When God is Mother

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“It is the custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtinesses and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”

― J.M. Barrie

As a mom of three teenagers, my life chapter requires that I care for myself, shirking the voices of failure and scarcity. I am tasking myself, somedays successful, with the primary and essential work of listening to the overtures of grace, kindness, generosity. This season has rendered me vulnerable, the demands of end-of-year school activities, growing bodies lining my home, the shifts in expectations as warmer weather arrives with its notions of freedom and abandon. I have to be kind. I don’t have a choice. I have to give myself the benefit of the doubt. But, we all know, somedays are better than others. The sinister voices weasel in and shriek loud of what responsible and fun and not-so-tired mothers would do.

Sometimes mothers need mothers. Yes, many of us have our moms, and many of us do not. But regardless of our station, sometimes we need a mother of a higher order, one in which perfection is at the top of the job description. Sometimes (or oftentimes), we need God to be a Mother. We not only need Mother God’s love to pass onto the people in our lives, in our world. We need Mother God’s love to pass to ourselves, in our fumbling frailty and foolishness. I need a mother’s love to pass to myself.

And so I sit quiet and still, watching the birds mate dance in the still-bare trees. I consider the hairy golden dandelions peek their heads from the concrete driveway’s cracks. I witness the fox pair feed their burgeoning den with my favorite chickens. The fresh blossomed trees sway in striking contrast, aligned against the backdrop of Colorado’s bluest sky, not a cloud misplaced. Nature happens and nurture follows close behind.

I’m held, born again into Creation. Loved.

In this time of unwieldy teenagers and hormones and broken curfews and dances, I have to release the frustrations and the building fear. And the only place that holds it all, that sustains me is Mother God. I have to believe She laments and grieves and ponders alongside, as I write and meditate in the earliest hours of the morning and the latest hours of the night. I have to believe She understands grief of the tallest order, the kind that watches intently upon the suffering of her own Son, the kind that wails, mourns and beats her breast at the intensity of it all.

When God is Mother she has the questions bound together with an abiding knowledge that Love always reigns.

When God is Mother she weeps with those who weep and mourns with those who mourn. Her pain and joy etched in the lines across her face, her suffering born in the manner in which she carries herself.

When God is Mother fear is not unbeknownst to Her, bearing the scars of motherhood she stoops low to gaze into the eyes of children and elderly – all the same. She knows. She knows the terror and concern, the unassailable fear that maybe things won’t work out as expected.

When God is Mother She reaches and holds her dear children close, arms enfolding with fierce determination and fire.

When God is Mother She knows when to hide her face, She knows when to let things play out as they need. In her ample wisdom She knows what is best for her little ones.

When God is Mother She carries our humanity, our joy, our desire, our hope, our despair. She has nourishment at her table, enough to fill bellies and brighten sad eyes.

When God is Mother, the rhythms of birth, growth, life, death are carried close to her breast – shaped in the form of us all.

When God is Mother, Creation bears witness to wonder, beauty, rebirth and hope. Resurrection is her language, her greatest gift. Death is undone, never holding the final word. Life reigns glorious.

Did God grieve that day of her Son’s brutal suffering in death? If God is a Mother, I  believe in the absolute certainty of the answer – yes.

And I have to believe, when we suffer, She knows. Her heart undone, broken into infinite shards, covering over us with shimmering love.

The week of Easter, the season of Lent always sneaks up hard on me. I push and fight and resist – forgetting what it’s all for. And I remember in the quiet stillness. I’m called back to the cross, turning my gaze, reflecting upon the suffering. Our Mother knows and bleeds and understands. We are made whole, we can hope, our true home in the heart of God. And we gaze upon the bloodied, wretched form of Jesus – the Son – who bore the heart of God into the world, to show us, to lead us in the better ways. The better ways of justice and kindness and mercy and truth. The better ways of Love.

This week may we lie low, in humility, holding the gift of our Mother’s love close. May we turn toward the feminine, finding wholeness for our souls and bodies, finding relief in being held and known and very much adored.