The Scripture ~ God said, “How often I’ve longed to gather your children, gather your children like a hen, Her brood safe under her wings.” ~ ~ Luke 13:34
The Spiritual Focus ~ “Woman is the radiance of God. She is not a creature; she is the creator.” Rumi, 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic
The Breath Prayer ~ Inhale ~ I am, Exhale ~ Created in God’s image
The Devotion ~ Exploring the image of God is a practice of spiritual growth. Theologians and philosophers to this day debate the meaning of the phrase, “image of God.” The debate often comes down to whether image refers to physical image or a spiritual likeness. Some believe that we assign gender to God based on our own personal need or cultural religious experience. Many of us can agree that God transcends gender. Most of us honestly have to say we just don’t know. That confession alone opens our minds to practice exploring the image of God in new ways.
Biblical stories and sacred texts of all religions are rich with images of God. In the Christian bible we read stories of God as a gardener, beekeeper, vine, shepherd, father, clothing, cypress tree, laboring woman and, yes, a mother hen. Some faith traditions lift up images of the Divine Feminine as co-creator, other traditions depict her as sole proprietor and ruler of creation. The beauty of these different narrative images is they don’t lock God in a box reduced to just one image, but rather they show us multiple images that speak to our spiritual nature and point us toward God’s omnipresent true nature.
Yoga philosophy teaches us to hold space for the Taoist idea of yin and yang. The idea that balanced opposites in asana (poses and movement) enhance the body, mind, spirit and lead to pranayama (breath) and meditation. For instance, the left side of the body is associated with yin or feminine energy, considered to be cooling and passive. The right side of the body is yang or masculine energy, dynamic, with warming energy. An asana practice that balances the yin, as in yin yoga, and yang, as in a vinyasa or hatha style, acknowledges that we need both of these energies. They complement each other, and one cannot exist without the other in living a healthy and balanced life.
Perhaps this balancing practice offers insight into how to integrate different images of God. Counter-balancing our image of God with an opposite image, e.g., father – mother, calm sea – stormy waters, hen – chicks, encourages our spiritual growth in how we explore the image and likeness of God.