Saturday, October 29, 2016

This is my Father's world, too

Like the rest of America, I've had a kind of bad week and finally I lost my temper yesterday.
I'm not much of a temper loser.  I can pretty much count on one hand the number of times I felt the sudden upwelling of rage that I felt yesterday when a (large-ish but not, as it turns out, essential) piece of our van fell off and the male driver of the car behind us ran over it instead of stopping.  Once when I was a teenager I grabbed a hunk of my brother Mark's hair and pulled him up a flight of stairs.  Once when I was young mother I slapped my boy toddler.  Once I really lost my shit with a toxic employee. Once I got stuck in the middle of helping Jeff fix his wheel chair and I had to run outside to prevent an act of violence I felt sure was just below the surface.

I thought with an excess of prayer and therapy and yoga and deep breathing, I had put explosions of fury behind me, but yesterday there it was again and it scared me.  Without too deep an understanding of how it works, I've always assumed vaguely that I had a "feminine side" and a "masculine side." I've blamed the masculine side for a lot of what does not serve me or the world - violence, for example.  Or  impatience or meanness or irresponsible sexual impulses or striving for a certain kind of hierarchical recognition and power.  The feminine side I've equated with compassion and tenderness, community-making and sabbath-tending. Since we do tend to make God in our own image as much as we would try not to, I have to say that I do this with God too.  To break down my theology to its most embarrassingly simplistic, when I'm challenged, that's the Boy God, when I'm loved, that's the Girl God.

Meanwhile, out in the rest of the rest of the world, masculinity isn't looking much better. I'm tempted to despair about rise of the alt-right male imagination, Maheur, and of course He-Shall-Receive-No-Links-From-Me.

Then the mail (Not the male, but the MAIL.  See what I did there?) arrived with a personal note from the ludicrously intuitive Jen Violi including this picture which I'd never seen before. And a note saying that she thought I just might need him this week.

(Incidentally, I once did some research on Norman Rockwell. Did you know he was an unhappy person who was estranged from his family for most of his marriage? For some reason I find this information enormously encouraging.)

I can't stop looking at him (the fiddler, I mean, not Norman Rockwell). He reminds me life is not as easy as black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, male and female.  He reminds me that The Masculine -in God, and the world, and my own united and divided soul -  can also be generative and playful and sexy and encouraging and creative and joyful and wise.

My good friend told me one time that she went away from Christianity to discover the feminine face of God.  And when she came back to the church, she leaned into the new (to her, and to me this week, I guess) discovery that God was big enough to be It All. We know so much more about genders than we used to, including that two genders are not nearly enough. But male and female can be included, I  hope, in the pantheon of gender expression, and maybe they can be healing.  "This is my Father's world," my friend joyfully sang with her new congregation. Because this is true too.

Yes, damage has been done in the name of the Father.  Yes, men have sometimes behaved abhorrently.  Yes, along with stiff white whiskers from the mole on my chin, the masculine within sometimes produces behavior I find alarming, want to pluck out as soon as I can get a grip on it.  But when we start to believe that the damage is all there is, that is when the patriarchy really will have won.

The aftermath of this election, whatever the outcome, will most certainly uncover more of the most despicable parts of masculine expression.  But, starting with me, that doesn't have to be all it does.

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