Some Advent thoughts on the Sacred Feminine
Last night, I was sitting on my couch in my living room. My roommate and I had spent two hours on Saturday morning putting up our Christmas tree in the corner, so I was enjoying the lights and trying to decompress, which meant I had my headphones in. On a whim, I started listening to a guided meditation on Advent from The Liturgists.
I'll confess that Advent was never something I was taught to observe. I was raised Seventh-Day Adventist, and in their tradition, the word "advent" refers more to the second coming of Christ, with less strong ties to Christ's initial arrival as a baby. With that definition, it makes sense that there wouldn't be a need to formally observe a season of preparation for the birth of Christ, since the whole tradition is about preparing for a second coming.
Now, it's different. As an adult, I've begun to observe Advent for the first time, feeling a marked shift in the seasons as I turn my focus inward to spirit, to soul.
Back to the Liturgists' meditation. I was also never raised to meditate, and this spiritual practice is still very new to me (but I've found it so centering and one of the only ways I've felt truly connected to God these past few months). This particular meditation was not just an audio guide, but visual (which is designed to engage more of the senses in the practice) - part of a series entitled The Joyous Mysteries, in which four artists create pieces to help guide the viewer through four "joyous mysteries" of the birth of Christ.
The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, and The Presentation.
I watched The Annunciation on my phone. As artist Betony Coons created a mixed media piece centered on the virgin Mary, I felt this sense of need. To speak. To share. To respond.
I've had that feeling a lot this year.
Seeing so many thousands of women come forward online and in person with their stories of having been assaulted or harassed this year has been horrifying and beautiful at the same time. Beautiful that so many people feel they can no long keep silent. Horrifying that we all feel like we have to.
Maybe that's part of the reason why as I stared at Coons' completed portrait of Mary, I felt overwhelmed by a sudden longing for the deep, true knowing that women are sacred.
women are sacred.
Despite a world that makes us seem like nothing but headlines and hashtags, I find myself clinging to the hope that there could be a Mother God who brings life from death, over and over and over.
I crave the holy feminism that exists in Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the roar of a young girl of color who would not be silent like her culture demanded. A girl who prophesied a future in which the oppressed are raised up while the powerful are brought low. "I am bursting with God-news," said this girl.
Her song makes me reflect on the hundreds of ways in which I’ve been taught that my body is not mine. It also reminds me of well-meaning voices that don’t want us to make Christ "political"; if only they’d realize that Christ becoming flesh through a woman is a political statement.
A God who would choose a woman to bear Her son, is a God who gets political. Hallelujah.
A God who chooses women is a God who knows how it feels to be violated and cast to the side.
A God who chooses women is a God who brings healing right down into the shit and the blood and the wail of a pregnant girl in the middle of the night.
The Magnificat is Mary's response to her friend Elizabeth, who is also pregnant and whom Mary is visiting. I love this picture of sisterhood, this sharing of burden and exchange of light, partially because I've experienced it myself but partially because I've seen it at work, in social workers' offices in Skid Row and in all-girls classrooms in Pasadena. This is the song of a girl who is not safe in her world but feels safe with her sister, and as Laura Jean Truman says, it becomes a "universal song," for all of humankind - a unifying anthem of justice.
I am bursting with God-news.
I am bursting with the kin-dom of God.
Mary’s story proclaims that the God of the universe chooses women, not just as mothers but as integral and equal parts of the reality God is creating day by day. Her story announces the good news that, as Rachel Held Evans says, "God has indeed chosen sides." That God chooses the oppressed. That God says, “Her body is sacred.”
This is divine interruption. This is what Advent has always been about, for us.
If Advent represents a season of preparation, then I will prepare for the healing of this deep feminine wound in me - this lack of connection to my body, this lack of worth, this need for more, this fear that I am not whole.
May we come to know the sacred feminine, Herself, the God of the oppressed.