|"The Vision After the Sermon: Jacob Wrestling with the Angel" by Paul Gaugin|
I love the church seasons of preparation. As beautiful and glorious as I find Christmas and Easter, it is the run-up to each of these festivals that really captivates me.
I love Advent, when all the world is pregnant, and the outer world gets darker so that we can know we, too, are in the womb, waiting for birth.
I love Lent, when we try to walk with Jesus towards the cross... mostly saying "Hell, no!" the whole time. (At least I am. Who wants the cross?) But wanting, yearning to be on a journey that is so pure of heart, so convinced of its rightness, and so utterly focused on the love of God and the love of others. The love of The Other.
For my Lenten discipline, I have decided to choose a woman from scripture each day, and to write a bit about her. I don't have a formula. I don't have a plan (for this). I simply want to write what comes to me, when I open myself to the story of each individual woman.
Years ago I was introduced to feminist biblical criticism through the story of a man. In Genesis 32, when his life is on the line, and it looks like he may just lose everything as his earlier bad behavior circles back around to get him, Jacob wrestles with an angel/ with God/ with a man/ with God by the river Jabbok.
(I just realized that Jabbok and Jacob seem linguistically linked, at least in English translation. Something to wonder about and look into.)
Jacob is amazingly strong, because this possibly divine being asks him to ease up, and let him go.
Jacob's reply is the Patron Saint of verses for women doing scriptural criticism and analysis:
“I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”(Genesis 32:26b)
We wrestle with scripture, and we don't let go, until it gives a blessing.
For Lent I will be doing this, with the stories of women from what feels like an impossibly dim and elusive long-ago.
I will be wrestling with their stories. I won't let go until I am given a blessing.