And You Will Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might … I grew up with that dictate. Yet, And You Will Love falls oddly on the ears; how can anyone respond with sincerity to such an order? How can true love be commanded? My immediate reaction is defiance. But there is no escaping this exhortation. There is no getting away from it any more than we can hide from the pulse of life itself
And You Will Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might. But what if in your coming of age you glimpse of a terrifying intimation? What if you manage to love him with all your might and it turns out that your might is mightier than His? What if, venturing a world-shattering step further, your might is his undoing? Can there still be love? What is the nature of that love? And yet… and still…we are commanded….
As an orthodox daughter I was groomed to love something bigger, something better, something stronger and more reliable than myself. The assumption that this Unseen Force is masculine leaves a deep imprint. On the High Holidays, but when it comes down to storming the gates of heaven, I still prefer a battering male baritone to a soulful female soprano.
Along with many contemporary women, in time, and not without a sense of grievous loss, I have come unmoored from the totem pole of the One Masculine Divine. Gloria Steinem famously said we women are becoming the men we were once hoping to love. But this transference of awe and adoration is no facile matter. Sometimes I secretly ache to be one-upped in wisdom by the men to whom I now and then begrudgingly defer. Other times, I am a closet Delilah wielding my shears, secretly wishing my victims would wake up and contain me, and not necessarily with gentleness, before their strength is drained by my cunning, before their authority is unhinged by all that I know.
And yet, and still, and relentlessly, you will love… How do we love when the illusion of The All Powerful is shattered? A poet I admire Muriel Rukeyser once said “If one woman would tell the truth about her life, the world would split open.” Maybe it already has. Who’s going to be around now that it’s time to pick up the pieces?