Sarah Macias is an ordained Baptist minister with a background in eco-theology and a calling towards agricultural ministry. She and her husband, Rodney, live on Sister Grove Farm in Van Alstyne, Texas in an 1859 historic farmhouse. Through implementation of regenerative agricultural practices they hope to rebuild soil health, restore native prairie grasses, and promote a diversity of plant and animal species. They are also developing a small retreat center where individuals, groups, and families can reconnect with the land.
“You can have that goose if you can catch her. No charge.” We had come to buy twelve heirloom chickens so this offer shortly after we met Joe, our poultry farmer friend, caught us by surprise.
We looked at each other with puzzled expressions. What would we do with a goose? Is there a reason he doesn’t want her? Why is she free?
“If you can catch her” was the only condition and as our thoughts were racing with questions and suspicions, the goose walked directly and deliberately into a dog house. She was contained. We had “caught her.”
Her calm and confident demeanor remained intact as she was then transferred into a crate. Loaded up along with the chickens we all soon headed home to Sister Grove Farm.
With this unanticipated passenger, we suddenly had a dilemma. The decision had already been made to name the chickens after our favorite female eco-theologians and Biblicists – so we knew there would be a Rosemary and a Sallie; an Ellen and Elizabeth, etc…. But, what to call a goose?
Knowing that the wild goose is the Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit due to its wild and unpredictable nature, we often stop in reverence to their honking as they fly over our farm. We love watching them as they migrate to their various seasonal dwelling places.
But this soft, gray feathered creature, that Joe estimated to be about three years old, is a Toulouse Goose and they tend to stay close to home. Like the chickens, the Toulouse are a heritage breed; hardy and disease resistant but threatened with extinction by modern agriculture; kind of like the divine feminine. Her name then became clear to us – she would be Sophia. And so, we headed to the farm with Lady Wisdom in the back of the pickup.
In fact, it could be that both modern agriculture and modern religion could benefit from a dose of her wisdom.
In the decades since World War II, small farms that have been in families for generations have been displaced by large, industrial farms. Corporate supported monocrop production, which depletes soil and water health, has come to dominate our rural landscapes and our grocery shelves have become stocked with processed, food-like substances. Paradoxically, both childhood hunger and obesity have become the norm from this dysfunctional system.
As families have been forced to leave the farm, our society has become more transient. Less attached to the places we live, we now shop around for a church, if we go at all. A spiritual consumerism has resulted in menus of programs and services offered often by super-size churches. Anonymity is easy to find here as is a homogeneity of congregants with little need to engage in understanding or even listening to people who think differently.
Meanwhile, Sophia is calmly getting to know her new place and community at Sister Grove Farm – the orchard, pasture, and our two ponds. She has even been getting to know the neighbors recently. She was at the Martins next door for a couple of days on their pond, along with a heron. We know Jerry and LaMerle Martin because they go to our church. Today we found her on the Duggars’ place. They have ducks. I don’t really know them; don’t know where, or if, they even go to church.
I have missed seeing Sophia the last few mornings with my coffee after her early swim but am comforted that she is close by. Unlike the Canadian geese, she is not wild, nor does she fly far away. She will come home but perhaps home is not only this address but those adjacent to me and maybe even those to them. Perhaps home is community – wherever we are. Perhaps there is a wisdom in staying put but not insulated; being neighborly and getting to know the community of creatures with whom we share our place.
It is my opinion and experience that the healthiest communities are those that are diverse; whether as crops in the field, animals in the barnyard, or people in the pew. Nature does not thrive as a monoculture. The same could be said for our understandings of God.
The divine can never be captured in one christology. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out – “God is male!” “No, God is female!” – they fly over to the neighbor’s pond because the divine can never actually be “caught,” confined, or limited. Our christologies can though when they feel threatened enough to dominate and silence others as the exclusively patriarchal images have done - to the detriment of men, women, children, earth, and even God.
Sophia christology is inclusive of others. Her wisdom is patient and comes from a source as old as the cosmos yet is as fresh as the beginning of a new creation. It is holistic; recognizing the biodiversity of true relationships that connect rather than false boundaries that divide.
Christ-Sophia celebrates the male, female, and queer enfleshment of God in all things which has been present since the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.
It is in the soil and the water from which all life is formed. It is in in the bread and wine from which all life is sustained. It is in you and me, in the places we call home, and in our neighbors, who may live across the fence but sit beside us at the table.
Which reminds me… I need to go meet the Duggars.