Continuing the weekly arguments that 2016 was not all bad, I’ve created a series of posts designed to exonerate the year. This is the eighteenth installment in that series.
A year ago this week I wasn’t blogging about much, which isn’t unusual. The last week of the month is usually spent drafting the highlight reel. Those posts take a while to assemble. While I worked on it I was still busy with the self-portrait project. The image below was a notable stand-out from a year ago this week. I stood out in 2016.
A year ago this week I interviewed for the job I’m working now. Coaching myself on the morning of the interview I wrote during Morning Prayers:
As with all things we practice, telling the truth gets easier the more we do it. In this context, it was the best possible showcase for what I have to offer. In 2016, I championed the truth.
A year ago this week I revisited my policy revisions on being a dragonslayer. Previous to this I woke from a dream that felt like a message and realized that for a very long time I’d been dead wrong about my treatment of dragons. Yes, I mean metaphorical dragons — you know who they are. We all have dragons. Where was it written that I must clash with these dragons? That I must square off and fight them? What if I tried an alternative approach and valued these dragons as tools and resources. Perhaps all those years I wasn’t supposed to slay them. Maybe I was supposed to ride them.
The proverbial slaying of dragons was conditioning of course; someone taught me this was correct and maybe for most people the metaphor makes sense — slay the monster, crush the aggressor, defeat the adversary. My inner wisdom suggested there was another way; a way that might suit me better if I was brave enough to release the grip on my identity as a classic warrior spirit.
(This was long before I climbed aboard the Game of Thrones fan wagon, so no, it wasn’t that. I’d never seen it before this epiphany. You can imagine my reaction when I finally did start watching it. Although GOT does use them (dragons) for roasting adversaries so the parallel isn’t exactly parallel.)
Inspired and freshly filled with dream-state vim I collected a bunch of Pinterest images of women taming dragons, riding dragons, charming dragons, or just chillin’ rather than slaying them. Like this fancy lass dancing with one. I’ve got a board full of them. You can see it here. You can tell I haven’t worked on it in a while but I still check it out from time to time; usually when I’m all riled up about some corporate power trip or triggered by some Nazi management technique. It reminds me over and over: Ride the dragon, don’t slay it. I was a beast
master mistress (or maybe a beastly mistress) in 2016, or at least, I was striving to be.
A year ago this week I struggled with a way to express my interpretation of the Divine without using the name God, because it is so closely associated with Judeo-Christian doctrine. I held nothing against the name but it felt dishonest to use the same name as believers who use this term to identify “God The Father. ” God as a name or form of address has become synonymous with a patriarchal deity of specific scripture. My experiences with God at that point included the possibility that God was/is either gender-less or was comprised of both genders. When speaking of such things I didn’t mean “God The Father” when I said God but what else could I call it/her/him/them?
What is God’s real name? What was God’s name before The Bible? How did the world address God before we developed written languages? Who got to decide what God’s name is/was? What did the world call God before the Crusades — I mean, by name? Since much of the pre-Christian world believed that God was female or at least, had a divine female counterpart, what was her name? The world was once convinced to delete God The Mother. If the world ever agreed to unify the masculine and feminine forms of the Divine again and acknowledge this no-gender/both-gender entity, what would we call it that wouldn’t still smack of God The Father? I can’t have a father without a mother so I can’t reconcile using a term that excludes half of the Divinity I mean to honor.
I still don’t have an answer. How does one rename God? How do I acknowledge my connection to the Divine as part of the Divine, which would definitely indicate female as well as male. With eerie timing my post earlier this week describes my understanding of God to include humankind — you, me, male, female — though I am well aware this runs contrary to Judeo-Christian doctrine of one male authority separate and superior to humankind. A year ago this week I wrote a poem while grappling with these questions, coaching myself that what I call it/her/him/them isn’t as important as recognizing the Divine when I see or feel or embody or manifest it/her/him/them. Even without a proper name.
If She is Me
I am asking the wrong question.
It is not so much what is Your name?
As it is what is My name?
It is not God.
It is not male.
It is not female.
It is not exclusive.
Everything I write is scripture.
Everything I feel is holy.
Everything I say is a prayer.
Everything I do manifests a miracle.
Yeah, in 2016 I blew my own mind. I was mind-blowing in 2016.
A contemplative week, wasn’t it? Eighteen weeks in, lots of crappy stuff had already happened, but eighteen weeks in, we were dealing with it and working it. Reframing battle strategies. Telling the truth. Embracing divinity. Seeing ourselves and being seen. It was not all bad.