“Artemis touches our hearts with her innocence.” –Jessica
“Uh, I don’t think so.” –Julie
Jess and I started to write this as a journey through lent, but there hasn’t been enough time to give each goddess the attention she deserves without spending a week studying and thinking and writing and “living with” each one.
It’s Holy Week. We are walking through the final few days of Jesus’ life. Passion Sunday to Easter. Instead of finishing twelve goddesses by this week, I’m stuck at number five: Artemis.
I got stuck on Jessie’s final statement, “Artemis touches our hearts with her innocence.” I’m reading ancient stories about gods and goddesses and I’m entertained and amused by their wanton ambitions, greed, cravings for attention and power. Sure, they have good qualities, but they go in to jealous rages and kill and maim. They turn their siblings into animals, they swallow their children… Artemis is not a sweet innocent. She kills her best friend she turns people in to bears. She’s really quite revengeful at times. And so is Persephone, and Inanna, and Hecate... and I don’t even want to spend an hour with Ereskigal (goddess number twelve)!
Today is Good Friday. I’m supposed to be reading through the Passion accounts in each Gospel before Easter Sunday. My self-imposed tradition. I rarely get it all accomplished, and this year is no exception. But the Person at the heart of Holy Week’s drama is pressing me to spend time with Him.
I’m yearning for some Jesus. Here is what I see:
Knowing he is facing his last week as a human on the planet, Jesus moves with fathomless depth of passion, wisdom, tenderness and an absolute love that will not be shaken by any interruption.
Passion clears the crooked merchants from Jerusalem’s temple. Wisdom responds to petty interrogations of the religious elite. Palpable is the tenderness he expresses toward women in his entourage. And on the night he knows he is to be arrested, beaten, mocked, spit upon, dragged across town and back, the concern for his friends is expressed in his desperate attempt to drive home God’s all-consuming message of Love. (See his words, John 13:33-17:26) He’s a busy man that final week. A man on a mission.
We have few stories of Jesus when compared with thirty-three years of living, but several of his encounters may have played out differently had one of the goddesses been the protagonist and not Jesus. For instance:
Before age two, Jesus flees with his parents to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath. Said King sends his troops to Bethlehem murdering every child under the age of two. Barely a toddler and he’s the motivation for infanticide. WWAD? (What Would Artemis Do?)
Jesus is fasting and praying for 40 days. He is hungry. Satan tries to get him off his game, tempting Jesus to take his eyes off his Father/Mother God. Satan, the lesser (the imitation), tantalizes their Son with promises of immediate power and wealth if Jesus will only worship him. WWAD?
Jesus offers a one-sentence sermon in his home town church. The congregation gets so enraged they drag him to the edge of town and try to throw him off a cliff! WWAD?
Basically, you could insert any one of the gods or goddesses names into that phrase. You know what they’d do? It would be slaughter by arrows, or drowning in the sea, banishment, or being turned into a snake or boar or some other nonhuman creature… They behave as pubescent creatures brandishing excessive doses of power like juvenile delinquents.
The difference between the Divine God/dess and these fabricated, lesser deities can be summed up in what Richard Rohr describes as “God’s most distressing disguise.”
“In Jesus... It starts with one who empties himself of all divinity (see Philippians 2:6-7), comes as a homeless baby in a poor family, then a refugee in a foreign country, then an invisible carpenter in his own country which is colonized and occupied by an imperial power, ending as a “criminal,” accused and tortured by heads of both systems of power, temple and empire, abandoned by most of his inner circle, subjected to the death penalty by a most humiliating and bizarre public ritual, and finally buried quickly in an unmarked grave. If God in any way planned this story line, God surely intended the message to be subversive, clear, and unavoidable.”1
This is the God/dess I want to embody. This is the God/dess of true Love. I am beginning to recognize the Divine Feminine and she will not be contained in any of the goddesses I’ve encountered thus far. I’m impatient with their infernal pettiness. I yearn for the Real Deal.
Why seek after a substitute when the Real Deal is standing before me with outstretched arms?
Don’t worry Jess, I’ll see this project through to it’s conclusion. My intention to discover the feminine face of God remains steadfast. Because it’s fun. Because it’s full of wonder and surprise.
God is revealing snippets of Her character that dare me to jump in with both feet. Then She eludes me for days. I’m reminded of one of my favorite scripture passages where She says, “When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14 NRS)
I love that. God is the whimsical parent, playing ‘hide and seek,’ finding a spot in the closet, or behind the bathroom door. Waiting. The beloved child runs from room to room, seeking with all her heart. Mom allows herself to be found. And the game begins again.
Thank you God/dess.
1 (Richard Rohr OFM, God’s Most Distressing Disguise, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. © 2016 Center for Action and Contemplation, https://cac.org/the-view-from-the-bottom-2016-03-25/)