I Am Shekhinah

A poem celebrating the Feminine in Judaism …

I am ‘I AM’
I am mayim
I am Mother, womb of the world,
I am Midwife, birther of souls,
I am Maiden and Matriarch, joyous, fierce, kind and true,
I am Mourner, honouring loss and seasons of change,
I am Memory and Midrash, wisdom keeper,
I am Mishkan custodian, of temple and hearth,
I am Mystic and Music, spirit song,
I am Miriam, prophetess and leader,
I am Movement, seeker and mediator,
I am Mirth and Merriment, sacred clown,
I am Merging, the lover, the infinite moment,
I am Maker and Mender, wonderful weaver,
I am Woman,
I am, I am;
I am mayim,
I am, I am;

I am Shekhinah,

I am ‘I AM’.

If we are to consider God through the imagined lens and archetype of gender, then God must be as much feminine as she is masculine; and inasmuch as Adam, the first female-male human is made b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God, then woman, too, is equally b’tzelem elohim. I grew up with a language and liturgy that embedded masculinity into my deep programming of God-thinking and God-feeling. On the one hand, through years of familiarity, I became comfortable with this. But in more recent years, I have become disturbed that I should be so comfortable (and have increasingly felt an incompleteness with an exclusively male-languaged liturgy), and disturbed that prayer and Biblical commentaries that use feminine language could so easily throw me.

So I know that I must explore feminine language as well, and interchange this with masculine, in order to keep myself alive to my own biased conditioning; this makes my God-seeking and God-encountering much more strange, vital, challenging and immediate. It awakens me to aspects of the divine that I could never previously have imagined. Women who write novels have to find words for, and embody in their writing, male characters.

As a man, until writing this poem/prayer, I had never tried to write from a female/feminine perspective, and I have done so with some trepidation. I hope readers are not offended at my attempt to perceive the world from a perspective opposite to my own experience. My poem-prayer was inspired by the ‘The Thirteen Priestess Paths’ (Jill Hammer), an article that first appeared in Ashe: the Journal of Experimental Spirituality, Volume 5, Issue 4, http://kohenet.org/resources.

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