To be a risen woman;
To dare to be me.
A haiku I was asked to write at a Christian LGBT-affirming writing workshop last year. This workshop was run by Dr. Nicola Slee, a poet, and researcher in Theological Education. I was so taken with the workshop, and with her readings of her poetry, that I got her book, Seeking the risen Christa. And, having read it from cover to cover, I can’t recommend it enough. Her words spoke to me of God’s love, holding me, where I am. I hope she will forgive me for quoting some of those words here: they deserve to be shared.
Christa in the night
She would come in the night
where you are sleeping
and take you in her arms in such a way
that you would not wake
but sigh and sighing
settle down deeper into sleep
She would embrace your anxious body
stressed with its pains and disappointments
and without waking you
massage the tension in your shoulders
and ease the burden you find necessary to bear
Slee’s starting thesis, explored through her poetry, is that God, in Christ, transcends gender, and that women in particular might find it helpful to explore the risen Christ in feminine form; to meet a Christa who can “talk to [us] of a woman’s salvation / in wounds [we] can recognise and touch”, p. 91. There is no reason to restrict the risen Christ to the male form. The invitation is to share in her spiritual journey, seeking the risen Christa. I dared to accept Slee’s invitation.
Slee writes of her discovery of a Christa who delights in women, and womanhood, who has come to us in so many female forms, as slave, martyr, prophet, and peace-maker, to walk alongside us. A Christa who never misses a sound a living thing makes: who misses nothing. It is Christa, not the devil, in the detail.
The poetry is prayerful, and a calling to prayer. True liminal space. Slee’s commentary around the poetry, organised according to the events of Easter, enlivens and enlightens the text. She tells a powerful story.
Of course, the invitation runs deeper. It’s not simply to share Slee’s journey, but to reflect on who Christa means to me; to have faith that the risen Christa loves me. I’m still working on that. But I’m inspired to explore.
Nicola Slee (2011), SPCK.