On Virgins & Whores & Christmas

Right now.

I am cozy by a fire in plaid pajamas, meant as a Christmas gift but busted out early by a kind mama who knew I was feeling a little under the weather.

Right now. 

Curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee from an espresso machine so sleek I feel like it may come with a matching vespa.

It's Christmas Eve.

For a long time, it was one of my busiest days of the year.

I sang in a church choir, in my sparkliest sparkles, and played Mother Mary in the living Nativity, lovingly staring down into a shining lightbulb in a manger. I was attuned to the divine early on, longing for connections to the universe, to the stars, to God. So enchanted by heaven, and romanced by spirituality.

I wasn't always in the business of seeking answers, but I was always ready to wrap myself up in the questions.

Right now. 

I feel so much compassion and love for that little holy roller, with her earnest face and her carefully chosen outfits.

And, I think she was on to something.

This life has a magic to it.

We are all on a path with that magic, leaning toward it, leaning away. Trying to make sense of it, or letting it circle around us in mysterious stars that we don't try to understand, but just receive.

Maybe you believe that that magic comes from holding hands in the dark night, braving the cosmos with someone you love, and that all we have for sure is today, this breath. And it can feel beautiful and holy to feel so small against the backdrop of our mysterious and unfolding universe. That we are small and random. That the galaxy is beautiful and terrifying.

And maybe you see a magic from tradition, from circling up through the ages, near stained glass or under veils or over welcoming dinners every week.

Maybe you believe that we light candles night after night, honoring the dark but piercing it, together, with hope against all the odds.

Maybe you believe that it gets darker and darker, and then a baby is born and everything changes.

I believe in magic. 

Most of us are familiar with the Christmas story, whether tonight is sacred to us or not.

A stable.

A manger.

An angel.

And a girl who we celebrate as a mother & a virgin, but in the story, when she turns up pregnant and unmarried, is not so popular.

Part of a chain of not-so-popular women in the holy texts of our religious traditions.

This is where it is helpful to mix religious longing with a healthy side of feminist theory.


Mother, or Magdalene.

She is either the sacred mother, or the scarlet letter.

A binary we know so, so well.

If you live in the United States in a body that is coded as FEMALE, even if you have not bought into this, some piece of it has most likely bought its way into you.

This is what the feminist scholars call a "double bind."

We all know we can't win playing this game.

And that's when it is helpful to scramble the categories a little.

To feel into a mother Mary who is just a freaked out unwed teenage mother, trusting that her body knows what it is doing. Brave, holy, uncertain — just like us.

And that Mary Magdalene was just a seeker too. Devoted, passionate, longing to touch the sacred — just like us.

Then, against all the odds, this season can be an invitation to connect with the divinely feminine within.

To place a hand on your belly, or wrap your arms around yourself, and close your eyes, and whisper:

You are good. 

Not for obeying, or attending, or abstaining, or giving the right way. But just for being. Just because.

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