The shelter and starlight of Sophia

My past two posts (and probably many others – whether known or not) spoke of the Sacred Feminine; this breath of the Divine that dwells powerfully within us, among us, beyond us. We feel her presence. We sense her gathering strength. We get glimpses of her in the alchemy of conversation, in each other’s implicit and nearly cellular-level strength and perseverance as women, in our awareness and increasing embrace of something both known and unknown. Though unnamed, unformed, and even unimaginable, we cannot help but believe (even if haltingly) in her existence. And yet, she is mysterious.

Mystery, in and of itself, faces much resistance. For hundreds of years now, within Modernism, the encounter of mystery in any form, has been met with swift attempts to define and dissect. We have parsed, reasoned, and argued ourselves into constructs and systems of logic and proof. This has applied to the sciences, architecture, the arts, and certainly theology, beliefs, and faith. Undeniably, vast strides of knowledge have been gained within Modernism’s reign, but that does not mean we’ve gained or even maintained wisdom. The two are not synonymous: knowledge and wisdom. In fact, over these many years, wisdom has been lost.

And when wisdom is lost

  • we doubt and mistrust our intuition
  • we doubt and mistrust our voice
  • we doubt and mistrust our deepest, internal truth – especially as women.

But wisdom has never been lost. Not really. Potentially misplaced. Often misunderstood. But always present.

In Greek, the word for wisdom is Sophia.

Many ancient writings, both secular and sacred, refer to wisdom as a person. The feminine pronoun is always used and is consistently reflective of the divine presence. This wisdom is Holy Wisdom: Hogia Sophia.

Joyce Rupp wrote an article entitled Desperately Seeking Sophia in which she says,

the Book of Wisdom describes Sophia guiding the Exodus people through the wilderness: “She led them by a marvelous road. She herself was their shelter by day and their starlight throughout the night” (Wis. 10:17). This passage was clearly another way of speaking about the faithful God who “went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day … and a pillar of fire by night” (Exodus 13:21). I was finally convinced that Sophia was truly another way of naming the divine.

I cannot begin to express how the quoted words from the Book of Wisdom have moved me while writing this post. It is the first time I’ve read them.

Sophia. In the wilderness. My terrain. My space. My passion.

If you’ve read much of what I’ve written you know that I have a deep and abiding belief that there is something profound about the desert (as metaphor) for women. This naming of a female presence, indeed, of the Sacred Feminine in these stark and desolate places is nearly more than my heart can hold. I want to weep – in gratitude.

Wisdom was never lost.

  • My strongest intuition has been worth trusting all along: the desert’s beauty does have a power and presence to it unmatched by any other. Sophia has been with me.
  • My voice has been worth hearing : though my own journey has been filled with arid and painful realities, I have continued to speak. I have roared. Sophia has heard me.
  • I have told the truth. I have known, expressed, and embodied wisdom in these places. Her name is Sophia.

Though oft’ unnamed, unformed, and even unimaginable, I have known the shelter and starlight of Sophia.

Wisdom is brilliant, she never fades. By those who love her, she is readily seen, by those that seek her, she is readily found.

(The Book of Wisdom, 6:12)

As women, we have lost (and had taken from us) the powerful stories, metaphors, tastes, and dwellings-with; an experience of the Divine that looks and sounds like us. We need words, language, and experiences that reground and validate our intuition, our voice, our truth. We need the Sacred Feminine.

Sophia is here. She is speaking. In shelter and starlight. In strength.

I am too.

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