Namaste = “I greet the God in you”.
I have been thinking about sex. No, not sexual intercourse. I’ve been thinking about sex, or what today is more commonly referred to as “gender” (a word once used mainly for describing nouns and verbs in other languages).
Maleness. Femaleness. Masculinity and femininity. What are they?
Fans of the TV show LOST might read the title of this post and think it’s a reference to the greeting commonly exchanged on the freaky polar bear-infested island from that show.
Come on everybody! I’m too indie for such a prosaic reference!
In typical indie fashion, I knew about “namaste” way before any of you did. I learned about it from David Whyte – an obscure poet and public speaker and sayer of beautiful words. So there.
(Look! It’s Dr. Marvin Candle from LOST! Or is it Dr. Edgar Hallowax? Or Dr. Pierre Chang? Wait, wasn’t he missing an arm earlier?)
More seriously: It turns out, “namaste” is an actual greeting exchanged by people in some parts of the world, and as David Whyte describes in his “Poetry of Self-Compassion”, particularly in the Himalayas. Namaste is a typical greeting which, translated, means, “I greet the god in you”, or “I greet that which is divine in you.” (Heresy-weary Christians, close your ears!)
So am I now going all New Age-y, promoting some, “we’re all gods; you, me, that chair over there; everything”? Well, only a little. After all, Jesus did say, “I have said you are gods” (John 10:34), quoting psalm 82, which says, “You are ‘gods’; you are all sons of the Most High”.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are all deities. Rather, it’s an echo of the teaching from Genesis: that we are all made to be images of God. We all reflect who God is in a particular way. The Church has spent a lot of time in the past few hundred years teaching that people are sinful, horribly messed up creatures – and rightly so.
But we musn’t forget what I would argue is the more deeply ingrained, foundational truth about us: we are “set apart” from the rest of creation as bearers of the image of God. We are, in one sense, lower than angels, yet we are “crowned with glory and honor” in a way that even angels are not. As one song I love puts it, “It’s true that we are fallen as an angel / but you and me, we’re also holy as a prayer.”
So Namaste yourself, and ask for a moment, “What is it in me that is divine? What is the God in me?”
I’ll write about this further in future posts. For now, listen.