one at the time and in an abusive and destructive relationship. I was in turmoil and some people suggested I go to a Buddhist retreat somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It was remote and pitch and I was unnerved by this alone, never mind the monks that I clapped eyes on, dressed in robes and all baldy. There was a stillness and a external calm that quite frankly freaked me out, it was one of the longest evenings in my whole life. I was terrified.
There was some chanting and some incense and some sounding of bowls or bells, (I’m not sure which), and the monk then indicated for us to meditate. I was sitting cross legged which I found most unnatural and then silence fell on the room and as the silence fell upon the room, the turmoil in my head was amplified by decibel and megahertz in my head. The meditation lasted a life time. I fidgeted, opened my eyes for companionship, sat on my heels which made my legs go to sleep and generally panicked internally; because even with my insufficient knowledge of meditation, I knew this was not it.
Years have passed, twenty one years to be precise and I am willing to experience some more Buddhist meditation. I enter the room, it’s a community building, much more familiar. I ask for help to get a coffee from the switched off machine. The caretaker of the community building advises me that the Buddhists don’t affiliate with substances that stimulate. A calm and empty mind is the outcome. Ah! OK I say and continue fiddling with the buttons on the coffee machine. I was slightly nervous, with memories of my Buddhist retreat nightmare close to my frontal lobes. Those neurons had been stimulated and in that moment I believed caffeine would be the cure.
So, I sit and I wait with my coffee. My friend arrives and I am relieved. The monk arrives too wearing orange and maroon robes displaying a closely shaven head. I am much more prepared this time. He seems nice enough and has one of those enviable lean vegan bodies. He obviously is on a higher spiritual plane and can ignore the primal necessity of hunger.
Later, in the discussion time, I confess (how very Christian), of my church background and remember the conversation I had with the Parish Priest (years before). I made some claims, that all religions are paths/ways to the “God Head” and whatever is the essential substance of “God” is the same; it is only the ways to God that are different through the doctrines of religions. The Priest, defended the Christian faith as being the only true path and the Christian God being the only true God. He did this with such zeal and passion, that I was shocked at his reaction to my words. This became a defining moment for me and my relationship with God and the Holy church.
I felt ‘put down’ and inferior; which of course is mostly the fate of the women in the Bible. I use an online dictionary translator, firstly I am told there is no Hebrew equivalent of “She is”, I try again and the word “jest” appears, or alternatively “jesmo”. This is not a good omen.
And so, a similar conversation ensues with the monk and the buddhists. How all religions are ways to the God Head. The same ultimate goal, oneness with God, with different paths to choose for the journey. Yet, none of us know, nobody has the blue print for what happens, although there are plenty of instruction manuals. B asic I nstructions B efore L eaving E arth.
The monk is more receptive to my theory and says this is a possible explanation in our quest for the ultimate truth.
“It is important to choose one of the paths and stick with it. Do not take a bit here, a bit there from all of them, that way you would be forever dancing around the mountain and there would be no ascent.” He said.
I heard wisdom in these words. My meditation experience was a positive one this time. I relaxed, focussed on my breath. As instructed let my thoughts come up and release, let go. I am safe, I am loved, all is well. I felt calm. A moment of calm. A deep seated, grounded feeling came over me, bring my energy down from my head. Bring it down to the all seeing and knowing wisdom in the heart chakra. God knows it all, sees it all from the heart. I am one with God.
It is Christmas Eve. She is born again tonight. She will come again.