On Wildish Women + the Bible
The Bible is an infuriating, crazy, confusing, beautiful book that’s been misused to abuse people the world over. But there’s so much more than meets the eye in there — including some seriously bad ass, wildish women who don’t give a damn about patriarchal traditions.
This is where I gravitate to, these days — the wildish women who betrayed the gender norms for something deeper, richer, wilder.
There is in the Hebrew writings the idea of the Shekinah — the female aspect of God dwelling with us humans. The Shekinah is wild — it is a pillar of smoke in the hot desert sun; a pillar of light in the dark night of wilderness. It is un-tame-able; this is not to say that the male aspect of God is tame. It’s not — certainly not by any human. And I think some men would do well to get in touch with their untamed masculine side, which might be more feminine than they think. But the male side of God — at least here, in Westernized Christianity — is incredibly orderly. It’s orderly to the point of disordering all things that do not fall within its concept of order, thereby excluding people from the beautiful Jesus table and missing out on the gorgeous, deep, richness of the wild.
And I get it — Jesus himself did much to tame what we call the wild. His authority over seas — always representative of chaos in the Bible, the demonic — is representative of order. Nice, calm, order.
But Jesus was also down with the disorderly.
In Mark 14, there is a story of a woman who disrupts a dinner, decisively smashes open an alabaster jar of oil, and in an incredibly visceral and intimate act, pours the whole thing over Jesus’s head. This is not a nice, polite little anointing. This is not a little cross on the forehead.
This is practically a full body rubdown of Jesus with fragrant oil usually reserved for women. This is the bathing of Jesus in the feminine, as preparation of his beautiful body for burial. This is the wildish woman not giving a damn about protocol, as she busts in on the domestic space that had been colonized by men, and acted all inappropriately.
Praise God and Hal-lay-lu-ya for women acting inappropriately.
Because when I say this is a woman busting in on the spaces colonized by men, I am saying that she is doing priestly work with this anointing. I am saying she is doing something traditionally held to be men’s work. She is smashing the patriarchy right there, I tell you, and Jesus — he is all for it.
Jesus says, Yes, baby. Bring it on. Jesus says, “We’ll remember her for this.”
But see, this is never how women are perceived in the Bible.
If women are noticed at all, we are marginalized, sweetened, flattened. The typical, everyday pastor doesn’t like to see our wild curves, the way our thinking shapes the narrative differently.
I have been in spaces where I have been told to be less than who I am. These were spaces in which the greatest praise I ever got was for being silent. Even by other women, programmed by the patriarchy. I have been told over and over again that I can be all that I want to be except all that I actually am:
Smart as hell.
Fucking bad ass.
I have been told that I can be anything I want to be except all that I actually am.
But Jesus….you see, Jesus doesn’t do that.
Jesus lets me pour the whole bottle of myself right over his head and HE says, “Yeah, girl. Bring it.”
Jesus says, “Oh yes. They are gonna remember you for this.”
Jesus says “Your wildish nature is exactly what I want. Your wildish nature is exactly what I need.”
Jesus says, “Don’t let them tame you. Pour oil over your life, anoint me with your wildish nature because I, my sister, I am man enough to stand in the power of your anointing. Because you are a holy child of God, in the fullness of yourself. You are beautiful and loved, and you don’t have to be silent to be loved.”