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Knowing Unknowing...

How is it possible to know how to begin grieving and not know how to begin, simultaneously? Cantankerous will? Fear? Resistance…?

I received a mental image when I read some of what has found me these last days. My old seminary bible, red cover, with various prayers and practices printed, taped into the covers. In the image, I was holding it, opening it anew. Not necessarily to read it, somehow, simply opening it. I knew how to begin. So I did.

I smiled to see the Ignatian Examen questions taped to the inside cover. Little did I know how the Ignatian wisdom would find me in spirit friends yet to come. The smile broadened when I saw my own adaptation of Julia Cameron’s Artist Way prayer, words of prayer I would often say in the morning, before or after completing my “morning pages.” Then I passed over the introductory pages at the front of every NRSV, naming the organization of the committee and its collaborative work in this translation. In the beginning comes next of course, a glimpse into Genesis. My eyes moved over the familiar words, stopping short at the barrier of Genesis 2.

I was stopped short for two reasons. One, the longstanding story that we never survive—Garden of Eden, Adam, Eve. I heard Dar Williams sing in my ear, from "You're Aging Well": And all I could eat was the poisonous apple/And that's not a story I was meant to survive. I closed the book, moving to my book shelves where I could find The Woman’s Bible by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Eve: a Biography by Pamela Norris. It was a way I could stay without digesting once again toxic words that we never survive.

The second reason was because I couldn’t clearly read the words anyway. A gray pencil line was drawn through paragraph after paragraph of words that demonized women and/or—as I would say today—were not life-affirming for human beings living a healthy balance of feminine and masculine energies. I had forgotten, to be honest, but as the first wave of my awakening happened when I was at Princeton Seminary, I had no recourse to overt resistance in an environment (un)consciously hostile to the Feminine. At least none that felt available to me. I was a woman graduate student in a highly masculinized environment. I had little direct voice to confront all that I saw, that I knew, but I could at least begin. So I began by physically marking out anything in scripture that was violent against women, children, other. [If you read the text(s) with this in mind, you better get several pencils. The humanity revealed in Scripture is devastating even as the movement of Spirit toward abundant mercy and undeserved love is inspiring.]

So I’m carrying around my seminary bible for the moment, knowing unknowingly. Toward what end? Perhaps to simply sit with the overwhelming sadness I feel when I open it. Rage surrounds the sadness, but I think the sadness is the Invitation.

We’ll see.

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