I’m in a debate

William's SCL talk

I’m in a debate

with a pastor who grabbed me after the lunch break

of a contemplative retreat that I am leading

because he needed to set me straight.

 

“I noticed you referred to God as ‘She’ three times,”

he said, “and I wondered if you know that is not theologically correct.”

“Oh,” I said.

 

He continued:

“In seminary, we learned

that all the Hebrew words for God were masculine terms.

And you upset my wife by calling God ‘She.’”

 

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.

“I just like to balance the way we speak of the divine,

and I am drawn to the feminine images of God,

like when Jesus says, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,

how many times I would have drawn you to my breast

like a mother hen draws her chicks,

but you would not.’”

 

“But that is still not theologically correct,” he said.

“Oh,” I said.

 

“I notice you are not debating me back,” he said.

“That’s right,” I said.

“I know it upsets some people to hear something different,

but it is okay to be different.

The main thing is that we are all God’s children,

whatever we call God.”

 

I’m in a debate, except I am not debating.

I just want to get back to experiencing the divine.

Because for me—direct experience trumps beliefs

and theological debates every time!

 

We return to the good company of contemplatives

and resume our practice of the many ways

of being in God,

because this feeds our souls,

and theological debates are soul-killing.

 

There is just not enough time

to waste it on whose beliefs or words are “right,”

when we can treasure the many ways

“to kneel and kiss the ground.”*

 

 

*This line comes from the Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi. Contact us through our website at http://www.thescl.net if you would like to host a retreat on the many ways “to kneel and kiss the ground.” If you would like a theological debate, please accept that we will not be debating back.

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About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through Amazon.com; and of a blog on Wordpress.com, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (www.thescl.net), adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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