While re-imagining structures and relational power and trying to implement those understandings carries with it all the complications of making change, some things we tried have been important and have worked really well.
First is the way we use language. Not sure how far back to go with my thinking but... I guess I shall go way back. Back to the idea that language is a human construct and therefore fraught with limitations as well as beauty, confined by its particular cultural milieu, and changing with rapid fluidity over generations.
Or: humans made it up, it is limited by its concrete nature, its context and it changes a lot over brief periods of time.
Why on earth is that important and why do I start here?
One of the first thing we did as a worshipping community was to tackle our understanding of language, how it works and how to change how we use it. If we are not viewing the world and Godde through the limited spectrum of the dominant (and patriarchal culture) then how do we reflect that in our the ways we talk about Godde and worship Godde?
In seminary in the 80's it was a big deal to translate the generic use of 'man' to 'humanity' to be inclusive. That's it. For many it still is.
But what if using inclusive language is not just a political stance but a response to Godde's call to hospitality and healing?
What if seeing ourselves as a part of rather than subordinate to makes a difference in how we relate to the Sacred, even how we see ourselves as Sacred?
What if we uncover the stories about women in our sacred texts that have been buried? What if we name to limitations of the language and culture of the writers of the text? What if we claim that women, transfolk, intrasex folk, gender-queer folk are all created in the image of Godde?
What if our use of language unbinds our understanding of ourselves and of Godde? How healing is that?
And then, let's take the next step. What if we unleash images of Godde that are metaphorical rather than symbolic? Feminist theologian, Sally McFague, invites us to understand the difference between images of the Sacred being fluid: Godde is like... rather than rigidly symbolic: Godde is. When we do express the Sacred in an ever expanding collage of metaphors we give our language wings.
So we, at Circle of Grace, talk about Godde as male and female and chose to use the spelling G-o-d-d-e as a way of saying that the Sacred is expressed in all genders. And as we grow in our differences we come to see Godde's expression of selfhood in all races, as disabled, queer, old and young. Our call is that every time we encounter one another in our specificity, our uniqueness, we are invited to see Godde reflected there.
To say 'You are in the image of Godde' becomes a powerful, healing and Sacred Word.