The Disappearance of Hiddenness
I am a woman. I love women. Time spent with kindred girlfriends is so often a lifeline to me. But, lately, I have been feeling broken for our particular sex. With heavy heart, I look at the seeds we are sowing for ourselves and cry with heartbreak. Today as I was stopped at a stop sign, a woman driver came up to me and started waving her arms, screaming at me from her car, because I had the audacity to actually stop. I’m sure those 5 seconds cost her a lot.
But it goes so much deeper than the frantic, entitled females I often observe in this affluent city of Charlotte. We digest books and movies like 50 Shades of Grey, and then think there are no consequences. We spend millions of dollars every year on clothing, plastic surgery, stiletto heels and do all in our power to parade our bodies and beauty. Women like Beyonce can explicitly talk about sex in any way they want, yet cry in horror when men stumble in the wake.
Where has the beauty of hiddenness disappeared to?
Years ago, when I wrote my Master’s thesis, my topic was a Theology of Womanhood. It was so fascinating to study in numerous respects, but perhaps the most impactful vein of my study was a truth I stumbled upon in the Old Testament. It centered around the Hebrew word for virgin.
Virgin in Hebrew comes from two roots meaning "to hide" and "to separate". In ancient Israel, the Hebrews would actually hide and separate their young women in order to guard them and show others their intrinsic value. The women would wear veils to conceal their faces as a way to show that their worth was too priceless to share with just anyone.
The first root, Bethulah, was a Hebrew word that figuratively came to mean the “embodiment of hope.” Is there a greater compliment that a man could give a woman? You, are the embodiment of hope. It meant “to separate” and represented those young ladies who were isolated from others and untouchable. Quite literally, a virgin.
This separation was a public declaration of their immense worth.
They recognized that their value was extremely rare. The women wore veils over their faces in anticipation of one day revealing the beauty of their hiddenness.
I watch my pixies playing on the floor with their horses, and pray that they will become embodiments of hope to this coming generation. Will they keep their mystery? Will they know the inherent value of a life lived pure?
Years ago, I attended a conference where a couple who had been married over 30 years was asked to describe the key to what contributed to their thriving marriage. I will never forget the response of the husband: “You have to keep things complex. There has to be mystery.”
We need mystery today. Why do we feel the constant need to put all we have out there on display for all the world to see?
There is an intrinsic beauty that can only be discovered in the mystery.
The Hidden Ones
There is a second Hebrew root for virgin, Almah, which conveys this idea of mystery. It simply means “to hide.” Virgins were hidden away from the rest of society. In his book, Pure Joy, Rick Stedman shows how the figurative idea is that a virgin was "a hidden one", a young lady who was hidden away and distinguished from the others.
"A Hebrew virgin carried with her an inherent sense of value. When a virgin walked down the street, the observers would literally say in Hebrew, 'Look, there goes a hidden one'."
A Hidden One.
One who is full of mystery. Veiled with glory. There was honor in being hidden. A woman possessed a tacit awareness of her value when called Almah, "A Hidden One."
I pray this over my pixies. As they corral the horses into their stables, I ask the Father that they might live their lives full of mystery, veiled with the knowledge that they are A Hidden One. A daughter of the God of Mystery, who delights to reveal himself to those who seek Him with pure hearts.