My Own Blue Moon

“Once in a blue moon”…there is solid cloud cover in Charlottesville this morning so I cannot see the blue moon that weather mavens assure me is there, but I found something even better. Sometime last year, I began to conceive of the third person of the Trinity as not just Spirit but Female. I identified the third person of the Trinity with the feminine Wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and I began using “Lady Wisdom” often to refer to the third person. But although I felt this to be true and necessary, the traditionalist in me worried — when does insight become dangerous deviation? When does the personal give way to the idiosyncratic?

Then, this morning, frustrated in trying to see the blue moon but wide awake, I read this passage in Julian of Norwich’s Showings:

“For the almighty truth of the Trinity is our Father, for he made us and he keeps us in him. And the deep wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother, in whom we are enclosed. And the high goodness of the Trinity is our Lord, and in him we are enclosed and he in us. We are enclosed in the Father, and we are enclosed in the Son, and we are enclosed in the Holy Spirit. And the Father is enclosed in us, the Son is enclosed in us, and the Holy Spirit is enclosed in us, almighty, all wisdom and goodness, one God…”

Sometimes it is a disappointment to discover that our thoughts and insights are not unique — and sometimes it is incredibly reassuring.

Praise God, Father Creator, Mother Wisdom, Brother Jesus.

Rachel Weeping

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:16-18

The first lie I remember learning, being forced to tell, is that I had no baby brother. I barely remember it. I remember being very, very scared. All the grown ups were running around, screaming, shouting, crying. There were horses, lots of horses, in the streets of Bethlehem. And soldiers. Soldiers going in and out of the houses.

I remember my mother hurting me, hurting me because she was grabbing my shoulders so hard. Grabbing my shoulders and shaking me and crying and crying. She made me say it again and again. My baby brother died. My baby brother is dead. I don’t have a baby brother.
And I didn’t. I had a baby brother before that day. I remember looking at him, I remember stroking his soft hair, much softer than the turtle dove. I remember watching my mother feed him and how I wanted her to feed me that way. I remember I wanted to be the one she held and stroked and sang to while her nipple was in his mouth. I remember wishing he would disappear so she would hold me that way.

And then he disappeared.

At first, I asked about him but I was always told to hush, that he had died and that was an end to it. So I stopped asking. But I never stopped wondering.
My mother was always sad after that. Even after my brother Joshua was born a few years later. And then my sister, Sarah. I tried to remember what my baby brother’s name was. I tried to ask, but I was told he didn’t have a name, he had died at birth.

I didn’t even know that I was being taught to lie. I thought I had wanted him not to be and so he wasn’t. I thought I was the reason that my baby brother died and my mother was always sad. So I was very careful when Joshua and Sarah were born. I kept away from them. I tried not to think about them or look at them at all.
Ah, well, that was so many years ago. Now I live in Nain and I sit, waiting, waiting again for that unwelcome visitor. It should be an old friend by now, so many times has it visited. First my mother, then my father, my brother, my husband, and now my son. Soon death will come again and when he leaves, I will stay but my son will go with him.

I went to see that new prophet, the one they say can heal the sick. They say he’s from near here, from Nazareth. He travels the country with his companions, teaching and healing. I thought I would ask him, beg him, to heal my son. So I went to see him. He was sitting on a hillside. I looked at the men and women around him. Since he’s from Nazareth, I thought I might know one of his companions. Someone who could introduce me, plead with me for my son. I looked at them, one by one, until my heart lurched. One of the youngest men looked just like my brother Joshua, like my father. He looked to be the right age, the age of those babies when I was four. Those babies who were all killed. All killed when my mother taught me that my baby brother had never lived.

I just stood and stared. The man who might be, must be my brother saw me staring and smiled a questioning smile. The man they call a prophet saw me and smiled a gentle sad smile. He motioned for me to come but I fled back home in tears.

Maybe tomorrow, tomorrow if I am not walking with that ugly visitor behind my only son’s body, maybe tomorrow I will go back. I have two questions in my heart now. One for the prophet and one for his companion.

Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Luke 7:11-15

Wherein I finally have some insight into living in the moment

In yoga this morning, as I started a seated forward bend, I got a bit impatient with myself because I couldn’t reach my feet. A few minutes later, as I let go of my impatience and relaxed into the pose (with the teacher’s gentle instruction), I felt my body sinking a bit lower and my index fingers encircle my big toes. Slowly I sat back up.

Later, in Warrior 1, I saw that the young person across from me had her thigh bent almost parallel to the floor. I remembered being able to do that and looked down ruefully at my own thigh, which was still closer to vertical than horizontal. I wanted to be able to do what I could once do. Instead, I focused over the head of the person across from me and let my body relax a little more into the pose. Not a lot, just micro-movements, but I focused on my own body.

Later still, during the final seated mindfulness time, I thought about those moments and I thought that my focus and goal cannot be to be as good as, or better than, I once was; and it cannot be to be as good as, or better than, anyone else. My only focus should be my body right then and there, as it is in that moment. To listen to it, to respect it, and to help it to move freely in that moment.

And then I thought, “I make that same kind of mistake with God.” I too often compare – how strong is my belief compared to what it once was, compared to someone else’s belief? How can I recapture a past certainty, a past peace, a past immersion in liturgy? How can I be as sure as others?

