Well! It is not easy to use these new pronouns. I can’t tell you how many times I read the posts to find whether I’d eradicated the he/she thing… Old habits die hard.
People have responded. Some have said, quite frankly, I don’t like the new pronouns, don’t want to change the language. Others, and this may have to weigh more with me, have said “thank you, I feel seen.”
As I said in my sermon, if I refuse to limit the Divine to a simple duality, why would I believe it’s ok do to that to people? If I see God in Everything, I am as Matthew Fox proposes not a Pantheist, but a Panentheist. So must I be with all creation.
And to those of us who fret about the language, this is what language does, it grows. We are, merci, le bon Dieu, not French in terms of language. We don’t have an academy removing foreign words from our language and forbidding their use. When we consider the words we have added, nouns, verbs and adjectives, thanks to technology and our new understanding of the world in only this century, why wouldn’t we think that people could be more than we had originally imagined? Because it’s hard? but zi-zir is simpler. Ten years from now, will it have lasted? Who knows, but if I don’t experiment, will I see people?
Thee and Thou is a much bigger stretch for me. Maybe because there has been a time when I have heard it used. However, I am deeply convinced by Buber’s argument that we leave behind an I-it relationship for an I-Thou one, that we engage intimately with the world.(Unbelievable, I just looked and there are SparkNotes for I and Thou). Buber is so dense that he’s difficult to follow sometimes, but at the heart of his work is an incredible reverence for creation. To move to the intimate form of address demands a deeper engagement — a deeper vulnerability. Can I go there?
It will certainly take some faltering. Is it to precious for words or is it what is asked of me — to be intimate with the world and humanity. To keep good boundaries even while welcoming people’s deepest humanity. It all sounds quite scary doesn’t it. Zi and zir seem remarkably easy, at least to me, compared to thee and thou.
I love that I explored this first on my friend the English teacher’s fabulous photos. She wrote when she sent it about how she always looks for fields of diamonds in the water. And she found it! But Pete has always had a relaxed relationship with English and loved to watch it evolve!
So here’s to sunlight sparkling on water. Here’s to the Peace and Joy it engenders. So many individual bits of dancing beauty. Can I see that and bless that? Can I allow Beauty and Love into the most private recesses of my soul? And how about Peace? Can I do that with Peace? What about thee? Can thee?