Let us begin today with a prayer to Galaxia.
Thank you for being on this journey with me.
You are my sister in this universe.
You were born into the universe, like I was.
Your body will one day die, like mine will.
I am a part of you,
And though you are older, stronger and contain so much within you,
We are together.
Your dance is my dance.
Your music is my music.
My thoughts are your thoughts.
My art is your art.
Thank you for protecting me.
Thank you for holding me.
Thank you for showing me your beauty.
Thank you for offering me your bounty.
Thank you for helping me see the beauty within myself.
Thank you for accepting all I have to offer.
And thank you for asking the Holy Question:
What is beautiful about me?
I know many of you have traveled among the stars, and have seen Her vastness close at hand. Others have only seen Her from the moon. Her beauty surrounds us.
But why is She a “she”? Why not a “he”? Or an “it”? Why not a “zhe”? Why not “ste” as the Atmods do? Are we considering Her gender or Her sex? My question today is: what gender is Galaxia?
How is that determined, anyway? Has any of you seen if there is a penis? Is the Scar her womb?
(soft chuckle, pause) Of course not. We have many metaphors to sway the story one way or another.
For the answer, we’d have to ask the Earthlings, because it is from there writings that we call Her “she.”
It is why the popular texts stick with She. Tradition. But not all of us stick with tradition. A good friend of mine is a traditional man by many other counts. Some of you may know Near Perfect Felix Oort (pause for murmurs of recognition). That same Felix calls Galaxia a “He.” Not often in broadcasts, just to avoid confusion. But if you’ve ever had the fortune to experience one of his sermons, then you know he does it even within holy space.
Now, if we were the Ancient Earthlings, and my friend and I disagreed on so fundamental points as the very gender of this character in our favorite stories, do you know what would happen?
Yes, you know. We would argue. We would fight. I would be encouraged to decide between my friend and my spiritual community. Even if I resisted, the pressure and constant reminder would lead me to find rational reasons to choose one over the other. I might argue the stars are eggs, and he might argue they are sperm. I suspect that Felix, being a more clever man than I, would eventually win.
Now, don’t shake your head, if I grew up in their world, the early days of reason, it is very likely that I would not have the more compassionate opinions of our modern society. If I wanted to keep my friend, I would have no choice but to defy my community. I would have to risk my job, my family, and everything I grew up with. I may even have to move to a place that agrees with me, or at least is more accepting of my story.
But we do know better, don’t we? How tragic to be an Earthling and not see how much the stubborn arguments held us back. Most people believed that there stories were more truthful than the others, just because they liked it better. They liked the metaphors, the stories, the echo of Mother Sunya they heard inside.
And yet, many of our favorite spiritual beings come from these times. They preached calm and compassion, and the we used even those stories as an excuse to kill and murder, desperate attempts to reduce the fear that tomorrow we could die.
Very few of our ancestors saw these as stories. There was truth, which was the same as fact in those days, which was somehow more important than a story. And yet, they enjoyed stories of many of our saints regardless of their factual basis.
They told stories and shared teachings of Christ Jesus, Jedi Master Yoda, Lord Buddha, Mother Kali, Doctor Sagan, Prophet Mohammed, Captain Mal, Poet Blake, Citizen G’Kar and many more. They fought over the truth or untruth of these. Even some they knew to be untrue and were uplifted and inspired by them, and still they claimed that stories had to be true to be uplifting and inspiring.
I sometime wonder, how could they not see the simple truth right in front of them.
Facts don’t matter in stories. The only thing that matters is how we embrace them. How they inspire us. The only thing that matters is how we act. That is truth, my brothers and sisters. That is what turns stories into fact.
If I say, “Be kind to your neighbor,” that is not truth. That is an idea. A very short story with a clear moral.
If I ask you a question, “Are you kind to your neighbor?” I may get the truth. I will certainly get a story. You will tell me based on what you want me to think.
If I ask your neighbor a question, to find out if you are kind to them, ah, what will that perspective expose? They will tell me what they want me to think.
Unbeknownst to you, they may foster a dislike in their hearts for you, over a slight that you aren’t even aware of. Or they may foster a love, out of a kindness that was accidental.
Our stories do not tell us about the person we are. Only our actions do. It’s not just our kind words, that does not make Felix my friend. Just getting to know him, that does not form a love. The fact that we are both Near Perfects makes us colleagues, not necessarily friends. It is not just that we laugh at each others jokes, that is not enough in the hard times. My friend Felix and I don’t care that we disagree on the gender term for Galaxia, because we make each other laugh, we make each other think, we are honest when we are sad or angry, we have patience when we are not our best. When we ask each other questions, we answer with as much truth as we can and we forgive each other if we left out too much.
The reason I like thinking of Galaxia as a “She” is no better than the people of Ancient Earth. It is something I grew up with. When I came to the age of my baptism and chose to embrace the path of Questioning and Seeking, Her gender was one of the many things I had to question and requestion. I found no new logical insights to change, so it came down to preference. I liked the familiarity I grew up with. And also, I always thought of Galaxia as a sister. I only briefly had a sister, and thinking of her filled that sister role for me.
Felix found a different answer. I won’t go into too many details, but he said I could share this story, it’s one I heard him share. Felix had three parents who decided to be mothers. Two of them even carried him in their womb. Now, there’s nothing unusual about his family. But it explains why Felix never seriously considered what it would be like to have a father. Perhaps it was precisely why the idea of Galaxia as a male grabbed hold. He found that thinking of Galaxia as a “He” filled something he didn’t have a name for. Galaxia is a brother to him. A relationship unlike any other in his life. It could have easily been me. In fact, I have sisters, but no brothers.
And that’s what our stories do. They fill those spaces within us, spaces we didn’t even know where there until they became filled. Ancient Earthlings called this your myth space. The stories we choose and the way we choose to read them, the way we choose to live them, that’s what fills us.
So, today’s question: “What gender is Galaxia, and what story does that tell for me?”
After announcements, I will lead you in another prayer. Then a few songs, and we’ll break 2 ticks for refreshments. Those of you feeling at the limits of social after the songs, feel free to leave during the break. I encourage you all to meditate and discuss the question through the week. Those of you staying today, put your names down in the Witness book, and we will be happy to witness your answer to the question.
(Insert any announcements)
May you find compassion.