I remember praying on the side of my childhood home where the apple trees grew, gnarled and disfigured as apple trees are. It was a Sabbath summer day and I was still dressed in my church dress. We could do very little on the sabbath; no friends, no screens, no trampolines. It was probably a fast Sunday, too, so no food either. Inevitably, with nothing else to do, I found myself praying with my whole body to a God I couldn’t see.
Wind whipped hair around my face and touched the outline of who I was. God embraced me, knew me in that wind. I felt God all around me in our fenced-in backyard. I asked God where She was, why did I feel so alone? Could God forgive my sexual sins? My lying? And then there She was; in the wind, holding me. Yes, She said.
Of course, She was a He back then, but I cannot bear to write that.
The plea for the ordination of women in my church was only eight years ago, but it feels like my entire life. I’d had the courage to ache for more female voices in scripture, for more authority from the wives of priesthood holders, and, like on that windy day of my adolescence, the courage to acknowledge my deep loneliness. But it was only eight years ago that other women gave me the idea that maybe my femaleness wasn’t the problem, that maybe I didn’t need to repent for my courage.
I read the Ordained Women’s website and was surprised with their loving and inclusive mission. They gave voice to so much of my aching; these were intelligent women who knew the scriptures, studied the history of the church, and were ready for movement and power. They were asking for more responsibility and more authority to help the kingdom of God and to further “reveal many great and wonderful things.” Women wanting. Why were these women being treated as miscreants when our scriptures were full of hero men wanting the same things?
There must be another book full of women hidden in the rocks of the mountains. These sisters, mothers, wives, and women existed, holding the stories, miracles, and visceral female experiences within them. Maybe they were ordained, too. Surely God preserved them. Surely God knew how vital their testimonies were as He did for the captains, kings, judges, and prophets. Surely women’s wantings are valid too. Please, God, I prayed, we’re ready for The Book of Women.
But that just led to years of sobbing in a dark closet alone, sometimes with God, but desperately alone, of studying, teaching, and trying to find a more full way to understand God. And now I’m tired. There is no The Book of Women. The Ordained Women were reprimanded or excommunicated. They left. I stayed.
I’m taking a break from the He God. I’ll cling to that God who held my young fasting, menstruating body in the wind years ago by the gnarled apple trees because, well, because She is the God within me.