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The Woman Who Named God



The Woman who named God has no name

we dare to say in polite company.

The woman’s claim is stamped out by leather heels,

her cry strangled by nylon hose

and by the ones who laugh

at their own good fortune and the blessings of their offspring.

She is cast out of their churches and their homes

either by violence or silence. She has no where to go,

for she has no name, even in her own home.


The Woman who named God has no shame

when she rebukes God with a command

to save the forsaken. But who shames her,

when her voice is unheard next to the cry

of the boy lying but a bowshot away?

What pierces more–the voice of man or the voice of God

or of the woman who names both?


The Woman who names God has no time,

that exists outside the time other people set.

She is left working and waiting for others.

She is the last to sit down and the last to leave

the table. But the long hours, she interrupts with kairos;

in eternity, she is waiting, but her work is not for others.

She is weaving the pain into her being,

so there will be no loose threads to be yanked and unraveled,

only one, integrated fabric that she wears

inside and out, like a name.


The Woman who names God speaks a word

in the midst of the words spoken at her.

She says, “Sela,” from her place in the margins.

Sela. Sela. Sayeth the Psalms.

Sela,” is the woman’s cry when the preacher man

says something right, cause the woman knows God’s plight

in trying to teach Abram, Sarah, and Ishmael how to love

Justice. Sela. Sela. Sayeth the Psalms.

Sela” is her word that doesn’t translate to those outside

her covenant with God.


The Woman who names God writes her own myth,

She bears it like a child in her womb and at her breast.

She takes it to Egypt where she finds a new kind of wilderness,

A new city, a union of believers with many gods

fashioned in their own image.

Yet they believe they hold the same covenant.

They ask her to atone for its brokenness.

She tells them El Roi has made a different promise

to her–one that does not bleed when broken, but cries

for an answer and thirsts for water.


The woman who names God adopts daughters

in Africa. She creates an extended family, she makes sisters,

mothers, daughters and gathers them at the wisdom well.

She brings them water in times of thirst. She is their wisdom carrier,

She calls them by name ,when Egypt won’t,

when other women are laughing still.

In their struggle for survival and life,

she is the well, the culture bearer, the kairos-keeper,

the woman who names God,

and therefore a reminder that God can be trusted to the end,

for they are the daughters of Hagar, bound to a different covenant.

They are to make a new way, a way that names God.


The women who name God are naming each other

when no one dared to call their names.

Hagar, Esther, Jezebel, Adrienne, Audre, Delores:

These are the women who name God.

But there’s more to come–more women, more names.

For the women who name God are birthing:

daughters, sisters, prayers, psalms, and poems.

They are creating theologies, eschatologies, soteriologies,

And new geographies out of the wilderness.

They are surviving, thriving, enlivening, striving

as women, storytellers, wells and water-bearers.

They are making good on their covenant with God,

And demanding that God make good too.

These are the women who name God.



© Elizabeth C Waltemath, 2004

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Laura Jernigan #

    Beth, I am glad to learn of your blog and writing life. I was immediately drawn to your “The Woman Who Named God”. This brings out so much to name and be drawn into….
    “new geographies out of the wilderness” indeed! Thank you, -Laura

    August 1, 2015

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