A friend of mine recently blogged about a book she was reading in which she was asked (and she in turn asked her audience) to imagine that their family met God for the first time. What she imagined was so beautiful- the image of her child meeting God for the first time so innocent and joyful, humbling really. I found myself envious of her confidence in her vision of God and her relationship with her religion. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine my family meeting God for the first time. I imagined Alex putting on one of his good suits and making sure his pocket fob was folded just so. I saw myself dressing Casey and putting on my cutest outfit (I mean it’s God so…). I saw us walking up to the big gnarly gates of heaven and imagined them slowly opening to reveal bright lights and rolling mist. We stand awkwardly at the ready, stiff and formal, prepared to meet the ultimate celebrity.
I couldn’t imagine anything past this point. Somehow this vision just didn’t ring true for me. I thought with all this preparation on our part (vain preparation at that), God would probably be revealed to be an Alanis Morissette figure, a la Dogma, who would cartwheel out and poke our noses with a resounding “honk.” I just couldn’t get a very clear picture of what it would actually look like for my family to meet God.
So who is God to me? This is a question I have been asking myself a lot lately. I traditionally imagine God as an old white male, with a long white beard and a robe, kind eyes, a warm smile and open arm. This is how I always pictured God growing up, as I sat in church and listened to the priests talk about Him. But more and more this image just doesn’t encompass all that I believe God is. If God created us in God’s image, then God must have a masculine and feminine presence. Now that I am a mother, I find myself not only yearning for a deeper connection with God, but I find myself connecting more to a feminine God that to the traditional masculine God I was raised with.
Most mornings, I read a passage from a Catholic devotional. A few days ago the daily reading really connected with something inside of me. I had recently had a conversation about the parts of motherhood that I find the most difficult. Specifically, I mentioned that I find it hard to handle the guilt I feel at the end of a difficult day when, after yearning for the day to come to an end, I feel regret that I don’t have a larger reserve of patience to allow me to relax and enjoy those difficult days more. I know that “the days can be long but the time is short.” Anyway, my reading for that day said that times of weakness are really an opportunity for learning and growth, a chance to strengthen our relationship with God.
“When energy fails you, do not look inward and lament the lack you find there. Look to me and my sufficiency.”
“If you look back on your journey thus far, you can see that days of extreme weakness have been some of your most precious times. “
Reading this passage, I was suddenly suffused with the presence of the divine. But instead of the traditional image of God, I was filled with a sense of a divine feminine energy. In my mind’s eye, I pictured a wise old woman watching over me; an old crone with laughing eyes and a knowing, toothless grin, her long white hair blowing wildly across the horizon. She chuckles as she pats my shoulder when I express my fears and my regrets. It is this feminine presence that I have felt guided by the most since I became a mother. It is the feminine aspect of God that I have found strength and resilience in, who I feel watching over me, protecting me and giving me strength on those tough days, as she has so many women and mothers before me.
Today, after thinking about all of this for a while, I closed my eyes and once again imagined my family meeting God for the first time. I pictured us in a field of wild flowers and tall grass, yellowed from the summer sun. Sunlight filters through the trees and we find pictures in the clouds as they float across the sky. I saw us laughing together and playing tag. I saw Alex and I with our arms around each other, my head resting on his shoulder, as we watched our son play imaginary games and explore the outdoors. And I realized that this is God- this is my God. As we appreciate the wonder of nature and the beauty in each other, we meet God every day.
On a bleak and dreary day, I saw a rainbow peak through the clouds three separate times. I think it was God winking at me.