Instead I am going to try to sink into my relationship with God right at the moment I am praying. Just let it be, even if that is doubting God’s existence. Just letting the moment be enough, with whatever I can have of God right then. I’m not quite sure how exactly I will do that. Writing about it is part of helping myself to do that and trying to tell others is part of helping myself to do that.

Even though these words are a very poor reflection of the immediacy and impact of the insight in the moment I had it.

Psalm 126

When God restored my peace
It was like a wonderful dream
I laughed; I shouted my joy
My friends said
God had been good to me
Yes indeed, God had been good to me
We rejoiced
Now, here I am, again, begging, again
Please, God, restore my peace – again
Let my sorrow, my distress be like tears
Tears that water the ground of my soul
Until Your grace and peace grow there again
Until I once again shout out my joy. Amen

Psalm 127

Here is what the psalmist reminds me:
Unless God builds my interior castle
I will never succeed in making it secure
Unless God guards the days of my life
I will struggle in vain to find joy
I can spend long days studying myself
I can fill myself with anxiety and worry
Useless and vain, all is vanity
I find rest only in God’s love
These words, my prayers, are my heritage from God
The fruit of God’s birthing in my life
Let my words, my prayers fly like arrows
Like arrows in Katniss’ hands
Straight to God, my Lady Wisdom
These words, these prayers bring me such joy and peace
As they fly from me to God, Wisdom Woman
In these prayers is my security, my safety
My defeat of my terrible Ds*. Amen
My terrible Ds: depression, doubt, darkness, deceit, discouragement, despair…

Psalm 128

Joy, joy is mine when I walk with God
When I pray and write, when I pay attention to God
I am happy and it goes well with me
My life is like a vine, like an olive grove, like a garden
Bearing fruit, nourishing me and those I love
Blessing me, when I worship God
God, Mother Wisdom, who guides me
God, Father Creator, who blesses me
God, Brother Savior, who gives me hope
May I see You, worship You, believe in You
All the days of my life
Thank You that I have lived to see my children’s children
God’s peace be with me always. Amen

Psalm 129

Often have they attacked me from my youth
My terrible Ds: doubt, depression, discontent, discouragement
Often have they attacked me from my youth
Yet they have not prevailed against me
Thanks to God, they have not prevailed
They have scared me and scarred me
They have tried me and tied me
God, my righteous beautiful Lady Wisdom
God has cut those binding cords
God has turned back those enemies
In God, my fears wither
Until I forget, unless I forget
Unless I go my own way, believing God dead or mythical
Forgetting the reality, forgetting to pray
May the blessing of God be with me
I have victory only in the name of God. Amen

Psalm 130 – once and again

Here I am again, God, crying to You,
Please listen, please help, please have mercy
I have failed again, of course
I smile outside while inside I am angry and disparaging
Disparaging: a new D in my firmament – my dark firmament of Ds
I know You forgive me quicker and more completely than I forgive myself
I know that is a fearfully, delightfully, wonderful thing
But does it help me? Will I be a better friend, mother, sister, daughter, lover
I wait for You, God, I wait and I hope
Right down to the bottom of my soul I wait, and I’ll go on waiting
Through my dark night, through my dark night
Hoping, trusting, believing that the morning of Your light will come
With Your steadfast love, with Your full redemption, with Your saving grace
You will redeem me from all my sins, my faults
I wait, I hope, I pray
I don’t suppose You could hurry it up a bit, could You? Amen.

Psalm 130 – again

Despite my dark doubts and confusion
Once again, I come crying to You, God
Hoping You exist, hoping You will hear me
Hoping You will help me
Because if You don’t, who will, who can
I’m scared, I’m getting everything wrong again
I feel hopeless
Until I remember You, until I hope in You
Until I remember Your forgiveness
Your steadfast love, Your unfailing faithfulness
And so I have to wait, wait with hope for You
But it’s so hard to just wait
Wait through this darkness
Wait through this doubt
Wait through this confusion
Wait for Your light to show me the way
The way, the truth, the life
Wait with hope, and belief in Your steadfast love
Your great power to help me, to save me
Because I am Israel’s daughter and You are my God and Savior. Amen.

Psalm 121

Remembering Gordon

Gordon thought the psalm meant that help was coming from the hills
I thought it meant that danger was coming from the hills
Gordon lived in assurance – he knew that God had him
Through the hills and valleys
Whether Gordon was faithful or faithless (be it to God or family)
When Gordon looked up, he always saw God, knew God’s saving presence
For me, wherever I look, I see danger and doubt
Often, too often, darkness and despair
Help! Where is there help for my hopeless helplessness?
Ah yes, there is God – creator of heaven and earth
Surely, God is powerful enough to help me
God doesn’t forget me, God doesn’t desert me
God shelters me from my own despair
God shields me from my terrible defeats
God saves me from death
God keeps me from evil
God keeps my joy and my sorrow, my light and my darkness
My triumphs and my failures, my loves and my hates
God keeps ME – from this time on and forevermore. Amen.

Psalm 122

Gladness fills my heart when I turn to You, my God
When I live within the comfort of Your Word
Not Your man-made images
Not the self-righteous religious
Not sermons or books
But within Your life within me
Within the sureness that Your goodness and mercy
Surround me, like a holy city
A holy city of love and justice
Ageless and eternal
A city with Your throne in my heart
Your throne of loving judgement
And wise choices
Within me, within each of Your children
Ah, God my Savior and Wisdom
I pray that I may love You
I pray to live within Your peace and security
Let me reflect Your goodness and love for all
Let me work for Your peace for all. Amen