I’ve Been Thinking: Healing and the Feminine Semidivine

18 Nov

Been thinking a lot about Christmas today.

(I will warn you that this post is suuuuper wobbly, and the title is the most coherent part of it).

I always loved Christmas. It was my favorite holiday, aside from my birthday, for most of my life. The last sixish years it’s been wrapped up in a lot of really terrible feelings of sorrow, regret, exhaustion, severe anxiety. It has brought meltdowns, breakdowns, vaguely suicidal tendencies, and crippling depression, but I still cling to the idea that I love it. I hate the cold and the dark, so I’m super into a celebration of light. I hated school when I was in it, so hey! Vacation. I love giving and getting presents.

Mostly, I love Christmas music. Like, a lot. A lot. 

I was a choir nerd, a band geek, a theatre jerk, and a preacher’s kid, so for me Christmas music usually started in September, and I was lucky enough to be exposed to some really astonishing seasonal music. Shit you don’t hear on the radio. Deep cuts, if you will. I still love Christmas music–I make a lot of money every year as a professional Christmas caroler. I just released a Christmas CD, which I recorded in June. When I’m very, very stressed out, I find that 16th century sacred choral music will help me calm down a bit. Today I started building a couple of Christmas playlists, and as is probably to be expected, I ran into Mary Did You Know, aka “Mansplaining Christmas: The Musical.”

TO BE CLEAR: Mary was aware, this song is theological garbage and downplays her bravery and intelligence in the interest of glorifying “innocence,” but I’m not here to bitch about it.

Despite it being crap, it’s been stuck in my head all day (with the exception of the four hours I spent listening to different versions of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence). Fortunately it’s not the only Christmas song about a woman. Most Christmas music about a woman–granted, it’s about a woman giving birth, which I was never interested in, but Christmas is ultimately Mary’s story. Joseph is totes a good dude, and there’s a lot more room to talk about him, and Jesus obviously has a featured role, but the heavy lifting goes to Mary (and Elizabeth, to a lesser extent). And as it gets dark outside and my uterus continues its cycle of bloody revolution, I find myself thinking about what kind of person would be able to handle being Mariam without losing her ever-loving mind.

Joan of Arc was my favorite saint growing up. I wrote several reports on her. I had several of her medallions. I didn’t grow up Catholic, so why did I have a favorite saint at all? More to the point, why was my favorite saint one who didn’t live to see her 20s because she was burned at the stake? I don’t know. I’m into dramatic epics and always wanted to believe my life has a big, grand purpose, and I admire bravery. As I lay here almost paralyzed by fear and indecision, I cannot imagine what sort of person would be capable of being Jehanne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those two ladies today. The focus on their virginity never sat well with me (I get that a spontaneous virgin birth is miracle, but the centuries of veneration has very little to do with miracles and everything to do with purity culture, and TO BE CLEAR that’s bullshit), but otherwise they always struck me as pretty great. “I know what I’m here to do, I’m going to do that thing with aplomb, and none of you will stop me. This is who I am. I’m good enough for The Big Guy, it can be good enough for the rest of you bastards.”

I admire people who know what they’re meant to be doing. I used to know, or think I did. The last time I had to make a decision (what to get in my burrito), I panicked for almost a full minute.

Anyway, today I’ve been thinking a lot about them.

I kind of fell apart when my grandmother was dying, and I haven’t been back to church in years. The last time I was in church I wept so hard I almost hurt myself. I grew up in church: singing, ringing, reading, teaching, eating, wasting time in my mom’s office, stealing communion wafers, skipping youth group to write fanfiction in the bathroom with my bestie. We were there twice a week, every week. I read the book twice (including all the begats), I did my research. I put a lot of time and thought into what I believe. I still believe, but believing hurts. I’m not worried–I was for a while, but then someone reminded me that God is big enough to comprehend even the most incomprehensible anger/grief/fear/pain, even the pain I can’t comprehend myself, and will still be there. It hurts less. But it still hurts.

I’ve been thinking a lot about incomprehensible grief, and courage, and being loved. I’ve been thinking about the aspects of feminine divinity that are missing from too much of mainstream Christianity, prompting generations of worshippers, desperate to see ourselves reflected in our God, to shift a little divinity to a thousand female saints.

While I wait to think about God some more, I’m thinking about these two women. Girls. Lady-persons. I’m just thinking about femaleness as strength, of femininity as expressed in two totally different but equally valid ways. I fought for years against the idea of God as solely male, because 1) I want to see myself truly reflected in the God I believe created me in Its image, and 2) it’s theologically questionable, and 3) sometimes I need a father, and sometimes I need a mother. And a crazy bachelor aunt.

Sometimes I need a couple of ladies who take no shit and give no fucks and walk confidently into the future. So as I get ready for Christmas, whatever Christmas means to me this year, I’m thinking about them.

7 Responses to “I’ve Been Thinking: Healing and the Feminine Semidivine”

  1. AnnMCN November 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

    First, follow @WilGafney @YNPierce and @drchanequa on Twitter. They’re black and ordained and female, and exciting. I’ve read some of their sermons, and they turn my head inside out.

    And while I was angry about Roy Moore’s apologists saying that Mary was 14 and Joseph was 42, it hit me — NO WHERE does the Bible give their ages. What if Mary was an old maid of 25 or so, and closer to Elizabeth (who I bet was 50ish and menopausal)? My cranky opinion is that the tradition is another example of men obsessing on barely adolescent girls.

  2. maradanto November 18, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

    Rykie,

    Thank you for your faith. My doubts run deep, and during weeks like this one when I find myself crying for no reason I can see, I (believe it or not) have thought over some of the brief exchanges we have had and I’ve found encouragement from you, your directness, and your honest vulnerability.

    Thanks for keeping it real and honest.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • stone biscuit November 18, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

      Was it you that told me that about God waiting, or was that FOAF? Either way, I’m glad you’re here.

      • maradanto November 19, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

        I don’t even know where the hell I am.

        I mean, I was raised in a mainline church and had the big whoopity-shit born again experience when I was 18 that led me to act like a complete asshat to my parents and their less exuberant, in-your-face take, which means they must be having the last laugh these past eighteen years or so as I’ve walked away from Pentecostalism and evangelicalism and have settled into a more-or-less mainline understanding of the Christian faith that is still almost too much for me.

        I’m at midlife or a little past and precious little to show for it: stories and books unwritten, no steady job but dad for a decade-and-a-half, and this arrangement where I’m a kinkster living a vanilla life out of respect for my family and their boundaries, and as far as that goes I’m half in the church, not sure if there’s really room for me there but i remain committed because of relationships we have and the genuinely good stuff it does, half in a padded leather closet and half dangling out in the void, wanting to shout “This is who I am, these are my kinks, and I’m not ashamed of it!”

        I need a place for ragged people who don’t belong anywhere. Maybe that’s why I like you and C so much, because you are that place.

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