Wind Chime of the Feminine Divine

IMG_0132By Jenny

At the end of last summer, my husband bought a wind chime on clearance.  I love it.  I love the beautiful sound it makes as the wind travels through it.  One afternoon just after we hung it over our deck, my kids and I were sitting at the table eating lunch.  A gentle breeze swayed the wind chime to chant an unfamiliar melody.  Instantly, my kids were standing on their chairs yelling, “Ice cream truck!  Ice cream truck!”  I have to admit that I laughed at their ignorant reaction.  Their ears were not yet accustomed to the wind chime, so they associated its sound with something more familiar to them.

But I was humbled later in the afternoon when I heard the wind chime’s tune and walked into the kitchen to see who had left the refrigerator door open.  No, it was not the familiar warning that the fridge had been left open.  Through all of this, I started thinking about how our ears become accustomed to certain sounds and it feels safe to have those familiar sounds around us.  But if a new sound arises, it feels unsettling.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, it is an automatic reaction to grab your phone as soon as you hear the familiar tone. But the first time your phone rings after you have changed your ring tone, you are the last to realize that it is your phone.

One familiar sound for me has been the preference for male pronouns at church.  It sounds natural to say, “brethren and sisters,” “male and female,” “sons of man,” “all mankind,” etc.  The scriptures were written by men, interpreted by men, and most of the main characters are men.  Even our male God, who has just enough doctrinal room for female pronouns, is always referred to as “He,” “Heavenly Father,” “the Lord.”

My ears were so accustomed to these male pronouns that it was as if they didn’t exist at all.  I went to church, I heard the familiar comfortable language that I had been conditioned from infancy to hear, and I acted like a Pavlovian dog, eating up the message right on cue.  When I started hearing new sounds that came from a mother language, it was unsettling and a bit confusing, much like my new wind chime.  I started hearing about the “divine feminine,” “Sophia,” “Heavenly Mother,” She, She, She…I started thinking about They, God the Mother and the Father.  What a beautiful and powerful melody!

It was hard not to retain my natural inclination to the familiar sounds of my youth.  But with practice, the words began to flow naturally from my mouth.  Now I can say, “sisters and brothers,” without cringing.  “Female and male” no longer sounds backward in its order.  Most importantly, “Heavenly Parents” is the title that naturally comes out of my mouth without faltering over “Heavenly Fa-.”  Now when other people use male only titles or pronouns, it sounds like a cacophony to my ears.  But when I hear the familiar language of a feminist awakening, I have a natural reaction to it.  When someone says, “Heavenly Parents,” I am naturally inclined toward them.

So I can understand why members of my ward were uncomfortable when the mother tongue came out in my sharing time lessons.  I can understand why it so unnerved my bishop and Stake President that they took immediate and painfully devastating actions against me.  Just as I thought the new chimes were only a warning on my fridge, they thought my new words were a warning for a slippery slope to apostasy.  I spoke of Heavenly Mother and they silenced me because the sounds unnerved them.  Instead of listening and trying to understand where the sound was coming from, instead of attuning their ears to the beautiful music of the divine feminine, they instantly smashed my new wind chime to the ground.

Jesus often said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”  In Church I have always heard that those who have “ears to hear” are those who are spiritually attuned to hear and understand Christ’s messages.    I think the same principle applies here.  Knowing and understanding the beautiful and powerful messages of the divine feminine requires us to become spiritually attuned to it.  Because these are not sounds we are used to, it takes practice, patience, and understanding.  My hope is that the words which describe the spiritual experience of women will someday be welcome and even commonplace in our Church.  I hope that someday our youth will grow up being perfectly comfortable and familiar with the sounds made by the wind chime of the divine feminine.  I hope that our leaders, who have heard the same familiar tune for so long, will listen and try to understand, before they silence.  There is a beautiful new melody waiting to be heard by those who have “ears to hear.”

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“Take a compliment!”

That’s what the older gentleman called out to me as I was buying lunch at the beach. I had on a tank top and a maxi skirt. That’s all it took to warrant him shouting out to me in public, “You got a nice shape, baby!” For the first few seconds after, I felt so uncomfortable. It was one thing for a close friend or family member to say that I look good; it’s another to hear it from a random stranger in a loud populated area, for all to hear. Deciding to not let him get away with such callous behavior, I confidently shouted back at him, “Go away!”

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This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Postum

Postum adFive years ago, I was pregnant with my last child, enduring the heartburn that always came with my pregnancies. With a little baking soda, some medication and the swearing off of Diet Coke during my pregnancies, I could manage the heartburn, and as soon as the baby came out, I was back on sweet, sweet Diet Coke (with lemon, if you please).

Except for after my last kid…the heartburn never went away. In fact, it got worse and eventually, I had to swear of Diet Coke forever.

As an adult who tries to watch her calories, all carbonated beverages were out as was fruit juice. And, as a Mormon, coffee and like 90% of tea was out.

Water gets kind of boring (and don’t go telling me about ways to “jazz it up” with a lime wedge).

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Aspiring Mormon Women Event

Aspiring Mormon Women is hosting a Networking Event in Provo. We’re passing along the news because, like Emmaline B. Wells, we “believe in women, especially thinking women” who have personal, professional, and educational goals.

 

From the AMW press release:

Do you live in the Provo area? Then join us (and bring a friend or two or five) on February 25th from 7-9pm at Club Alison (1644 S. State St., Provo) and meet other like-minded LDS women pursuing educational and professional goals. Whether you are a seasoned networker or a shy and timid newbie, come for an evening of support, encouragement, and fearless networking.

Business casual dress | light refreshments

$10 or $5 with a current student ID (cash or check at the door) | limited to 200 people

RSVP on the event page. 

We can’t wait to meet you!

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Spiritual Capital

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It has been my experience that, while we’re all ideally “sisters” and “brothers” in the gospel, certain people within local stakes and wards carry a bit more influence and status than others.  There’s a certain amount of ethos that people carry that makes one’s ideas more heard/accepted, and that gives a person a certain amount of power beyond what is/isn’t bestowed by the institution.  I call this status/influence/ethos “spiritual capital,” a term that I picked up from Patrick Mason (and which he blogged about at Times & Seasons in 2006).  Mason argues that, especially when a person moves into a new ward, there is a certain amount of spiritual capital a person needs to earn before they can start acting in heterodox/different ways without losing their credibility, or else they would essentially withdraw against insufficient spiritual capital funds.

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Queer Mormon Women*: How Can You Know What You Are Till You Know What You Want

Guest post by Anonymous

 

Anonymous is 25 and getting a degree in film studies. She has lived on both coasts of the U.S. but is sometimes tempted to go back to Utah where she finds a wider dating pool, ironically enough. 

 

You’re home on a break from school, and out to lunch with a former Young Women’s President who storms (2)you have loved and trusted for years. She is one of a handful of people you have ever felt marginally comfortable discussing your love life with, so maybe it’s not really so odd that she casually asks you, “So! How is dating out there? Find any cute boys?”

 

Your heart is pounding in your ears, so hard it feels liable to burst out of your chest. She has gift-wrapped an opportunity for you to finally be honest. It takes every fiber of your strength just to meet her patiently curious gaze as you tell her in halting speech, each word fighting to stay inside you, “Actually. There’s. A…” (Deep breath, it slips out.) “There’s a girl.”

 

She looks lightly surprised and sits back a little, but then one of the first things she says is “I guess I’m not surprised.” You don’t know whether this is a relief, frustrating, something to panic about, nothing to worry about, or all of the above. The first thing she makes sure you know is that she loves you and supports you.

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