Textual Arachne

A weaver of threads.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


One of the moments I love most and understand least in Genesis is the moment when Jacob wrestles with the angel. I love it for its physical nature: divine beings who can be pinned and held, who dislocate hips and say "uncle"--I will not let thee go except thou bless me. I love it for its metaphorical nature: how this wrestling with God is part of Genesis, where Abram sometimes argues and sometimes acquiesces, where humans keep struggling with God's commands.

I love to think of wrestling with the Divine. When I think of the way I puzzle out my thealogy, I think of Jacob and the angel.

Sometimes it's a competition, friendly and good-hearted, in which we test each other, push on each other's holds, defend against weak moves and make quick attacks. When I'm teasing out the implications of a belief or theorizing about ritual, this is how we wrestle.

Sometimes it turns angry. Fingers turn into claws and go for throat, eyes, groin, demanding some kind of answer or some dominance. Low blows. Sucker-punches. Where my faith hits the realities of suffering and an ugly world, or where I hit the limits of my own abilities.

Sometimes there's this incredible flirtation within the struggle, like lovers tussling on a bed, teasing and pinning each other back and forth, just on the point of kisses or lovemaking. Ecstasy and wordless emotion.

And sometimes--in fact, most of the time--it's one big confused mess, where I'm not certain if the leg I'm grabbing is my own, or just how many people are in this match, or what the limits ever were.

My hope, my aim, is to always be wrestling with Her; never to walk away from the contest, never to imagine that I've won, never to simply submit. I offer my doubts and my confusion in this struggle, knowing that there won't be a resolution as long as I live.


At 6:37 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I know what you mean. :-) This post resonates for me, quite strongly. I've long found the metaphor of the wrestle with the angel a useful one for understanding my spiritual life...

At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Sara said...

Wonderful, lovely post. Of all the stories in the Bible, Jacob and the Angel resonates deeply with me as well. I worry about those who don't wrestle with their gods. It's in the wrestling that we come to so many revelations...



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