My female imagery for the Divine represent several years of exploring metaphors for God and spiritual experience. During a silent retreat in the fall of 1996, the first female image of God leapt onto my page, catching me completely by surprise. Seeing God this way scared me at first, since I’d grown up using only male pronouns and images. But as the Spirit led me to paint several more, similar pieces that year, I grew in my own spirit and found great comfort in the nurturing, mothering aspects of God.

It helped me to approach these paintings with “what if” questions– What if God were like a woman who created the heavens and me in Her image? What if compassion comes from God’s womb, and nurture from God’s breasts? (The Hebrew root word for “compassion” is the same as that for “womb,” and God’s name “El Shaddai” literally means “breasted one.”) What would it feel like? What would it say about those attributes of God? What would it teach me about myself in relation to God and the world?

These certainly aren’t my last metaphors, as seen by the paintings that followed these. Nor do they replace other images for God that enrich my faith– God as Spirit, Christ, Abba, ocean, rock, friend, etc. I am curious to see how these paintings will continue to impact my spirituality, and how they might spur your discovering.

–Melanie