“O Womb of All That Grows!” This is perhaps one of the most striking and creative of any description of Divinity. From a stunning prayer uncovered in the central desert of Nag Hammadi, Egypt in the mid-twentieth century, we find this picture written by some displaced people of Israel of the second or third century: “O Womb of all that grows, we have known you.”
Of course, one of the most amazing dimensions of God for those of us who are from Jewish, Christian, and Islamic settings is that this divine portrait is so juicy and female. It almost goes without saying that most descriptions of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are overwhelmingly masculine.
But here in this ancient prayer-poem, we discover the very heart of Divinity turns out to be something exclusively womanly! On top of that, this address to God is not just something that is feminine, but “all that grows” emanates from the female.
Take in, if you can, the depth of this Divinity, and the way it is expressed. Notice how it proposes that Divinity itself is characterized primarily by growth. It says that people and the universe itself—which are in a relationship to Divinity—grow.
In contrast to some other static notions of God, this picture of Divinity overflows with human thinking, feeling, understanding, love, coordination, sympathy, compassion, vulnerability, communication, generosity, and most of all growth. Or to put it another way, Divinity does not produce primarily fear, lying, competition, anger, almightiness, miserliness, willfulness, and anxiety.
These contrasts of Divinity between goodness and evil are dependable, but the character of Divinity is not perfect or superb. Rather this way Divinity’s overall goodness is much more process oriented than statically flawless or complete.
The name of this ancient prayer is The Prayer of Thanksgiving, and the title itself implies an interactive dynamic of divine growth with the human response of thankfulness. Although growth is inherently divine, when humanity understands and receives growth with thanksgiving, human growth multiplies. After a fashion then, divine growth is augmented through thanksgiving.
This Prayer of Thanksgiving falls over itself in the way divine and human growth happen. There is a deep and permanent female character to God being portrayed as “the Womb of all that grows,” but the overwhelming and irresistible ‘growingness’ of Divinity extends itself in a genderbending way to other kinds of growth. After persisting with the ‘Womb-ness’ of Divinity, it also grows ‘Godness’ itself also into “a Womb pregnant with the nature of the Father” and “the never-ending endurance of the Father who gives birth.”
Although this prayer’s primary Womb-like growth of all humans and the universe continues, the prayer itself grows too.
No wonder that in its final stanzas this prayer proclaims that “we worship your goodness,” even in a genderbent kind of way.