Monday, November 23, 2015

Sacred Marriage: The Green Man and the Black Madonna (Part III of III)

The following is the third and final part of a three-part guest blog from Rev. Todd Smiedendorf, Sr. Pastor at Wash Park UCC in Denver. If you would like to contribute a guest blog to Radically Connected, please email Cory at

The Black Madonna is a timely and powerful symbol because she offers us, as a revered image, not only a straightforward rebuke to racism and the denigration of people of color, but a rebuke to the pale and practically disembodied images of the feminine presented in too many Virgin Mary depictions. She is black and beautiful. The black Madonna offers us a powerful invitation into the darkness in order to be creative. She will not let her fear stop her from looking at what is in there. She knows that there is a path, ultimately creative, that leads through the darkness of grief and loss, of self-examination, and sometimes of sweat and blood. 

This black Madonna is compassionate, but not shallow or weak, and will not hesitate to overturn the empires of the world, or the dominating structures within ourselves that keep us from living and serving life fully and joyfully. This black Madonna has no patience for the glaring full solar patriotism of Fox News, which only wants to see our nation as “awesome,” and justified in our nation’s use of force on the streets or in secret prisons. 

This black Madonna can walk through the deep self-examination of our nation’s shadows in its history and present. She knows how to bring creativity to bear as we walk into the shadows of our racism, of our violence, and of our injustice. She knows how to explore our own shadows, and trusts that healing is found in there for our addictions, our depressions, our old wounds, and our "reactivities."

The Black Madonna has depth and strength. She represents mature feminine archetypal energy, one that has integrated the masculine archetype’s strength of focus and present purpose while maintaining the profound feminine power of compassionate nurturing and presence, of sensual creativity, and deep response to life.

I bring these images because I believe they are, over time, capable of guiding and inspiring our faith into wisdom and passion. Their reclaiming represents an act of creative appropriation of our tradition, a drawing forth of that prophetic imagination which is needed to meet our moment faithfully, to resist the powers of death and embrace the power of resurrection. 

As we place the mural in our sanctuary, the invitation is to note the issues of the day that are touching your heart, be they social issues or personal challenges, and to begin to let the image and voice of the Green Man and the Black Madonna enter the conversation. 

What does this sacred marriage say to us? How can it sustain and inspire us to keep keeping on? How can we let their energy flow through us into the world?

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