Copyright 2000 Carolyn GageThis essay was initially commissioned by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Madison, WI,in 2000, for their Annual Wartmann Gay/Lesbian Lecture Series on Sexuality andSpirituality.
When Sex Is Not the Metaphor for Intimacy
One of the gifts—one of the many gifts—of women’s spirituality has been the spiral. [
And here I take out my slinky. ]
This is a visual aide. Other spiritual traditions had given us thestar, and the triangle, and the cross, and the circle. And now we have the spiral.I like the spiral, because it explains my experience. It’s the difference between looking atlife in two dimensions or three dimensions.Now, for instance,
[holding the collapsed slinky pointing at them]
if you look at the spiral intwo dimensions this way, it looks like a circle. And any point on the spiral will look like it’s onthe circle. In other words, like you keep ending up exactly where you started. Which is howsome people, self included, have felt about our relationships. But it’s not really back whereyou started. It may be the same location on the circle, but it’s much farther along on thespiral.
[extending the slinky]
Like this.Okay, now hold it like this
[stretching it out sideways]
, and look at it like this, in twodimensions, and it looks like a zig-zag line that goes up and then down and then up andthen down. Kind of a bipolar thing—up/down, win/lose, good/bad, right/wrong. If this is your career, these are promotions and firings. Or if it’s your money, these are the Dow Jonesaverages. If it’s relationships, these are the honeymoons and these are the breakups.“How’s your relationship?” “Oh, it’s going great.” “Oh, we’re back in counseling.”