[The following is the fourth part of a four-part interview I gave to a student in partial fulfillment of a class assignment.]
Q: We are talking about the Mother and your experience of God as the Divine Feminine. You recently returned from teaching in Chartres, France where the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartres is dedicated to the worship of Mary, the Mother of God. Was this moving to you?
R: Absolutely. Mary, Kali, Durga, Kwannon, Chochma, Sophia these are all faces of the Divine Feminine, and while God or Reality includes and transcends the feminine, and is beyond conceptualization, it is this Feminine Face of Reality that I find most moving and comforting at this time in my life.
Q: The Mother is all loving…
R: She is all consuming in her love. That is to say that she is not comforting in any conventional sense. Her love is searing, it burns away all theology, all religion, all isms and leaves you in the radical not–knowing that is Her fierce grace. To draw near to the Mother is to be stripped of all your hiding places and left as Job is left in his encounter with God, that is in a state of radical amazement, a state of wondrous and transcendently joyous silence.
Q: It sounds like a kind of escape from the world. Is it?
R: It can be. You can draw near the Mother and make camp. But if you dare to go further, if you dare to be consumed in Her love you are sent back to the world to transform it with justice, compassion, love, and humility. The flipside of the Mother’s embrace is the Father’s prophetic push back into the world. It is not either/or, but both/and. If you truly love God you cannot help but love the world, and want to heal it. Mysticism and prophetic action go together, or they don’t go at all.
Q: And this is how you see yourself? As a mystical prophet?
R: Oh goodness no. I talk about this stuff. I leave the real work to people like Andrew Harvey, Michael Lerner, and Jim Wallis.
Q: And you are satisfied with that?
R: It is who I am. Being satisfied or dissatisfied is irrelevant.
Q: OK. Just one final question. Are you hopeful of the future?
R: The national anthem of my tribe is HaTikva, The Hope. Hope is the DNA of the Jewish psyche. Hope is rooted in the deep insight that the world is an open system and not subject to the Law of Entropy. This is what Torah is saying when it reveals God’s Name as Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, “I will be what I will be.” God is unfixed, unformed, unconditioned, always surprising itself. I believe that life is evolving toward the ultimate surprise: the realization that we are God. This is not a linear evolution from A to B to Z. This is a gyre of development with Life forever circling back in on itself only to spiral out in wider and higher and more inclusive levels of engagement. When we spiral out things look wonderful. When we spiral back they look bleak. But neither wonder nor despair is the whole of the matter. The process includes and transcends them both. So, yes, I am hopeful; hopeful that creation and destruction, birth and death, peace and war, good and evil are all dancing in service to One Who is at heart pure surprise.