Wisdom has built her house,
She has set up her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts,
She has mixed her wine,
She has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids to call
From the highest places in town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who is without sense she says:
“Come eat of my bread,
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave simpleness, and live,
And walk in the way of insight.”
(Proverbs 9: 1-6)
The Byzantine East is filled with churches dedicated to Hagia Sophia — Holy Wisdom. Holy Wisdom refers to Christ, a playful Christ at work in creation. “…when he laid down the foundations of the earth, I was at his side, a master craftsman, delighting him day after day, ever at play in his presence, at play everywhere in his world, delighting to be with the human race.”
Wisdom is an androgynous Christ who embraces material creation. In Byzantine theology, all of creation has been called to be transfigured in Christ. Creation is actually groaning in anticipation of this, to use St. Paul’s phrase. A world called to transfiguration is not a world for us to pillage and rape. Waste and pollution are moral issues at the heart of our faith.
The traditional Byzantine icon of Wisdom shows a winged androgynous figure flanked by St. John the Baptist and the Mother of God. The figure of Wisdom is bright red and wears imperial Byzantine robes. In this icon, Wisdom is a naked Third World child. The gold sphere represents eternity, and the brightly colored waves crashing wildly below represent the beginning of creation.
The concept of an androgynous Christ is important as we wrestle with issues of sexuality in our day. The Trinity is an essential part of our Christian faith, but its patriarchal matrix is not. As we begin to appreciate the feminine aspects of God, many of our other attitudes must also change. The image of Divine Sophia can assist us as we search.
(c) Trinity Stores