And so I saw that God rejoices that he is our father, God rejoices that he is our mother, and God rejoices. that he is our true spouse, and our soul is his beloved wife.Julian of Norwich. Revelations of Divine Joy; Long Text, Chapter 52.
I was at a retreat day a couple of weeks ago, at the end of which we shared a Shabbat meal. In Jewish custom, the women of the house take a centre role in the spirituality of the family and preside over this weekly celebration, welcoming in the Sabbath.
Julian was pretty radical in her time, being one of the first writers to formally recognise the femininity of God. In the Middle Ages, this was pretty strong stuff! At the centre of the Shabbat meal is the welcoming of the Shekhinah, the dwelling or presence of God. In Jewish custom, the Shekhinah is the female attributes and character of God. God as mother, hence it is the women of the family who preside.
The world Shekinah isn’t in the Bible, we find it in the Talmud, describing the presence of God in the gathering of public prayer. In the Mishna, it is used to describe what happens when ‘two or more sit together, and the words of the Torah are between them, then Shekinah is in their midst’. Recognise that from somewhere? Simply put, as we gather, it seems that God chooses to manifest himself, as herself. How complete is that.