Ruah, Spirit flowing,
keeps our visions glowing;
She inspires our growing.
Ruah, Breath of power,
moves through wind and showers;
with Her we will flower.
Words © 2019 Jann Aldredge-Clanton Music © 2019 Katie Ketchum.
Climate change is real, and it’s happening fast. I won’t cite the troubling statistics, but I’ll offer hope that it’s not too late for us to help save the earth.
References to the earth are traditionally feminine, but the feminine is not given sacred value in most worship services. Like females, the earth continues to be devalued, exploited, assaulted, and abused.
Female names and images of the Divine, such as Ruah, affirm the sacred value of females and all creation, inspiring spirituality and activism for a sustainable world. Ruah, the Spirit, giving birth to creation and nurturing creation, provides powerful support for our involvement in ecology.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, 19th century English poet and Jesuit priest, believed in the power of a female Holy Spirit, and wrote about Her in his poem “God’s Grandeur.” Here is an excerpt:
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; . . .
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Since Hopkins wrote this poem, more generations have “trod,” “bleared,” and “smeared” the earth. But I believe, like Hopkins, that deep down life continues to regenerate, and that the source of this constant cycle of regeneration is the Holy Spirit who guards the broken world much like a mother bird uses her body to watch over and keep warm her eggs and hatchlings. In the Bible the word for “Spirit” is the Hebrew word Ruah (pronounced ROO-AH), feminine in form. The word in Genesis 1:2 translated “moving” is the Hebrew word rachaph, which also means “flutter over.” The word rachaph is used to describe divine action only one other time, and that is in Deuteronomy 32:11, which images the Divine as a Mother Eagle fluttering over Her young. The first chapter of Genesis pictures the Spirit (Ruah) as a Mother Eagle giving birth to the heavens and the earth.
Ruah created the universe, and continues to re-create. We can join with Her and with one another in this re-creation. “Ruah,, Spirit Flowing” celebrates the power of Ruah to give us visions of a re-created world and to inspire our care of creation.
I have written many other songs focused on the Divine name Ruah. Here is “Ruah, the Spirit, Dwells” from Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship.
Performed by: Katie Ketchum
Music: Katie Ketchum
Lyrics: Jann Aldredge-Clanton
Recorded at: Joe Hoffmann Studios, Occidental, CA
Katie Ketchum: Hersay book cover
Deborah Swanson Hall, “Ruah, Breath of Life” quilt artwork
Alice Heimsoth: photo of Kim Le at Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran
Lucy Synk: “Ruah” painting