It was my fourth year of college when I discovered Elizabeth A. Johnson's ground breaking book She Who Is. Johnson's book explored the convergence between some rather historically polar concepts. For example, she discusses feminist theology, specifically, feminist language and imagery for God and how it is shaped through women's experiences. And yet...it was still ravishingly orthodox in theological nuances. As I began to write my senior thesis on Christianity and Feminism, I found Johnson's work to be inextricably vital to not only the essence of my thesis, but also the work of my own spiritual journey.
At present day, my life is in a state of shape-shifting. According to Wikipedia shape-shifting is a little like this:
Shapeshifting is a common theme in mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. It is also found in epic poems, science fiction literature, fantasy literature, children's literature, Shakespearean comedy, ballet, film, television, comics, and video games. In its broadest sense, shapeshifting occurs when a being (usually human) either (1) has the ability to change its shape or being into that of another person, creature, species, or other entity or (2) finds its shape involuntarily changed by someone else. If the shape change is voluntary, its cause may be an act of will, a magic word or magic words, a potion, or a magic object. If the change is involuntary, its cause may be a curse or spell, a wizard's or magician's or fairy's help, a deity's will, a temporal change such as a full moon or nightfall, love, or death. The transformation may or may not be purposeful.
My life, a bit like a mythological character on certain days, is changing in both voluntary and involuntary ways. As I ponder and shift through this season of my life, I think often about Johnson's imagery and language of God. I think about how God can be painted and represented in a million different ways, like multi-colored fractals of light through a prism in the hand of an imaginative child. With each twist of the hand or slightest movement of a finger, God is seen more vibrantly or with at least a different hue than before. It is this way with my life. With each change, with each subtle tap of the chisel, my experience of God is heightened and becomes more tangibly real.
The last sentence of Wikipedia's definition states that "the transformation may or may not be purposeful." I believe that as the spirit of God moves in and around and through us, it is our response to that spirit that determines whether or not the transformation that God is offering to us, will be purposeful. I believe God intends it to be so, but our free will may limit it as something else. What God intends for good, we may discard as worthless chaos because we simply cannot define it within the parameters of the shapes that we know; we are unable to imagine the shapes yet unseen. To be brave and courageous enough to believe that God can shape and transform us in ways we have not the ability to fathom, is to embrace a sense of surrender and freedom. To define the she or the he who IS you, there must be a letting go so that the artist can maneuver the subject and the subject can embrace the IS.
Your life, like mine, may be in such a state of shape-shifting. Do not attempt to define it, but instead, invite it. Invite the transformation, welcome the spirit of God, and allow your experiences to dance with your knowledge of God and be changed in a purposeful way. This is how I know that the I who is I, is indeed the she who IS...for God is the IS.