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The Feminine Presence of God

The Holy Spirit is called ruachpneuma, and shekhinah.

The Hebrew word ruach is translated “spirit,” “breath,” or “wind,” and refers to the breath of any animal, including humans, the life force in all creatures, the mind (including reason, will, and conscience), and the spirit. Scripture sees us as part of nature, animals with the ability to reason, question, doubt, learn, and discern. Breath is life and comes from God.

The closest Greek (New Testament) equivalent of ruach is pneuma. In Stoic thought, pneuma is the vital spirit, soul, and creative force in Deity, which is placed in sentient beings. In the Bible, it is also translated “spirit,” “breath,” or “wind.” Like ruach, pneuma brings wisdom, reason, and consciousness, as well as physical life.

Shekhinah is

in a place – God as mother, giver of life, nurturer, compassionate one. The word shekhinah does not appear in the Hebrew Bible, but several verses refer to God’s presence in the Tabernacle, and the Talmud is filled with references to shekhinah.

Theologian Marjorie Suchocki (United Methodist Professor Emerita of Theology at Claremont School of Theology) refers to ruach as God’s power, to pneuma as wisdom, and to shekhinah as presence. 

Ruach & Pneuma: wind, power, life-force, breath, wisdom, conscience, reason.

Shekhinah: dwelling, compassionate nurturing presence.

The third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is the animating force that sustains all life. God the Holy Spirit is omnipresent, in all, over all, under all creation.

The Holy Spirit is omnipotent, as unpredictable and powerful as the wind, without which life would not be possible. The wind scatters seeds, brings the rain, and clears the air.

The Holy Spirit is omniscient, guides us, shows us right from wrong, gives us the ability to think clearly and reason logically.

The Holy Spirit is omnibenevolent, the feminine presence of God, birthing, nurturing, soothing, empathizing, and protecting. In times of trouble, she rocks us in her arms, sings lullabies to our souls, nourishes us at her breast. The Holy Spirit is Sophia, Lady Wisdom, guiding us with a gentle voice behind us saying, “this is the way, my child.”

Come, Holy Spirit.

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